News & Views, Volume 51 | Drone Inspections

SI EXPANDED CAPABILITIES

By:  Jason Van Velsor and Robert Chambers

Structural Integrity (SI) has recently added drones to our toolbox of inspection equipment. Using drones, inspectors are able to complete visual inspections safely and more efficiently. Applications of drones for visual inspections include plant and piping walkdowns, structural inspections and atmospheric corrosion monitoring (ACM) of exposed pipeline.

Figure 1. Drone image of a dent on an elevated section of pipeline

Pipe hanger walkdowns at fossil and combined cycle plants are part of a routine inspection process. During these inspections, the inspector is required to view and mark down pipe hanger positions and assess their condition. While some hangers provide easy access for the inspector, this is not always the case. Some of these may be located in elevated positions that require the plant to build out scaffolding, which not only increases the cost, but also can put the inspector at risk when working at elevation. With the use of drones, the inspector can fly up to the pipe hangers from a safe location and get a live high-resolution video feed from the camera mounted on the drone. Saving pictures and the video footage can also allow the inspector to go back and review the footage at a later time.

ACM is another example where drones have proven to be a useful tool. ACM inspections of outdoor above ground pipelines are typically done by

walking down the pipeline and recording any signs of atmospheric corrosion. There are many occasions where the pipeline will be elevated or cross over rivers and railroads, requiring scaffolding or fall protection. By using a drone to fly along the pipeline, the inspection can be completed much more efficiently and safely. In situations where a GPS signal is available, such as outdoor pipeline inspections, the GPS coordinates can be saved with each photo. Custom SI-developed software can then automatically compile the acquired images and create a KML file to be viewed in Google Earth, allowing the client to get an overview of the inspection results. 

Figure 2. Google Earth view of image locations

Moving forward, SI plans to utilize these drones for more than just visual inspections. Possible applications could include using drones to perform ultrasonic thickness testing or Structural Integrity Pulsed Eddy Current (SIPEC™) examinations. All of SI’s pilots in command hold valid FAA Part 107 certificates and pilot registered drones.

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Structural Integrity Associates | News and Views, Volume 51 | High Temperature Ultrasonic Thickness Monitoring

News & Views, Volume 51 | High Temperature Ultrasonic Thickness Monitoring

TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION – THICK FILM SENSORS

By:  Jason Van Velsor and Robert ChambersStructural Integrity Associates | News and Views, Volume 51 | High Temperature Ultrasonic Thickness Monitoring

The ability to continuously monitor component thickness at high temperatures has many benefits in the power generation industry, as well as many other industries. Most significantly, it enables condition-based inspection and maintenance, as opposed to schedule-based, which assists plant management with optimizing operations and maintenance budgets and streamlining outage schedules. Furthermore, it can assist with the early identification of potential issues, which may be used to further optimize plant operations and provides ample time for contingency and repair planning.

Over the last several years, Structural Integrity has been working on the development of a real-time thickness monitoring technology that utilizes robust, unobtrusive, ultrasonic thick-film sensor technology that is enabling continuous operation at temperatures up to 800°F. 

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News & View, Volume 48 | SI Field Service Quality and Efficiency Solutions

News & Views, Volume 48 | SI Field Service Quality and Efficiency Solutions

By:  Robert Chambers and Trey RippyNews & View, Volume 48 | SI Field Service Quality and Efficiency Solutions

To help meet demanding outage schedules and stay within lean operation and maintenance budgets, Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. (SI) has implemented several new field data collection and analysis tools that enable delivery of a higher-quality final inspection product in a more efficient manner. These include customized software tools for streamlining the NDE data acquisition, analysis, and reporting processes. Moving forward, these tools will reduce time-on-pipe for inspections, as well as the associated analysis and reporting time.

For large inspection scopes, collecting, tagging, managing, transferring, and documenting data can be a very labor-intensive process with opportunities for human performance errors. While inspection instruments and analysis software typically have built-in reporting capabilities, these tend to be very general so they can be applied to a wide variety of applications. This can make it cumbersome to tailor these features to a specific application.

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