The Significance of Advanced NDT in Pipeline Integrity Management: A Case Study and Overview of PICA’s Services

Pipeline infrastructure forms the backbone of modern society, carrying essential utilities and resources crucial for daily life. However, aging infrastructure presents significant challenges, especially when replacement is not financially feasible. This article delves into a case study presented in the technical paper “High-Resolution Inspection of AWWA C303 Bar-Wrapped Pipe with Detailed Field Verification” by Engindeniz et al., focusing on the Advanced Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) method employed by Pipeline Inspection & Condition Analysis Corporation (PICA). We will explore the paper’s findings and underscore why asset managers, pipeline operators, and owners should consider PICA’s services for sustainable pipeline management.

Case Study: High-Resolution Inspection of AWWA C303 Bar-Wrapped Pipe

The city of Mesa, Arizona, faced a crucial need to inspect its AWWA C303 Bar-Wrapped Steel-Cylinder type concrete pressure pipelines (BWP) after a high-consequence pipeline failure in another Arizona city in 2022. PICA’s Advanced NDT, equivalent to Electromagnetic Remote Field Testing (RFT) technology used in the paper, was employed to assess the integrity of these critical pipeline sections.

Inspection Technology and Process

PICA utilized its high-resolution RFT tools, which are non-contact electromagnetic NDE techniques capable of penetrating internal cement mortar liners. This inspection was crucial because visual techniques alone couldn’t assess the steel cylinder beneath the liner. The inspection involved a detailed plan, including blind verifications in test pipes and inspections of buried BWP in two areas of Mesa.

Findings and Verification

The RFT tool’s effectiveness was evaluated through various induced defects in test pipes and subsequent comparisons of EM results. These inspections revealed several key observations:

  • Detection of mechanical stress and section losses in steel cylinders.
  • Identification of defects undetectable by visual inspections, such as through-holes and section losses.
  • External inspections post-EM revealed more detailed issues like broken bars and depressions in steel cylinders.

This comprehensive inspection approach underscored the effectiveness of the EM RFT tool in detecting significant defects beyond certain thresholds, providing critical data for pipeline integrity management.

The Value Proposition of PICA’s Services

PICA’s commitment to providing best-in-class pipeline inspection and condition analysis services is evident in its diverse service offerings. The company specializes in proactive inspections, a crucial aspect of maintaining aging pipeline infrastructure. Asset managers, pipeline operators, and owners can derive substantial benefits from PICA’s pipeline inspection services.

Range of Service Solutions

PICA offers five service solutions, each tailored to different pipeline materials and conditions. These include Advanced NDT, Intermediate NDT, Standard NDT, Visual NDT, and Pre-Screening NDT. Each service utilizes cutting-edge technology like electromagnetic and ultrasonic tools, ensuring comprehensive inspection capabilities.

Advanced NDT: A Focused Solution

PICA’s Advanced NDT, as illustrated in the Mesa case study, provides detailed insights into pipeline integrity. It’s particularly effective for pressurized and lined pipelines, offering high-resolution, cross-sectional wall thickness measurements and defect detection. This service is invaluable for asset managers seeking to avoid costly pipeline failures and unplanned downtimes.

Proactive Approach to Pipeline Management

PICA’s philosophy centers around proactive inspection services to preclude the need for complete pipeline replacements. This approach aligns with the current challenges in pipeline infrastructure, where replacement costs are prohibitive. Proactive inspections and surgical repairs, as advocated by PICA, extend the service life of pipelines in a sustainable manner.

Enhancing Safety and Reliability

Safety and reliability are paramount in pipeline operations. PICA’s services, particularly its Advanced NDT, equip asset managers with the information necessary to make informed decisions about maintenance and repairs, significantly enhancing the safety and reliability of the pipeline infrastructure.

Sustainability and Future Growth

PICA’s vision of contributing to a more sustainable future through its services resonates strongly in an era where environmental concerns are paramount. By extending the life of existing pipelines and preventing failures, PICA’s services contribute to the sustainability of resources and infrastructure development.


The case study of Mesa’s pipeline inspection using PICA’s Advanced NDT service and the overall portfolio of PICA’s offerings demonstrate the critical role of proactive, high-resolution pipeline inspections in modern asset management. Asset managers, pipeline operators, and owners should consider integrating PICA’s services into their maintenance strategies to ensure safety, reliability, and sustainability of their critical pipeline assets. With aging infrastructure and limited resources for replacement, PICA’s approach of using advanced technology for proactive inspections and condition analysis is not just a choice but a necessity for the sustainable management of pipeline infrastructure in the modern world.