Robotics being used for nuclear decommissioning

MONTREAL – SNC-Lavalin and Kinova have signed a two-year collaboration agreement to deploy robotic solutions in the nuclear sector.

The agreement builds on the existing relationship between the two companies, where in 2019 SNC-Lavalin engineers demonstrated how the Kinova Gen 3 collaborative robot arm could be deployed into an inactive glovebox and complete a range of activities needed for nuclear decommissioning.

SNC-Lavalin will become Kinova’s exclusive integrator for their collaborative robots into operational gloveboxes at selected nuclear licensed sites. The collaboration aligns with SNCL Engineering Services strategy and wider portfolio of nuclear decommissioning and waste management solutions.

SNC-Lavalin has fully integrated Kinova’s equipment into a certified, patent pending solution that enables safe deployment of the collaborative robot into almost any glovebox and other similar applications. The solutions developed are expected to prove useful in the thousands of nuclear gloveboxes around the world, increasing operator safety and with potential to improve productivity.

“Removing hands from gloveboxes is a key challenge for the nuclear industry and we’re proud to be helping drive change and improve safety, by integrating a solution from other industries to the nuclear industry,” said Sandy Taylor, president, nuclear, SNC-Lavalin.

“This work has the potential to reduce hand safety risks for manual workers on-site, as well as improving output and efficiency as we incorporate digital solutions and support remote working.”

“Empowering humans through the use of robotics has always been at the centre of Kinova’s philosophy; all workers should feel safe to carry out tasks in their work environment, above all in the nuclear and hazmat sectors,” said François Boucher, executive vice-president, Kinova.

SNC-Lavalin has over 60 years of global nuclear expertise. In the UK, the company applies a differentiated technology portfolio across major UK new build programs such as Hinkley Point C, through asset management and waste management services to nuclear decommissioning for sites including Sellafield’s Legacy Ponds, which it has supported for over a decade.

Founded in 2006 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Kinova’s mission was initially to empower individuals with upper-body limitations through the use of assistive robotics. Almost 15 years later, the company has evolved its product line to service new markets in industries such as agrifood, healthcare, security, nuclear, hazmat and advanced manufacturing.