Over decades of constant revisions, regulations in the interest of public safety have taken higher precedence and not just in the creation stages. Developers and manufacturers alike must constantly inspect materials used in production, in most cases through some form of NDT or Nondestructive Testing. Depending on the industry, safety assessments are ordinarily regulated to be perpetual to avoid any negligence that could possibly end in tragedy.
Materials deteriorate due to many factors, time being the most significant and unstoppable. Yet, we remain highly reliant on these materials to construct buildings, rocket ships, airplanes, sea-worthy vessels, and even bridges suspended high in the air capable of holding tons of weight. As a result, technology has had to advanced in the direction of being capable to handle highly meticulous inspections – such as the equipment used for NDT purposes.
NDT Equipment Capabilities
The goal for Nondestructive Testing is to examine material that is to be incorporated into manufacturing or has already been put into service for any faults that may compromise its reliability, without causing any damage. As described in an article posted by Inspectioneering, “Overview of Nondestructive Testing (NDT)“, Nondestructive Testing consists of various non-invasive inspection techniques utilized to evaluate material properties, components, or entire process units; techniques that can be used to detect, characterize or measure the presence of damage mechanisms, such as corrosion or cracks. The article goes on to specify that these techniques are able to locate and determine features of defects such as size, shape, and orientation.
To carry out these techniques, equipment had to be built with the capability for these diligent examinations to be carried out and uncover faults unseen by the naked eye. Companies able to carry out these thorough inspections such as AMI Aero Marine Interior, Inc., have access to advanced technology like these listed below:
- Eddy Current
- Phased Array Ultrasonics
- Infrared Thermography
- Magnetic Particle
- Liquid Penetrant
All of which were detailed in “Plunge into Aircraft NDT’s Link to Confidence in Flight“.
The results comprised from the use of these various techniques of inspection can allow for informed decisions to be made on the continued use of material examined, or if it would be better to repair/replace. These results can also illustrate an estimate of how long machinery/material will last in commission. With this knowledge early replacements can be minimized, demonstrating how NDT is a very cost-effective solution.
Real World Applications
Nondestructive inspections are not only favored for their knack to mitigate costs, but the meticulous essence of the examinations are perfect for verifying materials used cross-industries. According to an article posted by Inspectioneering in the section, “Industry Applications of NDT“, NDT services are integral parts of the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries along with others such as chemical, aerospace, automotive, and defense. The same article continues by stating the petrochemical industry has a cradle-to-grave approach with NDT, by utilizing inspections throughout a facilities lifecycle.
Other examples of materials in need of constant inspections, ones that may hold more significance to your everyday life, are the bridges that we trust to carry tons of cargo and traffic on at any one time. Especially in recent decades with trucks capable of holding more weight, so much so that on highways there are weigh stations to be sure large cargo loads are adhering to federal guidelines. According to the article “Bridge testing” on NDT encyclopedia, increasing heavy goods vehicle traffic, aging and structure durability issues may lead to obstructions of traffic with ensuing severe economic damages. The same article states most nations require bridge inspections once every two years, but mainly only visually.
Without the use of NDT equipment and techniques, many key discrepancies can be missed leading to unfortunate events. According to the “Bridge testing” article, 1,500 bridges collapsed between 1966 and 2005 due to handful of reasons including weak foundations, corrosion, metal fatigue, ship collision, or design error. Most of which could have been caught and possibly repaired by making use of a Nondestructive inspection.
Reading Between the Lines
Even after an exhaustive visual inspection experienced maintenance attendants are not able to see past the surface. NDT equipment makes use of x-rays, radiation, Eddy currents, ultrasonic, etc. to get a peek of what is hidden underneath. When used by experienced professionals a report can determine the durability and when the end of its life cycle may come around. Though, without constant revision, examiners may miss small faults that turn into big problems down the line. By making use of a servicer that is used to reading between the lies in terms of materials in commission, proactive measures can be taken in preparation.