Ultrasound signals the maintenance tool of sharp shooters

September 17, 2012

Tommy Roes, SDT Product Manager at Martec, will be one of the speakers at this year’s Physical Asset Management Conference.

Roes is responsible for the SDT and Ultrasound related side of the
Martec business profile in which he helps companies to improve their
equipment reliability and profitability through various programmes
consisting of ultrasonic detection technology. Says Roes: “Fast,
accurate, easy and obvious. These are all words being used by
maintenance teams around South Africa when describing their views on
ultrasonic detection technology. The abundance of naturally occurring
ultrasound signals from multiple plant components is becoming the first
line gauge of choice for reliability engineers, maintenance
professionals and energy managers. It offers mechanical fault finding,
fault diagnostic, electrical reliability enhancement, arc flash
prevention and energy management, all with one versatile tool.”

Roes comments that vibration analysis and thermography are a few
examples of some of the advanced tools available today. “Vibration
analysis is clearly the most established condition monitoring technology
found in CBM programmes, not only in South Africa but also throughout
the world. It has successfully helped reliability teams determine the
conditions of mechanical plants for decades and has saved many companies
from unwanted and unplanned downtime as well as all the associated
costs. It is, however not the most efficient and effective tool for
finding defects quickly when thousands of components are to be
inspected.”

Thermography has also been recognised as an undeniable aid in the quest
for plant availability, helping mechanical and electrical maintenance
personnel detect problems where high temperature is present. Says Roes:
“Thermography can’t be replaced and should be a vital part of any
complete CBM programme, but like any tool has its advantages and
disadvantages.”

The latest technology to emerge, and which is being widely used by
maintenance teams in South Africa, is known as ultrasonic detection
technology. Roes comments: “Ultrasound detection provides a versatile
inspection technique which enables the inspector to find a multitude of
mechanical and electrical defects, quickly and easily. As a stand-alone
tool, it has made great strides in terms of development and has, in some
cases, surpassed other technologies as the tool of choice on key
applications. As a complementary tool, ultrasound has the ability to
quickly reduce the population of thousands of measurement points down to
only a few, which would warrant vibration analysis being performed. It
also has the ability to detect defects before any measurable increases
in temperature. This being said however, ultrasound also has its
limitations.”

The intention of Ross’ presentation is not to determine which condition
monitoring technology bears more weight as a predictive maintenance
tool. “During my presentation, I’d like to look at the pros and cons of
each in order to determine which is the best in a particular situation,
on a certain application, all relative to the question about the current
condition for example, is it ok? Versus what’s wrong with it? These are
very different questions and the answer will determine the right tool
for the job.”

Roes is a qualified Level 2 ultrasound inspector and has spent the last 5
years helping companies improve their equipment reliability and
profitability through the implementation of ultrasonic predictive
maintenance, reliability enhancement and energy management programmes.  

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