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Title:
MOBILE CLEANING APPARATUS AND METHODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/113644
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A mobile cleaning apparatus comprises a power source coupled to wheels or tracks to move the apparatus, a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom coupled to a hydraulic system and a conduit coupled to the boom to communicate cleaning fluid from a source of cleaning fluid to a cleaning head rotatably and tiltably mounted to a distal end of the boom. A pump coupled to the power source moves the cleaning fluid from the source of cleaning fluid via the conduit to the cleaning head. A controller is coupled to the cleaning head to control movement of the cleaning head relative to the boom and a receiver is in communication with the controller to receive signals from a remote controller to control operation of the cleaning head.

Inventors:
SCHLOSS, Grantley (26 Kerryl Street, Kunda Park, Queensland 4556, 4556, AU)
COWLEY, Robert (26 Kerryl Street, Kunda Park, Queensland 4556, 4556, AU)
Application Number:
AU2018/051336
Publication Date:
June 20, 2019
Filing Date:
December 14, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MEALES CONCRETE PUMPING PTY LTD (26 Kerryl Street, Kunda Park, Queensland 4556, 4556, AU)
International Classes:
B08B3/02; B60P3/30
Foreign References:
US5377913A1995-01-03
US20170237242A12017-08-17
US20150068012A12015-03-12
US20110186657A12011-08-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SPRUSON & FERGUSON PTY LTD (Level 6, 175 Eagle StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, 4000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A mobile cleaning apparatus comprising:

a power source coupled to wheels or tracks to move the apparatus;

a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom coupled to a hydraulic system;

a conduit coupled to the boom to communicate cleaning fluid from a source of cleaning fluid to a cleaning head rotatably and tiltably mounted to a distal end of the boom;

a pump coupled to the power source to move the cleaning fluid from the source of cleaning fluid via the conduit to the cleaning head;

a controller coupled to the cleaning head to control movement of the cleaning head relative to the boom; and

a receiver in communication with the controller to receive signals from a remote controller to control operation of the cleaning head. 2. The cleaning apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the cleaning head is rotatable through 360 degrees and tiltable through at least 105 degrees.

3. The cleaning apparatus of claim 1 or 2, wherein the hydraulic system comprises: a pump coupled to a source of hydraulic fluid and to an accumulator;

a valve bank for the cleaning head, the valve bank mounted to the final stage of the multi-stage boom; and

a ball valve coupled between the accumulator and the valve bank via pressure lines coupled to the multi-stage boom.

The cleaning apparatus of claim 3, wherein the valve bank comprises a plurality of flow regulating valves to adjust function speeds of the cleaning head.

5. The cleaning apparatus of claim 4, wherein quick release couplings couple hydraulic hoses between the flow regulating valves and a hydraulic ram and motor of the cleaning head.

6. The cleaning apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein a case drain of the cleaning head is coupled to a return line of the hydraulic system, the return line coupled to the multi-stage boom.

7. The cleaning apparatus of claim 3, 4 or 5, wherein the controller is electrically coupled to solenoids of the valve bank for the cleaning head and to solenoids of the cleaning head.

8. The cleaning apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the receiver is interfaced with the controller such that activation of the transmitter energizes the controller to control tilt and rotation operations of the cleaning head.

9. The cleaning apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the mobile cleaning apparatus is a modified mobile concrete pumping apparatus.

10. A method of cleaning industrial structures comprising using the mobile cleaning apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim.

1 1. A method of cleaning industrial structures comprising: positioning a mobile cleaning apparatus in the vicinity of an industrial structure to be cleaned via a power source of the mobile cleaning apparatus; moving a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom of the mobile cleaning apparatus adjacent the industrial structure to be cleaned, the boom coupled to a hydraulic system of the mobile cleaning apparatus; pumping cleaning fluid from a source of cleaning fluid to a cleaning head rotatably and tiltably mounted to a final stage of the boom via a pump coupled to the power source and via a conduit coupled to the boom and between the source of cleaning fluid and the cleaning head; and controlling movement and operation of the cleaning head relative to the boom via a controller coupled to the cleaning head and a receiver in communication with the controller to receive signals from a remote transmitter.

12. The method of claim 1 1 , wherein the cleaning head is rotatable through 360 degrees and tiltable through at least 105 degrees.

13. The method of claim 11 or 12, wherein the hydraulic system comprises:

a pump coupled to a source of hydraulic fluid and to an accumulator;

a valve bank for the cleaning head, the valve bank mounted to the final stage of the multi-stage boom; and

a ball valve coupled between the accumulator and the valve bank via pressure lines coupled to the multi-stage boom.

