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NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653

Application of neuro-fuzzy techniques in oil pipeline
ultrasonic nondestructive testing
Hossein Ravanbod*
Electronic Research Center, Sharif University of Technology, P.O. Box 11365-8639, Tehran, Iran
Received 25 May 2004; revised 7 March 2005; accepted 11 March 2005
Available online 13 May 2005

This paper presents a novel approach to the problem of nondestructive pipeline testing using ultrasonic imaging. The identification of the
flaw type and its dimensions are the most important problems in the pipeline inspection. Unlike typical methods, a decision based neural
network is used for the detection of flaws. We train a generalized regression neural network to determine the dimensions of the corrosions and
generate the whole image of both the internal and external walls of the oil pipeline. As an improvement to the detection algorithm, we
introduce fuzzy decision-based neural network algorithms for the detection and classification of the corrosions. The simulation and
experimental systems results show that these new methods outperform the existing methods.
q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Nondestructive testing; Ultrasonic scan; Signal processing; Image acquisition; Neural networks; Fuzzy logic

1. Introduction
Corrosion is a widespread problem in pipelines. The use
of nondestructive testing techniques for pipeline characterization is particularly essential, where access to the pipeline
is limited [1] and [2]. Ultrasonic flaw detection systems are
employed to detect various types of flaws and measure their
size [2] and [3]. Some research works reported on pipeline
characterization using ultrasonic methods are primarily
based on the measurement of the acoustic velocity,
attenuation, or spectroscopic properties [2] and [4].
Conventional analog signal processing methods may be
used to improve the signal to noise ratio [5]. However, there
are limitations in using band-pass or low-pass filters in
analog processing when the noise spectral density function
occupies the same band as the echoed signal from the
New digital processing methods, which is initially
developed for simulation purposes, consist of split spectrum
processing [6], synchronous averaging [7] and pulse
compression [8]. These new methods improve the
* Corresponding author. Tel.: C98 21 600 5517; fax: C98 21 603 0318.
E-mail address:

0963-8695/$ - see front matter q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

functionality of such methods. But, the digital signal
processing of flaw detection is generalized by the simultaneous implementation of finite impulse response (FIR)
and synchronous averaging (SA) [9] and [10] on a system.
FIR and SA filters, however, have some limitations,
(I) The pictured environment is too noisy, so there is a
need for a high sampling rate (this reduces the
processing speed), or
(II) The signal to noise ratio is too low.
Unlike the conventional methods, the approach taken in
this article is to use a decision based neural network (DBNN)
for the detection of flaws [12]. A cost function is defined to
represent the similarity in a more realistic manner. The
gradient of the cost function is calculated and the gradient
descent method is used to upgrade the weight parameters of
each node [19]. A generalized regression neural network
(GRNN) is used and trained to determine the dimensions of
the corrosions and generate the whole image of the internal
and external walls of the oil pipeline [12] and [13]. As an
improvement to the detection algorithm, fuzzy logic is
adopted in a neuro-fuzzy network (FDNN) [12] and [19].
The structure of such a network is identical to a neural
network, while the main factors of difference are the fuzzy
variables and fuzzy computations [15] and [16].

