Roger Hebert with Boston Dynamics

Industrial Talk is onsite at PowerGen and talking to Roger Hebert, Sales Manager with Boston Dynamics about “Leveraging robotic solutions to perform dangerous and mundane industrial work”.

Roger Hebert and Scott MacKenzie discuss the potential of Boston Dynamics' Spot robot in power generation, highlighting its ability to operate in hazardous environments and perform repetitive data collection tasks. They explore the durability of Spot and its applications in various industries, including manufacturing and power generation, emphasizing the benefits of robotics in improving efficiency and safety in power plant maintenance. However, they also acknowledge the ethical implications of these technologies.

Action Items

  • [ ] Reach out to Boston Dynamics for more information or product demos.
  • [ ] Consider attending future PowerGen conferences for industry insights.
  • [ ] Share more robotics videos on social media to showcase technologies.


Using robots for power generation safety inspections and data collection.

  • Roger Hebert, mechanical engineer from Virginia Tech and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • Boston Dynamics employee discusses their work on Spot, a robot that can navigate challenging environments.
  • Roger discusses how Boston Dynamics' Spot robot can be used in power generation for safety inspections and data collection.
  • Roger explains how Spot can carry sensors to collect data on temperature, level, and other parameters in hazardous environments.
  • Roger explains how robotics can automate data collection and save time for maintenance teams.
  • Remote site access through robots can start up peaker plants and perform rounds without human intervention.

Using robots for asset management in various industries.

  • Durability and reliability are key concerns for the solution, with extensive testing and investment in these areas.
  • The solution can be applied to various industries, including manufacturing, with potential for significant cost savings through leak detection and preventative maintenance.
  • Roger discusses Boston Dynamics' robots and their potential uses.
  • Scott MacKenzie talks about dancing with a robot at Walmart and the company's website.
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robot, boston dynamics, spot, industrial, talk, manufacturing, solution, customers, plants, salt mines, roger, readings, asset, inspection, site, power, sensors, fixed, rounds, trends


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


All right, thank you once again for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you for your continued support of an ecosystem that celebrates industry professionals all around the world, you are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you solve problems. And that's why we celebrate you on Industrial Talk. We are broadcasting once again from PowerGen here in New Orleans, Louisiana. And it is a collection of problem solving Power Generation. Professionals all around. Of course, I've been stuck in the salt mines, I haven't been able to see the the layout, but nonetheless, catch it out on Industrial Talk. And if you want to speak to me, you want to be on his podcast. Click on contact me go out to Industrial You'll be talking to me. And I'm a pretty nice guy. All right in the hot seat. gentleman by the name of Roger a bear. He's in the hot seat. Boston Dynamics is a company you might have heard of them. Spot is the tool, but they do other things. But everybody knows spot. All right. Let's get cracking. Hey, man, how you doing?


I'm doing good to be here. Where are we in the salt mines? Is that where we are? Yeah,


this is the salt mine. I say because I know that the conference goes down there. And I don't know how far down there. But I know it goes down there. And I haven't seen it. And you know, and I can geek out all day long on this. But it's been a really good conference for us. And talking to great people. And it's been a it's been fun. I'm glad you were game. I'm glad you went through the the you know the hoops that had Boston Dynamics to make sure that I'm not going to ask any questions that are inappropriate, which I was glad to be here. It's fun. So with that said, give us a little background on who you are. Yeah, Roger,


a bear. Like you said, mechanical engineering background. Where do you go to school, Virginia Tech,


Baton Rouge and even go to LSU.


I connected on the Baton Rouge connection Louisiana connections. Nice to be back here in New Orleans. Yeah, a couple of countries before but immediately before Boston Dynamics. I was at Rockwell Automation. So a lot of your listeners will be familiar with them. Yep. And then came over here to Boston Dynamics about three years ago when we were ramping up our commercialization. So a lot of people may not know Boston Dynamics is over 30 years old. But we just recently in the last four years started commercialization and building up a marketing and sales, testing, manufacturing all that expertise.


