Why NDT is important for the utilities sector

When we turn on a tap or switch on a light, we very rarely consider the work that goes into generating and supplying those utilities to your home. The infrastructure involved is physically vast and structurally complex, and maintaining it is a huge challenge for those working in the utilities sector. 

The Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) industry plays a huge role in ensuring the smooth running of the utility sector’s infrastructure.

What role does NDT play in the utilities sector? Why does it help? Before we answer these questions, let’s ensure we understand what the utility sector is. 

What is the utilities sector?

The utilities sector includes the electricity, gas and water industries. The sector is made up of both publicly traded and privately owned companies that are responsible for ensuring that these vital resources are available to consumers. 

Within the “utilities sectors” sits the “energy sector” and “water utility sector”. 

The infrastructure that forms the backbone of the utility sector is vast. It includes everything from power plants to pipelines, transmission lines to water treatment plants. From pipelines to storage tanks, and much more in between, it is essential that these assets are kept in good condition to ensure ongoing effectiveness. This is where NDT comes in. 

What is NDT? 

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is used to assess the integrity of structures, components and materials without causing damage to their internal or external components. These techniques are essential for ensuring the safety and reliability of structures and equipment in various industries. As well as looking at the outside of any structures, NDT can also be used to look inside any pipes, tanks or storage vessels. 

NDT technicians use a range of testing methods to assess the integrity of a material. These methods include eddy current inspection, corrosion mapping, phased array and ultrasonic testing. Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of material being tested. 

Why use NDT in the Utilities Sector? 

1. To limit damage

Firstly, the most obvious advantage of NDT is that the techniques employed do not require assets to be damaged in any way for the test to take place. Destructive testing requires small samples to be taken, whereas the tests used by the NDT industry use X-rays, gamma rays, ultrasound and electrical currents in various ways to assess the structure of the assets.  

2. To be cost-effective

Secondly, NDT is highly cost-effective. The techniques can detect faults in equipment before they become hazardous or cause downtime. Used as part of a proactive maintenance schedule, this can drastically reduce the costs associated with replacements as flaws can be spotted and repaired before the damage becomes too great. 

As technology advances, more sophisticated NDT techniques are being developed that allow companies to reduce expenditure on testing. 

One example of this is the development of robotic technology in the Offshore Wind Farm industry. Rather than employing several divers to visually inspect the structure of wind turbines beneath the surface of the water, robotic submersibles can be used to inspect the assets instead visually. Only a few technicians are required to control the subs, and if an area of concern is identified, only a few divers are required to inspect further and repair the damage. Large scale, this can save a vast amount of money (and also reduce the risks for those undertaking diving work). 

3. It is flexible

Another reason for NDT’s popularity in the utility sector is the adaptability of the various techniques. Due to the wide range of testing methods, it can be used on a variety of materials from concrete and steel to composite materials, which allows it to be applied to a variety of assets. 

Considering the huge scale and scope of the Utilities Sector infrastructure, the flexibility of NDT is invaluable. 

NDT: a vital tool for the Utilities Sector

NDT is an important tool for utility companies as it helps to ensure the safety and reliability of their infrastructure. The utilities sector is vital to the smooth running of modern society and any issues can quickly escalate. NDT can detect issues before they become a serious problems and help to reduce costs associated with potential repairs. With the advances in technology, NDT has become faster and more accurate, allowing utility companies to stay ahead of problems that may arise. It also increases overall efficiency by making it easier to locate faulty components quickly. This helps to reduce downtime in production or service lines and keeps customers happy. 

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.

LET'S TALK

Keep up to date with site and asset safety

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates on keeping your site and assets safe.
(We won’t pass your email on to anyone else)