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[溶接学会論文集 第 27 巻 第 2 号 p.

251s-256s (2009)]

Automated Ultrasonic testing of Pipeline Girth Welds, its Present Status
and Future Developments*

by Cesar Buque**, Jan van der Ent***, Niels Pörtzgen***, Marcel Blinde***, Tjibbe Bouma****, ISHIDA Tomoyoshi*****
Mechanized or Automated Ultrasonic Testing of pipeline girth welds is now in common use in the on - and offshore industry. Automated
ultrasonic testing (AUT) is globally seen as more than just an alternative to the standard radiographic inspection technique not only because it
does not poses safety hazards but also because it is faster, more reliable and has better detection capabilities of critical Lack of Fusion defects in
pipeline girth welds. One of the reasons to use the AUT technique is due to its possibility to use acceptance criteria which are based upon ECA
(Engineering Critical Assessment) instead of the so-called "Good Workmanship". Usually the AUT systems are mounted on a band strapped
around the pipe. From the weld, ultrasonic data is collected from which the defect sizes and positions can be determined by experienced
operators using dedicated software algorithms. This paper discusses the RTD Rotoscan system, which is the first worldwide AUT inspection
system for new construction pipeline girth welds. The principles of AUT, the conventional RTD Rotoscan as well as the RTD phased array
Rotoscan and its advantages in comparison with conventional (multi probe) AUT are discussed. Furthermore challenges regarding the use of
AUT on Austenitic welding having a corrosion-resistant alloy layer are presented. This paper describes also latest improvements made on AUT
during the last years in order to optimize inspection philosophy and minimize the system's "Uncertainties". In addition a brand new method,
RTD IWEX, is briefly described that allows the detection and sizing of weld imperfections in 3D.
Key Words: AUT, girth weld, pipeline, Phased array, CRA, weld inspection, austenitic weld

through-thickness height.
1. Introduction

The latest RTD Rotoscan (Fig. 2) makes also use of Phased
Array technology which gives the system advanced possibilities

The use of AUT to test pipeline girth welds during pipeline

and flexibility to accurately detect and size imperfections with

construction has increased substantially around the world since

different orientations and locations in the girth welds. In addition,

the 1980's when Applus RTD introduced the worldwide first AUT

all RTD Rotoscan systems make use of specifically designed

system (the "RTD Rotoscan"). This was partly driven by the

detection and sizing algorithms allowing not only compliance

progress in flaw sizing and recording which made it possible to

with code and customer requirements but also to achieve a very

use so-called rejection/acceptance criteria for weld defects based

high Probability Of Detection (POD), together with a low false-

on fracture mechanics, instead of good workmanship criteria as

call rate (FCR).

common practice in radiography.

The RTD Rotoscan is also optimized for the automated

The development and actual use of such modern Engineering

inspection of pipeline girth welds consisting of anisotropic

Acceptance (ECA) Criteria, first in Canada and later also in other

welding materials (e.g. austenitic) in combination with a CRA

countries, supported the introduction of AUT into the industry.

layer (Corrosion Resistant Alloy). Such austenitic girth welds

RTD, after having been the first company to offer these services

cannot be inspected by conventional ultrasonics, and have to be

(cf. Fig. 1), was soon followed by other providers. Another

examined by non-conventional angle beam compression wave /

acceleration factor was the introduction of transit-distance C-scan

creep wave technique. The present paper will briefly address this

mapping in 1992 which enabled the system to cope with most

type of inspections.

existing ultrasonic procedures and acceptance criteria, because of

Despite the lack of international standards, ApplusRTD's

its capability to visualize the weld geometry such as the root
penetration and weld cap reinforcement in order to eliminate false
call rate and to a certain extent, quantify volumetric defects.
Moreover, the integrated Time-of-Flight Diffraction (ToFD)
function, together with the amplitude-based, software-aided,
sizing capability provides accurate, state-of-the-art data on defect

*Received on 13 June 2008
**
Applus RTD Group, 3046 NC Rotterdam, The
Netherlands
***
Applus RTD IPS, 3046 NC Rotterdam, The Netherlands
****
Applus RTD Singapore, Singapore
*****
Applus RTD KK, Tokyo, Japan

Fig. 1

World wide first AUT system for girth welds: RTD
Rotoscan in 1959.

