Improving Maintenance Efficiency With Ultrasound Inspections

Maintenance technicians face many challenges in keeping equipment safe, functional, and reliable. One of their top challenges is vibration, which leads to instability, friction, and a host of other issues.

A cursory inspection isn’t always enough to detect vibration. Often, if you can see the instability, the damage is already done. Ultrasound inspections can identify vibration issues early, allowing technicians to prevent problems caused by resonance. These inspections are essential in a preventive maintenance strategy.

Understanding ultrasound inspection

Ultrasound inspection is a non-destructive testing method using high-frequency sound waves to detect defects, flaws, and other abnormalities in equipment. The sound waves are emitted by a transducer and travel through the equipment before being reflected back to the transducer where they’re measured. With this method, maintenance technicians can determine the amount of vibration and level of instability in the equipment.

Ultrasound inspection is ideal for manufacturing because it can identify small changes invisible to the naked eye. It can also reveal defects and flaws that may lead to equipment failure or downtime. And since it is a nondestructive testing method, ultrasound inspection is safe for a wide range of equipment.

Ultrasound inspection applications

Ultrasound inspection has many applications in the manufacturing process. It’s often used to:

  • Detect equipment defects and flaws
  • Monitor and predict machinery maintenance
  • Identify bonding and adhesion quality
  • Assess equipment corrosion and erosion
  • Measure the thickness of materials (such as insulation)

By providing valuable resonance data, these inspections empower maintenance teams to plan for corrective and preventive maintenance measures. Essentially, ultrasound makes it possible to act on problems that aren’t yet tangible during cursory inspections.

Ultrasound inspection techniques

Different ultrasound inspection techniques can provide various insights to maintenance technicians. Common inspection techniques include:

  • Time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD)
  • Pulse-echo testing (PET)
  • Phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)
  • Guided wave ultrasonic testing (GWUT)
  • Through-transmission ultrasonic testing (TTUT)

At the heart of these inspections are transducers and probes, which convert electrical energy to sound waves and vice versa. Ultrasonic detectors pick up reflected waves from the equipment being tested, while signal processing and data analysis software analyze the level of defects detected.

Implementing ultrasound inspections

How can you implement ultrasound inspection techniques into your routine maintenance processes? Start by creating a plan with details such as the technique to be used, inspection frequency, equipment to be tested, and report format. You should also integrate your plan with existing quality management systems so the data collected is analyzed, reported, and acted upon. Inspection personnel should receive training and certification to ensure they are competent and qualified to perform ultrasound testing.

With the right equipment, proper implementation processes, and skilled personnel, ultrasound inspections can help manufacturers achieve their quality goals. Adding ultrasound inspection to your routine maintenance will not only save you time and resources in the long run but also produce a safer and more efficient working environment.

You can always count on the professionals at Global Electronic Services. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!
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