How does UltraAnalytix™ inspection work?

UltraAnalytix™ is a proprietary system developed by Geoff Clarkson at UTComp. Unlike other UT techniques, the data is collected by a UTComp-trained Licensee at the customer’s site, then this is sent to UTComp for Analysis through the in-house software. Reports are then sent back to the Licensee for any final details before being sent to the customer.

How has UTComp proven that UltraAnalytix™ works?

Inspection of fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) has finally caught up with steel. Now there is a tested and proven non-intrusive and non-destructive method for inspecting FRP equipment that is used world-wide to provide the same level of structural information.  In addition to validation during development, UltraAnalytix™ has been investigated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, and York University in Canada.  Both universities report agreement of UltraAnalytix™  results with results obtained from comparative destructive tests.  UltraAnalytix™  has passed rigorous scientific testing, unlike any other method used to inspect fiberglass reinforced plastic equipment.

Read the articles from the UAB and York Click here

FRP equipment can usually be inspected using the UTComp System while it is in operation and, of course, without entry into the equipment.  Inspections provide repeatable and reproducible quantitative information about the following:
• Corrosion barrier condition at and beneath the surface.
• Structural FRP condition for mechanical integrity.
• The actual strength and thickness of the fiberglass reinforced plastic equipment for determining its structural capacity.
• The rate of change of its structural capacity.
• Estimated remaining service life.
This information now allows users of fiberglass reinforced plastic process equipment to manage FRP assets with the same discipline and scientific approach as for their metal assets.

How can external inspection with UltraAnalytix provide reliable information about the corrosion barrier? Don’t you still need to go inside?

UTComp developed the UltraAnalytix™ inspection system to identify  the condition of the corrosion barrier from outside of the tank while it is in service.  In ideal circumstances, ultrasonic (UT) data is collected from outside the equipment above and below the liquid line. In the post-processing of the UT data using UltraAnalytix software, these readings are compared to provide valuable information about the condition of the corrosion barrier. In circumstances where data is not available above and below the liquid line, the data is evaluated by the same software and more conservative results will be provided.

UltraAnalytix has proven successful in giving owners information about depth of the corrosion barrier damage, blisters, scale, etc. from outside of the equipment while in operations.  See a case study that shows how UltraAnalytix™ has accurately detected oxidation damage directly from readings. Damage from resin swelling, loss of crosslinking, thermal expansion or mud cracking, and permeation due to micro-cracks is also detected directly from the readings.

I have tanks that have been in service for many years. Does UltraAnalytix have to just be done on new pieces of equipment?

UltraAnalytix™ can be used to inspect and evaluate new and in service equipment of any age. In ideal circumstances, this system is used to track the life of an asset from production to repair or replacement.  However, baseline information is not usually necessary.  UTComp has been able to used its research to determine a conservative “calculated value” of the as new condition of the asset based on a few details about the equipment. Information such as age of equipment, type of service, and some design information are helpful.

I am used to looking at reports about new steel tanks; does UltraAnalytix give me something similar about Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Equipment?

For steel tanks it is important to know the thickness of the tanks to make predictions about repair and replacement.  Through the analysis of the UltraAnalytix™ data, we are able to provide information about the strength of the equipment to make those same predictions.  For new equipment, the UltraAnalytix™ report is similar to the “Mill Test Report” provided for new steel.

UT is just for thickness and finding defects. How is UltraAnalytix™ different?

Both UltraAnalytix™ and ordinary UT can determine thickness and defects; however UltraAnalytix™ goes beyond this and will provide information about the strength of the equipment, condition of the corrosion barrier.  Additionally, this information is reliable, valid, objective, and repeatable. The additional information from the UltraAnalytix™ can only be gained when it is collected using a UTComp-trained licensee and analyzed using the UTComp in-house software.

How does UltraAnalytix inspection provide information about the internal condition of the flat bottom of an FRP vessel?

