Stories of all successful companies always start with a need to solve a defect or a problem. This is also how Prometec got started.
Power plants, which use biomass as fuel, had a problem with quality surveillance. Tens, even hundreds of trucks brought fuel in daily, but there was no efficient ways to determine the quality of it. We counted that insufficient quality surveillance can cause an error margin of several percents in the fuel price. In addition, the poor quality of the fuel causes problems in the overall burning process of a plant.
We started by sampling fuel manually and conducting quality surveillance as an independent third party. Our first assignment came from Kainuun Voima in 2012. The same model was later implemented also in plants of Kuopion Energia and some other operators. We learned a lot about biomass and the problems of it’s quality determination, and noticed that accurate sampling was the most important part of the whole quality surveillance chain. We were able to benefit power plants and fuel suppliers greatly, as we could define the moisture content of fuel accurately and quickly.
At 2014, we received an interesting proposition from our client, Kuopion Energia. They asked whether we were interested in developing a whole new sampler device that would take samples of loads at reception, before unloading them. The device was to minimize the use of human labour, and the whole incoming fuel load was to be driven through it. This was an interesting thought.
After few months of intensive planning, our proposition was ready. With drawings curled into a cardboard tube, we drove to present the plan of the prototype to Kuopion Energia. They were convinced, and we decided to build the first prototype in cooperation.
Q-Robot was born. This new kind of sampler was fully automated and equipped with modern machinery that combined already well-proven mechanical solutions and latest technology. We began testing the prototype immediately, and the installation of first Q-Robot started at the Haapaniemi plant of Kuopion Energia around midsummer 2016. Soon after introduction of the Q-Robot of Kuopion Energia, tens of interested people visited the location.
There are five Q-Robots in commercial use at the moment, and sixth robot has already been sold to the new bio energy plant of Oulun Energia. The fifth robot, however, was differed from others. This robot was not only the first one installed abroad, but also the first to take samples from train wagons. This sampler was installed in one of the biggest power plants of Stockholm.
As time has passed, we’ve been often contacted by operators working in different industries. They all struggle with sampling problems. And when will we install the first Q-Robot at a mine or pulp mill? It’s only a matter of time.