Phoenix ISL - News

Phoenix launches improved ultrasonic probe

Phoenix ISL, the specialist manufacturer of non-destructive testing equipment, has announced the launch of its new SSW ultrasonic probe - a single crystal shearwave transducer which offers improved power and resolution, and greater ease of use for the operator.

Designed as a general purpose system for manual inspection and testing, the new probe retains its competitive pricing, but features a range of technical refinements which have improved its speed, effectiveness and versatility. Chief amongst these are an increase in power - which is now 2?times greater than Phoenix’s previous model - and a better pulse shape.

As an additional benefit, the unit’s pulse length has been shortened to less than 1.25 micro-seconds and the output has been increased by 8 decibels - both of which contribute to improved defect detection and clearer, more accurate readings.

Ideal for use in many sectors, notably the power, oil, chemical and utility industries, the SSW transducer is based on technology that has proven its effectiveness in applications throughout the world. However, for inspection engineers working in particularly warm environments, the new probe now offers a further benefit because, unlike conventional alternatives, it will operate with complete efficiency at ambient temperatures as high as 45 to 50 degrees Celsius. Consequently, it places virtually no restriction on the times at which inspection work can be undertaken, and therefore helps to ensure that commissioning delays and down-time losses can be kept to an absolute minimum.

Supplied with either Subvis or Lemo connections, the new probe a choice of crystal sizes - from 5 to 20mm - and in frequencies ranging from 1 to 5 MHz. Further information about the new unit, and details of the company’s custom-manufacturing facilities can be obtained from Dave Smith at Phoenix ISL’s head office in Warrington. (Tel. 01925 826000 / Fax. 01925 838788).

Ultrasonic system slashes inspection costs

A scanning system developed in the UK to test a new ammonia storage tank in Australia has saved around ?5,000 on inspection costs - and could result in the project being completed up to two months ahead of schedule.

Devised by Phoenix ISL, the system takes a pioneering approach by using ultrasonics in place of the more traditional radiography. This, together with the use of a semi-automated scanner, has dramatically reduced test times.

However, the real savings lie in the faster construction process which the technology allows. Instead of the site being evacuated for radiography the system enables testing behind the welders - in fact while the welds are still warm. It is estimated that up to 60 days could be saved in the project as a result.

The equipment, commissioned by inspection specialists CW Pope of Newcastle, New South Wales, centres on an automated scanner, the Magman, with the facility for Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD) and creeping waves.

CW Pope's spokesman Steve Prince, who trialled the equipment himself, notes: '35m of weld on 32mm thick plate was tested in less than four hours with plenty of interruptions. I will have no trouble improving this productivity rate . . . It would take a radiography crew 14 hours on night shift to test the same weld.'

The whole system was designed to take into account the irregular walls of the tank and to withstand the rigours of Northern Australia, where temperatures can reach up to 38 degrees C with very high humidity.

Phoenix Managing Director Karl Quirk explains: 'The team set a precedent in using ultrasonics to test a structure of this type and in doing so ensured much quicker inspection times, particularly through the use of TOFD.

'Although traditionally employed for sizing defects, the speed at which TOFD inspections can be carried out makes it extremely cost-effective for search, supported by traditional ultrasonic methods. It is no surprise that it is currently the fastest growing ultrasonic technique.'

The Magman system, which was specially developed for the project, is now available as a standard product. It can be configured to support a variety of testing techniques and transducers.

Pig deal for Phoenix

Phoenix is expanding its activities in the field of pipeline inspection after winning another contract for the design and manufacture of transducers for 'intelligent pigs'.

Pipetronix, based in Germany, is the third major international pipeline service company to use Phoenix transducers. Pipeline Integrity International (formerly part of British Gas) has been a customer since it began pipeline pigging operations over 20 years ago and AGR of Norway is also an established client.

Now Phoenix is preparing for a growing demand for pigging equipment, as the technique - traditionally used in the oil and gas industry - is increasingly employed by other utilities looking for a cost-effective way to detect cracks and corrosion in pipelines and thus prevent spillages.

Intelligent pigs are used to inspect the millions of kilometres of oil and pipelines which criss-cross the world's surface. Powered by batteries and carrying up to 960 probes, these advanced inspection tools can travel along the inside of a pipeline for hundreds of miles at typical speeds of up to a metre a second, simultaneously scanning the walls for defects. The compressed data is analysed later by experts and can locate faults accurately to within a matter of centimetres.

The transducers used must be built to withstand the pressure inside the pipeline and take into account the contents, whether that be oil, gas, water or other liquids. Phoenix works closely with pipeline service companies to develop products suitable for the particular specification.

Phoenix MD Karl Quirk said: 'Phoenix is poised to take advantage of the new growth market for intelligent pigs. Pigging technology, which has proved so successful in helping the oil and gas industry prevent disasters, is now more cost-effective than ever. No wonder that other utilities are beginning to adopt it as a means to increase efficiency and improve their environmental performance.'

Quick and easy TOFD scanning

A pocket-size device which allows for quick and easy TOFD inspections with a permanent record of the results is fast becoming a best seller for UK manufacturer Phoenix.

The TOFD Caliper has won orders from around the world, including France, since its recent introduction. Phoenix believes the demand reflects the growing popularity of Time of Flight Diffraction as an inspection technique and the need for a lightweight, portable scanner.

The TOFD Caliper, which can be used on plate, pipe or curved surfaces, can be assembled without tools and allows fast manual scanning, particularly for smaller areas or those which would be difficult to access using more bulky equipment.

