INTRODUCTION

Applus+ has advanced ultrasonic inspection tools and techniques to match every NDT UT challenge, from simple thickness measurement to fully automated inspections. Applus+ has offices located worldwide, with the ability to mobilise ultrasonic inspection teams at short notice, ensuring a prompt and timely response.

THE Applus+ SOLUTION

Ultrasonic testing uses high-frequency sound energy to perform examinations and take measurements. Ultrasonic testing can inspect for dimensional measurements, thickness, material characterisation, flaw detection, and more.

Multiple advances in ultrasonic non-destructive testing have taken place in recent times, evolving from application to conventional thickness to the use of more advanced methods encompassing various modes.

At Applus, we focus in developing new NDT UT applications and technologies surrounding ultrasonic testing as a whole, while staying ahead of current NDT inspection practices and methods.

Applus+ has developed a series of industry-leading technologies for the following key applications:

  • RTD Vessel Scan: ultrasonic weld inspections in pressure vessels
  • RTD RotoScan: ultrasonic inspections for butt-weld in new pipes
  • Beetle: for walls in storage tank inspections
  • Mapscan: for semi-automatic corrosion-mapping around difficult geometries
  • RTD LNG Scan: for NDT weld inspections in large-grain materials
  • Lorus: for corrosion and flaw screening in difficult to access areas, such as for support contact areas and tank floor inspections.
  • RTD IWEX: an innovative, new, full volume, precision UT inspection technology
  • EMAT: for corrosion screening and thickness measurements through coatings or at high temperature
  • PIT: Pipeline Inspection Tool for unpiggable pipelines, adjustable for every challenge

 
Other ultrasonic testing solutions include time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD), guided-wave ultrasonic and ultrasonic phased array, among others. These are fast becoming the industry standard in today's NDT ultrasonic testing environment.

TARGET CUSTOMERS

Ensuring quality and integrity within various industries is vital to an operator’s continued success. Providing turnkey solutions through the employment of ultrasonic is a viable solution, providing operators with the insight required to effectively manage assets and the risks on ageing infrastructure.

 

Ultrasonic testing can be used at any point in the life-cycle of an asset or component, from inspection of plates, forgings, castings or welded components to in-service corrosion monitoring.

 

Ultrasonic testing is used by many industries including:

  • Food processing
  • Paper production
  • Oil and gas production and refining
  • Power generation
  • Aerospace
  • Maritime
KEY CUSTOMER BENEFITS

Benefits of NDT with ultrasonic testing include:

  • Most equipment is now semi-automated or fully automated
  • Produces a permanent electronic record of the inspections 
  • Leads to a marked increase in 'probability of detection' (POD)
  • Improves inspection integrity
  • Promotes asset integrity confidence, identifying the unknown
CONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES

Manual UT wall thickness measurements is a technique using high-frequency sound energy to conduct examinations and obtain thickness measurements. In an ultrasonic thickness measurements (UTM) inspection, a straight beam is introduced into the test object perpendicular to the surface and round-trip time is measured. Quantifiable information can be gathered for detection of localised or general wall-thickness changes.

The ultrasonic shear wave method is a technique which encompasses angle beam ultrasonic testing to identify subsurface anomalies not found directly underneath the transducer itself. Shear wave ultrasonic testing uses ultrasonic energy that is reflected back to the transducer from indications within a material and or weld.  This is displayed as an A-scan, from which an operator can review the relevant information to assess the integrity of the component.

ADVANCED TECHNIQUES

Automated ultrasonic C-scan is a technique that utilises ultrasound and mechanised scanners to build a comprehensive plan view of the component being inspected. Typical plan-view imaging is displayed in colour-coded maps according to the thicknesses obtained throughout the inspection area. Calibrated dual-axis encoders provide a scale map to measure the lengths and widths of the indications found.

Applus+ has developed proven and tested procedures for EMAT NDT and EMAT ultrasonic testing in accordance with applicable codes. The NDT technicians at Applus+ are rigorously assessed on data acquisition and interpretation for EMAT ultrasonic testing, with both internal and external assessment.

Guided wave ultrasonic testing has been identified as an effective pipe-screening technology capable of assessing damaged areas over extended lengths in pipeline integrity inspections. The technology used by Applus+ for (long range) guided wave ultrasonic testing is designed with a minimum footprint of sensors and bands so that the asset integrity inspection can cover zones previously hindered by insulation or poor access. The coatings are now accessible, which reduces the mobilisation times. Recent technological improvements mean that Applus+ can deploy guided wave ultrasonic testing in an array of environments and product temperatures. The results obtained from the guided wave UT inspection can be analysed on-site by Applus+ and the client, enabling technicians to focus their efforts on areas of concern and help reduce the overall costs of system assessment.

