Inspectioneering Journal

Automated Radiographic Testing: High-Speed Corrosion Mapping Using Robotic Crawlers

By Ian Moreau, Technology Manager at MISTRAS Group, and Joshua de Monbrun, Technical Authority at MISTRAS Group. This article appears in the July/August 2023 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Maintaining an effective corrosion management program is a major challenge for oil and gas production and refining facilities. Corrosion is one of the greatest issues plaguing the industry and is particularly dangerous when defects aren’t readily visible. If left unchecked, damages can quickly lead to higher costs, extended downtime, and significant safety concerns.

The evolution of radiographic inspection technology has led to a multitude of innovations, especially in the field of automated radiographic testing (ART), creating a viable alternative to manual radiography techniques that enables high-quality, rapid inspections, often with no need to strip insulation or take lines out of service.

This article discusses the variety of radiographic inspection options available to evaluate corrosion and corrosion under insulation (CUI) and highlights ART’s accuracy, speed, and detection capabilities that make it the preferred method for detecting corrosion defects in piping and pipelines. It will address field-applied automation only and will not cover factory automation of radiographic systems. The article will also address the limitations of ART.

Automated Radiography

Automated radiography uses computer-controlled devices or systems to perform actions or processes that generally require human interaction but are done at a distance. Remote acquisition is the primary way automation is used in detecting hidden corrosion and CUI.

Remote acquisition refers to automated processes for gathering data or materials from a distance. For instance, material acquisition might refer to automated systems for mining resources in remote or hazardous locations, such as the deep sea. Likewise, remote data acquisition, which refers to sensors on a platform that collect data from their surroundings, is often done in remote or hazardous locations, such as a radiation boundary or on elevated assets.

The process involves using technology to perform inspections more efficiently, accurately, and consistently than possible with human operators and in environments or at scales where direct human involvement would be difficult, dangerous, or impractical.

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