Exploratory surgery for equipment

Oct. 4, 2011
Sheila Kennedy says ultrasonic, vibration and pressure analysis can be done without disruption.

A new wave of non-destructive testing tools abounds. Physics-based ultrasonic systems, faster vibration analyzers, regulatory-compliant leak detectors, digital differential pressure sensors and 360° optical scanning are among the solutions available.

Automated ultrasonic testing: Portable, phased-array ultrasound inspections simplify weld integrity testing, crack detection, corrosion surveys and other industrial maintenance tasks. Compared to conventional ultrasonic transducers, the wave-physics-based phased-array system from Olympus NDT ( focuses the beam electronically and can conduct tests with multiple angles from a single probe. OmniScan MX2, the latest iteration of Olympus NDT’s OmniScan phased-array flaw detector, has a large touchscreen to ease navigation and data entry and IP66-level durability. Its Weld Overlay Wizard and faster data transfer speed expedite weld inspection setup, testing and analysis.

“The additional innovative features found on the OmniScan MX2 provide superior usability, enhanced by a large, intuitive touchscreen interface. The result is a reduction in operator training times and a significant increase in inspection productivity,” says François-Côme Beaupré, Olympus NDT’s OmniScan product manager.

Portable vibration analyzer: Vibration meters and analyzers assist in detecting and diagnosing machinery problems. Portable tools such as Ludeca’s ( lightweight VibXpert II can detect and analyze machine vibrations, bearing conditions, and process and visual inspection data. The device expands on the original VibXpert platform and features a large VGA color screen, a rapid processor to speed data acquisition and IP65-level durability. Options include the ability to record extended time-waveform data by triggering, time delay or a combination of the two, and dynamic balancing to clarify whether vibration is causing the imbalance.


Ray Wonderly, owner of Advanced Maintenance Technologies, ( remarked on VibXpert II’s faster speed: “Speed is important when working with big routes because it cuts down data collection time. I also was impressed by its crisp and bright color display and recording functionality.” Other standout features he noted are its accurate and consistent vibration measurements, light weight, exceptionally long battery life, route storage capacity and access to historical information.

Acoustic leak detection: Portable acoustic emission technology detects leaks, their location and the estimated leak rate. The new VPAC II digital acoustic emission leak detector from Mistras Group ( quantifies through-valve leakage in conformance with the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (40 CFR Part 98). Valve routes can be loaded into the handheld device in advance of the readings. VPAC II can store upstream and downstream readings for 100 valves at a time and calculates the leak directly on the unit. Transferring captured data to a workstation is accomplished using VPACwin software and a wireless Bluetooth interface.

“Users of the product have saved significant money by identifying valuable through-valve product loss, and realized additional savings by optimizing planned maintenance schedules, identifying the bad actors and prioritizing their repair,” says Ralph Genesi, group executive vice president of Mistras Group.

Electronic remote sensor: Non-destructive tools for measuring flow, pressure and level simplify tank and vessel maintenance. Emerson Process Management ( introduced the Rosemount 3051S electronic remote sensor (ERS) system for distillation towers and other tall vessels. Instead of mechanical components, the ERS system is designed with a digital differential pressure (DP) architecture. DP is calculated in one of two digitally linked sensors and transmitted using a standard HART signal. “We have had no lost production and better on-stream operation since installing electronic remote sensors” says Tim Anderson, I&E reliability team leader for Chevron Phillips Chemical.

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3-D optical metrology: Optical metrology is available for large-scale equipment, components and structures. Compared to mechanical and laser metrology, the three-dimensional optical metrology used in Phase Vision’s ( Quartz scanners is faster and provides better data resolution. Millions of points can be measured in seconds, without clamps or contact. The scanners are suited to large or complex shapes and flexible and non-flexible surfaces, and are resistant to ambient light and shiny surfaces.

A new Quartz scanner accessory from Phase Vision is the fully programmable rotary table, which provides the ability to scan 360° in one pass rather than moving the scanner or object being scanned. “The table can be programmed to turn through a set number of degrees between scans, enabling a complete all-round scan of the object to be taken in just a few minutes,” says Dave Sanderson, product manager for Phase Vision.

Email Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].