A Guide to Probes and Scanners for Ultrasonic Corrosion Mapping of Pipelines and Tanks

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By Dave Jankowski, product sales leader at GE Inspection Technologies 

Ultrasonic phased-array corrosion mapping assists in quickly scanning, detecting, profiling and sizing of pitting and erosion in pipes and tanks. Encoded scanning data allows a high degree of repeatability and ensures 100% coverage to compare asset conditions and track corrosion rates over time.

Conducting accurate, precise corrosion inspection takes more than just an ultrasonic flaw detector or A-scan thickness gauge– selecting a scanner, probe and accessory configuration for your application is a critical part of inspection planning. The right setup can make or break your inspection.

The NDT equipment industry offers a variety of scanners and probes to improve inspection productivity when mapping large surfaces for wall thickness and metal loss. This is a snapshot of the technologies available and their recommended applications.

Robotic and Motorized Scanners

Robotic or motorized corrosion scanners, such as Fast UT from GE Inspection Robotics, are particularly useful for inspection in confined spaces or overhead pipe runs, where it is unsafe or impractical to introduce a live inspector. During a maintenance turnaround where time is critical, it is often desirable to avoid the time delays and costs associated with ventilation, rigging, scaffolding or hole watch. The use of a robotic scanner or crawler can pay for itself in a single turnaround.

When selecting a robotic scanner, it’s important to ensure compatibility with your existing UT flaw detector, and to ensure that the device is certified as  intrinsically safe when it will be operating in highly hazardous environments.

Manual Scanners

Manual scanners operate in much the same way as a motorized scanner, but with the requirement of a live inspector to physically move and operate them. Because they have fewer moving parts they can be very reliable. However to ensure accurate encoding of the scanned surface area, they require strong magnets and precision mechanics. It is advisable to train operators on manual scanning carefully to ensure consistent procedures.

High quality UT instruments such as GE’s Mentor UT are compatible with a variety of commercially available aftermarket scanners and robotic systems to meet virtually any corrosion mapping need.

DM Array Probes

For corrosion inspection and mapping, it is recommended to use a multi-element array probe, such as GE’s DM phased array probes. They provide comprehensive linear coverage and excellent resolution of backwall corrosion and pitting. Curved or flat wear bars can be added to the probes to extend probe life, ensure alignment, and aid acoustic coupling to the inspection surface. The larger surface area of multi-element probes allows inspectors to cover more surface area faster, and an advanced C-scan image display provides a visual representation of wall thickness loss.

Because corrosion mapping often takes place in challenging field conditions or at high temperatures, it’s important to consider the quality of probe construction when choosing a probe supplier.

Conventional DM Probes

When initial corrosion mapping of a pipe or tank wall identifies irregularities, inspectors are often called on to conduct more specific point inspections or thickness measurements using conventional UT. To maximize inspector productivity, the best phased array UT instruments are equipped with a conventional channel so these spot-checks can be conducted with the same instrument.

Conventional dual element transducers are recommended for spot-checking and measuring remaining wall thickness in corrosion application. Dual element transducers generate sound waves with one element and receive with another – in a ‘V-path’ orientation, which increases sensitivity when examining corroded or pitted back walls.

Software

For productive and precise corrosion inspection, software can be just as important as probe and scanning hardware. Today a new generation of “app-based” UT flaw detectors operate much like a smartphone, allowing users to customize their device interface and build error-reducing guided inspection procedures. These “apps” can automatically identify compatible probes, improve calibration consistency and lock-out unnecessary device parameters, ensuring more reliable and repeatable inspection data. In addition, remote collaboration and live streaming via wireless internet streamlines reporting and allows experts to offer second opinions on tough inspection calls.

With the right combination of probes, scanners, software and accessories, today’s NDT inspectors are speeding up corrosion inspections and improving accuracy.

Learn more about GE’s newest ultrasonic corrosion mapping instrument atwww.mentorut.com and download our popular corrosion inspection probe and scanner configuration guide at:https://www.gemeasurement.com/download/mentor-ut-probe-scanner-and-accessory-guide

Dave Jankowski is the NDT Portable Products Sales Leader for GE Inspection Technologies. He holds a masters’ degree in materials engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

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Mentor: The Right Tool for the Job

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By Timothy Humphrey, general manager at GE Oil & Gas

To the person with a hammer everything looks like a nail, but to be effective and efficient you really need the right tool for the job.  This week I’m proud to announce that after three years of development, GE can provide NDT inspectors with a new tool, and more importantly the right tool for the job.  Gone are the days when every inspection job looks like a nail.  This new platform is built to provide the right tools for their inspection jobs all in one toolbox.  This toolbox is called “Mentor”.