You know, it's so funny when I hear stories like that, because really Boston Dynamics as a whole everybody sees it. Yeah, I know. I've seen spot. That's great. And Scott, it's fantastic. But nobody really understands how long you've been in business to get to a point where the it's very commercialized. Exactly. And that that to me is, is great. With that said, PowerGen make us make the connection between what what Boston Dynamics, the offering of Boston Dynamics and the solutions they're in Power Generation. Yeah, good question. So


I work with our power utilities, customers all over the world. And so spot as you mentioned, quadrate bed four legged walking robot, what we use it for is carrying sensors into areas of your plant, right. And really, three main areas are PowerGen customers are operated in or what spots doing for them. So it's the safety piece can spot operate in a hazardous environment, keep people out. So that's obvious with nuclear, we have our substation customers that have hot EMI field strengths, where you can use a robot inside there versus a person, then you have this repetitive data collection piece. So just do your maintenance rounds and readings, let the robot do that, you know, people are walking around with a clipboard or tablet. And they're just gauge good. Is this level good. And just do it every day. They


have the technology to be able to assess the quality of the meters, let's say I'm doing a routine. And I'm just rocking around a program spot and and I'm able to certainly that determination of the quality of that data. Take us through that. Yeah,


exactly. So it's about carries various sensors with it. But I think where you're going is alright, what can spot do when it's out there. And so picture like an analog gauge. People are walking by looking to see if that gauge is in spec, spoken to the same thing. Look at that gauge, convert it to a number, you tell it if it's above this level, tell me give me an alert. Otherwise, just store the values and move on. Same thing with thermal inspection, use a thermal camera FLIR thermal camera, inspect this motors gearboxes pump, and take the data give me the temperature. If it's outside a band that I specify, tell me immediately and let me know. So it gives that digital archive of your rounds and readings with photos and measurements and then continues on its route for the next things right so just builds up this library, saving your people that kind of time of repetitive data collection tasks.


Yeah, and that excuse of why I didn't get out and had to take a gander at that particular asset and get the data off of there and then pencil whip it into my whatever system the system of record and then doing that incorrectly. Yeah,


yeah, sounds good. It sounds like you're familiar with this. Yes, a


couple of things. And you know, what's fascinating is that it's still, it's still done like that today. There's just so many, there's so many opportunities. And if I venture into an area that you don't feel comfortable with, you just let me know. Now with that said, of course, everyone's gonna say, what about what about the economics behind it? What about why is that? Why is that more economically viable and, and beneficial for me versus some? Something else?


Yeah, exactly. It all depends on scale. It depends on your existing infrastructure, which you have. But some people say, Well, I'm just gonna put more sensors out there. And even the newest plants that are fully centralized, every maintenance shift, are still walking around doing maintenance rounds, right? It's absolutely still doing it, you have to have to do that. And so letting robot again, do that as important. But really the value our customers are getting is that digital archive of everything is there now so I can look back? What was it last year last month? What was the trend leading up this event that we had? Can we repair motors, before they failed to buy new ones immediate savings, air leaks, steam leaks, immediate savings. And so finding those things, and doing it regularly as what our customers are telling us. Now, the other area we didn't talk about is remote site access. So one thing we're seeing trends in the power industry, as you know, is more distributed energy resources. So the smaller peaker plants being built, battery storage plants being built, and they're not staffed 24/7. So if I have a robot living on that site, I can remotely log into it from a control room somewhere else, I can operate that robot and do do arounds and readings through the eyes and ears of a robot walking around the site. And so that remote site access, I can start up peaker plants remotely, doing rounds around the plant. So it really gives you that remote side access automated data collection. And the safety piece is what adds up.


The question that comes to mind is is the durability of that of your solution? Yeah. Now you built that in, you build that in and it's durable. And because you're sick, and you're sticking in in areas where it's very, very challenging.


That's right. That's right. We spend a lot of effort and money on durability testing. So those folks that have been to our office was 100 spot robots run around indoors, outdoors, thermal chambers accelerated life testing. So it's a big investment area of us to maximize that. Right.


Yeah. Because you don't want you don't want it to fail if you're if you're depending on that solution for my business, and for the optimization of that asset. And and being able to get the data that I need. Yeah, you don't want it to pay spot broke down again. Now I gotta go out there that that just creates? Well, that's just, you know, counter to what you want. Exactly, exactly. So, in this in this particular environment, this conference, you you see a lot of I mean, there's a lot of just portable generation here. Do you see some applications? I mean, there's tons.