The flaw’s characteristic information is built in packets and saved [2] and [3]. metal loss. Ultrasonic image acquisition and processing block diagram. The system consists of different blocks as follows: the measurement sections. a report about the type of the flaw and its location and dimensions is prepared [1] and [2]. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 In Section 2. A comparative study is also given at the end of Section 4. Then. 3. During the internal processing. as well. In this paper. 2. It should be mentioned that this system measures the environmental information (Pressure. Finally. Ultrasonic Sensor Pre-Amplifier Fire Signal Dispersion & Noise Filters Logarithmic Amplifier Window Sampler Pulse Detection Pulse Locator Classifier Packet Builder Low Noise Amplifier Noise Filter Logarithmic Amplifier Final Amplifier Detector Threshold Comparator Fig. Then. the schematic diagram of the ultrasonic scan system and image acquisition parameters are introduced. Data Storing . Following amplification and filtering. 3. two operations are performed: analog processing and digital processing. some modifications are applied to the image. pitting. The type of flaw (dent. which is implemented out of the flaw detector in order to complete scan process [1] and [2].644 H. and data compression [1] and [2].1. The experimental results are compared and discussed in Section 5 and the paper is concluded in Section 6. Signal processing tools are used for reducing the noise and smoothing the image. the received signal from the probe is amplified by the low noise amplifier and then it enters the noise filter. measurement strategies. while Image Acquisition (Inside Pipeline) Decoding Image Extraction Image Correction Dimensions Measurement Automatic Classification Smoothing & Noise Reduction Image Processing (Outside Pipeline) Fig. Image acquisition Ultrasonic data simply consists of stand-off (distance between internal pipe surface and probe) and wall thickness. Regarding the environmental status. Reflected waveforms from the inside and outside of the pipe wall are injected to the receiver. 1. The processing will be implemented in two levels: on-line (inside pipe) processing. ultrasonic sensors. At the external processing level (outside of pipe). a logarithmic amplifier adjusts dynamic range of the signal. the length and the depth of flaws are exclusively considered. which is implemented in the flaw detector in order to compress and reduce recorded data. 2. etc. Ultrasonic scan and image processing system A simple schematic diagram of the ultrasonic image acquisition and preprocessing system is shown in Fig. temperature. Section 4 deals with reconstruction and image processing discussions that are considered as the external processing level. a time window reduces the effects of noise on the system. Analog processing A schematic diagram of the analog processing section is shown in Fig. 1. Analog processing section. and off-line (outside pipe) data processing.) in pipeline and the flaw information (location and angular position). This information is used at the external processing level (outside of pipe). a classical signal processing method is introduced to determine the type of flaws and their dimensions. are introduced in Section 3. As a result. This filter blocks noise to the system. Internal processing. where FDNN [18] is considered for flaw identification. Digital processing section. Window Serial to Parallel Window Memory Pulse Locator Classifier Packet Builder Group Combiner Data Compression Fig. First. In this section. etc. signal processing section. In the digital section. 2. the location of the received pulse from the flaw location is detected and this information is classified [2] and [3]. a final amplifier detects the signal and passes it on to the digital section. analog and digital processing on the data acquisition system. 3. the saved information is decoded and an image is extracted. The transducer is stimulated via an electrical pulse. and then the dimensions of the flaw are calculated.) is detected and classified. a mechanical impulse is transmitted to the fluid environment and enters the pipe wall.

0 mm 1. Preliminary image processing and flaw classification Fig. a simulation is conducted by using Internal flaw Internal/external flaw . the effects of sensor movement and variable speed of the system are compensated [9] and [11]. At the time that information is fed into the pulse locator. neuro-fuzzy algorithms are implemented to reduce the computational complexity. these flaw groups are divided into six additional types that are: metal loss. At the first step a window is applied to the signal to receive a signal at an expected time to avoid noise and unwanted signals. if the wall is detected as a flawed wall. where simulation is based on a typical practical flaw type. The values of simulation and measurement parameters are listed in Table 1 [11]. These values are used in signal processing simulation and algorithms (Sections 4 and 5).H. Afterwards. If a flawed wall is detected. The packet builder saves and organizes this information in a proper memory. 4. Finally. Then the information that includes flaw information and location is compressed and saved in a memory. Moreover. At first.2. By using Stand off (So) and Wall thickness (Wt) concepts [1] and [2]. Afterwards. Flaws type Stand-off and wall thickness Internal flaw So (flaw)OSo (intact pipe) Wt (flaw)!Wt (intact pipe) So (flaw)ZSo (intact pipe) Wt (flaw)!Wt (intact pipe) So (flaw)OSo (intact pipe) Wt (flaw)/Wt (intact pipe) For the purpose of system construction for industrial implementation.1.3. there is another amplifier (final amplifier) whose output is led to a comparator for signal detection and noise reduction. inclusion and T-junction. the classical method of flaw detection algorithm is reviewed. 4. 3. For image enhancement. 4. In general. The output of this section enters the digital section [2. in which the gain is high for weak signals and low for high amplitude signals. inside of pipe and both internal and external.3 mm 10. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 Table 1 Measurement parameters Wall thickness Stand-off thickness Ultrasonic probe: H5K Krautkramer Pulse repetition frequency (PRF) Wall thickness resolution Accuracy of corrosion depth evaluation Longitudinal resolution Minimum defect diameter Minimum defect depth 645 Decompression Decoding 2 cm 2 cm Nominal frequencyZ5 MHz Element size0diameterZ10 mm 300 Hz 0. deep. Image acquisition parameters Preliminary Image Extraction SO / WT Computation Smoothing & Noise Reduction Automatic Classification Data Isolation Image Correction Presentation & Feature List MAOP Computation Fig. the maximum available operational pressure (MAOP) is calculated in the external processing [1] and [2]. Digital processing Fig. The majority (more than 95%) of flaws are deep and metal loss types [1].2 mm G0. external.2.5 mm 3. External image processing schematic diagram. data is saved on a temporary memory. which are used for reconstructing the pipeline map. the noise effect is reduced and a logarithmic amplifier is used to improve the accuracy. using a serial to parallel converter [10]. henceforth. lamination. a logarithmic amplifier is used. the gathered information during internal processing is resorted to obtain the form and location of the flaws in the pipeline [1] and [2]. all of its related information is saved. regarding its time. weld point.0 mm transmitting pulse energy. The result is fed into the classifier section. 4 shows a schematic diagram of the external processing blocks. 3 shows a block diagram of the digital processing section. the location of the extracted pulse on a pulse locator block. the flaws in the pipe can be categorized in four groups as: internal. these two types of flaws are considered in this paper. is used for the detection of flawed or unflawed wall. Signal processing 4. other data about the distance and angular position is added to the flaw dimensions’ data. To reduce the dynamic range of the input signal. Image processing and feature extraction Table 2 Flaws categorization in pipelines At the external processing level. Besides. Afterwards. 3. the two mentioned types of flaws can be categorized as defined in Table 2.9] and [11]. Afterwards. dent.