expected are detected with maximum probability and with However it has to be emphasized that in case of small root minimum false call rate. and wall thicknesses. For more specific details on this subject Since porosity gives mostly only minor reflections. contrary to expectations. single zone is covered by an optimized separate transducer or The same goes for detection and quantification of porosity. introduced and patented the zonal concept already in 1952. Calibrating such a system is time consuming. The transducer arrangement is designed on the basis of the This enables the use of the geometry of the weld as a reference in weld bevel configuration. inspection does not lead to higher weld repair rates than The inspection system is often calibrated on flat bottom radiography. especially in the root region. well known as the pioneer in the AUT market for girth weld inspection. 3).. The principles of this revolutionary technology are going to be briefly discussed in this paper. whereby each zone has a corresponding flat of pipeline (representing over 2. just like one does in radiographic inspection. The For optimum defect sizing.000km holes/and or notches. accurate way to achieve a reliable detection of porosity is by 1) . it is difficult to see a set of ultrasonic transducers at both sides of the weld is rapidly the difference between geometry and defect signals. To achieve this. of a matrix phased array system with 1024 channels. the weld thickness is penetration or no penetration at all it is still very difficult to traditionally divided into small zones of typically 2-3 mm in distinguish between geometry and defect signals in the root vertical height (Fig.000 welds) have been bottom hole. Applus RTD's latest innovation ("RTD IWEX") is the maximum reflection. the only the reader is referred to . 3 Schematic illustration of a girth weld divided into four zones. tandem individual customers and for a variety of weld processes. determined value. transducer combination. Therefore. pipe and ToFD. Development work continues to increase sizing accuracy even further. called calibration blocks). over 30. and has demonstrated its on. offering best possible 2. A known potential problem in mechanized ultrasonic In AUT applications an automated scanning system carrying inspection is that. indicates a possible defect in that zone. 2 The most recent RTD Phased Array Rotoscan for AUT on pipeline girth welds. The number of transducers required for the inspection diameters. In RTD rotated in a controlled manner for volumetric weld inspection in Rotoscan this is solved by digitization of signals from the root. one single scan around the circumference. the world standard and has been described in a number of codes and standards. ultrasonic easily be more than twelve. This unit was first introduced to the market in August 2008. This technology allows a much higher detection imperfections/defects are have the same orientation as the weld and sizing accuracy without the use of reference blocks (also so- bevel orientation. For each zone on both sides of the weld a different transducer system has been qualified in various countries for different is needed in different configurations such as pulse echo. Conventional AUT of Girth welds sizing and ensuring a maximum POD.000. in such a way that all defects that can be interpretation. Since then this concept has now become Fig. The phased array probes emulate the multi-zone inspection approach as required by most codes and standards. Between early 1989 and the present.252s Automated Ultrasonic Testing of Pipeline Grith Welds 研究論文 Fig. World- and the number of inspection zones and in some cases it can be wide applications proved that. Applus RTD.and of a weld is related to the wall thickness. AUT of girth welds generally assumes that future of AUT. weld bevel configuration offshore capabilities even under harsh field conditions. The amplitude in a channel corresponding with a particular zone. both its exact location with respect to the weld and its sensitivity. In this zonal discrimination concept each region. which is not always the case. whereby these signals are displayed in the form of a C-scan map. The echo caused by a flat bottom hole is set at a pre- inspected with the RTD Rotoscan alone. in conventional AUT systems each part of the weld is interrogated by a matched angle beam for the particular zone and weld preparation it is intended for. thus allowing paper. the ultrasonic beams are set such advantages of such a system are going to be presented in this that they hit an embedded defect perpendicularly. Applus RTD just finalized the design and proto type because each transducer must be optimized.

