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Title:
ASSEMBLY FOR CARRYING OUT INSPECTIONS OR WORK OPERATIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/077425
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An assembly 1 for carrying out inspection or work operations on extended bodies, comprising a carriage 10 for supporting inspection or work devices, such as probes 3, and at least one guide rail 12. The carriage 10 is equipped with carriage sliding means suitable to allow the carriage 10 to slide along the surface of the body to be inspected or worked and with means 104 for anchoring the carriage 10 to the surface. The guide rail 12 is provided with rail anchoring means 182 suitable to allow the rail 12 to be anchored to the surface of the body to be inspected or worked, the guide rail 12 able to be shaped in at least an axial direction so as to follow a predetermined path, even not straight, along the surface of the body to be inspected or worked. The movable carriage 10 is further provided with rail coupling means suitable to engage the guide rail 12 so that the carriage 10 is guided to follow the direction of the guide rail 12 when the carriage 10 advances along the surface of the body.

Inventors:
LAMA ARTURO
Application Number:
IB2018/057408
Publication Date:
April 25, 2019
Filing Date:
September 25, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TECNOMAC S.R.L. (Via Pablo Neruda 69/71, Flero, Brescia, I-25020, IT)
International Classes:
B08B9/023; B23K37/02; B23Q9/00; B63B59/10; F16L101/30
Foreign References:
US20160158904A12016-06-09
US20080181733A12008-07-31
US3456555A1969-07-22
US20150158129A12015-06-11
US20090256320A12009-10-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHIMINI, Francesco et al. (Piazza della Vittoria 11, Brescia, I-25122, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. An assembly for carrying out inspections or work operations on extended bodies, such as piping, pipelines, pressure containers, tanks, oil platform legs, welded plates, comprising:

- a support carriage for inspection or working devices, such as probes, the carriage being provided with carriage sliding means suitable to allow the carriage to slide along the body surface to be inspected or worked and with means for anchoring to said surface;

- at least one guide rail provided with rail anchoring means suitable to allow the rail to be anchored to the surface of the body to be inspected or worked, the guide rail able to be shaped in at least an axial direction so as to follow a predetermined path, even not straight, along the surface of the body to be inspected or worked, wherein the movable carriage is further provided with rail coupling means suitable to engage the guide rail so that the carriage is guided to follow the direction of the guide rail when the carriage advances along the surface of the body.

2. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein the guide rail comprises a belt made of deformable material, for example rubber, the rail coupling means being suitable to engage both longitudinal edges of the belt.

3. The assembly according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the rail anchoring means are distributed along the entire extension of the guide rail.

4. The assembly according to the preceding claim, wherein the rail anchoring means comprise at least one row of permanent magnets.

5. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the rail coupling means comprise at least one pair of idle rollers suitable to engage the opposite longitudinal sides of the guide rail.

6. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carriage sliding means comprise ball slides .

7. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carriage anchoring means comprise at least one permanent magnet positioned so as to graze the surface of the body with a pole thereof.

8. The assembly according to the preceding claim, wherein at least one permanent magnet is positioned and maintained at a predetermined distance from the surface of the body.

9. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carriage sliding means comprise at least one wheel.

10. The assembly according to the preceding claim, wherein the carriage anchoring means comprise at least one permanent magnet housed in the wheel.

11. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the rail coupling means are positioned on one side of the carriage so that the carriage advances along the surface of the body parallel and lateral with respect to the guide rail.

12. The assembly according to any one of the claims 1- 10, wherein the rail coupling means are positioned between at least one pair of carriage sliding means so that the carriage advances along the surface of the body astride the guide rail.

13. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carriage is provided with at least one drive wheel.

14. The assembly according to the preceding claim, wherein the drive wheel is driven by an electrically powered gearmotor apparatus provided with a DC voltage supplied by a battery mounted on the carriage or by a power cable.

15. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carriage sliding means comprise at least one wheel connected to a steering member.

16. The assembly according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one probe for inspecting sheet welding is mounted on the carriage.

17. Carriage for supporting devices for the inspection or working of bodies made of ferromagnetic material, comprising :

- carriage sliding means suitable to allow the carriage to slide in any direction along the body surface to be inspected or worked;

magnetic anchoring means suitable to anchor the carriage to said surface; and

- at least one pair of idle rollers suitable to engage the opposite longitudinal sides of a guide rail anchored to the surface of the body to be inspected or worked so that the carriage is guided to follow the progression of the guide rail when the carriage advances along the body surface .

