Dacon’s Research and Development Team has recently completed the design, fabrication and commissioning of a 3” Multi Channel Ultrasonic Pipeline Inspection Tool (In-Line Inspection Tool is the commonly used industry terminology).
The R&D team were able to collaborate directly with Dacon’s fabrication department to ensure design specifications were met and that international standards of quality control were maintained. The tool was designed and built at Dacon’s facilities in Rayong, Thailand and a team of some 30 people were involved from several nationalities.
Small diameter pipeline inspection tools are challenging to build and operate because of the complexity of the equipment required to achieve the desired inspection result.
The tool needs to travel through a pipeline and take constant measurements at very small intervals (as small as one measurement every 3mm) in order to gather information and transform that data into a high resolution “picture” of the pipeline.
The pipeline data is then processed by software to form a clear and easy to read image of the pipeline. This information is then analyzed by specialists to look for and assess any damage that may be caused by different corrosion mechanisms or dents.
Building such tools in larger sizes (6” and up) is easier because there is more space to work with. These 3” tools have very limited space and need to use the latest technology in small size ultrasonic transducers, micro processing units and precision electronics. The tools need to fit a lot of equipment in a small space to ensure accurate inspection results are achieved and many of the parts need to be specially designed and built.
It is a testament to the skills and experience of the Dacon Research and Development Team that they have been able to develop such a tool that can inspect long distance pipelines whilst other companies have struggled to achieve the same result.
The Reason for and Importance of Pipeline Inspections
It is critically important that pipelines are inspected on a regular basis to ensure that they are being operated in a safe and efficient manner. Any damage or corrosion in the pipeline may represent the danger of a leak or even explosion (these are called loss of containment events). It is of extreme importance for pipeline operators to be certain that they are operating their pipelines within safe parameters according to very strict standards set in place by industry bodies and government regulators.
It is for this reason that pipelines must be inspected regularly and that the inspection results achieved are accurate and reflect the true condition of the pipeline. The inspections must be performed with efficiency so as to find the right balance between the safety obligations of the operator and the financial requirements of the owners.
The Benefits of Developing Small Diameter Tools
Inspecting 3” small diameter lines has always been a challenge. Now companies will have the ability to ensure the safe and efficient operation of these small pipelines in the same way that they do for the larger diameter pipelines. Pipeline operators are extremely aware of pipeline safe operating conditions and have always paid the same attention to small lines as larger lines, but it has traditionally been done by using inefficient, labour intensive manual methods.
Having the capability to efficiently inspect long distance small diameter lines using a pipeline inspection tool that runs through your pipeline at up to 2 meters per second opens up a large untapped section of the pipeline inspection market with excellent financial potential for Dacon.
Trials and testing have been completed and the first commercial jobs are planned for the first quarter of 2018.