14. The method of claim 13, further including adjusting function speeds of the cleaning head via one or more of a plurality of flow regulating valves of the valve bank.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein quick release couplings couple hydraulic hoses between the flow regulating valves and a hydraulic ram and motor of the cleaning head.

16. The method of any one of claims 11 to 15, wherein a case drain of the cleaning head is coupled to a return line of the hydraulic system, the return line coupled to the multi-stage boom.

17. The method of any one of claims 13 to 16, wherein the controller is electrically coupled to solenoids of the valve bank for the cleaning head and to solenoids of the cleaning head. 18. The method of any one of claims 1 1 to 17, further including interfacing the receiver with the controller, activating the transmitter and energizing the controller to control tilt and rotation operations of the cleaning head.

Description:
TITLE

MOBILE CLEANING APPARATUS AND METHODS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to mobile cleaning apparatus and methods of cleaning using such apparatus. In particular, embodiments of the present invention relate to high pressure, high volume mobile cleaning apparatus comprising a multi-stage boom and remote control head for applications such as, but not limited to the cleaning of industrial structures, such as storage tanks, thickener tanks and structures that are typically found in refineries, mine sites and the like.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Structures such as storage tanks and the like employed in industrial environments typically require routine cleaning and maintenance. For example, in view of the liquids and materials held in storage tanks commonly used in refineries, mine sites and the like, it is advisable for routine maintenance and monitoring of the tank conditions to be carried out. One problem with such tanks is that they may become fouled by sediment or the like that can hide any damage, rust or corrosion, or the like. It becomes necessary therefore to clean the interior of such tanks to prevent excessive damage or harm to the tanks or to the surrounding environment. In some instances, storage tanks in the form of thickener tanks can contain extremely harmful substances, such as, but not limited to caustic substances, acids, traces of radioactive materials, such as uranium and lead based materials. Such thickener tanks are found in a wide variety of mines and refineries. Such storage tanks typically have diameters of around 10m to 70m. during the cleaning process, conventionally workers enter such tanks from a manway, elevated work platform (EWP), man basket off a crane, overhead walkway or otherwise enter the confined space of such tanks. Such workers generally must wear protective clothing and a safety harness, and if entering the confined space, must adhere to additional established safety protocols. If workers are using large water cannons from a walkway or the like, worker rotation is required due to the onset of fatigue through use of the water cannon. This can severely limit the work time inside the tank, particularly in hot weather.

Workers use high pressure hoses inside the tank to wash down sediment to expose the tank surface to a clean finish. Personal protective equipment and suits must be worn to resist exposure in the confined space. Such workers must undergo training prior to carrying out such work. Spotters are typically also employed to oversee worker safety and a safety plane and/or an evacuation plane is also required in the event of an emergency, particularly in remote sites, such as mines. Workers must also contend with the steep gradient of the tank floor that is present in many tanks and/or moving sediment containing extremely dangerous materials that may be found particularly in thickener tanks. Obviously this is highly dangerous and debilitating work. OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

A preferred object of the present invention is to provide a mobile cleaning apparatus and/or cleaning methods that address or at least ameliorate one or more of the aforementioned problems of the prior art and/or provide a useful commercial alternative.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns mobile cleaning apparatus and methods for cleaning industrial structures, such as storage tanks, and in particular thickener tanks which are in common usage in mine sites, mineral refineries and the like.

According to one aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention is directed to a mobile cleaning apparatus comprising: a power source coupled to wheels or tracks to move the apparatus; a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom coupled to a hydraulic system; a conduit coupled to the boom to communicate cleaning fluid from a source of cleaning fluid to a cleaning head rotatably and tiltably mounted to a final stage of the boom; a pump coupled to the power source to move the cleaning fluid from the source of cleaning fluid via the conduit to the cleaning head; a controller coupled to the cleaning head to control movement of the cleaning head relative to the boom; and a receiver in communication with the controller to receive signals from a remote transmitter to control operation of the cleaning head.

Preferably, the cleaning head is rotatable through 360 degrees and tiltable through at least 105 degrees. Preferably, the hydraulic system comprises: a pump coupled to a source of hydraulic fluid and to an accumulator; a valve bank for the cleaning head, the valve bank mounted to the final stage of the multi-stage boom; and a ball valve coupled between the accumulator and the valve bank via pressure lines coupled to the multi-stage boom.