Description:
"Assembly for carrying out inspections or work

operations"

[0001] The present invention concerns an assembly to carry out inspections or work operations on extended bodies, such as pressure pipes, pipelines, tanks, pressure containers, oil platform legs, welded plates, etc. For example, the assembly may be used to perform non ¬ destructive testing on welded bodies.

[0002] Mobile devices, also known as "scanners" to those skilled in the art, used to perform non-destructive testing on welded bodies, are already known. These scanners consist of a frame, usually made of aluminum, on which inspection probes are mounted.

[0003] The frame is generally equipped with wheels necessary for the movement thereof on the surface of the body to be checked and with a magnetic system applied to the wheels themselves and/or to external supports to keep the mobile device coupled to the body to be checked.

[0004] The movable device is positioned on the body near the welds and moved, either manually or by means of a motor, along the weld or parallel thereto, guiding the probes to carry out the inspections.

[0005] In order to correctly carry out the inspection operation on the body, it is necessary for the movable device to be moved in such a way so that it always follows, in a precise manner, the direction of the weld to be checked.

[0006] Such an operation is currently particularly problematic and the outcome thereof is entrusted to the experience and readiness of the operator to intervene, in case of manual operation of the movable device, or to the sensitivity of inspection sensors, applied to the movable device, which must continuously intervene, with a feedback control on the electric motor that drives the steering of the movable device, to keep the probes in the correct direction and position.

[0007] An example of a movable probe holder device with magnetic anchoring is described in the publication WO2009047666 A2 on behalf of the same applicant.

[0008] In any case, when detecting the path of the movable device, it was found that such path is not regular but is made up of zigzag breaks due to the continuous trajectory corrections. Such a discontinuous trajectory of the movable device adversely affects the accuracy of the measurement taken by the probes.

[0009] The object of the present invention is to propose an assembly to carry out inspection or work operations on extended bodies able to operate in a more precise way than the movable devices mentioned above allow. [0010] Said object is achieved with an assembly according to claim 1. The dependent claims describe preferred embodiments of the invention.

[0011] The idea behind the present invention is to place on the body to be subjected to inspection or work, for example overlapping a weld line or parallel thereto, a guide rail suitable to precisely and compulsorily guide a movable carriage that supports the inspection or work devices .

[0012] Since the surface on which the carriage must slide is in most cases uneven, and therefore the welds can hardly be perfectly linear, the guide rail applied to the body must not be made with a rigid bar but rather may be shaped so that it follows the welding line perfectly.

[0013] In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the guide rail is made as a rubber belt, or similar deformable material, so as to be shaped from time to time according to the path of the welding line.

[0014] In one embodiment, the guide rail is anchored to the surface of the body to be inspected or worked by means of a series of permanent magnets or other anchoring systems.

[0015] In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the carriage is equipped with idle rollers which, adjusted so as to grasp the rail, keep the carriage always in the guide. [0016] In one embodiment, to make the alignment of the rail carriage smoother and softer, it was decided to use ball bearings capable of following any change in direction without offering the slightest resistance.

[0017] In one embodiment, the carriage is anchored to the surface of the body by means of permanent magnets.

[0018] Obviously, in order not to interfere with the smoothness of the scanner, the magnetic supports must be self-aligning, adjustable and sliding.

[0019] In particular, the magnets graze the surface of the body and, depending on the force exerted by the magnetic field, the magnetic supports adapt angularly to the surface to be inspected (whether flat or curved) . In one embodiment, the magnetic supports are locked in the position wherein they are arranged, for example, by means of a grub screw.

[0020] In some applications, the balls could be replaced with shoes made of a low friction plastic material, such as polyzene.

[0021] The features and advantages of the assembly according to the invention will become evident from the description provided hereinafter of its preferred embodiments, provided by way of indicative and non- limiting examples, with reference to the accompanying figures, wherein: [0022] - figure 1 is a perspective view from below of a carriage supporting probes for inspecting welds, in one embodiment ;

[0023] - figure 2 is a perspective view from the bottom of the assembly consisting of the carriage in figure 1 and the guide rail;

[0024] - figure 3 is a schematic plan view of the assembly of figure 2 ;

[0025] - figure 4 is a plan view from the top of the assembly applied to the surface of a pipe;

[0026] - figure 5 is an end view of the assembly applied to the surface of the pipe;

[0027] - figure 6 is an axial section of the assembly and of the pipe of figures 4 and 5;

[0028] - figure 6a is an enlarged view of the detail A circled in figure 6;

[0029] - figure 7 is a perspective view of a carriage-rail assembly in a variant embodiment; and

[0030] - figure 8 is a schematic plan view of the assembly of figure 7.

