The major problem with the quality control of solid biofuels is the sampling. According to VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) studies and Strömberg and Svärd (Bränslehandboken, p. 32 2012), 80% of all falsity is an outcome of an incorrect sampling method and the remaining 20% of falsity is a result of handling samples and measuring them in the wrong way. Falsity in quality management is causing errors of approximately 2% in the moisture result, which causes errors of approximately 5% in the biofuel energy content calculation.

Until recently, it was impossible to take reliable samples from cargo arriving to power plants. Now, Prometec has developed and brought to the market a fully automated sampling robot called Q-Robot. With the help of Q-Robot, power plants can manage their own logistics supply chain, allowing for more efficient logistics at the power plant area. In addition, biofuel suppliers benefit from Q-Robot because they´ll receive valuable quality information about their product from each cargo. Power plants can improve their own process because of the moisture information from the cargo. This means that, for instance, boiler maintenance and construction costs will reduce because of an optimal burning process. The most important thing is that power plants will pay only for the energy content that they have actually bought. Safety will also improve remarkably. No longer will truck drivers or power plant employees need to take samples manually from solid biofuel loads.

The crucial factor in this new operation model is our innovative fully automatic sampler, Q-Robot. It can be placed in any logistically rational place e.g. over the weighbridge. Our Q-Robot can take standardized samples straight from each truck arriving to the power plant area before unloading. At the same time that Q-Robot is taking the samples, the power plant will instantly receive the information about cargo volume and calculated moisture. By using this information, the truck can be guided to a logistically appropriate place to unload the cargo. If the content of biofuel is too moist, the truck can be sent back without unloading.


We want to offer an easy sampling solution for our customers. We can now offer to You a turn-key sampling solution what includes all needed components to get representative samples automatically. The sampling solution includes an automated sampler called Q-Robot, an automated and modular sample handling system Q-Mixer and a PCV-covered steel framed sampling hall. Only thing customer needs take care of is foundations for the sampling hall and data and electricity availability. Q-Robot sampler and Q-Mixer sample handling system are both manufactured, assembled and tested in Kajaani, Finland, before delivery. By operating in this way, installation and commissioning on site is quicker.

We have renewed our sample handling solution thoroughly. Now, the whole sample handling solution is placed to modular heated/cooled container. In the container, there is truck driver’s waiting area with automation panel from where driver starts the robot and driver can follow how sampling sequence is progressing. Furthermore, there are air compressor and distribution board in the container what are producing needed electricity and accurate purity level compressed air for mixing tanks. We can move the whole container from our test lab to customer’s site as one unit.

How Q-Robot works

A truck driver simply drives his vehicle to the sample taking station and presses the button to start up the Q-Robot. This is the only thing that the driver needs to do, it’s as simple as that. Q-Robot takes increments straight from the truck by drilling randomly from different points and depths according to sample taking standards SFS-EN 18135 and SFS-EN 14780. After increments have been taken, Q-Robot automatically forms one truck-specific combined sample. It is possible to collect the combined samples as one larger daily combined sample with the separate sample handling system.

Q-Robot samples are instantly ready for further analysis. Samples can be analyzed using fast moisture analyzers and the results will be available almost immediately to supply chain management. Samples can also be analyzed using traditional laboratory analyzing by a power plant’s own laboratory employees. As an option for the power plant’s own quality management, the Q-Robot can be integrated with our Q-Link quality measurement unit where all the combined samples can be analyzed instantly by cargo. All the outcome data can be transferred in real time to the power plant’s energy information system.

For us, it is extremely important that we can deliver reliable sampling solution to our customers. Moreover, we offer several kinds of services for our customers so they can focus on their own business while we are taking care of sampling solution. The service package is always tailored to meet our customer´s needs. Our offering contains e.g. project management, training, automation support and maintenance services.

Please contact us here: Contact Prometec

Kuopion Energia Case Study

Read how Q-Robot helped Kuopion Energia get on track to save 5 million euros in 5 years.

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North Ostrobothnia’s Center for Economic development, Transport and the Environment has helped us to develop our sampler robot.