With the official launch of the Mentor UT portable ultrasonic flaw detector in Pennsylvania this week, we are adding another member to the Mentor platform of NDT portables.  Now inspectors can pick up a GE ultrasonic, eddy current or remote visual inspection instrument and be confident they are all excellent NDT inspection devices, easy to use, share common software, user interfaces, and connectivity.

We began the Mentor journey because we realized that the NDT and inspection industry was changing, and these changes called for a move toward more reliable, connected and smart inspection hardware and software.  In the next decade, an estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will open up due to industry growth, a retiring workforce and lack of technically skilled applicants.  In the Ultrasound inspection industry is estimated that the average age of a Level III inspector is 55 years old.  This presents a challenge and an opportunity for those of us in the NDT world.  The inspection industry must determine the best way to train the next generation of inspectors to ensure that industry knowledge, critical expertise and lessons learned are maintained.  We see believe one way to address this issue is through the use of advanced technology, giving inspectors the tools and resources they need – which is how the Mentor concept was born.

The award-winning Mentor platform of NDT products is designed to help new and less experienced inspectors make better decisions, faster. These products, with the features and functionalities they share, help organizations embrace the industry shift toward digitization, improve inspection productivity, contribute to long-term equipment reliability.   Mentor is by for the simplest product available on the market and was built to help accelerate the training curve for new inspectors, leverage expertise of Level III inspectors driving efficiency for our customers.

Mentor products, across all inspection modalities share a common set of features that set them apart from any other inspection product on the market, essentially these features are what it means to be a Mentor:

  • Guided inspection “apps” – Inspection procedures, training, demonstration videos, help documents and drawings can be built into all Mentor inspection devices. This improves consistency and reduces training costs. Don’t ask an inspector to guess about how to conduct an inspection – provide step-by-step procedures or embed a demo video. Custom apps are easy to create using GE’s desktop Mentor Create software.
  • Intuitive glove-friendly touchscreen interface — Just like your smartphone, operating a Mentor device just makes sense, and interface features are common across devices. Rather than adjusting manual dials or buttons, navigating a Mentor device is fast, easy and intuitive for inspectors at all levels. Selecting, dragging and scaling screen features is easy, and reduces levels of awkward and confusing analog menus.
  • Wireless connectivity. Mentor instruments are the only commercially available NDT portables with standard onboard Wi-Fi. Secure wireless connectivity streamlines reporting and analysis, makes software updates easier and enables real-time remote collaboration with off-site experts. Need a second opinion on a tough call? Now your field technicians have a Mentor.
  • Easy to use: Mentor devices are just easy to use.  We have a team of experts and engineers who work to understand the challenges inspectors face and find innovative ways to build the “smarts” into the instrument to help make the inspector’s job easier.  We want to make sure the inspector’s expertise is focused on the work they are doing, not on the product they are using.

We understand the ongoing challenges and changes facing businesses in the NDT industry today, and we know the Mentor platform of advanced NDT portable products will save you time and money. This week we put another tool in our toolbox, taking another critical step in our journey.  We are committed to work hard on the next releases and software updates for the Mentor platform.  Our relentless focus on improving the customer experience through simplicity and innovation is what makes Mentor the leading brand in the NDT and inspection industry.

Tim Humphrey is the General Manager of GE’s NDT Portables product line. He has more than 25 years of industrial experience, primarily in the aerospace and automotive industries.

GE Brings Digital Solutions to Nondestructive Testing (NDT) Industry

Mentor UT™ Improves Productivity with the Power of Apps and Live Wireless Collaboration

Volatile oil prices, global competitive pressure, and the costs and challenges associated with corrosion and erosion mean that oil & gas production and refining operations need to operate more reliably than ever and at lower costs. GE Oil & Gas is introducing Mentor UT, a new digital solution to improve asset reliability, reduce maintenance costs and downtime.

Mentor UT and other nondestructive testing (NDT) products, software and techniques provide inspection professionals the solutions needed to properly inspect and evaluate the properties of critical industrial materials. Today’s NDT and inspection managers face a complex and ever-changing environment, including:

  • Increasing complexity of inspections
  • Loss of domain expertise from departing or retiring inspection experts
  • More demanding codes and standards
  • Constant drive for improved detection and productivity
  • Pressure to reduce asset downtime

The Mentor platform of connected NDT portables from GE features the latest developments in flaw detection, user interface and wireless connectivity. Today, asset owners and inspection companies can choose from a variety of digitally optimized GE instruments to meet their ultrasonic (UT), electromagnetic (EM) and visual inspection (RVI) needs.

