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.

Optimize Weld Inspection with the Mentor EM

The landscape of non-destructive testing (NDT) has changed significantly over the past 15 years – from increasing complexity of inspections to the rapidly retiring workforce to demanding Environmental Health and Safety regulations. Each change brought with it the need for improved testing and inspection technology. To ensure you’re ready for the next wave of changes, don’t be caught off guard by outdated inspection technology.

To help companies address these issues, David Jankowski, product sales leader at GE Inspection Technologies, and Daniel Groninger, program manager at GE Inspection Technologies, recently held a webinar on how operators can optimize weld inspection and adapt to the times with GE’s Mentor EM Eddy Current Portable Tester.

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As a full featured Eddy Current Flaw Detector, Mentor EM provides an effective, efficient and reliable means to perform weld inspection. Here’s why an eddy current tester like the Mentor EM provides the most optimized inspection quality:

  • Eddy current is environmentally friendly and an approved technique for weld inspection – meaning it will meet updated EHS regulations.
  • Mentor EM allows rapid weld inspection by all levels of inspectors – from the seasoned expert to the newly qualified, ensuring the next generation of inspectors can easily use the product and complete their job.
  • With our Mentor Create feature, Mentor EM enables easy customization of the user interface – suiting the applications and skill level of the inspector.
  • Workflows can be easily transferred from the PC to Mentor and quickly shared between remote sites – by simply emailing or sending wirelessly.

For Mentor EM demonstrations and more details on its advantages, watch the full webinar here.

Interested in learning more about Mentor EM? Contact your local GE Inspections Technologies sales engineer for more information, who can even arrange an on-site demo of the Mentor EM.

3D Quality Control Inspection for 3D Printed Parts

When people think about 3D printing, many assume all printed parts are exactly the same. Additive manufacturers today, however, understand that there is still a considerable amount of variation with 3D printing, and, as a result, advanced inspection methods and tools must be used to ensure printed parts are meeting industry standards.

Because 3D printing is not as repetitive or consistent as it’s often portrayed to be, it requires regular testing and calibration. For this reason, GE developed a scatter|correct function to be used in conjunction with cone beam CT in its v|tome|x m microCT scanner to eliminate the guesswork in additive manufacturing.

Additive Part 2

Cone beam CT, which images an entire part as it rotates just once between an X-ray source and a detector, is up to 100 times faster than fan beam CT. That’s partially because a fan beam CT scanner X-rays thin slices of a work piece as it rotates and moves linearly in steps through the beam. Those thin slices then have to be reconstructed and combined to represent the full 3D volume. The downside to cone beam CT is that it’s subject to scatter on images.

When GE works with super dense metals, such as chromium cobalt, the radiation causes the materials to scatter resulting in a blurry image. The scatter effect can make it more challenging to get an accurate measurement. Steel, aluminum, composites and multi-material parts are also prone to create scatter on images.

Additive Part 3

For industrial process control, excellent CT quality at high sample throughput is evident. GE’s proprietary scatter|correct option is a combination of hardware and software advances, allowing users to scan large sample batches in reasonable time as well as significantly reduce scattering artifacts to improve the precision of failure analysis and 3D metrology inspection tasks. The scatter|correct smart function is applied to the first part scanned in a series and the CT scanner applies it to every subsequent part for a clear image and accurate measurement. By combining high precision fan beam CT quality with high throughput of fully automated cone beam CT, the significantly increased inspection productivity allows CT to migrate from R&D applications to serial inspection on the production floor.

Read the full article in Manufacturing Engineering.

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

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.

Digital X-Ray Image 1

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