[0031] In said drawings, an assembly to carry out operations of inspection or work on extended bodies, such as tubes, pipelines, pipes, pressure containers, oil platform legs, according to the invention has been indicated collectively at 1; 100. [0032] In the illustrated examples, the assembly is suitable for carrying out non-destructive testing of welding of tubular elements 2 by means of probes 3. It is, however, apparent that the technical solution underlying the present invention may be used in a variety of applications, both for other inspection operations, and for carrying out work where it is necessary to move measuring instruments or other operating devices in a very precise way on a surface of a body to be subjected to inspection or work.

[0033] In the body of the following description, the elements common to the various embodiments of the assembly according to the invention will be indicated at the same numerical references.

[0034] The assembly 1; 100 comprises a support carriage 10; 110 of inspection or work devices, such as probes 3, and a guide rail 12.

[0035] The carriage 10; 110 is equipped with carriage sliding means 14 suitable to allow the carriage to slide along the surface 2' of a body 2 to be subjected to inspection or work.

[0036] The carriage 10; 100 is further equipped with carriage anchoring means 16 suitable to anchor the carriage to the surface 2' of the body 2 during inspection or work operations. [0037] The guide rail 12 is equipped with rail anchoring means 18 suitable to allow the rail 12 to be anchored to the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0038] According to one aspect of the invention, the guide rail 12 may be shaped at least axially so as to follow a predefined path, even if not straight, along the surface 2' of the body 2 to be inspected or worked.

[0039] The carriage 10; 100 is further provided with rail coupling means 20 suitable to engage the guide rail 12 so that the carriage is guided to follow the direction of the guide rail when the carriage advances along the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0040] In one embodiment, the guide rail 12 comprises a belt 122 made of deformable material, such as rubber.

[0041] The rail coupling means 20 are suitable to engage both longitudinal edges 122' of the belt 122.

[0042] In one embodiment, the rail anchoring means 18 are distributed along the entire length of the guide rail.

[0043] In one embodiment, the rail anchoring means 18 comprise at least one row of permanent magnets 182.

[0044] For example, each permanent magnet 182 has a shank 184, such as a threaded shank or a screw, which passes through a through-hole made in the thickness of the belt 122 and protrudes from the outer side of the belt, i.e. the side opposite to the side facing the surface of the body to be inspected or worked. Each permanent magnet 182 may then be attached to the belt by means of a clamping element that engages the magnet shank, for example a threaded nut 186.

[0045] In a variant embodiment, the permanent magnets may be incorporated, at least partially, in the thickness of the guide rail 12.

[0046] The support carriage 10; 100 comprises a frame 102; 112, e.g. made of aluminum profiles.

[0047] The frame supports inspection devices of the body, such as the probes 3, and/or working devices of the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0048] In one embodiment, the frame 102; 112 further supports wireless communication means - not shown - for transmitting/receiving data from inspection or working devices using a remote processing unit, and vice versa.

[0049] In one embodiment, the ultrasonic probes 3 used are connected to cables due to signal isolation issues. The bundle of cables may thus also comprise the power cables of the electric motor, thus avoiding placing power supply batteries on the carriage and thus making the same carriage lighter.

[0050] In one embodiment, the rail coupling means 20 comprise at least one pair of idle rollers 202 suitable to engage the opposite longitudinal sides of the guide rail 12.

[0051] Preferably, rail coupling means 20 comprise two pairs of idle rollers 202, spaced apart from each other.

[0052] In one embodiment, the idle rollers 202 are supported by one or respective support brackets 204 connected to or integral with the frame of the carriage.

[0053] The idle rollers 202 are positioned so as to have their respective rotation axes substantially orthogonal to the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0054] It should be noted that, in one embodiment, the idle rollers 202 engage the sides of the guide rail 12 without touching the surface 2' of the body 2. For example, the distance of the rollers 202 from the surface 2' of the body 2 corresponds substantially to the distance of the belt 122 from the surface 2', which in turn may be determined by the thickness of the permanent magnets 182 fixed to the inner side of the belt 122.

[0055] In one embodiment, the sliding carriage means 14 comprise ball slides 142. The balls, in effect, allow the carriage to perform any movement along the surface 2' of the body 2, minimizing friction.