I mean, they're portable, yes, well, three megawatt generators, and so forth. That's right. Those have not been a good target for spot. Mostly, because a lot of those are too small. To get the value out of an asset like spot, right? Yeah, you might get a fixed fixed camera, one fixed camera, a few sensors, and accomplish the main goals. It's when you get into larger sites, where you have hundreds of inspection points, that we see the most value


for spot. And I know we're at the PowerGen conference. But I, I would imagine this, the solution has applications today really anything that's industrial, let's say manufacturing, or any any asset management type of approach to any chemical doesn't matter. The same thing applies the same same use case really applies to where I'm going to deploy this. It's a safe solution. It gives me predictable readings or, you know, insights into the health of that asset. Exactly. Right.


Manufacturing is a big, big space force as well. Right? Exactly the same thing, right? We have lots and lots of inspection points, these large manufacturing sites, and direct savings, a lot of those manufacturing sites have compressed air, you find a compressed air leak, that's pocket, automate the checks of those and fix that and just save you 1000s of dollars per year, right in every air leak that it finds. And most of our manufacturing, customers will will say, Oh, we have this leak detection, handheld meter, we can go out and look for these. But we don't do it because we're busy doing other things. It's


if I had an opportunity to share the times that I've been in other businesses in the cubicle, there are the devices, they're sitting in the cubicle, they're not out in the field, right? That's right. And and it's because, well, something else happened. I get distracted, whatever I did something more important.


Exactly. So letting spot take that repetitive, boring inspection task away frees up time for your team to go work on that preventative maintenance backlog that you have. It's too long, which is, which is true, right? Go solve that problem. And let's but you're free up that time now for your people to do good things that humans are good at. Right? We're fixing machines, making complicated decisions, etc.


Yeah, and I can't ask you about the future. So I'm not going to because there's, there's so many things that can as a result of that, but it's it's an exciting time. And of course, everybody and I mean, everybody, everybody around the world has, has viewed something from Boston Dynamics. Every everybody because he got that, that two legged guy and then somebody's pushing it and in it, you know, that, to me is just mad technology.


That's a fun place to be for sure. Fun time for all of us, right, with robotics becoming more mainstream. So it's a fun time for all of us to adopt this technology. It's available today. You can deploy these robots today. Right? So it's really amazing how fast it's coming to market.


So I was I was at Walmart, and they have a automated you know, floor cleaning robot. And of course me. I want to see if it gets out of my way. Absolutely. I'm dancing with the robot, right. And it's, it's chirping at me going Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, out of the way I'm here. Oh, man, I'm dancing with a robot.


That's me. That's the people get a hold of you. There are website Boston You can get hold of us that way. You got videos out there absolutely. videos, you know that. I'm gonna see a video of you dancing in Walmart with a robot


yelling at me. All right. We're gonna have all the contact information for Roger out on Industrial Talk. Definitely reach out to him. He knows what's going on. Thank you very much for joining me. We'll be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


His name is Roger. A bear. The company is Boston Dynamics. The event was PowerGen I ask that you consider attending PowerGen it is a must attend event. It it was it was spectacular. And me being a utility guy. Way back when I can geek out on this stuff all day long. They're using of course, robots to do the the reliability and and the collection of information. It's, it's amazing. It is such an amazing time. All right. Again, I always say this, because Industrial Talk is here for you. If you have a podcast, if you want to be on a podcast, you can use the Industrial Talk platform to be able to share more to be able to get your message out. That's what Industrial Talk is all about. We celebrate you industrial professionals right there. Just asked me I'm here to help people be brave. They're greatly hanging out with Roger changed the world. We're going to have another great conversation shortly. So stay tuned.

Industrial Talk is onsite at PowerGen and talking to Roger Hebert, Sales Manager with Boston Dynamics about "Leveraging robotic solutions to perform dangerous and mundane industrial work". Roger Hebert and Scott MacKenzie discuss the potential of Boston Dynamics' Spot robot in power generation, highlighting its ability to operate in hazardous environments and perform repetitive data collection tasks. They explore the durability of Spot and its applications in various industries, including manufacturing and power generation, emphasizing the benefits of robotics in improving efficiency and safety in power plant maintenance. However, they also acknowledge the ethical implications of these technologies.
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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