The kit includes three sets of wedges, for 45, 60 and 70 degree operations, along with 25MHz probes, and can be assembled within minutes. The wedges simply slot into the Caliper and probe distances can easily be adjusted, from 28mm to 160mm apart. The Caliper is ideal for position-related A, B, D and Echo Dynamic Scan Data Collection.

Phoenix designs and manufactures a range of innovative NDT equipment for customers worldwide and has particular expertise in servicing the needs of the nuclear industry. Managing Director Karl Quirk said: 'The TOFD Caliper was designed in response to the demand from clients, many of whom had resorted to using makeshift devices to hold TOFD probes because they hadn't found anything suitable on the market. It has proved popular with customers of all types, from power generation to construction and inspection companies.'

National Power invests in phased array technology

National Power has demonstrated its faith in the new phased array technology by becoming the first UK organisation to purchase a system for ultrasonic testing of industrial plant.

The Tomoscan FOCUS system is being supplied by Phoenix as the sole UK agent for R/D Tech of Canada. It is the only commercially available system of its type in the world.

The FOCUS system will enable National Power to improve the quality of inspections on critical plant while cutting costs in the longer term.

Phased array technology, more commonly used in the medical field, opens up a whole range of new possibilities for the NDT industry. Computer manipulation of the ultrasonic beam allows multi-angle inspection of complex geometries by a single transducer.

Multiple probes are no longer needed since the software gives full control of beam angle, focal distance and spot size, resulting in high-speed scans with no moving parts. Inspecting a component with a variable angle beam also ensures detection no matter what the angle of the defect, with optimal signal-to-noise ratio.

According to Roger Lyon, Head of Inspection Management at National Power, the purchase was prompted by a forthcoming research and development project on extending the life of power stations, although the FOCUS systemwould also be used for specialist inspections of new plants.

'For certain inspections we are convinced that phased array applications will be much better than conventional systems,' he commented, 'and we have seen plenty of demonstrations and thoroughly researched the technique. We believe the potential is there for improving inspections considerably and doing things we haven?t been able to before. We are quite excited at the prospect.'

The bottom line for National Power, however, was running costs. 'We are in a competitive, commercial world and are constantly trying to minimise costs and improve quality,' he added. 'We had originally planned to buy a standard imaging system but it became apparent that investing in the FOCUS system would save a lot of money in the longer term.'

Karl Quirk, Managing Director of Phoenix, said the company had also had enquiries from the aerospace sector. 'The use of phased array technology in NDT is still very much in its infancy,' he said, 'but we predict it will have a big impact on the industry. It is quicker than conventional techniques and, since it only requires one probe, the mechanics are less complicated. What's more, it allows inspections that were previously impossible and improves the integrity of existing inspections.'

'The FOCUS system represents an investment in new technology which will pay for itself over and over through the longer term economies it brings.'

New manipulator is hot stuff!

A unique new automated NDT inspection manipulator will speed up maintenance times at Sizewell A power station by allowing welding, heat treatment and ultrasonic testing to be carried out at the same time.

The manipulator, which can inspect welds continuously at temperatures of up to 170 degrees C with a minimal amount of insulation removed, was designed and manufactured for BNFL-Magnox Generation by Phoenix. Three units have been produced so far in a deal worth over ?00,000.

Engineers at Phoenix were faced with several design problems. Project Engineer Dave Smith says: 'Magnox wanted the manipulators for use whilst the boiler was being heat treated during the welding process, so the first consideration was the high temperature operation.'

'The presence of vertical piping and horizontal stabilising beams on the boiler led to severe limitations of space, and we also had to take into account the electronically noisy environment in which it would be operating.'

All parts in direct contact with the boiler have been selected to operate at up to 200 degrees C and built-in heat breaks insulate these from other components. Motors, encoders and electrical boxes are air cooled.

The design was streamlined by the use of small but powerful DC motors and gearbox drives, and by careful positioning of parts. Only a 625mm wide strip of lagging around the welds needs to be removed - the circumferential track sits on top of the remaining lagging. Adjustments were built in to align the manipulator to the weld and to compensate for the uneven boiler surface.

The ultrasonics also posed major problems due to the high temperatures, high electromagnetic background noise and prolonged duty cycle. With continuous scanning for up to 12 hours per day, seven days per week, transducers were designed specifically for the application and they underwent proving trials and third party qualification.

The lightweight aluminium structure is easily handled and put into place within seconds. Probe pans can be replaced with the scanner in position.

Phoenix Managing Director Karl Quirk says: 'Efficiency and ease of use were prime considerations in this job. Clever design can speed up maintenance and reduce downtime considerably, as this manipulator with its high temperature operation shows. It is certainly the first of its type we are aware of and we believe it to be unique within the industry.'

Lightweight scanner an automatic success

A unique lightweight ultrasonic scanner combines the benefits of automatic operation with the flexibility of a manual device.

The Spider X-Y scanner from Phoenix is ideal for the localised scanning of critical components. It can be set up within minutes and inspect even the most complicated, uneven surfaces with an accuracy of + or - 1mm. Once attached by vacuum or magnetic pads, highly accurate probe positioning allows both axial scan lines and rasta scans to be carried out.

Designed for versatility, the Spider is ideal for inspection of a wide range of materials including stainless steel and composites and is available in a modular format. It can scan a maximum area of 300mm x 300mm, hold multiple probes and undertake TOFD analysis. An IP68 version is also available, allowing continuous operation whilst totally immersed in water.

The Spider will interface with many data acquisition systems. The axial and circumferential drives are powered by 12v DC motors and positional indexing is achieved on both drives by optical quadrature encoders.

The Spider aims to meet the demand for a lightweight unit, one that can be packed into a case and readily transported from site to site. Its modular format means it can be configured to suit a whole range of different requirements.