In this particular figure ultrasonic indications caused by porosity are clearly visible. Furthermore the industry benefits greatly from When phased array technology is used rather than fixed the instantaneous availability of real-time inspection data. highly comprehensible after other following a certain pre-determined sequence. costly. 5 Fig. and onshore and offshore pipe construction applications. ultrasound using an ultrasonic transducer consisting of an array of The use of computers for data acquisition and storage not elements that can be individually pulsed simultaneously or one only enables a coherent display of signals. The use of ToFD technique is important. and also for sizing and positioning of 3. For example. For example interpretation. Therefore very often Such automatic interpretation software can take over a lot of the different sets of transducers are required making the inspection routine work from the operator. beam width and beam directivity can thus be easily programmed for different jobs without physically changing the transducer setup. 4). thus avoiding typing errors pattern) can be achieved using the same transducer and by and increasing feedback speed. ToFD is used as a "safety net" in detection. length and through thickness height. scan pattern for that specific inspection. in conventional AUT of pipeline girth welds. a new transducer set has to be composed in hardware for each new With an inspection cycle time of usually a few minutes. The use of C-scan mapping. inspection of weld and transport geometry). consequently reducing overall repair rates. 5). beam widths and focal points) by means of as the NDT activities are removed from the critical path. Beam angle. In the case of phased array technology a large variety of In the case of RTD Rotoscan the software also allows for inspection parameters (beam angle. as transducers. In case of phased array this job preparation is reduced time in case of on-shore application) the conventional RTD to optimization of the probe system's main beam characteristics Rotoscan is of proven value to the offshore and onshore industry (beam angles. Fig. . supported by ToFD. e. physically adjusting conventional transducers. Phased AUT on Girth Welds 3. Some codes already As it can be deducted from the Fig.2 Advantages of Phased Array technology in AUT The use of array technology in girth weld AUT offers many advantages and potentials when compared with conventional AUT. Phased array simulation. applying time delays in the pulsing sequence. Most for the operator. applications for AUT systems like Rotoscan are: modifying a prepared set-up is quick in comparison with * Cross-country and lay barge projects * Riser and riser bundle manufacture * Steel catenary risers (SCR's) * Pipe with CRA layer * Different types of steels including austenitic steels and 9% Nickel steels * etc. 3. 5 Phased array require the use of ToFD in mechanized inspection of pipeline technology is a technical solution for generating and receiving girth welds. focal distance and in terms of defect amplitude. Specific the scan assembled from individual "Focal Laws". combination of wall thickness and weld cycle time consist of calibration . focal distance and scan automatic generation of site reports.( application (i.第 27 巻(2009)第 2 号 溶 接 学 会 論 文 集 253s means of pattern recognition.e. beam spread. in addition to pulse echo technique. but also opens the way to automatic details of ultrasonic inspection remain unchanged. makes this possible (Fig. the beam characteristics can be controlled and thus immediate feedback to welding crews improves field monitoring optimized with one system and performed by one linear phased of the welding process.g. barge days. Also. The signals from the weld are in this case directly for an ultrasonic inspection the ultrasonic transducer is selected compared to the requirements of the applicable code or standard according to the desired ultrasonic beam angle. thus avoiding subjective errors.1 What is Phased Array defects in through thickness direction. The time delays Nowadays RTD Rotoscan is used efficiently in a number of values are calculated using time-of-flight from the focal spot. 4 Screenshot with a typical view on a situation where porosity and lack of fusion were detected. Using phased array system the only changes needed on the transducer setup are made by software settings. saving software settings (Fig.

