What defects would internal pipe inspections reveal?

When safeguarding the integrity of your assets, especially within sectors such as oil, gas, and water distribution, prioritising pipeline inspection is vital. 

With time, pipelines are susceptible to challenges that may cause leaks, inefficiencies, or, in worst-case scenarios, catastrophic breakdowns.

So, how do you ensure these pipes remain robust and dependable over time? 

Internal pipe inspections are a vital process in maintenance practices.

What exactly do these inspections reveal, and why are they becoming increasingly indispensable? 

In this blog, we will look at the significance of pipe inspections and explore the range of defects they can uncover, shedding light on the importance of proactive maintenance in safeguarding your pipelines.

Why carry out pipeline inspections?

  • Reduce cost. Firstly, pipeline inspections, or pipe leak inspections, serve as a proactive measure to identify potential issues before they escalate into costly failures. 
  • Reduce risk. By detecting defects early, you can intervene promptly, mitigating the risk of environmental damage or safety hazards.
  • Meet standards. Regulatory compliance demands periodic inspections to ensure adherence to safety standards and regulations. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines, damaged reputations, and, more importantly, compromised safety for both personnel and the surrounding environment.
  • Maintain efficiency. Routine inspections contribute to the optimisation of pipeline performance and efficiency. By pinpointing inefficiencies or irregularities, you can fine-tune operations and extend the lifespan of your assets, ultimately enhancing productivity and profitability.

At NDT Innovations, we have experience in carrying out pipe line inspections for the Water Utility Sector using various techniques. Contact us to find out how we can help you. 

NDT Group also conducts pipe inspections for the oil and gas industry. Learn more about this service here

How are pipe inspections carried out?

Pipe inspections require various tests to be carried out. 

Among the most common techniques are:

  1. Visual inspections 

External visual inspections for water pipes tend to be conducted by a human technician. But for internal inspections, cameras mounted on flexible probes may be employed. These inspections allow our technicians to visually assess the interior of the pipeline for defects or irregularities.

  1. Ultrasonic testing 

Ultrasonic techniques utilise high-frequency sound waves to penetrate the pipeline wall and detect flaws such as cracks, corrosion, and laminations. This non-destructive testing method offers precise measurements of defect size and depth, aiding in accurate assessment and decision-making. 

For large water pipes, a corrosion mapper is often employed to conduct the UT test. This allows the test to be carried out in a faster, more cost-effective manner. The mapper is a type of robot, that crawls along the exposed surface of the pipe, checking for flaws. 

As UT penetrates the entire wall of the pipe, it is ideal for supporting the internal visual inspection conducted by the flexible probe. 

  1. Magnetic particle inspection

When Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) is used, pipelines are magnetised, and finely divided magnetic particles are applied onto the surface. These particles accumulate around areas experiencing magnetic flux leakage, indicating potential cracks, discontinuities, or other material defects. As a result, a distinct indication of any potential flaws emerges, allowing our technicians to precisely identify and assess the detected issues.

This technique is only suitable for testing the outside surface of pipes and only when pipes can be magnetised but can support the internal pipe inspection by providing insight into areas that may need to be inspected. 

What do internal pipe inspections detect?

Internal pipe inspections have a keen eye for a wide range of defects that could compromise the structural integrity and functionality of pipelines:

Corrosion 

One of the most pervasive threats to pipeline integrity, corrosion can lead to metal loss, pitting, and ultimately, structural failure if left unchecked. Internal inspections can identify corrosion hotspots and facilitate targeted corrosion management strategies.

Cracks and fractures 

Structural defects such as cracks, fractures, and weld defects can weaken the pipeline and increase the likelihood of catastrophic failures. Inspections can pinpoint these flaws and enable timely repairs or replacements to prevent leakage or rupture.

Deformation and buckling 

Mechanical stress, temperature fluctuations, or external forces can cause deformation or buckling in pipelines, compromising their structural stability. Internal inspections can detect such deformities and assess their severity to determine the necessary remedial actions.

Blockages and deposits 

Accumulation of debris, sediment, or mineral deposits within the pipeline can impede flow, increase pressure, and accelerate corrosion. Inspections can identify blockages and facilitate cleaning or flushing procedures to restore optimal flow conditions.

Investing in pipeline integrity

Internal pipe inspections play a pivotal role in ensuring the reliability, safety, and efficiency of pipelines. 

By using advanced inspection techniques and technologies, our technicians can proactively detect and address defects, thereby minimising risks and maximising the lifespan of their assets. 

As the demand for reliable infrastructure grows, investing in comprehensive pipeline inspection programmes becomes not only a regulatory requirement but also a strategic move for sustainable operations and long-term success.

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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