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Detecting Metal-Loss and Corrosion with Ultrasonic Inline Inspection: Why UMp?

Author: Thomas Meinzer, Global Manager, UM Data Analysis 

As safety and environmental concerns continue to grow, pipeline operators are finding new ways to approach their integrity management programs. Recent regulations are leading to stricter requirements for pipeline operators and in turn, encouraging them to create an integrity management program centered around social accountability and transparency.

At NDT Global, our Ultrasonic robots detect diverse pipeline anomalies to help operators make better, more informed decisions. In my position at NDT Global, I serve as the Global Manager of UM Data Analysis where I work to help design, construct and operate our UMp and UMp+ ILI robots, programmed to detect laminations, corrosion and metal-loss defects within the walls of pipelines.

Whether a pipeline anomaly is steep-sided, shallow, groove-like, or extended in a circumferential direction, defects come in all forms and should be spotted in a timely fashion to prevent such anomalies from growing. But before diving into a new inspection with customers, we first aim to collect insight into the history to assess pre-existing threats. This helps us to prepare in the best manner.

While our UMp robot is typically run the most often for corrosion defects, our UMp+ robot is built specifically to detect deeper pitting defects. With our UMp+ robots recording twice the amount of measurements than UMp robots, small pitting corrosions can be reliably recorded, giving us a more detailed and clearer data picture and furthermore, the ability to detect the trust deepest point of pitting corrosions. UMp+ robots are also able to differentiate manufacturing related metal loss defects (grinding, wall thinning from milling processes, etc.) from other corrosion, non-manufacturing related defects in many cases.

Often times, the concern with the customer is centered around making sure we can identify the exact spot a leakage could occur. Due to pressure calculations using all common assessment methods, we are able to ease their worries by pinpointing where in the pipeline has the highest probability for pipeline leaking or rupturing.

Another customer concern that often surfaces when discussing integrity management is the growth rate of current defects over time. By calculating the future growth rate, we are able to provide accurate growth estimations of detected defects. When calculating a recent growth rate, we typically conduct a comparison analysis of two or more Inline Inspection runs from same or different technologies.  Depending on the operating conditions and existing threats, growth rates can be high or low.

However, in some cases, especially if a pipeline was previously inspected by MFL technology, several defects may not have been accurately identified in previous inspections.  This may have an impact on the growth rate as well. I often get asked "What's the biggest advantage to Ultrasonic technology?" and I respond the same every time "accuracy". With MFL technology, measurements are based on calibration leaving large room for error. At NDT Global, we use compression wave time-of-flight principles to give us direct measurements to capture the most accurate data. With the combination of a dedicated data-analysis team and artificial intelligence, we are able to provide integrity assessments that are unmatchable. 

We have 7 values we live by at NDT Global, and each value is incorporated in all phases of the ILI run. However, my passion lies in Data Analysis so what I find most important is making sure I help maintain the preciseness of our UMp and UMp+ robots.

Maintaining 'Precision through Accuracy' allows us to measure the most complex corrosion and metal-loss pipeline defects and moreover, delivers operators the information they need to enhance their integrity management programs… the right way.

Should you wish to learn more about our metal-loss and corrosion solutions, please reach out to contact@ndt-global.com

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