Off-the-shelf ring slide for subsea NDT
Hot-tap technology is an established method of connecting sections of sub-sea pipelines without stopping production. Once limited to relatively shallow installations, the technology is now achievable to depths of 150m, a breakthrough that greatly extends its scope. Developing innovative inspection techniques to complement such engineering achievements is the commercial role of Sonomatic. For example, it recently perfected a system for checking the integrity of welds for a deep hot-tap project in the North Sea, a breakthrough in the field of pipeline NDT (non-destructive testing).
With its roots in nuclear engineering, Sonomatic is a worldwide organisation whose expertise in ultrasonic inspection design, development and application dates back more than 25 years. It is focussed mainly on the sub-sea oil and gas industry as well as nuclear and power generation but also extends into work for general refineries and the chemical processing industries. Many of the pipeline projects in which Sonomatic is involved are of significant economic importance and carry environmental implications. As a result the design and production of its bespoke NDT systems are often to a tight time scale and outsourced components and systems need to be right first time with no room for error. Elements for a recent subsea hot-tap project were no exception.
Sonomatic was cont-racted to perform an ultrasonic ovality inspection of a key area on a high profile pipeline which would be used for a sub-sea hot-tap. A ring slide was required as the main medium to manoeuvre ultrasonic probes around the pipe and a HepcoMotion product was selected for the job. "We needed a high precision geared ring to fit existing automated subsea equipment and to accommodate new features that were specific to this project," explained Sonomatic's Chris Krugel. "The quality and ready availability of the HepcoMotion ring made it a clear choice. It fitted in exactly as planned from the early concept stages of the project. The main drive unit needed no modification and this allowed us to move swiftly on to more important issues."
The resultant ultrasonic ovality inspection system was completed in time and on budget and earned Sonomatic another important credit. It became the first UK company to accomplish this technique.
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