NEO Robotic Application Development at Letterkenny Army Depot: The Application of Robotics to Agricultural Blast Cleaning,
LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT CHAMBERSBURG PA
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M109 and M110 Howitzer hulls and turrets must be blast cleaned to remove old paint and rust from metal surfaces prior to prep and final painting. Walnut shells are impelled against the vehicle surface at forces ranging from 110 to 150 PSI. Because of the varying tenacity of the old paint at different areas along the vehicle, the removal rate differs at any given point on the surface of the vehicle until bare metal is visible he then moves the nozzle to the next area to continue the process. The decision to robotize the agricultural blast cleaning operation at Letterkenny is founded on the inefficiency of the current process as well as to the hazards posed to the human operator. The worker is subjected to excessive heat, as high as 120 degrees F in the summer, humidity as high as 90 saturation, high noise levels and poor ventilation. Moreover, aerosols are generated which create an atmosphere conducive to explosion with the aid of an ignition source. The authors conclude that the robotic approach should be a viable replacement to the manual operation pending proper design and installation. It will offer improved conditions over the current method in terms of cost, safety and readiness.