The interior floor of an FRP vessel experiences very similar corrosion rates as the lower shell, normally the site of highest stress for a vessel, with almost constant chemical attack and mechanical loads. UltraAnalytix™ data that is collected from the outer surface of the lower shell of the tank, provides information on corrosion damage that has occurred to all of the inner surfaces at the bottom of the tank, including the floor.  In general, flat bottoms of FRP tanks do not experience significant stresses, so damage from corrosion dominates. In fact, when mechanical stresses are included for the shell, the results for the lower shell have shown themselves to be more conservative than assessment of the tank bottom. Unlike metal equipment, there is almost no corrosion from the underside of the equipment and the floor should be fully supported by the pad upon which it sits.

While the UltraAnalytix inspection system significantly reduces the requirement for confined space entry (due to the high risk nature of this activity, recommendations to go inside are made, but only when absolutely necessary. UTComp has fully trained expert engineers available to do these internal inspections as necessary.

Can UltraAnalytix™ find defects?

UltraAnalytix inspection will find defects in FRP structures if the defect interrupts the ultrasonic pulse from the transducer(see case studies); however, the focus of this technology is to determine changes in the structural condition of FRP throughout the main areas of concern (e.g. highest area of mechanical load, chemical attack or known area of failure). UltraAnalytix analysis uses discrete readings, or sampled data, to  identify changes that have occurred within the FRP, and on its opposite surface.  As noted above, if a “defect” exists at the location of a reading, the effect that the defect has on the FRP will be identified, rather than simply the existence of a defect – which would then require analysis.  This provides the prime benefit of providing the owner with direct information on the actual capability of FRP – even when defects exist.

Do I still need a visual inspection?

In addition to collecting valuable UT information, all UTComp Engineers and Licensees complete an external visual inspection. UltraAnalytix™ can be used to help determine when it is necessary to do an internal inspection of an asset.  UTComp trained licensees have also been trained to identify areas of concern visually when assessing a tank – externally, and internally.  In some circumstances, an FRP expert may be required to do this internal inspection.

What about other reinforced materials, such as carbon fiber, and Kevlar?

UltraAnalytix™ is undergoing a great deal of development and expansion into other areas of reinforcement. At this point, FRP/GRP are fully developed.

Where did this research come from?

The initial work on this was conducted by NASA over 50 years ago. Geoff Clarkson has over 30 years of experience as an engineer and has dedicated his time since 2000 to finding an answer to the problem of reliable, valid, objective and repeatable inspection of FRP.

Who can use this technology?

This technology is available to end-users and manufactures of FRP

My tanks are insulated and/painted. Can UltraAnalytix™ still be used?

Yes.  For insulated tanks, small holes in the insulation will need to be cut to be able get transducer contact on the FRP surface, or the data can be collected internally. There is no problem if the surfaces of the equipment are painted.

Does this have to be done during a shut-down?

UltraAnalytix™ data can be collected at almost any time, while the plant is in operation or shut-down. Actually, in ideal circumstances, UltraAnalytix™ data is collected well in advance of a shut-down so that the information can be used to guide repairs, replacements and control the scope of these projects.  It is best that the ambient temperature be above 10C.

How can I use UltraAnalytix™ information to improve reliability of my operations?

UltraAnalytix™  reports can provide valuable information about the FRP assets. These reports are important to:

  • Determining an appropriate inspection schedule
  • Determining suitability for service
  • Provide information about the condition of the equipment
  • Determining the repair and replacement timing to work within budget cycles
  • Control scope and budget

Can UltraAnalytix™ be collected just on tanks?

No, UltraAnalytix™ can be collected on tanks, pipe, scrubbers, beams, as well as wind-turbine blades, and cored structures such as high speed trains.

What other companies are using UltraAnalytix™ to inspect and evaluate fiberglass reinforced plastic equipment?

Companies using UltraAnalytix™ 

I need an FRP Subject Matter Expect.  Where do I find one?

UTComp has not just developed this new and exciting technology, but we are Subject Matters Expert Engineering Company for FRP.  We can help you from innovation to installation of all your FRP needs: design, materials selection, quality assurance, etc.