The most recent product innovation from GE is Mentor UT, an ultrasonic array flaw detector optimized for corrosion and erosion mapping of process piping, tanks and vessels in the field. Mentor UT allows users to customize and download inspection applications (“Apps”) that guide users through inspection procedures, much like a smartphone app.

Tools such as Mentor UT will help the industry improve inspection productivity, reduce training costs, and provide excellent probability of detection, which reduces inspection time and helps get assets back online faster. Like GE’s other Mentor products the interface is an intuitive touch screen which makes it easier to adopt/get started with for the new generation of NDT inspectors.

“Corrosion and erosion are costly problems for Oil & Gas and Power Generation companies,” said Tim Humphrey, senior product line manager for portable inspection. “Mentor UT addresses this issue by providing a complete digital corrosion mapping solution for this application.”

Mentor UT provides excellent ultrasonic performance with the power of array corrosion mapping and a conventional UT channel. Guided inspection apps and the touch-screen interface improve inspector productivity, lower training costs and get new inspectors on-the-job faster.

Mentor UT will be on display at Control 2016 in Stuggart, April 26 – 29, at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston on May 2 (booth 3765), at Corrosion Technology Day in Houston on May 5, and at the World NDT Conference on June 13, 2016 (booth B96).

Mentor UT is field-ready out of the box with inspection workflows already installed or available for wireless download from the InspectionWorks Store.

For more details about the GE Mentor UT and Mentor product line, please visit: www.gemeasurement.com.

Would You Do This to Your Smartphone?

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By Josh Scott, GE Portables Engineering Manager

One of the best things about being an engineer is the chance to solve challenging problems with my team every day. At GE, we design and build digital inspection instruments that help industrial companies keep their operations running smoothly.

These precision instruments use ultrasound, electromagnetic current or advanced 3D visual measurement to find the tiniest cracks, pits, dents and flaws that could cause a tank or pipeline to fail or a turbine to go offline. Tolerances are measured in thousands of an inch. At the same time, these precision instruments need to be designed to stand up to harsh industrial environments, day in and day out, for years.

As technology has improved our products have become more sophisticated, with touch-screen interfaces and digital apps, much like a smartphone. They are built with onboard wireless connectivity and interchangeable probes and batteries. Imagine taking your smartphone into a desert oil field where it has to withstand sand, dust, extreme temperatures, impacts and scratches. Or imagine taking it to an Alaskan oil pipeline where it has to operate well below freezing and stand up to repeated drops into wet snow and mud.

These are the problems my team solves every day, which is why we enjoy our work so much. We shot this video in our test lab that shows the tough environmental tests our instruments go through before they leave the factory. Check it out:

The instrument that’s taking that terrible beating in the video is Mentor UT, our newest and most advanced ultrasonic array flaw detector. Mentor UT is optimized for corrosion mapping inspection in the Oil & Gas and Power Generation industries. To meet the demands of these heavy industrial applications, Mentor UT is tested to IP65 and MIL-STD-810G specifications for water resistance, dust resistance, extreme heat and humidity, cold, vibration, shock and drops.

We know our customers count on GE Inspection instruments to provide accurate readings and to work every time. That’s why we’re tough on our products before they leave the factory, and that’s why we work so hard to design quality into every unit.

Unlocking Oil & Gas Productivity with Digital Asset Inspection

OG InspectionWorksBy Mike Domke, software product line leader, GE Inspection Technologies

For decades, the Oil & Gas industry has improved productivity and reduced maintenance costs through nondestructive testing (NDT) of critical operating assets. These traditional inspection technologies are poised for disruption through connectivity and digital solutions, which will unlock tremendous value for Oil & Gas asset owners. And improved operations are more important than ever in the era of lower oil prices.

Today’s most advanced inspection technologies such as phased array ultrasound, digital x-ray and 3d visual measurement are firmly part of the digital industrial age. Derived from healthcare and hardened to stand up to the toughest field conditions, these techniques help to detect corrosion, erosion, weld failures and cracking before they turn into costly downtime. Armed with these tools, inspectors generate large volumes of digital inspection data which can be shared wirelessly, analyzed and archived.

One of the most exciting technologies available today enables real-time streaming and remote collaboration. InspectionWorks Connect gives experts the ability to participate in live inspections anywhere in the world via wireless connection. Imagine an inspector who finds a severely corroded section of piping on an offshore oil rig, and is unsure whether to take the unit out of service. In an analog world that inspector might have been forced to make a judgment call, or at best flown an expert in via helicopter for consultation incurring costly delays. Today that inspector can connect wirelessly to an onshore expert who can view a live stream, recommend additional inspections and help to make the right call. Real-time streaming makes it possible to reduce costs and improve workforce training in many situations.

