Technology Development

Ideas and concepts initiated within Sonomatic and by our clients are assessed by the Systems Engineering Team and Technical Support Group, before evaluation and approval by management. Our team of mechanical, electronics, software and integration engineers manage the development process, through to validation, training, competency assessment and accreditation.

A key differentiator for Sonomatic is the depth of expertise available to support field projects.

The entire development team is available to provide unparalleled levels of knowledge and expertise to support technicians throughout the service delivery cycle.

We are also ideally placed to accommodate improvements and adaptations. Collectively, this process maximises the effectiveness in terms of deployment, to achieve our aims of supporting our client’s operations.

DRS - Dynamic Response Spectroscopy

Inspection of steel through coatings such as composite repairs, corrosion protection tapes and subsea insulation, is not possible with standard ultrasonic inspection methods.

In many situations, other inspection techniques such as Pulsed Eddy Current and Radiography cannot achieve the necessary sensitivity or measurement accuracy. To address this requirement, Sonomatic developed Dynamic Response Spectroscopy (DRS); an innovative ultrasonic inspection technique for mapping corrosion through challenging coatings. Low-frequency ultrasound (<1 MHz) penetrates the coating and excites the steel, causing it to vibrate at its natural frequencies.

Using advanced signal processing algorithms, these frequencies are extracted and used to determine the steel wall thickness profile. The thickness measurement accuracy is typically ±0.5 mm.

The DRS technique is also used to evaluate the integrity of coatings, specifically composite repairs. Flaws such as disbondment contain small air pockets which block transmission of the ultrasound into the steel. DRS detects these flaws where the steel response signal is lost. Flaw acceptance criteria and QA test software have been developed by Sonomatic based on Finite Element models.

Key advantages of DRS include:
  • Locating composite repair flaws such as delaminations, wrinkles, contamination.
  • Input to Sonomatic QA test software to assess repair integrity.
  • Confirming the absence of steel degradation.
  • Estimating corrosion growth rates.
  • Quantifying the extent of steel wall loss.
  • Determining if corrosion growth is active.
  • Input to Fitness for Service assessment, including Level 3 using Finite Element Analysis.

Microwave Scanning

Sonomatic has developed a technique that can be used to inspect the outer sheath and surface or the metal armour bands of flexible pipes, plastics and composites. The technique uses low-power microwaves, which can penetrate semi-conducting materials where other NDT inspections i.e. Ultrasonic or Eddy Current inspections, are ineffective.

The microwaves used in our inspections are completely safe and are no more powerful than those sent and received during a mobile phone call. The technique uses hundreds of frequency points over a wide bandwidth, this maximises the probability of detection. It also allows us to determine the depthwise position and through-thickness extent of defects.

Microwave scanning technology from Sonomatic.
Microwave scanning can detect:
  • Displacement of armour bands.
  • Damage to outer armour bands.
  • Damage to the polymer jacket.
  • Near-surface defects.
  • Far-surface defects.
  • Voids

EMAT - Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer

Sonomatic have developed an electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) system to inspect thinner-walled pipes. This applies to inspection at pipe supports and also for rapid screening of piping for detection of corrosion. The system is compact, battery-powered and does not require couplant, making it extremely portable.

Due to its design, the system can easily be deployed using rope access. The technique has been validated through blind trials and has proven its capability on-site at various locations around the world. Inspection under pipe supports is a major application for this technique as it allows the condition of the material to be reliably assessed, without the need for lifting the pipe from the support.

Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) Technology.
Key Features of EMAT Include:
  • Non-contact inspection.
  • No couplant required.
  • Suitable for wall thicknesses between 3 mm and 15 mm.
  • Sensitive to internal and external degradation.
  • Screening approach to identify areas of degradation rapidly.
  • Inspection through coatings up to 1 mm thick.
  • Encoded measurements.

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