New Auga makes Lite work of weld inspection

Optical Metrology Services (OMS) is pleased to announce a new development in a long line of weld scanning technology advancements carried out over a 10 year timeline. The OMS Auga Lite brings a number of improvements to the existing - and previously ground-breaking - Auga weld inspection technology and provides customers with the best weld inspection service at an even more competitive price.

OMS clients require the rapid deployment of services right across the globe, often located in demanding locations which are challenging and inhospitable. The original Auga internal weld inspection tool (https://goo.gl/GbG6ax) was built to perform in the toughest of environments where accuracy and efficiency are critical to project integration and ensuring a successful operation. However, the robust nature of the larger, core tool means that it requires greater consideration during project planning as a result of being larger and heavier. The new Auga Lite has been developed specifically to be more agile and can be packed into cases prior to deployment. This new tool, which is currently being utilised on a project in the Middle East, vastly reduces those project planning considerations as it can be sent anywhere in the world as excess baggage on a standard flight.

The Auga Lite is best suited to operations where the environment is harsh, such as an offshore vessel or onshore within a spoolbase. The inspection of each weld has to take place at either station 1 or station 2 immediately after the “root” and “hot pass” welds are carried out. These stations are typically hot environments due to the initial heating of the pipe which is required prior to the welding process, therefore the tool has been built to withstand increased temperatures. A further aspect of the Auga Lite is its ability to travel to the location where the inspection must be carried out. This tool is also able to navigate along the pipe some 300 mm in order to ensure that the inspection head is perfectly aligned with the weld. The Auga Lite has the capability to inspect pipe diameters which range from 12” to 48”. 

Another new and critical feature is the extended field of view. This is of importance when the internal field joint coating substrate area requires inspection in addition to the weld in order to identify any adverse indications like weld splatter that could affect the integrity of the coating in service. The new Auga Lite system is capable of performing both inspections simultaneously without the loss of image quality. In order to achieve this, OMS engineers not only redesigned the positioning of the lighting, but the entire approach to lighting during the inspection process. The result is a system which creates instantaneous images from the moving head even when inspecting pipes which are a large diameter and the inspection time is limited to less than 60 seconds. In addition to this, the Auga Lite utilises technology to create just the right amount of colour and distribution of lighting in order to avoid variations of light level, which might otherwise compromise the inspection of the weld or the coating.

Critical pipelines, such as those located in deep water, are internally clad with a corrosion resistant alloy (CRA), which results in pipes that are approximately 10 times more expensive to produce compared to standard carbon steel. These pipes also must be fitted together with far greater accuracy and the welds inspected more thoroughly than other standard pipes. A feature which has the potential to compromise the inspection process is the shiny surface. The Auga Lite uses the latest blue laser technology to minimise glare and specular reflections from the shiny pipe surface which might result in measurements of the weld profile to be captured inaccurately.

The improvements to the Auga Lite are then allied to OMS Weld Analysis software which offers detailed and meaningful insights to the weld condition allowing the high-speed evaluation of geometry, colour, and other features which may otherwise compromise the integrity of a pipeline.

Richard Brown, OMS Research and Development Manager, commented: “Not only is this tool a world-beater in terms of image quality and software analysis, but it can also be deployed by crawler into difficult to reach locations at long distance (1 km is possible), vertically, up slopes or horizontally and around bends. We incorporate, when necessary, forward and rearward looking cameras to allow the operator to navigate to points of interest. Also, whilst most of our customers want to use this device for weld inspection, we can also use it to inspect pipes for corrosion, dents, gouges, pipe shape and fit-up both during fabrication of during service life for integrity management”.

Dr. Tim Clarke, Managing Director and founder of OMS, stated: “Although we have developed a large number of weld inspection tools and worked on very many projects around the world for over 10 years, recently, with the help of our Auga technology, we have been able to exceed 50% of our annual income from inspection work which has increased from less than 10% previously. Our clients trust us to provide a cost-effective service along with exceptional quality – a truly unbeatable combination”.

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