Plants often rely on hundreds of kilometres of pipeline. These long-distance runs are highly susceptible to wear due to the nature of the materials they carry. Left untreated, wear can cause cracks that are costly to repair. It can also result in leaks that can increase human health risks and environmental damage. Typically, expensive non-destructive testing (NDT) inspections are carried out by contractors or trained staff who manually measure the pipe-wall thickness along the length of the runs to spot signs of wear and ascertain where sections of the pipe require repair or replacement. Where vast distances of pipeline need to be inspected, these surveys are carried out almost continuously. These systems are time consuming, costly and prone to human error. Alternatively, fully-automated solutions are installed at extensive cost and downtime. These battery-free, ultra-thin ultrasonic sensors can be quickly and permanently installed along the pipeline, even under insulation where necessary, with no downtime. A data collector wand acquires 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.
Hundreds of kilometres of pipeline often have liquids travelling at high speed, temperatures and/or pressure. Conventional NDT inspection techniques and reactive maintenance is still the norm across the industry. Expensive specialist contractors or highly trained staff work continuously to make manual measurements of pipe thickness using conventional ultrasonic measuring devices. Not only is this time-consuming and costly, it is also not 100 percent 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 skew asset management decision-making logic. Over time, the straying of asset condition understanding introduces real risk, which makes it easier to misunderstand wear factors. Concerned about the risks of pipes cracking, plants replace large sections of pipelines long before it is required. This comes at great cost and is used to offset any potential risk. Through more consistent monitoring, mines can significantly lower these costs and achieve better asset performance. If a pipeline does rupture, hazardous material can spill into the plant, leading to potential injury but also costly downtime to repair. Not only is repairing damaged pipelines expensive, it can severely damage brand integrity in the case of injuries. 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 conditions leaves operators at risk of catastrophic failures. By understanding which sections of a pipeline are wearing and what that rate of wear is, operators can accurately target specific sections of pipe that need to be replaced. They no longer have to replace vast stretches of pipeline, saving huge sums of money.
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 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 thickness with no loss of measurement accuracy 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 collection probe instantly uploads data on site to the remote data management software for reporting, location tracking, analysis, and integration with third-party software. It generates the abrasion-rate data necessary to optimise predictive maintenance. This solution can be quickly deployed for a trial-phase period prior to embarking on a full rollout. Its robust data on abrasion 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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