Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Water Pipe Monitoring
I was once quite into this type of operational monitoring, and this reminds me of a story.
The Darlington fueling machine was notorious for breaking down. It was suspected to be a dynamic cause, and I was called in because I had earlier installed the seismic monitors.
Long story short - I was totally ignored, blah blah. But I really studied active ultrasonic monitoring for failure analysis. This did what those pipe monitors do, it listens for the sound of breaking metal, which is very distinctive, and travels a long way over pipes, beams, and rail tracks. Nearly all these failures are from fatigue, and if you look at one of these metal failures with an electron microscope, you will see thousands of little fractures. Each one of these would have produced an ultrasonic signature. I was convinced this was a great thing for structural monitoring, but it was too modern for a place caught in a 30 year old time warp.
So instead of this, they went for constant manual inspection, which cost a fortune, but kept people employed.