Improving Productivity and Increasing Uptime with Advanced Inspection Tools

Today’s advanced visual inspection technology, such as Mentor Visual iQ from GE, helps operators make smarter decisions faster. More sophisticated devices with connectivity and intuitive touchscreen user-interfaces extend uptime and increase productivity. The latest generation of visual inspection technologies improve inspection processes and help address challenges around the growing skills gap by providing less experienced inspectors with the insights necessary to do their jobs via technology similar to that of a smartphone.

Every minute of downtime, whether it’s a turbine that is taken offline or a plane that is grounded, costs money – upwards of millions of dollars per day. Advanced visual inspection technologies allow technicians to more quickly and accurately identify issues or rule out problems reducing costly downtime.

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Past systems required technicians to use a joy stick and menu to select points they wanted to measure and record annotations. Now, inspectors can easily access the points they want to measure by a simple touch on the screen. Moreover, the touchscreen speeds up the commonly used text annotation process by 50 percent compared to older visual inspection systems. Inspectors can take a picture and add a text annotation that labels the defect, making it easier to share the image and get a second opinion from an off-site expert. It is also much quicker for inspectors to choose the images they want to share with improved file navigation tools that are easily accessible on the touchscreen.

Hardware upgrades have dramatically improved visual inspection, and software is simultaneously evolving to keep pace with an increasingly connected environment. Device side menu and profile software that is built within the system has become easier for technicians to access and is more customized to their needs. Inspectors can change interfaces and profiles on the system to have exactly what they need to complete their jobs most effectively. And for compatibility with existing systems, new software packages load onto the system and set standards to keep inspectors working in the same consistent format across the organization. For example, a power plant employee working on the compressor side of a turbine can save images following a predetermined procedure which allows each inspector, regardless of location and experience level, to conduct the inspection the same way and in the same order. Consistency is just another facet of a productive workforce that provides more accurate results. The latest software for visual inspection is being developed with architecture for the future to adapt to the changing landscape and workplace dynamic.

To learn more about these benefits, read the full article in Quality Manufacturing Today here: http://www.qmtmag.com/display_eds.cfm?edno=8004979.

 By Tom Ward, RVI Senior Product Manager, GE Measurement & Control

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Transforming Pipeline Inspection with Digital Radiography

For many years, equipment manufacturers have worked to develop radiographic systems that take film radiography to the next level. Their goal was to increase the functionality of these systems by incorporating the benefits of digitization in data processing, analysis and storage.

Digital radiography (DR) composed of both computed radiography (CR) and digital detector array (DDA) technologies is now fast assuming the role once held by film radiography in industrial and process segments, including the oil and gas industry, where non-destructive testing (NDT) is applied.

The technology benefits of digital radiography that are driving this transition include efficiency, enhanced image quality and dynamic range. Advances in wireless technology are also a contributing factor, as it makes digital radiography more portable than ever. Further, a change in industry standards has both allowed and encouraged digital radiography to be used for new applications which have been formerly exclusive to traditional film inspection.

In the oil and gas industry, there are a number of important considerations that impact how NDT is carried out, including safety, quality, production, cost and environmental issues. Pipelines represent a significant financial investment and are considered critical business assets. They are responsible for transporting very high value fluids and any fracture or leakage can result in a damaging financial loss— not to mention environmental issues and detrimental effects to a company’s reputation. Consequently, it is essential that pipelines are inspected for integrity during manufacture, installation and service.

Inspection is carried out to ensure the on-going integrity of welds in-service, as well as to identify and monitor any pipe wall-thickness changes and metal loss caused by corrosion or erosion, and to locate any cracks which may develop in welds, pipe walls and the heat affected zone.

DDAs are now helping to streamline weld inspection processes. With the development of more versatile and higher resolution detectors there is a reduction in wait time for results as a radiographic image is produced in real time directly onto a connected display screen. In the past, the use of digital radiography has been limited due to size, weight and connectivity of the equipment. New technology solutions give users the benefit of shorter shot times, minimal radiation exposure and can easily connect to a laptop and produce images for instant review.

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In summary, the primary benefits of the latest CR/DDA technology for pipeline field inspection are:

Increased inspection productivity;

  • Improved deep-water inspection;
  • Reduced inspector and inspection materials costs;
  • Improved safety and reduced environmental impact due to reduced radiation and chemicals; and
  • Enhanced data management for effective review, collaboration and long-term storage.

With the field-ready inspection technology available, the significant productivity advantages and the relevant inspection standards ready to go, digital conversion will change the way industrial radiographic pipeline inspection is performed going forward.

For more information on digital radiography transforming pipeline inspection, read Richard Mills’ GE article in Inspection Trends – Transforming Pipeline Inspection with Digital Radiography.

By Richard Mills, Senior Radiography Technical Support Manager, GE