Advanced NDT: The PICA Approach with RFT Technology

Pipeline Inspection & Condition Analysis Corporation (PICA) has positioned itself as a leader in providing advanced inspection and condition analysis services for pipelines, crucial to ensuring safety, reliability, and sustainability in the world’s critical pipeline infrastructure. This article will delve into the technical nuances of PICA’s advanced Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) service, specifically focusing on their Remote Field Testing (RFT) technology as highlighted in the technical paper “Inspection of Lined Pipelines With In-line Inspection Tools” by A. Shatat, M. Korz, and D. Russell from Russell NDE Systems Inc., and then pivot to discuss why asset managers, pipeline operators, and owners should integrate PICA’s services into their maintenance and inspection strategies.

PICA’s advanced NDT service, equated with RFT technology, offers a sophisticated solution for inspecting pipelines, particularly those lined with materials like HDPE, epoxy, or cement mortar. Traditional inspection methods such as Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) and Ultrasonic Testing (UT) often fall short in these contexts, either because they may damage the liners or fail to penetrate thick liners effectively. RFT, however, emerges as an innovative solution to these challenges.

The Evolution of Steel Pipelines and Lining Technologies

Steel, due to its economical production and excellent strength properties, has been the material of choice for pressure pipeline applications. Over the years, to handle corrosive or erosive substances, pipeline development has pivoted towards combining the desirable properties of carbon steel with internal liners. These liners, ranging from HDPE to cement, are crucial in protecting new pipelines and rehabilitating older ones.

The Challenge with HDPE Liners and the Need for Effective Inspection

HDPE liners, while cost-effective and erosion-resistant, present unique challenges. Their low hoop strength and permeability to gasses can lead to issues such as liner collapses during pressure cycling. Consequently, detecting internal and external corrosion that can lead to pipeline failures becomes imperative.

RFT Technology: A Solution for HDPE Lined Pipelines

RFT technology, pivotal in PICA’s Advanced NDT service, operates by detecting changes in AC electromagnetic fields generated by the tool, which interacts with the metal pipe. Unlike traditional inspection tools requiring direct contact with the pipe wall, RFT tools can measure wall thickness and identify corrosion without damaging the protective liners.

Field Inspections and Results

Field trials, as discussed in the technical paper, have demonstrated the efficacy of RFT in inspecting lined pipelines. Over 15 kilometers of HDPE lined pipeline were inspected, with the RFT tools identifying areas of potential corrosion and wall loss. This technology’s ability to reproduce consistent results over time, as shown in repeated inspections, underscores its reliability.

Why Pipeline Operators Should Choose PICA’s Services

Enhanced Safety and Sustainability

With aging infrastructure and limited resources for complete replacements, pipeline operators face significant challenges. PICA’s services, particularly its Advanced NDT with RFT technology, offer a proactive approach to pipeline inspection. By identifying potential failure points and areas of degradation early, operators can undertake targeted repairs, thus enhancing the safety and extending the service life of these critical assets.

Cost-Effectiveness and Efficiency

Complete pipeline replacements are not only disruptive but also financially draining. PICA’s inspection methods allow for a more economical approach – identifying specific areas that need attention and allowing for surgical repairs. This targeted strategy not only saves costs but also minimizes disruptions to service.

Comprehensive Service Solutions

PICA’s suite of pipeline inspection services, including advanced NDT, intermediate NDT, standard NDT, visual NDT, and pre-screening NDT, ensures a comprehensive inspection regime. Each of these services is tailored to different pipeline materials and conditions, ensuring a versatile and thorough approach to pipeline integrity management.

Data-Driven Decision Making

PICA believes that “Good decisions start with good information.” Their high-resolution, detailed inspection data and analysis enables asset managers to make informed decisions about maintenance, repairs, and replacements, ultimately optimizing operational efficiency and expenditure.

Supporting Sustainable Development

PICA’s services align with the global imperative for sustainable development. By extending the life of existing pipeline infrastructure and ensuring its safe operation, PICA contributes to the responsible management of environmental resources.


PICA’s Advanced NDT service, particularly its use of RFT technology, represents a significant advancement in pipeline inspection. By providing detailed, non-destructive analysis of pipeline conditions, especially in challenging contexts like lined pipelines, PICA enables operators to maintain infrastructure safely and sustainably. For asset managers, pipeline operators, and owners, integrating PICA’s services into their maintenance and safety protocols is not just a choice but a necessity in today’s context of aging infrastructure and environmental sustainability. The technical prowess of PICA’s services, coupled with their strategic approach to pipeline integrity, positions them as an indispensable partner in the journey towards a safer, more reliable, and sustainable future.