A Clean Environment is a space for which humans are a source of contamination: bacteria, dust and other small particles, etc. Such a Clean Environment is normally confined inside a protective enclosure called a Cleanroom. For a worker to enter in such a place, he/she has to follow strict rules, which often include wearing a suit, mask and gloves, as well as going through specific decontamination procedures before entering. The term Clean Environment does not oppose directly to a Dangerous Environment, as a Clean Environment may be a very dangerous place, such as the laboratories which are manipulating the most dangerous viruses on Earth.
We have listed a number of industries where the contamination aspect is critical. Those industries are using Cleanrooms in their processes, and they could all benefit from using Telerobotics to avoid the presence of humans:
- Aerospace industry, when manufacturing satellites or pieces of equipment that will visit other celestial bodies.
- Semiconductor industry, for which the manufacturing process has to be performed under a very clean atmosphere.
- Biological, Biotechnological and Pharmaceutical industries, which are manipulating bacteria, viruses and other organic material, which pose a contamination risk in both directions.
Let us focus on the case of a Cleanroom where vaccines are being developed. In order to avoid human presence, a solution could be the use of automatic handling by robots. But as good as automation can be, it is sometimes necessary to have a human intervention: turning a valve, picking up a fallen item, … Most of those interventions are very simple and do not require for more than a few minutes of action inside the cleanroom. Yet, it is necessary to stop the automated line, follow the entering and exiting procedures of the cleanroom, monitor the cleanroom state and make sure it was not contaminated before being able to finally restart the line. This whole process may take a few hours, even though the human presence might have been needed for less than five minutes.
That is where our telerobotic system can come into action. By leaving a robot inside the cleanroom at all times, you offer yourself a chance to reduce the downtime for any needed intervention. At any occasion you need to interact inside the cleanroom, you can just turn on the system and the worker will take control of the robots from outside the cleanroom, remotely, without having to dress up and enter.