CTRL Acoustic Ultrasound Systems
High quality ultrasonic inspection devices can be used for trouble-shooting suspect areas, for verification of repairs and proper component installation, and for air and steam audits.
Ultrasound Condition-Based Monitoring
The rest of this paper will focus on a PdM process called ConditionBased Monitoring” (CBM) or, in some instances, “Condition Monitoring” (CM). CBM ultrasound testing is performed using an ultrasound listening device in conjunction with data capture software. By recording the sound characteristics of a component under test, the software will make anote of any changes from previous testing or variations against a set threshold. The variations are specific to the conditions of the component under test, and are not compared to a measurement scale or to the sound from similar components (comparative testing). Any significant change will trigger a call to action for further inspection or a warning for pending failures.
When an appropriate ultrasound detection device is couple with data collection and analysis software such as InCTRL, test results using the CBM method are instantaneous, and can allow the technician to isolate the source or a problem that may not yet be detectable with other technologies. This provides time for corrective action to occur before damage to the equipment and resulting downtime. Another benefit of ultrasound CBM technology is early detection: studies have shown that ultrasound can detect anomalies sooner than other common PdM technologies such as infrared and vibration analysis.
Consider the following summary from a third party evaluation team for the integration of ultrasonic technology in a single organization with over 500 sites:
More than 100 applications were identified in use for various equipment at each site such as boilers, heat exchangers, compressors, motors, pumps, valves, and steam traps.
The total savings for the organization would be approximately $3.7 million annually.
The return on investment for the integration of ultrasound with this cost avoidance would be approximately 15:1.
The annual man-year savings caused by the reduction of time spent diagnosing and troubleshooting would be approximately 45 man-years.
Another adopter of the technology – in this case, a large polyethylene terephthalate plastics recycling facility – is using the InCTRL Condition-Based Monitoring (CBM) program to great success. A full-time employee dedicated to the use of ultrasound has been using ultrasound technology and data collection software to trend 1,300+ test points on a monthly basis for almost five years. The data collected from the software has allowed the maintenance department to get ahead of potential equipment failures and regularly avoid unscheduled downtime.
Distance Listening Applications
Some mechanical components are not compatible with traditional ultrasound CBM methods due to safety concerns or inaccessibility. In some instances, it is possible to use a parabolic accessory with the ultrasound receiver and CBM software in order to listen to mechanical components at a distance. This method requires a direct line of site to the component under test and an immediate atmosphere free of competing ultrasound from compressed gas leaks, arc welding, or other sources. Similar to traditional methods of ultrasound CBM, repeatability of conditions is paramount, and extra steps must be taken to assure that distance and location are repeated with each individual sample recorded.