Suitably, the valve bank comprises a plurality of flow regulating valves to adjust function speeds of the cleaning head.

Suitably, quick release couplings couple hydraulic hoses between the flow regulating valves and a hydraulic ram and motor of the cleaning head. Preferably, a case drain of the cleaning head is coupled to a return line of the hydraulic system, the return line coupled to the multi-stage boom.

Preferably, the controller is electrically coupled to solenoids of the valve bank for the cleaning head and to solenoids of the cleaning head.

Preferably, the receiver is interfaced with the controller such that activation of the transmitter energizes the controller to control tilt and rotation operations of the cleaning head. In some embodiments, the mobile cleaning apparatus is a modified mobile concrete pumping apparatus.

According to another aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention is directed to a method of cleaning industrial structures comprising using the aforementioned mobile cleaning apparatus.

According to another aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention is directed to a method of cleaning industrial structures comprising: positioning a mobile cleaning apparatus in the vicinity of an industrial structure to be cleaned via a power source of the mobile cleaning apparatus; moving a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom of the mobile cleaning apparatus adjacent the industrial structure to be cleaned, the boom coupled to a hydraulic system of the mobile cleaning apparatus; pumping cleaning fluid from a source of cleaning fluid to a cleaning head rotatably and tiltably mounted to a final stage of the boom via a pump coupled to the power source and via a conduit coupled to the boom and between the source of cleaning fluid and the cleaning head; and controlling movement and operation of the cleaning head relative to the boom via a controller coupled to the cleaning head and a receiver in communication with the controller to receive signals from a remote transmitter.

Further features and/or aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals refer to like features. In the drawings:

FIG 1 illustrates a mobile cleaning apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention in a first configuration cleaning a tank structure;

FIG 2 illustrates the mobile cleaning apparatus shown in FIG 1 in a second configuration cleaning a tank structure; FIG 3 is an enlarged view of the mobile cleaning apparatus shown in FIG 1 ;

FIG 4 is an enlarged view of a cleaning head of the mobile cleaning apparatus shown in FIG 1 ;

FIG 5 is a schematic diagram representing a hydraulic system of the mobile cleaning apparatus; FIG 6 is a schematic diagram representing an electrical system of the mobile cleaning apparatus; and

FIG 7 is a general flow diagram illustrating methods according to embodiments of the present invention.

Skilled addressees will appreciate that elements in the drawings are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the relative dimensions of some of the elements in the drawings may be distorted and/or some elements may be omitted to help improve understanding of embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Embodiments of the present invention are directed to mobile cleaning apparatus and methods of cleaning industrial structures, such as, but not limited to storage tanks, and in particular thickener tanks which are in common usage in mine sites, mineral refineries and other installations. However, it will be appreciated that embodiments of the present invention are not limited to such specific cleaning applications.

Reference is made to FIGS 1 to 3 which show a mobile cleaning apparatus 10 according to embodiments of the present invention in use to clean a thickener tank 13. The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a power source, such as a conventional turbo diesel engine 1 1 , coupled to wheels 12 to move the apparatus. Depending on the application, tracks can be used instead of, or in combination with the wheels 12, for example where more challenging terrain must be traversed by the apparatus. The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom 14 coupled to a hydraulic system 15, some further details of which are shown in FIG 5. The hydraulic system 15 includes and is coupled to hydraulic rams 16 coupled between stages of the boom 14. In the embodiment shown in FIG 1 , the boom 14 is a multi-stage knuckle boom comprising five boom stages 18, 20, 22, 24, 26.

A first stage 18 of the boom 14 is rotatably mounted to a body 28 of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10. It will be understood that the body 28 of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 to which a first stage 18 of the boom 14 is rotatably mounted can be any part of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 that has sufficient strength and is in an appropriate location to mount the boom 14. For example, the body 28 can be a chassis of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10. In other embodiments, as shown in FIGS 1 -3, the first stage 18 of the boom 14 is rotatably mounted to a platform 29 mounted to a forward position of the body 28 or chassis and behind a cab of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10.

