Dongseong Ro, General Manager
The government of South Korea was in a massive dilemma. During a routine investigation on the parts and materials used for construction and operational nuclear power plants, certain instances of forgery/alteration were noted in the quality verification document (QVD) and test reports. In general, an analysis of the materials’ defects, thickness, etc. were conducted in the field, using a non-destructive test (NDT) method. However, in the case of mechanical properties (yield and tensile strength) of materials, the quality verification procedure of imported materials required the use of destructive test methods at specific stages.
But this was a problem.
Destructive methods couldn’t be used to test the facilities under construction or in operation and an in-situ inspection technique was required to directly inspect these industrial sites. In their predicament, the South Korean government was helped by FRONTICS, an industrial engineering company, focused on non-destructive testing method. The company is an expert in the use of instrumented indentation techniques (IIT), which cover a wide range of industries such as oil & gas, energy plants, pipeline, and inspection companies. They delivered simple, speedy and non-destructive evaluation of safety and reliability of on-site structures. Through its IIT-based Advanced Indentation System (AIS) equipment, FRONTICS carried out inspection of imported materials, quality control monitoring, etc. at industrial sites, and were able to measure mechanical properties within the secondary system of nuclear facilities and non-management areas as well.
With its leading technology, the company has developed an automated indentation system for the first time in South Korea, and has also become an industry leader in the U.S. market, through its Chicago-based subsidiary, FRONTICS AMERICA. “Our instrumented indentation test (IIT) can measure mechanical properties (strength and toughness) as well as residual stress in a non-destructive way,” says Dongseong Ro, the general manager of FRONTICS AMERICA.
The IIT method can be applied to various business fields for various purposes. It can verify quality verification document (QVD) by measuring mechanical properties of the imported material through IIT, compare it with mill test report (MTR), and evaluate mechanical properties and residual stress on weldments.
As a non-destructive test method, IIT can be applied to evaluate degradation, condition monitoring, and failure analysis. “IIT has the advantage of being able to perform within short test times and conduct on-site tests, enabling residual stress evaluation immediately after completion of the post-weld heat treatment (PWHT). This allows accidents to be eliminated in advance,” mentions Mr. Ro.
IIT has the advantage of being able to perform short test times and on-site tests, enabling residual stress evaluation immediately after completion of the PWHT. This allows the cause of an accident to be eliminated in advance
FRONTICS has developed its range of AIS, based on its IIT method, which can be tested on a wide range of subjects from macro to micro or even nano scales. Since the AIS series is an NDT technology, targets can be used even after the test and thus AIS can be tested directly on power generation facilities or installed at oil & gas pipeline. The AIS series requires a very small test space, and can be tested even for objects with various mechanical properties, such as weldments, or unusual shapes such as elbows or t-welds. In addition, since the time from preparation to test can be completed less than an hour, many objects can be tested at the same time, and the cost is lowered by reducing downtime.
What differentiates FRONTICS are the number of international certifications that it obtained in its 20 years of continuous technology development and research. “We are constantly striving to secure the reliability of technology, not just the development of equipment. In the United States for instance, our technology can be used in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations,” mentions Mr. Ro. Additionally, the company is working on standardization for the measurement of mechanical properties using the Instrumented Indentation test method for the Chinese National Standard (GB/T) and the Russian Standard (GOST and most recently for ISO New Work Item Proposal (NWIP), “hardness and material constants of metallic materials—Part 6 which is about evaluation of stress change according to indentation load difference” has been adopted a proposal and devoted to the development of International Standards for Instrumented Indentation Test technology.
Over the years, IIT has been used for many specific applications in the aviation and shipbuilding industries, and construction sites. While IIT is used to evaluate safety by measuring strength on weld zone after welding, it can be applied to check for stability and failure analysis. Currently, FRONTICS is in the final stage of software development to measure impact toughness, which is being verified through internal testing. “Soon, we will try to increase the reliability and reduce error rate by sharing the beta version with partners,” concludes Mr. Ro.