Wall Climbing Robot Earns ClassNK Innovation Endorsement ~ Pursuing Innovation in Ship Maintenance and Enhanced Crewmember Safety with Robotic Technology ~

April 02, 2024

Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI; Representative Director, President and CEO: Shinji Shimomura; Head Office: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo), TOKYO—Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto), and MOL Ship Management Co., Ltd. (MOLSHIP; President: Takakage Imai; Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo) today announced that their jointly developed wall climbing robot for steel structures(Note 1)—intended to support ship inspection and maintenance work—has completed a demonstration test(Note 2) and earned the Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) “Innovation Endorsement Certification(Note 3),” as a framework to support innovative initiatives.

Innovation Endorsement certification logo,Wall climbing robot for steel structures]

【Introduction video】

The Innovation Endorsement is ClassNK’s third-party certification program. It certifies and supports initiatives that contribute to the sustainable evolution of maritime and offshore businesses. This robot is characterized by its high traversability not only on vertical walls but also on curved surfaces and unevenness. It can move to high places that were previously difficult to access by humans or robots, and can take clear photographs and inspections of the relevant parts. Moreover, it is capable of measuring the thickness of steel plates by remote operation by the operator, and its measurement accuracy is as high as 0.01mm. This not only avoids the dangers of working at heights, but also eliminates the need for scaffolding, reducing labor and scaffolding costs. Furthermore, it can also work in confined spaces, eliminating the risk of oxygen deficiency for the crew. This innovative robot performance and technology, as well as its innovative functions for ship inspection, have been recognized, and it has obtained the Innovation Endorsement certification from ClassNK in the "Product & Solution" category, which targets products and systems that apply advanced initiatives.

Following the success of this demonstration test, MOL and MOLSHIP aim to further develop their ship operation and management technology, as well as SHIs' robot development and manufacturing technology. They also aim to enhance the performance and functionality of robots and pursue digital transformation using detailed data obtained from robots. Furthermore, MOL, MOLSHIP, and SHI, leveraging their respective strengths, will advance maritime technology innovations that support safe transportation, a social issue faced by the maritime industry. By supporting the social infrastructure of maritime transportation, they aim to realize a better lifestyle and way of working.

[ SHI and MOL’s initiatives on social issues]
SHI Group has identified seven key issues and is pursuing initiatives to address them through its business activities. This project is one of the initiatives to “Create better ways to live and work.” The company will contribute to the growth of a sustainable society through the use of this robot for the maintenance of various types of infrastructure, including vessels.

MOL Group identifies "Sustainability Issues" (Materiality)as our key issues for sustainable growth with society through realization of the Group Vision. We anticipate this initiative to contribute especially to the realization of “Safety & Value -Provide added value through safe transportation and our social infrastructure business-“ and “Innovation -Innovation for development in marine technology-.”

(Note 1) For details on the operating principles of the robot, please refer to the SHI website below.
News Fiscal 2022> Successful development of magnetic wheeled robot capable of traveling over curved steel surfaces:

(Note 2)A demonstration test of this robot was conducted in a vessel’s hold (the space where cargo is loaded and stored) and observed by ClassNK. The robot successfully completed various operations, such as navigating corners, acquiring wall inspection images, and measuring plate thickness, which is difficult to achieve with conventional robots.

SHI-Atex Co., Ltd.
Oversaw the development and operation of the robot and conducted running tests on the wall of the vessel’s hold.
Cooperated in the development of the robot, especially the inspection function.
Generated ideas for the onboard use of this robot.
Identified issues in realizing the project and provided an iron ore carrier as a demonstration test site.

(Note 3) For details, please refer to the following Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) website.
Products & Services >Innovation Endorsement Approach