Is it possible to reduce plant outage times for scheduled and non-scheduled critical NDT inspection whilst meeting compliance standards?

Yes. Wi-Fi connectivity can be used to improve NDT inspection productivity by implementing simultaneous acquisition, analysis, and reporting procedures.

Recently a Technology Design customer was contracted to provide emergency NDT services during a system outage at a refinery. The plant was shut down due to significant material degradation in tail gas lines.  Ultrasonic testing inspection of butt welds on piping was a key element of the Critical Path Method (CPM) of project management employed for the outage. The goal was to recommission the plant in the shortest possible time and mitigate the cost and safety consequences of the material damage. Initially, the aim was to complete the outage in 20 days. 

After consultation between the NDT service provider and plant officials, it was determined that the full scope of the ultrasonic testing requirement could be completed, and inspection times reduced by implementing a key feature of Technology Design’s data acquisition units.

After data acquisition, data analysis is the final NDT stage before sign-off and recommissioning. This final stage is often viewed as a time-consuming delay by production personnel. However, utilising Technology Design’s systems to save data files in two locations simultaneously, provides the security of instant backup with the added benefit of streamlined data analysis. 

For the refinery inspection, two teams would acquire TOFD and Phased Array data using FocusScan RXII and HandyScan RX units. The Technology Design systems were connected wirelessly to a file server in the control cabin at ground level using USB Wi-Fi adapters.  As the welds were scanned, each data set was saved simultaneously on the internal solid-state disk (SSD) in the UT system and the remote file server.  The inspection data was immediately accessible to the onsite data analysts. By the time the inspection was completed, reports could be issued almost immediately.

Simultaneous acquisition, analysis, and reporting ensured that repair crews were quickly mobilised.  Remedial action and retests were carried out, earlier than in previous outages and the CPM model was improved. The outage time was significantly reduced from the planned 20 days to 11 days, resulting in reduced revenue loss for the refiner. Technology Design’s advanced ultrasonic data acquisition units proved to be an invaluable asset in the inventory of the inspection operation.

Written by Mark Nel, Technical Sales and Application Specialist

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