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Non Destructive Testing is a form of testing carried out on parts and equipment that is sensitive, expensive or highly critical to operation. It’s a method of testing that allows the analysis of equipment or parts, without having the break, degrade or damage it in any way. It can even be used to inspect parts whilst in service. This is especially useful if the process is highly profitable, and downtime must be minimised. Have a look at
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NDT is often used in industries such as aerospace, defence, chemical process, power, refining and energy related industries. The use of NDT is used for intelligence gathering and determining the condition of equipment, so useful metrics such as estimated remaining life can be determined. It’s also useful for checking the integrity of sensitive parts as is the case in aerospace application. Making sure critical parts are safe for use.

Safety is a major driving force within the Non Destructive Testing industry, with a large amount of inspection being carried out due to pressure from local health and safety authorities. Often accidents within the related industries spur new regulations or scrutiny on existing practices.

Within the process related industries often high pressure, heat and potentially hazardous substances are present making even minor accidents potentially disastrous, and unacceptable. To this end thorough inspections are carried out regularly, allowing constant information about the state of systems, and trends to be analysed. Problems can be detected and new ideas tested.

Some of the more common methods of inspection include dye penetrant testing, which originated in the 1900’s and was used to test for cracks in railroad parts. Others include magnetic particle, which uses the distortion of magnetic fields to detect hairline cracks, and visual inspection.

More advanced techniques are available for times when more thorough analysis is required, though often are more costly or take longer to perform. Some of these methods include eddy current testing, ultrasonic testing and radiographic testing.

The use of these methods requires skilled technicians, requiring certification and experience in each method they choose before they’re fully qualified. There are also individual certifications for inspection of specific equipment, such as API 570 for pipelines or EEMUA 159 for tanks.

Storage tanks and pipelines are two major applications of NDT, as well as boiler and condenser tubes, often found in power station’s heat exchangers and boiler systems. Often parts such as these face harsh conditions and can corrode quickly, so monitoring is required to keep them safe and maintain productivity.