IRIS (internal rotating inspection system) is a technique that can be applied to both ferrous and non-ferrous materials and even non-conductive materials like plastics. With IRIS, the remaining wall thickness of tubes can be accurately measured. IRIS inspection is more accurate than other tube-inspection techniques and has the advantage of presenting information about the geometry of defects. Local defects and wall loss on both sides of the tube can be accurately measured. Defects under support plates can be measured without any limitations. The probe used in IRIS examination is made up of a centering device, an ultrasound transducer and a rotating mirror. An ultrasound pulse is generated in the transducer that is mounted in an axial direction, then a 45-degree rotating mirror in the probe will guide the sound bundle towards the tube wall. Next, there will be an ultrasound reflection (echo) at the inner and outer walls of the tube. These echoes are reflected back and processed by the equipment. The time between these two echoes represents the wall thickness of the tube. Knowing the sound velocity in the material under test enables the wall thickness to be calculated. Water is used to rotate the probe mirror and is also needed as a couplant between the transducer and the tube wall. A calibration standard of the same material and dimensions as the tubes to be examined is used to check the IRIS system response in preparation for the inspection. The tubes should also be cleaned to an acceptable standard.

IWEX is a full matrix capture (FMC) technique using ultrasonic (UT) inspection in which individual A-scans are recorded for each and every element of an array transducer, and these A-Scans are processed in a similar way to seismic processing and medical imaging. Advances in computer-processing hardware and software are making these techniques possible in real-time in the field.

Phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) provides a fast and reliable UT inspection solution for flaw detection and characterisation across multiple presentations simultaneously. Phased array NDT technology uses multiple elements fired in quick succession to produce beams that can be steered, swept and focused electronically. Inspections across multiple angles are performed concurrently, creating significant cost savings and providing recordable results for further analysis and/or future inspections. Phased array ultrasound is capable of performing multiple applications including NDT welding inspection, CUI inspection mapping, and inspections on composites and components of complex geometry. Through use of accurate scan-planning and beam-steering capabilities, phased array ultrasonic testing increases the probability of detection, while inspection times are reduced to a minimum.

Rotoscan is an automated ultrasonic inspection system developed in-house by Applus+ RTD to carry UT NDT welding inspection of girth welds during the construction of long-distance pipelines. Developed for both onshore and offshore NDT pipeline inspection, the Rotoscan UT weld inspection system can detect and measure welding imperfections within the weld and associated heat-affected zone, determining both the circumferential length and the through-thickness dimension. The system couples a low false-call rate (FCR) with flaw-sizing capabilities, a user-friendly presentation in colour using customised software and storage of results.

Various locations within a facility have the potential to see the release of product due to hidden corrosion. These locations are referred to as 'difficult to inspect' and include equipment and piping which is partially buried, soil-to-air interfaces, concrete-to-air interfaces, piping encased in a sleeve or concrete, the support-to-equipment interface known as the 'touch point' and the critical area inside a storage tank. Unless the equipment is lifted, taken out of service or un-earthed, the owner/user is usually unaware that issues exist. LoRUS (Long-Range Ultrasonics) is capable of detecting external or internal corrosion within ferrous or non-ferrous material at a distance of up to 90cm (3 feet) depending on the material and its surface condition, corrosion, coatings and temperature.

TOFD ultrasonic testing (UT) is typically used in conjunction with a a phased-array application as a rapid screening tool for the detection and sizing of circumferential- and axial-weld imperfections. In ToFD ultrasonic testing, the ToFD NDT setup involves placing two transducers on opposite sides of the area to be inspected. Sound waves are then refracted into the specimen at angles appropriate to component thickness.

RTD DTI Trekscan is the first free-floating pipeline in-line inspection tool designed to traverse back-to-back one-dimensional (1D) bends, with an optimum speed of one-metre-per-second (2.2 mph). It can run in pipelines previously considered to be 'unpiggable'. The bi-directional tool measures the return echoes of a transmitted ultrasound beam. The amount of time it takes to receive an echo provides highly accurate information on the remaining wall and enables the detection, characterisation and sizing of metal-loss anomalies. Using the latest ultrasonic technology and high-density transducer-carrier design, most refined petroleum products, water and crude oils can be used as a medium to run this tool.

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