What are the Effective Uses of Non-Destructive Testing in Pipeline Inspection?

Uses of Non-Destructive Testing in Pipeline Inspection


Millions of miles of pipeline carry everything from crude oil to water. Pipes are vulnerable to both internal and external corrosion, manufacturing flaws, third party damage, and cracking. When pipelines carrying water burst or spring a leak, it’s not generally harmful to the environment. But when pipes carrying petroleum or chemicals leak, it can create an environmental disaster.

To keep pipelines maintained and operating safely, companies conduct periodic inspections to find flaws, damage, or corrosion before it becomes a problem.

When pipelines are first built, inspectors perform a visual examination and use other methods such as  X-ray, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, and more. Inspectors examine welds and other characteristics of the pipe before it is buried. Once the pipe is buried, you shouldn’t dig it up for any reason.

How do you inspect buried pipe?

New, emerging technologies help pipe inspections result in increased productivity (more pipe inspected) at a reduced overall cost while adhering to the highest quality inspection standards possible. For example, Total Focusing Method (TFM) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) are two methods along with portable spark testing equipment that measures the amount of Li/Be/Boron/Carbon.

An M2M GEKKO allows for comprehensive inspection of a wide variety of materials and equipment. The GEKKO system combines accuracy with high quality imaging to show you amazing resolution for challenges like welds, HIC, corrosion pitting, and bold/thread corrosion.

On some pipelines, it’s easier to use remote visual inspection equipment. Robot crawlers come in all shapes and sizes and can navigate pipes. The robot feeds its video signal to an operator in a truck who reviews the images and controls the robot.

What are the most common NDT inspection methods?

Here are the six most frequently used NDT methods:

  1. Visual testing
  2. Magnetic particle
  3. Radiographic
  4. Eddy current
  5. Liquid penetrant
  6. Ultrasonic

What are NDT’s applications?

Non-destructive testing covers a vast array of industrial uses with new NDT methods and applications evolving and developing often. When failure of a single component can cause irreversible damage or economic loss, NDT inspections are essential. The most popular NDT application on pipelines is the welds.

When pipe is manufactured, welds join two or more pieces of metal to make a whole. Loads and fatigue can cause these connections to fail over time. There are a variety of techniques used during manufacture such as ensuring the base metal reaches a certain temperature during welding and others. Typical weld defects are the weld does not fuse to the base metal, cracks or porosity in the weld, and variations in weld density.


Look for a professional NDT inspection company with years of experience in the pipeline industry. A company with a broad footprint can save you time and money when deploying inspectors to your site. Also, make sure the NDT inspection company uses innovative equipment and technology and their staff maintain certifications under industry requirements.

Finally, find an NDT inspection company with a Quality and Safety Program, one that is audited consistently to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

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