The material. 9 the used the index point of the beam to be shifted. configurations for difficult and requires special attention from AUT 2,4,5). 8).3 Phased Array technology in AUT of girth welds Using linear phased arrays. 4. array system only requires one probe at either side of the weld. cases a set of two extra probes is added to detect transverse defects. therefore. which is the use of focused angle beam compression and creep wave probes case in a conventional system. not hampered by the structure of the involved dissimilar metals and austenitic coarse grain size structure. The PRF (pulse repetition frequency) of a PA system is identical to that of the conventional systems. crystallographic grain orientation which in combination result in Calibration of a phased array system can be done with strong ultrasonic reflections (Fig. As illustrated in Fig. dual crystal focused angle beam compression waves and creep wave probes are used to enable the full penetration of ultrasonic waves through the weld volume. During a cycle of sequences all probe functions as previously programmed are activated to provide full volumetric weld cross section coverage. 7 and Fig. maintaining the same scanning speed. 6) which inevitable leads to the optimized without physically moving the transducer. AUT on pipelines with Corrosion-Resistant Alloy layer 4. Instead of a separate transducer. Preparing and calibrating the instead of shear wave probes. . identify the Primary and Coincidence interface position. An echo presentation is not adequate to present all the essential active group of elements (typically up to 32) can be multiplexed features required for the correct interpretation of the AUT CRA along an entire array (with typically up to 128 elements) enabling inspection channels 2) . two probes for the probes are not dictated by the weld bevel configuration (as for TOFD function are necessary. 6). When the linear generally austenitic welds. Dependent on the application in some inspection result interpretation. Furthermore. without changing the hardware. A tandem configuration compression wave has to pass the primary and coincidence is formed when the reflected beam from one active group is interface between the carbon steel and the austenitic weld received by another active group elsewhere on the array. In The inspection philosophy however is different as the selected addition to the two phased array transducers. Since ToFD usually uses a higher AUT of ferritic girth welds). Ultrasonic inspection of such welds is phased array contains enough elements. the RTD thus eliminating limitations caused by physical crystal dimensions in conventional transducers. the standard AUT pulse active elements is used for both transmitting and receiving. 6 Typical ultrasonic reflections as caused by the grain morphology when inspecting austenitic weld using conventional shear waves (top image) and when using compression waves (bottom image). The flexibility offers operational benefits and and the strong dependence of the sound velocity on the reduction in preparation and inspection time. The signals can be phenomena than shear waves (Fig. A layers. software settings. In order to receiving group may also partially overlap the transmitting group. having dissimilar interface(s) and anisotropic material normal pulse echo configuration will be obtained when a group of structure (compare Fig. but are designed to minimize frequency than pulse-echo does. This ensures the same high measuring point density for a full inspection sequence (cycle). the number of transducers can be drastically reduced. identified with the green and red borders. 3. the standard inspection configuration for ferritic girth welds in rather than applying a large number of individual probes a phased that the wall thickness is divided into a number of depth zones.1 Preliminary considerations Pipelines with corrosion-resistant alloy layers inside have Fig. ApplusRTD Rotoscan has the reflections out of the anisotropic weld structure or interface ability to use separate ToFD probes rather than use the phased between weld and parent metal that could interfere with the array probes for ToFD. The linear phased array is placed on a fixed Compression waves suffer significantly less from these distance from the centre line of the weld.2 AUT data on CRA: data evaluation and presentation zones from both sides. With one pair of linear phased array transducers. 4.254s 研究論文 Automated Ultrasonic Testing of Pipeline Grith Welds array transducer. consumes The AUT inspection set-up for austenitic welds is similar to less time than in the case of a conventional system. Main multiple element transducers such as tandem transducers can be reasons for that are the coarse grain structure of austenitic welds formed in this way. a For the ultrasonic inspection of austenitic welds and CRA different set of delay times is used for each configuration. all configurations required can be made to inspect all Instead of the traditional shear wave. phased array system for the weld inspection.

performance of a welded structure. 5. are digitized with a high sampling software is an essential feature to visualize the inspection result on frequency. 7 Light microscopic image showing an austenitic girth weld in CRA (metallurgical bonded) clad pipeline (austenitic welding material having coarse grains). A girth weld can thus be inspected using a variety of probe angles and hence accurate sizing of tilted and skewed defects is possible and significantly improved. has the major advantage to focus and to steer the beam in two different directions. As can be seen from the figure the compression wave has to pass the primary and coincidence (opposite) interface between the carbon steel and the austenitic weld material. This solution. certain transducer focused to a certain area of the weld configuration. This technique is stacked C-scans in color. In comparison with Fig.2). in this case newly welded pipelines. Two of the most prominent methods being close to market introduction are presented in the paragraphs below. particularly in terms of defect height and defect orientation is of paramount importance 2). with each c-scan originating from a called "primary/coincidence technique". identified with the green and red borders. the performance of all ultrasonic technologies used in the oil & Gas industry depend on the quality of the so-called calibration blocks.2 Future generation AUT: quantitative 3D imaging of defects To date. Fig. These facts are implicitly recognized by most welding fabrication codes which based on different so-called Engineering Critical Assessment criteria (ECA) specifying the level of acceptance of imperfections in new girth welds. 5. It is also known that not all flaws necessarily affect structural integrity or service Fig. 7 it can be seen that in this case the grain structure is much finer. Recorded amplitude and corresponding transit distance are converted into a color pattern. 5.第 27 巻(2009)第 2 号 溶 接 学 会 論 文 集 255s Rotoscan result presentation has been enhanced with an image the screen and to be able to correlate / evaluate the indications format being referred to as "All channels mapping" presentation.g. 9 The CRA inspection technique makes use of specially designed compression wave probes to avoid reflections from the anisotropic welding structure. In this presentation a coherent display is obtained showing the defect position(s) and geometrical features (e. For more details on this the reader is referred to van der Ent et al. present at the primary and /or coincidence interface within the In this context "All channels mapping" has to be understood as weld volume to increase the confidence level.1 The RTD Matrix Phased Array The development of the newest generation of RTD Rotoscan. and because of that the interpretation of the . Quantitative characterization of weld integrity based on ECA considerations has conclusively proven that knowledge on accuracy with which weld imperfections can be sized. With the function "all channel mapping" all ultrasonic wave form information (A-screen dynamic range 0-100% FSH) derived The "all-channels mapping" facility within the AUT system from inspection gates. AUT on pipelines with Corrosion-Resistant Alloy layer It is well-known that all welded structures will always contain different types of imperfections. consisting of 1024 PA channels. To achieve the required sizing accuracy new inspection concepts combined with new physical algorithms are needed. 8 Light microscopic macro showing a ferritic girth weld in carbon steel pipeline. noise out from the interface) in relation to the weld centerline. 10). has just been finalized and is now entering the validation phase in the USA (Fig. Fig. the RTD Matrix Phased Array Rotoscan. allowing a volumetric insonification of the imperfections and/or defects.