For inspection service providers who manage large fleets of inspection equipment, digital inspection tools are boosting productivity. Imagine being able to push wireless procedure updates and work plans to a large fleet of inspection hardware in multiple cities at the push of a button, or centralizing inspection data management and reporting for your company. The InspectionWorks platform offers fleet management and analysis tools that make data sharing, analysis and storage much easier for large inspection teams.

These are just a few examples of how advancements in digital inspection are helping the Oil & Gas industry become more reliable, more efficient, and more connected. These technologies are available today, and our team at GE is working hard to develop the next generation of digital inspection breakthroughs. Just wait until you see what’s next.

Mike Domke is software product line leader for GE Inspection Technologies. Learn more at www.inspectionworks.com

Fight the High Cost of Corrosion with Advanced Ultrasonic Inspection

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By Bob Ward, Senior Product Manager at GE Digital Solutions

Corrosion and erosion represents a tremendous cost to process industries in the form of lost production and unplanned repairs. In the worst case scenario unchecked corrosion can lead to catastrophic equipment failure. A well-known study published the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) indicates that the direct cost of corrosion is more than 3% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Regularly scheduled nondestructive corrosion inspections can validate corrosion rates, identify areas of concern and allow engineers and operators to better plan for maintenance. While conventional ultrasound thickness (UT) readings can be of use with regularly scheduled inspections, they do often not provide enough precision to adequately determine wall thickness losses from corrosion. Pitting cannot be reliably detected by conventional UT methods simply because the size of the defect is small compared to the area inspected.

Advances in phased array ultrasound (PAUT) techniques have now been developed to achieve the needed precision while inspecting large areas efficiently. In order to implement these techniques on a large scale the industry must find ways to overcome the high cost of training technicians, improve consistency between tests and reduce equipment costs. Fortunately, the ultrasound equipment  industry is responding to these challenges.

The high cost of training technicians is the most pressing issue, since phased array UT instruments can be complex and time-consuming to operate. Fortunately, more training institutes and colleges are incorporating phased array ultrasound technology courses, and the great benefits of phased array have resulted in more companies investing in training.

Equipment manufacturers, such as GE Inspection Technologies, are developing new “smart” inspection devices that allow the experts to simplify and customize the user interface of UT instruments so that a less experienced technician can learn and operate them quickly and easily. These devices use touch-screen “apps” to walk technicians through instrument setup, calibration and inspection procedures, which improves inspection consistency.

If a technician does not understand a step or a data signal, he or she can push a button on the device and wirelessly stream their inspection to the PC, phone, or tablet of a remote expert. These new technological developments are making it possible to realize the benefits of phased array corrosion inspection on a global scale.

The direct and indirect costs of corrosion can be staggering. With advances in inspection technologies and improved maintenance schedules, equipment manufacturers and providers are helping organizations control costs and safeguard the health of their assets.

For more information, read my recent article in Inspection Trends; Corrosion, Monitoring, Detection and Measurement  ( https://goo.gl/bQTqot)

GE Inspection Technologies Named Global Industrial CT Systems Company of the Year

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We are excited to announce that Frost & Sullivan has recognized GE Inspection Technologies as the 2016 Global Industrial CT Systems Company of the Year for our contributions to the industrial computed tomography (CT) systems market. Frost & Sullivan evaluated the global CT industry based on growth, innovation and leadership in regards to demand generation, brand development and competitive positioning.

Frost & Sullivan recognized GE for our innovative contributions to the CT industry through a wide range of solutions. This includes our:

Advancements in technology provide valuable insight into the production process and have played a major role in our improvements to NDT and inspection solutions. From digitization to software development to imaging capabilities, our CT products optimize productivity in industries like aerospace, automotive and healthcare.

Mariano Kimbara, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan noted “with its sound technological expertise and vast experience, GE has leveraged its non-destructive testing technology to design CT systems that combine the high precision of a fan beam CT scanner with the up to 100 times increase throughput of automated cone beam CT inspection.”

CT is a continuously evolving technology, and the 3D application for industrial inspections will drastically improve accuracy about indications, keep machines in operation longer and ensure the quality control for production process optimization becomes more precise and productive.  At GE, we are in a unique position our competitors are not; we have the technological expertise to understand how to expand the use of CT technology into industrial applications based on real-world application of our medical grade technology. We will continue to innovate and apply learnings from other areas of our business to bring our customers leading class technologies.