Under the Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996, one of the requirements of operating a pipeline is that ‘a pipeline is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair’.
On the face of it, this seems a fairly straightforward obligation. Setting in place regular maintenance is a basic requirement but this only goes part way. The regulation specifically states that the installation must be maintained in an efficient state. This is easy for equipment like pumps and valves. Pump performance can be measured against manufacturer’s schedules. Valves are checked to ensure that they can be operated and do not let by. But what about the pipes, and pipe fittings themselves? How do you check that the insides of pipes are not actually corroding away?
Whilst in the factory there are techniques like Liquid Penetrant Inspection and Magnetic Particle Inspection for detecting flaws in the material. However they are not able to determine the material thickness and so are not suitable for use on site to check it the pipe wall has been eater away by corrosion. To achieve this, a technique known as Ultrasonic Inspection is used. This uses sound from an ultrasound transducer to detect any flaws in the pipe wall.
The transducer emits sound waves from 0.1MHz up to 50MHz. The transducer is passed over the sample of the pipe and the sound waves pass through the material and are reflected by any irregularities or the inside of the pipe. A detector picks up the reflected sound and from the time taken between the sound emissions and receiving the reflection, the thickness of the pipe wall can be calculated.
As a non invasive procedure this can be used on pipework or pipe fittings and flanges that are already installed.
At Chemipetro we can employ all these quality test procedures and also assist with diagnostics for existing installations with our 24 hour call out service.