3 pipeline inspection techniques we use to help you maintain your assets

When it comes to maintaining the integrity of your assets, particularly in industries like oil, gas, and water distribution, pipeline inspection becomes a critical aspect of your operation. 

Over time, pipelines can develop various issues that could lead to leaks, inefficiencies, and even catastrophic failures. 

To ensure the longevity and safety of your assets, employing advanced pipeline inspection techniques is essential. 

In this article, we’ll delve into three key inspection techniques that are essential for maintaining your valuable assets. But first, let’s think more about why pipeline inspections are important. 

Why are pipeline inspections necessary? 

Pipeline inspections play a huge role because they’re all about keeping your assets in good condition. Pipeline integrity inspections help spot problems like rust, cracks, leaks, and weak points that could cause trouble in the future. 

By doing this, inspections prevent unexpected breakdowns, environmental harm, and serious accidents. 

And it’s not just about safety – inspections also make sure everything’s working efficiently and that pipelines have a longer lifespan. This way, they protect your valuable assets.

Our pipeline inspections within the Water Utility Sector

At NDT Group, our water pipeline inspection service is conducted within our NDT Innovation division. We work in close collaboration with WRc Infrastructure to provide testing for the Water Utility Sector. 

For more information, look here. 

Pipeline Inspection Techniques 

Pipeline inspection technology is a growing field, with new technology being used all the time. 

Our technicians start with a visual inspection, complete with photographs and a commentary. Remote Visual Inspection uses cameras and robots which allows us to explore hard-to-reach areas. We then use other pipeline inspection techniques to gather more information.  

Magnetic Particle Inspection uses magnetic fields and fine particles to identify surface and near-surface flaws in the pipeline material, while Ultrasonic Testing uses sound waves to detect hidden flaws within the material. Eddy Current Testing utilises electromagnetic fields to identify defects through coatings. 

These three popular methods collectively provide comprehensive insights into the condition of pipelines, enabling proactive maintenance and preventing costly disruptions or environmental hazards.

1. Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI)

Magnetic Particle Inspection, or MPI, is a cutting-edge pipeline inspection technique that brings a magnetic touch to pipeline inspections. 

In this method, pipelines are magnetised, and finely divided magnetic particles are applied to the surface. These particles gather around areas with magnetic flux leakage, which could indicate cracks, discontinuities, or other defects in the material. 

The result is a vivid indication of any potential flaws, enabling inspectors to precisely identify and assess the issues.

One of the most significant advantages of MPI is its sensitivity to surface-breaking defects. It’s particularly effective in identifying cracks and fissures that might be invisible to the naked eye. 

MPI can detect both surface and near-surface flaws, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of the pipeline’s condition. By using this technique, you can proactively address potential threats before they deteriorate further.

2. Ultrasonic Testing (UT)

Ultrasonic Testing, or UT, holds a prominent position in the field of pipeline inspection.

UT uses high-frequency sound waves to penetrate the pipeline material, bouncing back as echoes when they encounter any irregularities. These echoes provide valuable insights into the thickness of the pipeline walls, the presence of corrosion, and the existence of internal defects such as cracks or voids.

UT offers quantifiable data, allowing our technicians to precisely measure wall thickness and flaw dimensions. This data-driven approach empowers decision-making concerning repairs and replacements, optimising resource allocation. 

UT’s adaptability enables its application both in field and laboratory settings, ensuring flexibility in inspection environments. By harnessing the power of UT, you are equipped with an effective tool to assess your pipelines with precision and accuracy.

A range of methods are used to build up a map of the corrosion of your assets and components. At NDT Group, we use corrosion mapping to complete our UT on pipes. By using a corrosion mapping robotic crawler to take an overview of your components and assets, we create a mapped image of corrosion over a given dimension. 

Interested? Read more here about our corrosion mapping service. 

3. Eddy Current Testing (ECT)

Eddy Current Testing, or ECT, presents a sophisticated yet efficient technique for pipeline inspection. 

This method relies on electromagnetic induction to assess the conductivity and integrity of the material. As a probe is passed over the pipeline’s surface, it generates eddy currents—localised circulating currents—inducing changes in the electromagnetic field. These alterations are then analysed to detect surface cracks, erosion, and corrosion.

What sets ECT apart is its ability to detect defects through coatings and paint, making it ideal for inspecting pipelines with protective layers. 

The non-contact nature of ECT ensures that the inspection doesn’t harm the pipeline’s surface. 

Furthermore, ECT can differentiate between changes caused by actual defects and those from material variations, enhancing the accuracy of assessments.

In essence, ECT serves as a valuable addition to your collection of inspection techniques, especially when dealing with coated pipelines that demand meticulous scrutiny.

Pipeline inspection: ensuring safety and reliability 

Preserving the integrity of pipelines is vital for industries dependent on these lifelines. 

Magnetic Particle Inspection, Ultrasonic Testing (via Corrosion Mapping), and Eddy Current Testing are the cornerstones of comprehensive inspection strategies. 

These pipeline inspection techniques offer diverse approaches to detecting defects, cracks, and irregularities, ensuring the early identification of potential issues. By leveraging Magnetic Particle Inspection’s sensitivity, Ultrasonic Testing’s precision, and Eddy Current Testing’s adaptability, you empower your maintenance endeavours with accuracy and effectiveness. 

These techniques not only safeguard your operations but also extend the lifespan of your assets while optimising costs in the long run. 

Embrace these cutting-edge techniques to reinforce your asset maintenance strategy, equipping you with the knowledge essential for well-informed decisions.

Responsive testing that delivers assurance that your equipment is safe.

Contact us for a quality testing service with a fast report turnaround. We can respond to any challenge.

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