Ultrasonic thickness measurement technology has an application in almost every industry. It is one of the most useful practices within a category of analysis techniques known as Non-Destructive testing. An ultrasonic thickness gauge helps an engineer inspect or measure a material’s thickness from one side only rather than boring a hole in the material using a caliper.
An engineer performs a simple calibration of the material being measured then an ultrasonic thickness gauge is passed into the material through a transducer called a probe. So the tester or gauge measures the time it takes for the ultrasound to get through the material and back to calculate a thickness measurement.
Modern ultrasonic gauges such as coltraco ultrasonics come with internal dataloggers and some with up to 32GB of micro SD card memory. Other special features include a direct interface to Microsoft excel and Bluetooth. That enables a user to give the readings file names, location, user names, notes and even set up in files such as 3D with custom points. That offers more flexibility when gathering and comparing readings over inspection outages.
Applications of ultrasonic thickness gauges in plant maintenance routines
Ultrasonic thickness gauges are used to measure any metal and dense engineering materials like HDPE. Therefore ultrasonic thickness measurement use is pervasive in plant maintenance. Let’s look at the service of ultrasonic thickness measurement in the pipework.
Engineering pipework is prone to various damages, including corrosion, deposits, galvanic corrosion, microbiologically influenced corrosion, etc., which can cause thinning in the pipes. But unlike other units in-plant applications, pipework barely stops working due to flowing liquids; therefore, it is a simple and everpresent cause of wall thickness loss. If pipework damage is ignored, a highly costly shutdown and, worse still, an industrial accident are the potential risks.
Thankfully, the simple act of using an ultrasonic thickness gauge during the plant’s routine maintenance helps to monitor wall thinning in pipework and can be included as part of a predictive maintenance program. With an ultrasonic gauge that features the ability to record, report on findings, and loads them onto a spreadsheet, they can be analyzed and incorporated into a more comprehensive predictive maintenance program.
Testing coated materials
You may be wondering if ultrasonic thickness measurement is applicable in situations whereby the materials being measured are coated. Some ultrasonic thickness gauges provide an ultrasonic feature known as multiple echoes. The technique ignores coatings, so that means only the material subject to wear and tear is measured, and it is incredibly accurate.
What should you consider when selecting an ultrasonic thickness gauge?
First off, an ultrasonic thickness tester should be fairly straightforward to use. Some of them come with very advanced features making the unit complex to use. It should feature all the essential technical features while allowing an engineer to take quick and accurate measurements.
Accuracy is of utmost importance alongside simplicity. A scan that refers to the observation and recording of the ultrasonic waveform and other aiding functionalities like measurement stability indicator plays critical roles in enhancing the unit’s accuracy.
The durability of the ultrasonic thickness gauge is also essential. You need an IP-rated unit that has passed all the formal drop tests to ensure it functions well for several years.