The spectrums of probe that is used in simulation.646 H. Transaction of the probe facing corrosion. 5(a) and (b) [11]. Finally. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 Start Sampling Filtering Probe Stepping Signal Processing Data Storing No The end of Wall ? Yes Interpolation Image Drawing End Fig. is stored. and the estimated flaw is Sampling Step Probe Corrosion Surface Fig. . The reflected signals. 5. In the simulations. internal and external pipe walls extraction together with suitable gray level assignment. and the net data of each probe step. The probe is simulated with a 7!10 matrix. are processed in the simulation and thus the flaw is detected. main surface. Another metal loss flaw. The pipeline walls are simulated in this system and all segments of the probe are stimulated by pulses with the definite excitation frequency. The probe stepping continues until it reaches the end of the pipe wall. Supposed deep type flaw. The flow chart of the simulation algorithm.9] and [11]. The appropriate flow chart is shown in Fig. 6. is shown in Fig. (b) Impulse response (Reproduced with the courtesy of Kravtkramer Inc.2. related to the corrosion. which is common in the pipelines. (a) Frequency response. the system has shown a good performance to detect this type of flaw. 6. The transfer function of the probe used in the simulation is the H5K probe (from Krautkramer Inc. 8. Fig. Matlab/Simulink software. 7. they are shown in Fig. the program performs filtering and signal processing. 9. The image reconstruction consists of the wall thickness and stand-off extraction. which is widely used in the simulations. As it is shown in these figures. as shown in Fig.). Fig. [1. the program interpolates the stored data and depicts the image of the whole pipe wall corrosion [2] and [11]. the probe moves over the whole pipe wall at the defined sampling steps. All elements of this matrix are excited simultaneously. 8. Fig.). At each sampling time. received by the probes. 10. shows a deep type flaw and its estimation is shown in Fig. 7.

training the network with the training patterns starts. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 647 Fig. there are three steps in achieving this purpose. Neural network application for detection and classification of the corrosion shown in Fig.13] and [14].H. 12. see Fig. main surface. If it’s not the case. but also classifies the similar patterns that may be introduced to the network after that (testing step). First. 11. 4. The network should classify the new patterns in the way that is expected. Third. The detected image is shown in Fig. it may be necessary to modify the chosen structure during the second step (training process). main surface. a few new patterns (not exactly the same as the training patterns. Estimated surface of deep type flaw. In this type of flaw. A neural network (NN) can be used to detect and classify the corrosions in the oil pipe walls [12. or another structure must be selected for the application. In this way. Fig. Fig. The network balances its internal weights. Also. but similar to) are introduced to the network Fig.3. In general. In this process. Estimated shallow type flaw. many classified patterns are applied to the network. main surface. which is quite acceptable for the purpose of flaw detection. 9. Fig. 13. 11. Supposed metal loss type of flaw. Fig. 14(b). 12 shows shallow type flaw. a proper network structure should be chosen. Estimated metal loss type flaw. 10. 14(a). the network must be trained more. 13. Supposed shallow type flaw. so that it not only classifies the training patterns correctly. the network learns the classification. the system has acceptable resolution for detecting the flaws. Fig. However. Second. .

