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.