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Can We Fully Automate Magnetic Particle Inspection?

Automation can help bring down costs while also promoting better safety. That’s because fewer people or zero personnel will be exposed to hazards. Whether it’s manufacturing, electronics, construction or the transport industry, automation can also speed up design, production and inspection.

Can we fully automate magnetic particle inspection?

But what about non-destructive testing methods including magnetic particle inspection? Can we fully automate them and still expect accurate results?

It’s true that automating the inspection can bring down costs, speed up operations and lead to better safety. However, automation works best in tasks that are highly structured and repetitive. For example, if we’re inspecting hundreds of identical units with fairly simple features and surfaces, automation will indeed shine here. But if the surfaces, features and components are complex and widely varying, what works best may require a combination of some automation and human expertise.

In magnetic particle testing, researchers and engineers have already explored the use of robotics, drones and automated image processing systems. However, technical personnel are still involved especially behind the scenes. After all, someone still has to set the parameters and decide on what to do with the results. Also, experienced personnel are great at finding out if there’s something off with the inspection procedures and the part being tested.

Robotics and artificial intelligence actually complement human intelligence and expertise. Here, automation can take over the most routine and hazardous tasks and let humans better focus on high-value tasks (e.g. strategy, evaluation, planning, decision making). This similarly applies to non-destructive testing where access and environmental conditions can be difficult to engineers and other staff. But with automated processes, exposure to hazards will be zero or very limited.

Automation has pros and cons no matter the industry. However, automation actually has a tiny role in the surface and subsurface inspection of parts and components. The bigger roles go to accuracy, certainty and reliability. For example, in many applications the UV-A emissions should be safe and pure with a reasonably narrow peak wavelength of 365-370 nm. This is crucial in making the inspection and results consistent with the defects. For better observation and evaluation, visible light should also be negligible (e.g. the CrackCheck® PHOENIX (PX) Series UV LED lamp and Camera have those features mentioned above).

If you require more information about choosing equipment for magnetic particle testing, you can contact us here at NDT Equipment Sales. We are a corporate member of The Australian Institute for Non Destructive Testing, Composites Australia and The Australasian Corrosion Association.