Prof. Neil Pearson recently delivered a presentation on “Robotics and efficiency in NDT Inspections” at the 1st World Conference for Inspection and Maintenance Robotics in Galveston, Texas
Efficiency is a key driver in the inspection and maintenance of large steel assets in the petrochemical industry. Safety is of paramount importance and so reducing human exposure to hazardous environments such as working at height or limit the exposure to confined spaces is attempted where possible. Bulk storage tanks are structures that provide an interesting problem for maintenance as the outer shell wall and roof can be inspected when in service in a non-intrusive manner (NII), its floor is a component that requires the tank to be taken out-of-service to gain access for detailed inspection and repair. As such, an intrusive inspection is conducted.
For both intrusive and non-intrusive inspection, automation is key for efficiency. Millions of measurements can be taken to map out the condition of an asset which can lead to an overall view of the structures condition. NII can be used to determine the liquid level corrosion rate of a tank with a crawler coupled with a dry-coupled wheel probe and a remote automated raster scanning crawler can be employed to create a detailed material thickness map of the vast area of tank shells. Conversely, intrusive inspection is normally employed for the tank floor with a semi-automated using a fixed size array of magnetic sensors that creates a map in a single pass.
Efficiency can be achieved in many forms. This presentation provides an overview of different automation techniques that can be applied to an inspection using the storage tank as an example.