Nestlé Purina deployed Spot to automate thermal and acoustic inspections in their packaging lines. Autonomous inspections allow them to give time back to the maintenance technicians, better predict and plan repairs, and ensure reliable operations. Discover why Spot was the right fit for their factory and how they plan on scaling with Spot.

In the case of Spot and the case of freeing up that manpower to be able to work, if Spot can find these issues for us in between our changeovers in between different production runs, we’re able to catch those issues ahead of time that allows us to be more predictive, more preventative rather than reactive.

Scott Smith, Maintenance Electrician, Nestlé Purina Petcare


Alyssa Carter, Senior Specialist Robotics Engineering: We don’t see Spot as just thermal and acoustic inspection. We see Spot as something more of a tool that we can use for other applications. And we’re just starting to explore that and see what can we do in collaboration with Boston Dynamics to make Spot even more useful for our factories.

Roger Brecht, Vice President of Digital Manufacturing: My name is Roger Brecht. I’m the Vice President of Digital Manufacturing for Nestlé Purina Petcare. I’ve been in the role for about two years, and that lead our digital transformation journey. Our goals are to provide pet food to cats and dogs worldwide that’s nutritional and well balanced, and will keep them safe and healthy. We saw value in the use case for acoustic compressed air leak detection. But probably more importantly, we saw a future well beyond predictive maintenance that we felt, would help us continue to improve our processes at our factories.

Covering More Ground

Carter: So Spot was chosen for this application, basically because our environment.

Scott Smith, Maintenance Electrician: We’re able to put Spot into situations where things are a little bit tighter, and that relieves a lot of bending, a lot of movements, and a lot of strain on the human body. And then we go ahead and charge him and he would just keep going and going and going and going.

Carter: Our environment is very unique in that it has a lot of staircases in order to get to places we wanted to inspect, as well as it’s really an expensive to outfit all of our devices that we wanted to inspect with an IoT device. And so we found Spot as a unique opportunity for us to kind of cover more ground than we were already doing with some of our IoT devices. As well as, we have a lot of really small opportunities for improvement rather than these just big giant gaps.

Brecht: Our vision for Spot is be an autonomous element out on our factory floor, that integrates well with with humans, but starts to eliminate a lot of the manual intensive and maybe ergonomically challenging activities that we have done for the past thirty to forty years in our environment.

Automating Maintenance Inspections

Carter: Automating these inspections is gonna be huge for us. So Spot is able to make it easier for a preventative maintenance technician to do his job.

Smith: The biggest vision for Spot I’ve had here is to be all free up another guy. If we’re able to have Spot out on the floor, walk around, take our thermal readings, take our air checks. Now we have one more man, two more men, three more—however many it takes out on the floor to be able to correct these things. If we do that, that allows us to put out a better product. And it allows us to be better overall as a company.

Carter: Spot is better suited to the preventative maintenance activities for us because we we don’t have enough people to do these routines, as well as it can be pretty mundane. There’s a lot of things to do within a factory there’s a lot of fires to put out on a daily basis. So getting to that bottom of your list and getting to your PM schedule is not always something that it’s either exciting work or it’s something that people even really have time for.

Brecht: We do thermal inspections on non-critical equipment and also doing acoustic air leak, compressed air leak detection in missions. In terms of missions, we have thirty plus missions that we’re using Spot for right now between thermal and acoustic.

Smith: We have Spot running at every hour on the top of the hour. He is doing specific thermal inspections on motors, bell housings, gearboxes. And then he’s also doing air leak detection too.

Carter: Early in our deployment process, one of the biggest, I guess, AHA moments we had was actually one of our motors on top of one of our dryers was heating up. Immediately when when we were running the routes and we found that inspection point. I took the picture captured in Scout and I sent it to our preventative maintenance tech.

Smith: In the case of Spot and the case of freeing up that manpower to be able to work, if Spot can find these issues for us in between our changeovers in between different production runs, we’re able to catch those issues ahead of time that allows us to be more, you know, predictive, more preventative rather than, you know, reactive.

Expanding with Spot

Carter: Right now, we’re actually expanding into our processing area, as well as adding more routes in the packing. And even today, when we are mapping, we found air leaks. And every time kind of a little moment of an excitement where you’re like, look, Spot’s doing his job.

Brecht: We’re getting ready pull another Spot to a factory out on the East Coast, similar environment. But then we, long term plans, we plan to have every one of our twenty plus North American sites to have an individual Spot starting with predictive. But again, if you fast forward to three to five years down the road, I have envisioned Spot doing a lot more than acoustic, you know, air leak detection and thermal inspections. We have a lot of potential use cases we’ve shared with Boston Dynamics, and we’re excited about where that’s gonna take us.