A second stage 20 is coupled to the first stage 18 via a pivoting knuckle 30 and a hydraulic ram 16. A third stage 22 is similarly coupled to the second stage 20. A fourth stage 24 is similarly coupled to the third stage 22. A fifth stage 26 is similarly coupled to the fourth stage 24. It should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to a boom comprising five boom stages. Various numbers of boom stages and various lengths of boom stages can be used according to the application of the cleaning apparatus 10. According to some embodiments, each boom stage is about 5m to about 10m in length such that a vertical height of the boom 14 is about 25m to about 50m and a horizontal reach of the boom 14 is about 22m to about 46m. With additional reference to FIG 4, a cleaning head 32 is rotatably and tiltably mounted to a final stage of the boom 14. In the embodiment shown in FIGS 1 to 4, the cleaning head 32 is mounted to a distal end of the final, fifth stage 26 of the boom 14. Flence, the multi-stage boom 14 provides the reach and manoeuvrability required to position the cleaning head 32 relative to industrial structures to remotely clean the industrial structures.

In some embodiments, the cleaning head 32 is a spray head conventionally used for concrete spraying applications, such as concrete spraying applications for underground mines and the like. In some embodiments, a spray head produced by Normet Oy, Finland as used in mobile concrete sprayers produced by Normet Oy can be used in the present invention, but the present invention is not limited to this specific spray head. Further details about controlling the cleaning head 32 are provided herein.

The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises at least one conduit 34 coupled to the boom 14 to communicate cleaning fluid from a source 35 of cleaning fluid to the cleaning head 32 rotatably and tiltably mounted to a final stage of the boom 14. The at least one conduit 34 is in the form of piping that is capable of communicating the required volume of cleaning fluid at the desired pressure from the source 35 of cleaning fluid to the cleaning head 32 at the desired rate. For example, the present invention can dispense about 2,000 litres/min of cleaning fluid from the cleaning head 32, but it will be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to this delivery rate and the rate can be varied. Flence, the present invention can deliver a high volume of cleaning fluid at a high pressure to provide the necessary force to clean industrial structures.

In some embodiments, the source 35 of cleaning fluid can be a container mounted to or otherwise carried by the mobile cleaning apparatus 10. In other embodiments, the source 35 of cleaning fluid can be a separate container, such as a mobile tanker, or a fixed tank or a piped supply of cleaning fluid. The source 35 of cleaning fluid can be coupled to at least one conduit 34 via pipe 36 extending rearward of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10. The source of cleaning fluid can be coupled to the pipe 36 via a screw fitting and flow control unit. The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a pump 38 coupled to the power source 1 1 to move the cleaning fluid from the source 35 of cleaning fluid via the conduit 34 to the cleaning head 32.

Depending on the application, the cleaning fluid can be water, or a mixture of water and one or more cleaning agents or other chemicals, or other fluids used for cleaning industrial structures, such as thickener tanks and the like, as are known in the art.

With reference to FIG 5, the hydraulic system 15 of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a pump 46 coupled to a source 48 of hydraulic fluid, such as an oil tank where the hydraulic fluid is oil, and to an accumulator 50. The hydraulic system 15 comprises a valve bank 52 for the cleaning head 32. In the embodiments shown, the valve bank 52 is mounted to the final stage 26 of the multi-stage boom 14. The hydraulic system 15 comprises a ball valve 54 coupled between the accumulator 50 and the valve bank 52 via pressure lines coupled to the multi-stage boom 14. The valve bank 52 comprises a plurality of flow regulating valves 56 to adjust function speeds of the cleaning head 32. Quick release couplings couple hydraulic hoses 57 between the flow regulating valves 56 and a hydraulic ram 58 and motor 60 of the cleaning head 32. The hydraulic ram 58 controls tilting of the cleaning head 32 and the motor 60 controls rotation of the cleaning head 32. According to some embodiments, the cleaning head 32 is rotatable through 360 degrees and tiltable through at least 105 degrees. In some embodiments, the cleaning head 32 is tiltable through a greater angle. A case drain 62 of the cleaning head 32 is coupled to a return line of the hydraulic system 15 and the return line is coupled to the multi-stage boom 14. With reference to FIG 6, the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a controller 40 coupled to the cleaning head 32 to control movement of the cleaning head 32 relative to the boom 14. The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 comprises a receiver 42 in communication with the controller 40 to receive signals from a remote transmitter 44 to control operation of the cleaning head 32. In one configuration, the controller 40 is electrically coupled to solenoids 45 of the valve bank 52 for the cleaning head 32 and to solenoids 47 of the cleaning head 32. The receiver 42 is interfaced with the controller 40 such that activation of the transmitter 44 energizes the controller 40 to control tilt and rotation operations of the cleaning head 32.

