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Sonomatic takes ultrasonic inspection to a new level

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Sonomatic — the world’s leading provider of automated ultrasonic subsea inspection for more than 20 years — has launched the first remotely steerable UT scanner capable of being deployed at up to 300 metres water depth.

The MAG-Rover 300 can be attached subsea by ROV or diver and then remotely manoeuvred to the exact inspection location, making it among the company's most versatile tools yet and ideally suited to a range of topsides, splash zone and subsea applications.

Until now, inspection could only be carried out by diver, involving the costly hire of dive support vessels and restricted operating windows due to weather and other constraints.

Now the MAG-Rover 300 greatly widens operators' choices. Uniquely, it can be attached to a structure at a topsides location, even by rope access technician, and then driven from there — under an operator's control — to the subsea inspection location.

The design also allows topsides or onshore inspection without the need for scaffolding, and can be deployed to areas of restricted access on pipelines, storage tanks, pressure vessels and columns to carry out a range of inspection types, including time of flight diffraction (TOFD) and automated pulse-echo inspection of welds and corrosion mapping for plate material.

The MAG-Rover 300 was initially conceived to meet inspection challenges in the offshore oil and gas industry, and is designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather. Specific subsea applications include the periodic inspection of jacket closure welds on a range of installations, particularly in the North Sea, with other applications envisaged on semi-submersible structures. Sonomatic is also exploring the new and emerging offshore wind sector.

The standard MAG-Rover 300 unit comprises a steerable crawler driven by two magnetic drive wheels which allow the scanner to adhere to any magnetic surface. At the front is the UT transducer, which gimbals to follow the contour of the surface being inspected. Sonomatic's Microplus ultrasonic system is incorporated for proven measurement reliability, and the tool can the ROV's communications system.

Sonomatic launched the company's first — manually manipulated — subsea ultrasonic inspection scanner in 1989. This was followed by a motorised subsea UT scanner, the diver-deployed Nautilus, which remains in constant use to this day, and by last year's launch of the ROV-deployed Sonomatic ROViT-2000, which can operate both vertically and horizontally and has been successfully used on projects in the Southern and Northern North Sea.

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