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  • David Graves

SurvTech Saved Client Millions utilizing NDT Pipe Thickness Testing

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Did you know our Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) department provides Nondestructive Testing (NDT) utilizing Ultrasonics to measure the thickness of metal? Our teams’ tool for the job is the Olympus 38DL Plus Ultrasonic Thickness Gage. In addition to our broad range of utility locating devices, we have the ability to provide accurate quantitative descriptions of located objects, helping clients find the information they need.

We use pipe thickness testing on a range of applications, including pipes, tanks, pressure vessels, and other structures affected by corrosion or erosion. Using a non-destructive form of ultrasonic testing, we can determine the thickness of a variety of materials. We do this by utilizing a dual element transducer and taking echo-to-echo measurements, with a system that automatically identifies thickness, even on painted surfaces. The 38DL can also be fit with single or dual frequency transducers to broaden capabilities and types of materials measured.

On a recent project, SurvTech helped a client investigate a 3-mile section of a high-profile Force Main that had recently ruptured due to a catastrophic air release valve failure. The efficient and accurate execution of the project was crucial as any subsequent downstream ruptures of the force main had the potential to cripple the wastewater management of the region. Utilizing Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), we were able to horizontally locate the force main as well detect high points along the pipeline. By analyzing our GPR data along with the deployment of SmartBall leak detection technology, our team was able to identify areas where the potential for methane pocket buildups existed. After developing a comprehensive safety plan that included Maintenance of Traffic (MOT), ambient gas detection, and a contingency for additional pipe ruptures, we conducted Ultrasonic Pipe Thickness (UST) testing at key areas where it was suspected that methane pockets may have eroded the interior of the force main. These tests were performed at air release valve manholes as well as locations where our in-house SUE crews safely exposed the target force main by performing vacuum excavation. Our findings were documented on UST data reports and delivered to the client’s engineering firm for analysis. It was later determined that the previous air release valve failure was anomalous, and that the overall prognosis of the pipeline viability was strong.

To schedule your next SUE project, contact Ray Hicks at


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