Fully automated laser guided inspection robot for weld defect detection on ship hulls
The shipping industry faces a major pain; the safety management and the certification of the vessels’ structural integrity. As the marine environment is extremely harsh, the precautions that need to be taken are much stricter than for other transportation industry sectors. Therefore, regulations or rules dictate that inspections should be performed every 5 years for the first decade of a vessel’s life and every 2.5 years thereafter. Large crude carrying vessels or civil liners may include safety-critical welds whose total length which can exceed 120km. These are prone to fatigue cracking due to the drastic dynamic loading during service induced by their cargo, dry or liquid - as well as storms at sea. In order to inspect the hull, the ship is required to be dry-docked and scaffolding or cherry pickers need to be used to reach inaccessible areas. Dry-docking and the painstaking process of inspection involves great costs in dry-dock rental, human staff and time but also extended periods of time, which cause tremendous expenses that usually exceed the amount of 150.000€ per inspection, taking revenue losses into account.
ShipTest is going to redefine ship hull inspection, by introducing a fully automated and advanced NDT inspection system which can inspect safety critical hull welds while the vessel is at sea, drastically reducing the need for inspection needed during dry docking. Building on the results of “X-Scan”, a previous collaborative FP7 project, we have developed an inspection system capable of inspecting welds on metal plates thinner than 10mm, without the need to remove coating, using a combination of Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) and Alternating Current Field Measurement (ACFM) technology. This approach will enable inspections to be more efficient, cost effective, faster and safer compared to the existing common practices; Radiographic Testing (RT) and manual Ultrasonic Testing (UT).
Through X-Scan, a previous FP7 project, Tecnitest and Spectrum Labs, two leading NDT equipment and service suppliers, along with Innora, a highly-specialized robotics company has matured this technology from concept to TRL6 with the help of TWI, the global leader in NDT Technology research. By bringing Lloyd’s Register on board in order to leverage their vast knowledge of the shipping industry, our consortium expects a rapid market take-up for ShipTest. ShipTest will be primarily sold to ship owning and building companies and secondarily to NDT inspection service providers.
More information about the project can be found at the project website.