[0056] In the example shown in figures 1-6, the frame 102 of the carriage is equipped with four plate-shaped supports 104, each of which carries a pair of ball slides 142. [0057] In the example in figures 7 and 8, the frame 112 of the carriage is equipped with four supports 114, for example at the outer corners of the carriage, each of which carries a ball slide 142.

[0058] In one embodiment, the carriage anchoring means 16 comprise at least one permanent magnet 162.

[0059] In one embodiment, each permanent magnet 162 of the carriage is positioned so as to graze with its pole the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0060] In one embodiment, each permanent magnet 162 is positioned and maintained at a predetermined distance from the body surface.

[0061] In the embodiment shown in figures 1-6, each plate- shaped support 104 carries, in addition to the ball slides 142, a permanent magnet 162.

[0062] In the embodiment shown in figures 7 and 8, the frame 112 of the carriage is equipped with four plate- shaped supports 104, each of which has a permanent magnet 162.

[0063] In one embodiment, each plate-shaped support 104 may be equipped with rollers 143 which determine the distance of the permanent magnet 162 from the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0064] In one embodiment, the carriage sliding means 14 comprise at least one wheel 144. [0065] In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the sliding means 14 comprise at least one drive wheel 144. This drive wheel 144 is thus responsible for the advancement of the carriage on the surface 2' of the body 2. For example, the drive wheel is driven by a gearmotor apparatus 30 supported by the frame of the carriage.

[0066] The gearmotor apparatus 30 may be powered by a DC voltage supplied by a battery also mounted on the frame of the carriage.

[0067] In one variant embodiment, the electric power to the gearmotor apparatus 30 is supplied via a power cable.

[0068] In one embodiment illustrated in figures 7 and 8, the carriage 100 is equipped with a pair of wheels 144, at least one of which is a drive wheel, which rotate around the same motor axis 146 controlled by a gearmotor apparatus 30.

[0069] The carriage 10; 100 may also not have a gearmotor and drive wheels and may be manually operated.

[0070] The wheels 144 may also be equipped with grip, so as to prevent the carriage from slipping on the surface.

[0071] In one embodiment, one or more permanent magnets may be incorporated into at least one wheel of the carriage, for example into one or more drive wheels of the carriage .

[0072] In one embodiment shown in figures 1-6, the rail coupling means 20 are positioned on one side of the carriage in such a way that the carriage moves along the surface 2' of the body 2 parallel and lateral to the guide rail 12.

[0073] Figure 3 shows, in particular, how the two pairs of idle rollers 202 are positioned outside the perimeter of the carriage identified by the support points of the carriage on the surface 2' of the body 2.

[0074] In one variant embodiment, illustrated for example in figures 7 and 8, the rail coupling means 20 are positioned between at least one pair of carriage sliding means so that the carriage advances along the surface of the body astride the guide rail 12.

[0075] Figure 8 shows, in particular, how the two pairs of idle rollers 202 are positioned within the perimeter of the carriage identified by the support points of the carriage on the surface 2' of the body 2, which in this case are defined by the four ball slides 142, by the rollers 143 of the four plate-shaped supports 104, and by the pair of wheels 144.

[0076] It should be noted that, when present, the wheels may be steered, or connected to a steering member, to allow the carriage to follow the direction of the guide rail, even if not straight.

[0077] In one embodiment, the supports 104 that hold the permanent magnets 162 are connected to the frame of the carriage 10; 100 in a tilting way or by means of a joint, so as to adapt to the inclination or shape of the surface 2' of the body 2 by the force exerted by the magnetic field. In other words, the supports 104 are free to be arranged in such a way as to maximize the magnetic field flow between the body to be inspected or worked and the magnets 162 of the carriage.

[0078] In one embodiment, the supports 104 are locked in the position wherein they are arranged, for example, by means of a grub screw.

[0079] It is apparent that the assembly described above allows the predefined objects to be achieved.

[0080] In particular, once the guide rail is positioned on or parallel to the line to be inspected or on which to operate, the carriage follows such line with high precision by being guided by the guide rail and without the need for a feedback control that requires continuous corrections .

[0081] Due to the use of a shaped guide rail and low- friction sliding means, even non-straight tracks may be followed by the carriage with the same precision.

[0082] To the embodiments of the assembly according to the invention, one skilled in the art may, to satisfy contingent needs, make modifications, adaptations and substitutions of some elements with others that are functionally equivalent, without departing from the scope of the following claims. Each of the features described as belonging to a possible embodiment may be implemented independently from the other described embodiments.