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Using LabVIEW to Develop a Weld Inspection System

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Original Authors: Arev Hambardzumyan, RAFA Solutions LLC

Edited by Cyth Systems

Using LabVIEW to develop a pipeline weld inspection system.
Using LabVIEW to develop a pipeline weld inspection system.

The Challenge

We needed a software application to assess the integrity of electrofusion joints of plastic pipes with a non-destructive technique using ultrasonic sensors. The software is needed to deliver comprehensive results through a green light/red light system that would give the operator a clear picture of the joint’s welding on the fly.

The Solution

We used the LabVIEW graphical programming environment to develop an easy-to-use software application to inspect a plastic pipe’s weld. The application uses a third-party ultrasonic transceiver to acquire ultrasonic sensor signals, analyze them and provide real-time information about defects and the overall quality of welds.

About RAFA Solutions

RAFA Solutions is a systems integrator company that specializes in smart machines and data acquisition/control systems. We deliver robust and flexible advanced solutions for machinery control and automation. We provide electronics design and software development services for material testing and semiconductor testing industries. Our clients are machine builders who are innovative in their technologies and build the smartest machines in their fields of application.

RAFA Solutions holds CSIA Certified status in the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks certification program. This is the highest level of certification available in the control systems integration industry, and we are one of the first companies to receive this recognition in the region. The company is also awarded ISO 9001:2015 quality certification, which is the latest revision of the world’s most recognized quality management systems standard.

Field Tests of the Software Application on the Plastic Pipes
Field Tests of the Software Application on the Plastic Pipes

Problem Background

In any pipeline system, the weakest point is the weld. Joint quality greatly affects the overall safety of the pipeline system, and if not properly checked, failures can lead to significant monetary losses and long downtimes. One of the most popular methods of joining plastic pipes in the field is the butt fusion process. But whether using electrofusion or butt fusion welding techniques, operators must properly perform quality checks of the welds to avoid future failures.

Currently, operators use visual examination and pressure testing to check the quality of joints, but these methods do not offer any assurance about long-term performance. Proper quality checks and continuous monitoring after pipe installation helps to avoid long downtimes and decreases rework or replacement costs. The availability of a cost-effective and accurate nondestructive test method of monitoring a plastic pipe weld condition is important.

Our customer, Impact Solutions, developed a simple-to-use, patented, cost-effective, and highly accurate method of nondestructive inspection based on A-scan ultrasonic technology. Impact Solutions approached us to help develop a software application to build an inspection system based on the new method. The idea behind the new method is in the analysis of ultrasound waves propagating through the weld substrate. The inspection system consists of an ultrasonic sensor, a transceiver, and a software application. The software application is responsible for the control and data acquisition from the ultrasonic transceiver, real-time data analysis, provision of inspection results, and creating a report based on the test results.

Live Test Screen of the Software Application
Live Test Screen of the Software Application

We used the LabVIEW graphical programming environment to build an application that satisfied all customer requirements. LabVIEW helped us develop the software in a short time, which was also one of the customer’s key requirements. A third-party company developed the hardware platform (ultrasonic transceiver). We used a special DLL provided by the hardware vendor to control it using LabVIEW.

We built the software application with special requirements to be fully customizable and able to configure almost every section and feature of the software. We can use the software platform to configure the pipe parameter, joint/coupler type and parameters, ultrasonic transceiver settings, and more. We intend for the software to be an easy-to-use application, so it features a clear user interface with real-time information on inspection results by means of a traffic light system. The system assesses each joint as green (no anomalies detected), yellow (some anomalies detected), or red (significant anomalies identified).

Original Authors:

Arev Hambardzumyan, RAFA Solutions LLC

Edited by Cyth Systems


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