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Open AccessArticle

Design and Validation of an Articulated Sensor Carrier to Improve the Automatic Pipeline Inspection

Department of Energy, Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI), Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro 76125, Mexico
Engineering department, Latin American Technological University Online (UTEL), Naucalpan de Juarez, Estado de Mexico 53370, Mexico
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sensors 2019, 19(6), 1394;
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensing in Oil and Gas Applications)
Pipeline inspection gauges (PIGs) carry out automatic pipeline inspection with nondestructive testing (NDT) technologies like ultrasound, magnetic flux leakage, and eddy current. The ultrasonic straight beam allows technicians to determine the wall thickness of the pipeline through the time of flight diffraction (TOFD), providing the pipeline reconstruction and allowing the detection of several defects like dents or corrosion. If the pipeline is of a long distance, then the inspection process is automatic, and the fluid pressure pushes the PIG through the pipeline system. In this case, the PIG velocity and its axial alignment with the pipeline cannot be controlled. The PIG geometry, the pipeline deformations, and the girth welds cause a continuous chattering when the PIG is running, removing the transducers perpendicularity with the inspection points, which means that some echoes cannot be received. To reduce this problem, we propose a novel method to design a sensor carrier that takes into account the angularity and distance effects to acquire the straight beam echoes. The main advantage of our sensor carrier is that it can be used in concave and convex pipeline sections through geometric adjustments, which ensure that it is in contact with the inner pipe wall. Our improvement of the method is the characterization of the misalignment between the internal wall of the pipeline and the transducer. Later, we analyzed the conditions of the automatic pipeline inspection, the existing recommendations in state-of-the-art technology, and the different mechanical scenarios that may occur. For the mechanical design, we developed all the equations and rules. At the signal processing level, we set a fixed gain in the filtering step to obtain the echoes in a defined distance range without saturating the acquisition channels. For the validation, we compared through the mean squared error (MSE) our sensor carrier in a straight pipe section and a pipe elbow of steel versus other sensor carrier configurations. Finally, we present the design parameters for the development of the sensor carrier for different pipeline diameters. View Full-Text
Keywords: pipeline inspection gauge; sensor carrier; stand-off; straight beam pipeline inspection gauge; sensor carrier; stand-off; straight beam
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ramirez-Martinez, A.; Rodríguez-Olivares, N.A.; Torres-Torres, S.; Ronquillo-Lomelí, G.; Soto-Cajiga, J.A. Design and Validation of an Articulated Sensor Carrier to Improve the Automatic Pipeline Inspection. Sensors 2019, 19, 1394.

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