An ultrasonic testing machine from GE’s Inspection Technologies business is helping EUROPIPE to maintain both its competitive advantage and its technology leadership in the manufacture of large-diameter, welded steel pipe. The automated inspection system was installed at EUROPIPE’s Muelheim plant (UOE-line) two years ago and has been used to ensure that EUROPIPE consistently match customers’ specifications and manufacture high quality pipe, fit-for-service in the most exacting of operating conditions.
EUROPIPE GmbH was founded in 1991 by combining the experience and competences in the field of plate rolling and large-diameter pipe production of two of the pioneers of the steel industry, AG der Dillinger Hüttenwerke and Mannesmannröhren-Werke AG. Today the EUROPIPE Group manufactures longitudinally and helically welded large-diameter pipes in a wide range of diameters and wall thicknesses at lengths of up to 18.3 m (SAWL) resp. 24 m (SAWH). On a global basis, with manufacturing plants in Germany, France, USA and Brazil, the EUROPIPE Group develops the optimum solutions to suit specific applications.
More than half of the steps in EUROPIPE’s manufacturing chain relate to quality control and testing and the group operates a policy of continual investment in the latest technology to ensure that its rigorous quality standards continue to be met. Non-destructive testing is an area of particular investment and the concept of the new testing machine was developed and designed in very close cooperation between EUROPIPE as a very experienced user and GE’s Inspection Technologies business, as a qualified manufacturer of ultrasonic testing machines to meet all demands regarding accuracy, reliability and speed in the existing infrastructure of the mill.
The ultrasonic testing machine represents the latest technology for inspecting Submerged Arc Welded (SAW) pipes. It features several ultrasonic probe configurations to meet most international standards and NDT specifications by applying suitable testing technologies, such as pulse-echo, through transmission and, tandem technology, as well as testing on bead and beside the weld. As an additional feature, phased array technology can be used for trials and special testing tasks. In operation, the corresponding probe holders are moved along the pipe under inspection in a carriage, which provides precise positional control. Using GE’s field-proven electronics platform both for driving the ultrasonics and acquiring and displaying the inspection data. Twenty inspection channels are available to provide comprehensive coverage for the inspection of longitudinal and transverse flaws in the seam weld and for lamination type flaws in the heat-affected zone. The inspection extends up to the pipe extremities.
GE’s Inspection Technologies business offers a comprehensive range of tube and pipe ultrasonic inspection solutions. This includes systems for full body testing of seamless tubes up to 660mm diameter, using pulse-echo, multiple channels, phased array and paint brush techniques and helical tube transport and rotary test systems for high precision inspection, used extensively in the inspection of heat exchanger tubes and nuclear fuel elements.