As a result. 15. capable of estimating any kind of nonlinear functions with the least repetition of training patterns. During this period. 16. Fig. During the training step. In a simulation.3. Dent. General regression neural network for corrosion detection In this section.648 H. In such networks. In the simulation program. In such estimation. 14. Medium. 4. 16. Like every input pattern. 18. there are several nodes. the network classified the corrosions. 4. there may be misclassification for most of the training patterns. It is a kind of Radial Basis Neural Network (RBNN) with nonparametric estimators based on Gaussian functions. and the gradient descent method is used to upgrade the weight parameters of each node [18].4. which is trained to determine the dimensions of the corrosions. the training patterns are classified either correctly or incorrectly. Furthermore. respectively. a Decision Based Neural Network (DBNN) is used for the detection of flaws. (a) Training process. This network is Fig. Among the network’s nodes whichever minimizes the cost function with respect to a specific input shows the class which the input pattern belongs to. the probe functions as an adaptive filter for any noise. The structure of Fig. each matrix unit is balanced in a way that it satisfies our classification purposes. we use all the data of the whole probe to determine the depth of the corrosion instead of the middle point of the probe. Fig. at each sampling step of the probe. each unit of the network is represented by a few parameters. . and generate the whole image of the internal and external oil pipe walls [14]and [15]. another Feed forward Neural Network is used. 17 and 18 are also correctly classified as ‘deep’. Decision-based neural network for corrosion classification In this section. The results are shown in the following Figs. It’s a Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN).2. 4.3. Shallow. Fuzzy decision neural network—application for corrosion detection and classification As an improvement to the detection algorithm. there are corrosions as the inputs to the network and the estimated images of the corrosions as the outputs. and the highest rate of convergence. ‘medium’ and ‘shallow’. 19–21 for different corrosions. Fig. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 (a) Training Output Desired Output Adjustable Weights Training Input W System Output – + Error + Adjusted Weights (b) Testing Input W System Output Fig.1. The gradient of the cost function is calculated. (b) Testing process. Fig. A cost function is defined to represent the similarity in a more realistic manner. the bothersome effects like scattering will be compensated. 15 is correctly classified as a ‘dent’. 17. Deep. Figs. fuzzy logic is adopted in a neuro-fuzzy network.

see [19]. 21. and u denotes all the involved weight vectors. Penalty function in FDNN and DBNN. 19. 22 shows the penalty function. and it is systematically convenient in practice and performance. An actual corrosion and its estimation by the neural network (the corrosion has been shown to the network as a training pattern). (4) where l 0 (d) is the derivative of the penalty function evaluated at d. uj Þ (1) where F(X.H. the greater is the error. then the pattern can be correctly classified to Ui. which is interesting in classification is:    Kd lðdÞ Z 1 1 C exp x (2) Fig. uj Þ. If d were only a small negative value. a training pattern. different algorithms can be used for training. which is based on the gradient method. 22. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 Fig. To provide a smooth ‘gradient’ for learning. is preferred because it has a high convergence rate. 20. But the main factor of difference is fuzzy variables and fuzzy computations [16] and [17]. 649 Fig. In this case. Two scenarios are of interest: Fig. † When d is negative. the error function should represent a real estimation of penalty.20. it may still be advisable to invoke the learning process so as to enhance the vigilance. However. the purpose is to adjust the variables of this network in a way that it correctly maps the system inputs to the desired outputs. 4. the larger the magnitude of d. Suppose that (X(m)) is † When d is positive. This allows ‘soft’ or ‘fuzzy’ decision. Here a Fuzzy Decision-based Neural Network (FDNN) is used. A penalty function.ui) is the discriminant function for the class Ui.21] and [22]. Among them. Fuzzy decision learning rule Suppose that the mth training pattern (X(m)) is known to lead asymptotically to a minimum error in class Ui and that the leading challenger is denoted by J Z arg maxjsi FðX ðmÞ . An actual corrosion and its estimation by the neural network (the corrosion is introduced to the network as a training pattern). In both cases.5. ui Þ i C hl ðdÞDFðX (3) and in the anti-reinforced Learning: 0 ðmÞ . such a network is identical to a neural network. ui Þ C Fj ðX ðmÞ . The reinforced Learning rule is used as follows: 0 ðmÞ uiðmC1Þ Z uðmÞ . if the whole fuzzy system is considered as a network. unlike DBNN. The same as before. uj Þ ujðmC1Þ Z uðmÞ j C hl ðdÞDFðX Fig. as opposed to the hard (yes or no) decision [18. A measurement of misclassification can be introduced as follows: d Z KFi ðX ðmÞ . . then the correct choice Ui would win over the challenger Uji only by a narrow margin. Another actual corrosion and its estimation by the neural network (the corrosion is introduced to the network as a training pattern). then the associated pattern can be misclassified to the challenger Uj. error back-propagation.

