Automated ultrasonic testing (AUT) is a type of ultrasonic testing technique that utilises computerised methods to drive the ultrasonic scanning device around the part being scanned. Automated ultrasonic testing may include computer software that helps technicians while scanning a metal piece for defects. AUT lowers the ultrasonic scanning time for multiple applications.
Automated UT testing utilises some essential components like transducers, receivers, computers and display screens. Operators need to interpret and analyse the results and they need to set up the automated ultrasonic testing equipment on a new metal piece once a scan is completed. The automated ultrasonic machine is widely used in the pipeline industry.
What is the difference between Manual Ultrasonic Testing and Automated Ultrasonic Testing?
However, automated ultrasonic testing involves the same components (transducer, receiver, and display screen) as manual ultrasonic testing, the significant difference between a conventional UT and an automated UT is scanner intelligence. For manual UT, the operator who is performing the scan is in control. While automated ultrasonic testing equipment eliminates the need for an operator to control as it controls speed and data recordings itself. The automated ultrasonic testing machine allows for live analysis of UT data, and post-inspection visual analysis, data processing and report writing with excellent accuracy.
The manual UT techniques are commonly used in power plants or oil or gas production units to take the reading of an asset frequently. Getting a higher amount of data is pretty time taking with manual UT. On the other hand, AUT allows gathering bulk data across the asset with higher accuracy. Receiving high-value data through automated ultrasonic testing gives better insight into specific damage mechanisms that are not possible with manual ultrasonic testing.
Advantages of Automated Ultrasonic Testing
Despite the fact that whether you are using it in-service or during the production, automated ultrasonic testing equipment optimises the inspection process. An automated ultrasonic testing machine boosts inspection speed, delivers accurate data and lowers the inspection cost comprehensively. Hence, it enables better visualisation and documentation of different inspections.
Automated ultrasonic testing equipment allows visualisation and documentation of:
- Weld inspection
- Crack detection
- Production control
- Thickness and corrosion measurement
- Corrosion mapping
The followings are the additional benefits of the automated ultrasonic testing machine.
- The automated UT equipment, when combined with customised analytics, allows the evaluation of the component quality and removes the early defects that occur during the manufacturing process.
- The AUT device allows for detecting discontinuities without hampering production work.
- It comes with a higher possibility of defect detection in critical linear anomalies.
- It can interpret data and results rapidly.
- Capable of scanning welds at higher temperatures
- It provides instant feedback for weld quality during the inspection or production
- No waits or stoppages to adjacent pipeline workers
Choosing the right automated ultrasonic flaw detector counts on different aspects including the size of the component to be scanned, the production capability and conditions of the testing speed. Moreover, it also relies on whether the inspection is to be performed in-service or during the production.
Disadvantages of Advanced Ultrasonic Testing
Apart from the numerous benefits the AUT offers, it is crucial to know its limitations and the challenges that come with it. When it comes to some applications, the adoption of AUT might be expensive due to initial investment and growing dependency on technology.
When compared to manual UT, automated UT delivers numerous advantages. Though, it needs a considerable amount of investment to establish an automated station. In some conditions, it wouldn’t be economically practical. Such as, if you need to scan an ordinary metal weld, manual UT will be more cost-effective for this rather than AUT.
Manual Calibration and Interpretation
However, the automated ultrasonic testing technique can eliminate the need for operators and fault detector analysts to handle the labour-intensive manual tasks, but it requires help for manual calibration to interpret and understand the accurate data. If you have not done the calibration appropriately, the collected data from scanning/inspection will be inadequate and inaccurate.
Different Techniques of Automated Ultrasonic Testing
Concerning the extensive and diverse use of AUT in different industrial applications, the AUT techniques have evolved over the years and become more accurate. The following are some popular automated ultrasonic testing techniques used in different industries.
Rapid Ultrasonic Gridding
Rapid ultrasonic gridding is a computerised ultrasonic inspection technique that creates thickness grid maps to identify areas that are affected (wall-thinning) because of corrosion and other damage mechanisms. It can cover a large surface area ten times faster than manual ultrasonic testing or typical automated ultrasonic testing techniques. A surface area of 5000 square feet can be inspected through RUG in a 12-hour shift.
Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing
PAUT (Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing) is a type of automated ultrasonic testing that uses electronic phased array probes to induce pulses to determine damage mechanisms at multiple depths. PAUT technique is utilised to inspect welds, high-temperature zones and areas that are likely to be cracked.
Rapid Automated Ultrasonic Testing
Rapid AUT is used to gather high-definition data utilising the PAUT probes. Therefore, it is an ideal technique to comprehend a particular damage mechanism required to determine maintenance needs. In other words, RAUT uses a phased array probe that can perform 94,000 thickness scans on each square foot. The RAUT technique combines the hardware motions
Enterprises and manufacturing units are extensively adopting automated ultrasonic testing techniques for many benefits. With improved automatic scanning and flaw detection ability, industries can concentrate more on enhancing the quality of their product. The flexibility of the automated ultrasonic testing process makes it appropriate for bulk production. Rightness and reliability of the defect inspection process ensure that the flaw is detected each time. With these advantages, asset owners can make informed and cost-effective decisions.
If you require non-destructive testing solutions for your manufacturing unit, plant, grid or any industrial needs, Modsonic is the best reliable solution provider. Its range of products includes ultrasonic flaw detectors, ultrasonic thickness gauges, ultrasonic transducers and much more.