Dutch patent registrated under nr: 1024726. Dijkstra and Jan de Raad. NDT. Pörtzgen. 12th Asia pacific conference (2006). 6.buque@applusrtd. 74 conference. making the use of reference blocks superfluous . dependent of defect orientation. The interpretation of the results is straightforward. characterization and sizing will. 3) 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) A. thus reducing the Furthermore the most used ultrasonic technologies in use number of unnecessary repairs. Duplex Conference in Maastricht (NL). AUT practices. signal amplitude caused by the reflection at the defect is very like IWEX technology. orientation and height of the defect are imaged with high accuracy. PCT/NL2004/000874. These three factors skills and special training (Level III) are needed in order to be (including mapping of weld geometry such as root penetration and able to read and interpret the results. 10 The RTD Matrix Phased Array unit consisting of 1024 channels (top image). in the characterization with pulse-echo remains challenging because the future. The image below illustrates the flexibility that can be achieved while using Matrix Phased Array technology. 11 Example of the imaging and sizing accuracy that can be achieved with RTD IWEX. but only very limited capabilities in flaw characterization. Conclusions After many years of persistent pioneering and marketing by Fig. cap reinforcement) helped to avoid false calls. (2005). email: cesar. email: tishida-isc@tempo.com **** Tomoyoshi Ishida. Email contact: * Dr.256s 研究論文 Automated Ultrasonic Testing of Pipeline Grith Welds Fig. The investigations have shown that location. to detect results achieved is not straight forward.ne. Netherlands (2007). Developments in pipeline AUT are still in to assess weld integrity. Frits Dijkstra and few others which be used that allows direct imaging of defects. H. are still based on the zonal concept patented by technique and ToFD has have been proven to sufficiently reliable ApplusRTD in 1952. The three bore holes on the left sample have a 0. Such a technology ensured that this paper could be made in the required quality.5 mm diameter. The center of the holes are separated 1mm and 1. The matrix-like arrangement of PA elements enables the operator to steer side ways and focus the beam in the lateral direction ApplusRTD. De Sterke. Primary key factors in the ultimate success of pipeline AUT became its capability to discriminate between defects and geometry indications. A better and more reliable The authors would like to acknowledge the pre-work ultrasonic inspection would be achieved if a methodology would performed by Jan De Raad. quantitative defect progress.j . shape.ocn. Manuscript 106 (1997). The physical References basis of this new imaging process is the Rayleigh II integral for back propagation which gives the possibility to extrapolate a wave field from known values at a certain surface to any location in space. However. now used by all have strong limitations. be further enhanced by efficient use of array technologies. and special interpretation and quantify porosity and to use ECA criteria. (1974). Cesar Buque. is RTD IWEX (Inverse Wavefield EXtrapolation). J. AUT of pipeline girth welds is now offered by a number of NDT providers as a worldwide service and has reached a high level of professionalism. TOFD has good sizing Acknowledgments capabilities. F. Lacenster. Data display is not straightforward and require operator skill and experience. PhD Thesis. N. TU Delft. For example testing using pulse echo AUT providers. The potential of IWEX for ultrasonic testing of steel components has been demonstrated by several examples by which 2D and 3D images of embedded and surface defects were made (Fig. The principles of IWEX are discussed in detail in3). Defect detection. On the IWEX image (right side) all three bore holes are clearly visible3).5 mm respectively.van der Ent. 11).