Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) for Accurate Prediction of Plant Reliability

plant ReliabilityNon-destructive testing methods provide data on Process Plant performance and the plant component quality by providing quality inputs from inspections performed during varying operating conditions. This data can be used for assigning maintenance priorities thereby maximizing plant uptime.  This is a proactive maintenance methodology and is a known industry best practice. NDT methods give input to the predictive models that further give accurate prediction on extent of the degradation of components and time it would require to fail. In a nutshell, the components can be used to their maximum life without compromising the safety, efficiency and reliability resulting in reduced maintenance costs.

NDT can help in:

  1. Identifying a problem before it becomes obvious
  2. Enhancing Energy efficiency
  3. Optimizing Profits
  4. Improving Quality
  5. Reducing unplanned Downtime

Need for safety and product quality are critical factors for the continuous operation of any Process Plant. The maintenance team plays a crucial role in reducing downtimes, enhancing efficiencies, thereby contributing to the overall effectiveness of the Plant. Proactive strategies as NDT therefore find a suitable spot for execution in most Process plants, but for those who are limited by scale or resources should also prioritize this industry benchmark as one of methodologies at work. NDT is a reliable method to verify that steel structures and other critical components are fit-for-purpose at various stages of Plant life.

The common methods of Non-destructive Testing area as follows:

  1. Visual and optical methods- Interferometry, Dye penetrants
  2. Vibration methods- Ultrasonic
  3. Acoustic method- Acoustic impedance measurement
  4. Radiological method- X rays, Gamma rays
  5. Electrical and magnetic methods- Eddy current, Magnetic flux leakage

Selection of method is based on site details, safety, economics and efficiency. Using NDT the parameters identified are Surface/ sub surface defects, internal defects, metallurgical conditions and dimensional variations. Usually more than one method is employed since the methods generally complement each other. The data must be analyzed by experts so that the correct diagnosis is achieved from the collected data.

Large industries such as Aerospace, Chemical, Mining, Power and Offshore Oil & Gas platforms have leveraged NDT and earned various benefits from its deployment,  even skid operators and various plant operators can deploy NDT at varying levels to optimize their Plant efficiency.

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