25 shows a corrosion that is similar to both ‘deep’ and ‘medium’ classes. 24. Indeed. 23. it should be taken more into consideration. In order to reduce bias. A corrosion that could be classified as either ‘dent’ or ‘shallow’.650 H. Therefore. FDNN yields a very smoother decision boundary. for different input testing corrosions with no noise. but are reliable enough to be used in analysis. which could be classified in more than one group. The result is shown in Fig. typical oil pipes flaws are photographed by the using of PowerShot45 Canon digital camera. 5.4. More precisely. 26. In this section. These results are different. the window size should be large enough so that the decision boundary can move rapidly to a correct neighborhood. the window size should gradually be decreased. Theoretically speaking. 27. Cumulative error for different amounts of S/N.3 and 4. the underlying rule more efficiently to make the desirable decisions in the inseparable pattern cases as shown in Figs. The simulation results confirm that FDNN is more effective than DBNN when the training patterns are not separable. Training a FDNN is more complicated in comparison to DBNN.2 and the neuron-fuzzy methods of Sections 4. which is similar to both ‘dent’ and ‘shallow’. 23 and 24.1. Results with real flaws Fig. whilst FDNN is less biased. As the simulation confirms. 23. Fig.2. The cumulative error of the output estimated depth is calculated in percent. A corrosion. Afterwards. Fig. which could be classified as either ‘deep’ or ‘medium’. DBNN is biased. Fig. Therefore. the dimensions of several corrosions are estimated. Cumulative error for the training patterns. a learning method with adjustable window size z should be considered. this information in 3 dimensional matrix forms is processed by the classical signal processing method of Section 4. a neuro-fuzzy system has more potential flexibility in learning: FDNN learns Fig. A shallow type flaw. 26 shows corrosion. in Fig. . Fig. These are the patterns. Results with simulation In the simulation program. Results and comparison 5. 24 different noisy cases are shown. in the beginning phase. The photographing and processing are performed Fig. 25. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 5.

. and its estimations by the signal processing and the neuro-fuzzy systems are shown in Figs. respectively. The results show that the neuro-fuzzy methods have a better performance than the classical processing methods in the detection of shape and dimensions of flaw. N. and its estimations by the signal processing and the neuro-fuzzy systems are shown in Figs. Figs. Fig. 27.H. Fig. in our application. Fig. Estimation using signal processing system. Estimation using neuro-fuzzy system. 34 and 35. The results are shown in the following figures: Fig. 31. medium and shallow type. Fig. 28 and 29. 30 and 33 (original images) have taken at resolution of 2!2 cm2. 33. 31 and 32. A deep type flaw. 28. the neurofuzzy signal processing provides a prominent contrast Fig. 32. Estimation using the neuro-fuzzy system. respectively. Fig. Fig. 30. A medium type flaw. Estimation using signal processing. on three common types of flaws in oil pipes: deep. It should be noted that. Ravanbod / NDT&E International 38 (2005) 643–653 651 Fig.B.: Fig. 29. 27 shows a shallow type flaw. respectively. 33 shows a deep type flaw and its estimations by the signal processing and neuro-fuzzy systems are shown in Figs. 30 shows a medium type flaw.

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