San Antonio, Texas - A partnership was recently formed between IHI Southwest Technologies, Inc. (IHI) and Newton Labs (Newton) to meet the Nuclear Energy Institute requirements for the inspection of nuclear plant water storage tanks in accordance with NEI 09-14. IHI will use Inspector robots, designed and manufactured by Newton Labs, to provide the most advanced nondestructive evaluation (NDE) tank inspection services currently available in the nuclear industry.
Working underwater, without the need to drain a tank, Inspector robots can map and inspect over 90% of a tank floor with specialized NDE sensors. This includes inspecting within very close proximity to the tank wall edge. The inspection services combine the expertise of both firms; phased array ultrasonic and eddy current testing by IHI and optical inspection, underwater laser scanning, and robotics by Newton.
"We are excited to partner with Newton Labs to help our customers inspect nuclear water storage tanks either off-outage or during an outage. Newton has developed a cost-effective solution to deliver comprehensive data and IHI is excited to be offering this assessment service," said Carlos M. Barrera, President of IHI Southwest Technologies, Inc.
Inspector robots employ a combination of autonomous machine vision navigation and direct operator guidance to accurately identify and map tank floor weld locations. This is followed by a detailed inspection on a per-plate basis, thus providing XYZ coordinate locations of all flaws in the tank floor using phased array UT and/or eddy current systems. Locations of defects are pin-pointed to within 1/8th of an inch using additional overhead machine vision technology attached inside of the tank roof access.
"We look forward to working with IHI in providing this technology. Never before has this level of data been attainable when inspecting in-service water storage tanks," said Newton Labs president, John Bramblet. "This combination of robot-borne sensors eliminates the need for divers or draining a tank and can save utilities time and money, enabling them to statistically track trending and tank floor integrity over time," Bramblet concluded.
About Newton Labs
Seattle based Newton Labs is a privately held manufacturer of machine vision, robotics, and optical automation. Newton's products are designed to allow the quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness of computer technology to replace the human element in virtually every industry. Newton Labs has deployed more than 20,000 machine vision, robotic, and automation systems worldwide.
About IHI Southwest
San Antonio based IHI Southwest Technologies, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of IHI Corporation of Japan. IHI was formed in June 1999 as a spin-off from the NDE Services Department of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). IHI's staff consists of qualified, experienced engineering and examination personnel. All of IHI's examiners are trained, qualified, and certified in the appropriate methods and on the applicable equipment in accordance with IHI procedures and client specific guidelines. IHI maintains a full-time staff of NDE examiners, which allows us to maintain the level of quality and productivity vital to the success and cost-effectiveness of our programs at plants around the world.