Pipelines are expensive assets and inspection of these assets is an integral part of the pipeline integrity management to ensure that there is no evidence of deformations, leaks, weld cracks, corrosion or any other defects. Many industries rely heavily on pipelines for transporting of water, crude oil, petroleum, natural gas and other products. These industries face huge losses when the pipelines are defective and might even pose a threat to both natural and human environments. In the case of water, large amount of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) are detrimental to the financial viability of water utilities as well as the quality of water itself. Therefore, such risks need to be mitigated by performing rigorous pipeline inspections.
The conventional methods to detect points of pilferages or leakages usually involve trenching and manual search (Visual inspection). Some industries have adopted the method of conducting inspection by using NDE (Non Destructive Evaluation) based on MFL (Magnetic Flux Leakage) technologies or UT (Ultrasonic Testing) in PIGs (Pipeline Inspection Gauges) for this purpose. These smart PIGS clean the internal surface of the pipelines and provide details on surface anomalies such as cracks, pitting, weld defects, etc. The pipeline inspection using smart PIGs is performed only when there is a shutdown. Usage of NDE methods for inspection is extremely expensive and time consuming. Moreover, a set-up known as PIG Launcher or Receiver is required to launch these smart PIGS into the pipelines at one end and receive them at another.
This led Solinas Integrity to conceptualize a product, called the iGlobus, for performing in-line pipeline inspections that are more economical and also easily deployable. The iGlobus is a 7-inch spherical free-flowing robot for the inspection of pressurized water pipelines. This means that, the iGlobus can be deployed without disrupting the pipeline service, thereby avoiding downtime of pipelines. It has acoustic and odometry sensors for the purpose of leak detection and localization respectively. These sensors are integrated by a custom-designed circuit board, that interfaces the sensors to an onboard processing unit. The collected data from the inspection is then subjected to detailed analysis for recognition of leak signatures and localization thus enabling the team to draw conclusions and formulate a report on the defects and internal condition of the inspected pipeline. There are also pipelines which are non-piggable (Unavailability of PIG receiver and launcher, non-ferromagnetic pipelines), but iGlobus can be deployed in these pipelines as well. Therefore, the iGlobus is capable of performing hassle-free inspections at an affordable price.