In some embodiments, the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 is a modified mobile concrete pumping truck. For example, a truck mounted boom pump, such as, but not limited to model JXRZ50 manufactured by Junjin of Korea, or a truck mounted concrete pump manufactured by Jacon, Australia, can provide a basis for modification. Modification of such concrete pump trucks by one skilled in the art in accordance with the description herein will enable the skilled addressee to arrive at the apparatus and perform the method described herein. Variations between different models of concrete pump trucks may be required, but will nonetheless fall within the scope of the present invention as defined by the accompanying claims.

According to another aspect, the present invention is directed to a method of cleaning industrial structures, such as tanks and the like comprising using the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 described herein. According to another aspect, and with reference to the general flow diagram FIG 7, the present invention is directed to a method 200 of cleaning industrial structures, such as, but not limited to tanks and particularly thickener tanks. The method 200 comprises at 202 positioning the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 in the vicinity of an industrial structure, such as a thickener tank, to be cleaned. The mobile cleaning apparatus 10 is positioned via a power source of the mobile cleaning apparatus, such as the engine 1 1.

The method 200 comprises at 204 moving the multi stage, articulated, rotatable boom 14 of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 adjacent the industrial structure to be cleaned. The boom 14 is coupled to the hydraulic system of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 to control movement of the boom 14.

The method 200 comprises at 206 pumping cleaning fluid from the source 35 of cleaning fluid to the cleaning head 32 rotatably and tiltably mounted to the final stage 26 of the boom 14 via the pump 38 coupled to the power source 1 1 of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 and via the conduit 34 coupled to the boom 14 and between the source 35 of cleaning fluid and the cleaning head 32.

The method 200 comprises at 208 controlling movement and operation of the cleaning head 32 relative to the boom 14 via the controller 40 coupled to the cleaning head 32 and the receiver 42 in communication with the controller 40 to receive signals from the remote transmitter 44. In particular, the angle of inclination and angle of rotation of the cleaning head 32 can be selected to accurately clean the industrial structure remotely. The method 200 comprises at 210 controlling movement of the stages 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 of the boom 14 via the hydraulic system of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10 and the rams 16 of the boom 14 as required to position the cleaning head 32 above the desired location of the industrial structure to be cleaned. The method 200 comprises repeating steps 208, 210 to position and manoeuvre the cleaning head 32 as required until the industrial structure is cleaned.

During use of the mobile cleaning apparatus 10, a worker is located on a walkway, standing platform or other safe, harm free position in line of site with the cleaning head 32 to remotely control operation of the cleaning head 32 via the remote transmitter 44.

The stages of the multi staged knuckle boom 14 and articulation of the cleaning head 32 are controlled using the hydraulic system 15 for jetting high pressure water or other cleaning fluid against the interior of the tank or other industrial structure being cleaned. The multi stage boom 14 and cleaning head 32 are extremely manoeuvrable to be set up and used around the tanks. The apparatus 10 enables a higher pressure and volume of cleaning liquid to be used compared with hand held hoses or cannon. Additionally, no humans are exposed to any risk of heights, confined space, high pressure injection, physical harm or corrosive or toxic substances.

In the present invention the mobile cleaning apparatus is set up in one position on the perimeter of the tank or other structure to be cleaned. The multi stage knuckle boom 14 is unfolded to places the cleaning head 32 in to a position where cleaning is to be started. The desired cleaning liquid to be used couples to pipe 36 via a suitable fitting which controls the flow of the cleaning fluid and in some embodiments, levels for the hydraulic driven pump 46.

From the safety of the platform or walk way using the remote control transmitter 44 the configuration of the multi knuckle boom 14 is easily maneuvered around inside the tank to access all areas. The 360 degrees slewing rotation and ability to tilt the cleaning head 32 through at least 105 degrees when desired enables efficient and safe cleaning of the tank interior or other industrial structure to be attained.

Hence embodiments of the present invention address or at least ameliorate at least some of the aforementioned problems of the prior art. For example, the present invention allows for much safer, faster and environmentally desirable cleaning by completely eliminating the need for human workers to be present inside the tank being cleaned or in the immediate proximity of other industrial structure being cleaned. More particularly, the present invention enables shorter times for cleaning of tanks and other industrial structures, safer working conditions for workers in the cleaning process, eliminating the requirement to enter confined spaces, reducing worker fatigue and other potential risks.

In this specification, the terms“comprises”,“comprising” or similar terms are intended to mean a non-exclusive inclusion, such that an apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include those elements solely, but may well include other elements not listed.

The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge. It will be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. Skilled addressees will identify variations from the specific embodiments described herein that will nonetheless fall within the scope of the present invention, which is determined by the following claims.