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Metals & Mining

Ultrasonic sensor tool to monitor internal corrosion and erosion

Key facts

3xcore integrated system components
130°C/266°Fmax operating temperature
100%non-destructive sensors
Next Steps
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Top business benefits

Streamlines abrasion and corrosion monitoring

Generates reliable wall-thickness data

Progresses digitisation objectives/ Net Zero targets

Accurately trends corrosion rate over time

Increases plant uptime

Lengthens asset life

Improves operational efficiency

Reduces OPEX

Enhances plant safety

Reduces risk of environmental damage

Reduction of pipe replacement cost

Deployed by

In more detail

Full description

All processing operations on mine sites rely on hundreds of kilometres of pipe to move chemicals and reagents around the plant. These pipes are susceptible to corrosion due to the temperature and makeup of those chemicals. Typically, sections of pipe are changed out at fixed intervals or expensive Non-Destructive Testing inspections are carried out by contractors or trained staff, who manually measure the pipe-wall thickness along the length of the pipe to spot signs of wear and ascertain where pipes require repair or replacement. These systems are expensive, time consuming, and prone to human error. Alternatively, fully-automated solutions can be installed at extensive cost and downtime.

These battery-free, ultra-thin ultrasonic sensors are quickly and permanently installed along pipes, even under insulation where necessary, with no downtime. A data collector wand is used to acquire repeatable measurements from the sensor and the associated RFID tag logs the sensor location. No skill is required for this task, making it a cost-effective resource that can be used as frequently as required. Specialist software then analyses and interprets the measurements, generating the wall-loss data necessary to optimise predictive maintenance.

The challenge

Pipes used in processing, smelting and refining typically have highly corrosive chemicals travelling through them, often at high speed, high temperatures or high pressure. Conventional NDT inspection techniques and reactive maintenance is still the norm across the industry. Expensive specialist contractors or highly trained staff, continually make manual measurements of pipe thickness using conventional ultrasonic measuring devices. Not only is this time-consuming and costly, it is also not 100% fail safe, as it can be difficult for inspectors to physically measure the exact same spot each time, making predictive maintenance extremely challenging for asset managers.

These outcomes result in inconsistent datasets being gathered and produced, which potentially skews asset-management decision-making logic. Over time, the straying of asset condition understanding introduces real risk, which makes operations vulnerable to abrasion and corrosion factors being misunderstood. Often miners simply resort to swapping pipes long before they need to. This comes at great cost and is used to offset any potential risk. Through more consistent monitoring miners can lower these costs and achieve better asset performance.

Operators are now under pressure to meet Net Zero targets and source digital solutions. This creates a new set of challenges leading to significant upfront costs, network security risks and future obsolescence without the budget to upgrade. Over time, the poor visibility of asset condition leaves operators at risk of failures.

The approach

This robustly installed ultrasonic monitoring solution has already been successfully deployed by major oil and gas operators in the UK, Alaska, South America, the Middle East, China, and Australia and it's now being adopted by the metals and mining industries. It has been proven to provide an instant and accurate picture of each asset’s integrity story.

These battery-free, ultra-thin, ATEX-certified ultrasonic sensors, able to operate in extreme temperatures, are quickly and permanently fixed with no downtime at monitoring locations identified by the customer, including areas where inspectors struggle to take readings.

The sensors precisely measure pipe wall thickness and they lose no accuracy of measurement capability, even when installed under composite repairs. For thick layers of insulation the measurement can be offset, to give an accurate reading without the need to remove the insulation.

A data collector wand is used to acquire repeatable measurements from the sensor and the associated RFID tag logs the sensor location. No skill is required for this task and a comprehensive installation training package is delivered remotely; making it a cost-effective resource that can be used as frequently as required.

The data from the data collection probe is instantly uploaded on site to the remote data-management software for reporting, location tracking, analysis, and integration with third-party software. It generates the abrasion and corrosion-rate data necessary to optimise predictive maintenance.

This solution can be quickly deployed for a trial-phase period prior to embarking on a full roll out. Its robust data on abrasion and corrosion rates can be accurately trended to aid informed asset-maintenance decisions and drastically reduce maintenance costs associated with lifecycle asset-integrity management of pipework.

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Tech specification

Battery-free, ATEX/IECEx approved for Zone 0, lifespan 10 years+
-45C up to 130C (-45F up to 266F), thin profile/embedded, 6.5g
Minimum pipe diameter 2" straight or 4" on an elbow
Handheld data collector
Max distance from the sensor 40mm
Remote data collector
5+ years battery life, up to 200m wireless range, up to 8 sensors
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2022 Globee Award Winner

A bronze award in the 'Startup of the Year: Business Services' category