Improving facility maintenance through inspection with the latest ultrasonic imaging technology


    N. Pörtzgen presentation at ADIPEC 2022, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

    For a safe, reliable, and efficient operation of facilities, knowledge and information about the condition and integrity of the assets are essential. Therefore, assets must be inspected on a regular basis, preferably with non-destructive methods. Many of such methods are known in the industry (e.g. radiographic, magnetic, ultrasonic testing, etc.), however, their application is often restricted and the resulting data from the inspection is not adequate and/or sufficient for asset integrity management.


    Due to advances in ultrasonic hardware and sensor technology, a novel approach for non-destructive testing based on ultrasonic imaging, IWEX, has been introduced. With this approach, an ultrasonic ‘fingerprint’ called a Full Matrix Capture (FMC) data set, can be measured. With the FMC data set representative 2D and 3D images from the interior of metal components (e.g. welds) can be reconstructed. For the inspection of such components, real-time scans can be made in order to reveal possible flaws.

    The IWEX technology has already successfully been applied for the inspection of girth welds in newly constructed pipelines. Furthermore, the method has recently been recognized by international codes and standards (ISO, ASME), which opens the door for both new construction and in-service inspection applications in industrial facilities.

    In this paper, we will present the principles of ultrasonic imaging with the IWEX method. An example will be presented of an actual use case, concerning the inspection of welds in stainless steel pipes in an industrial facility. The welds contained cracks that were in some cases detectable with radiography, but height sizing was not possible. With the IWEX method, the cracks could reliably be detected, and it was possible to determine the crack heights. The height sizing accuracy was confirmed with known artificial targets in a representative reference block. Based on the accurate sizing results, it was possible to perform a fitness-for-service analysis which allowed a safe continuation of production in the facility.

    The use case of the IWEX method illustrates how this new technology facilitates improved maintenance strategies for the industry by enabling the possibility to obtain sufficient and accurate information during inspection. As a next steppingstone, the 2D and 3D images can be stored digitally such
    that they can be used to monitor and predict the condition of the asset over time using novel analysis concepts such as pattern recognition by neural networks.

    To get more information, read the complete paper shared at the conference or contact our NDT experts.

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