The USM Vision ultrasonic (UT) weld inspection system from General Electric’s GE Measurement & Control Solutions Inspection Technologies business allow inspectors that have not been trained in UT techniques to collect reliable and accurate pipe weld inspection data, which can be assessed off-site by a qualified ultrasonics technician.

According to the developer, this availability makes it possible for ultrasonic inspection to be used in situations that normally call for radiography, and thereby removing constraints like extended film processing times, radiation screening and waste chemicals disposal. As a result, it becomes possible to shift inspection practices from radiography to ultrasonic testing, reducing the possibility of bottlenecks, providing significant increases in productivity and improving operational health and safety.

The USM Vision will be particular useful in the oil-and-gas and power-generation sectors, according to GE’s Inspection Technologies, benefitting the equipment owners, welding and fabrication contractors, and inspection service companies.

This inspection system is able operate in phased array and TOFD mode and is supplied with its operating software and GE’s Rhythm Radiography software, as well as the probes and wedges to suit the selected codes and pipe ranges. The set-up process is menu-directed, so the operating software will calculate the ultrasonic parameters for each weld and pipe combination and create an inspection plan that’s easy for the technician to follow. Then, the operator can scan the weld with an encoded scanner, using TOFD or Phased Array.

Inspection data is transmitted to a review station in the industry-accepted protocol, so advanced analysis tools like real-time, volume corrected imaging can be used for easy, reliable image interpretation. By using GE’s Rhythm software platform, the inspection data can be reviewed and shared, for generating reports and archiving inspection results, for tracking or further analysis.

“USM Vision represents a paradigm shift in the weld inspection of new pipework,” according to Patrik Rooman, GE’s business marketing manager for ultrasonics “It is a hand-held ultrasonic flaw detection system that combines software and hardware to allow code-compliant inspection, easily, reliably and speedily, by non-ultrasonics personnel, such as radiography inspectors."

Rooman continued: “It will obviously not replace radiography in every instance but it will offer users an opportunity to eliminate radiography constraints when required, as well as making best use of the expertise of the limited numbers of qualified ultrasonics inspection personnel. Its intuitive, 100% guided operation will also help to extend the skills base of radiography inspectors.”