RoboScanner Streamlines Inspection The small and compact automated scanner works with components from a variety of manufacturers. A new automated ultrasonic scanner can adapt to many different components and easily interface to most conventional ultrasonic data systems. Automated Inspection Systems (AIS, Martinez, CA) has introduced a new dual-axis scanner for ultrasonic inspection applications. With peak scan speeds up to 70 inches per second, the RoboScanner performs large area corrosion mapping and weld examinations quickly and efficiently. Many ultrasonic scanners are on the market today, but this mobile scanner has some new features that set it apart, says AIS President Randy Fong. While ultrasound may be associated with medical procedures, Fong says, “In this case the inspection components are not human beings, but pipes, vessels, tanks, in-service items of that nature, so it is necessary to bring equipment to the component.” Thus, the RoboScanner’s versatility and compact size are an important advantage. A couple of main features are important when designing, building and selling ultrasonic scanners, Fong says. First it must adapt for different components and geometries so operators can rely on a single automated scanner in lieu of various conventional manual scanners. Manual scanners are usually slow and laborious, Fong says, and the data consistency is not as accurate. Their advantage typically has been low electrical noise—due to lack of motors— and easy connectivity to most data collection systems. Low electrical noise is crucial, and many companies resort to manual scanners in order to avoid electrical noise. With motorized scanners, operators must guard against noise, but the RoboScanner’s low noise means that it does not affect the examination, Fong says. Manual scanners require only a simple encoder interface to conventional ultrasonic data recording systems, while automated scanners use either a stepper or DC servo motors, which inherently require more electronics and a more complex user interface. Normally this added complexity comes in the form of an external controller and laptop user interface. The RoboScanner, however, includes a miniaturized onboard controller and user interface, which allows the operator to program and control the scanner motion through a keypad on the scanner. This eliminates the need for an external controller and laptop to direct the scanner where to go and how to scan. The onboard controller and keypad allows the scanner to interface to conventional ultrasonic data systems. The automated scanner plugs into any ultrasonic system, which is standard for manual scanners, but very unusual for automated, Fong says. The scanner’s user interface and onboard computer allow this to happen. When company X puts out a data recorder, this unit will be able to connect just as if it were a manual scanner, Fong says. Customers want scanners that are easy to maintain, with affordable and available spare parts, particularly motors, Fong says. Though AIS does offer scanners with more expensive motors, this scanner uses motors that are more affordable and readily available. Industrial components normally require straight beam corrosion mapping and weld examinations, so it is important to have a scanner that can do both. Base metal corrosion mapping involves a fast scan of large areas; an airless bubbler allows the transducer to scanner to move quickly and adapt to curved surfaces. Weld examinations typically require time of flight diffraction (TOFD) or larger phased array transducers. The RoboScanner hardware mounts to all probes to perform any ultrasonic inspection techniques. The scanner goes anywhere, powered by either AC 110 to 200 volts or a 12-volt car or truck battery. Whether it is a large area C-scan or weld examination, this automated scanner makes remote components accessible and inspectable.
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