15th July 2021
Today, we had the honor to interview Mr. Jose Brizuela Sanchez, researcher at the CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de Argentina - National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Argentina) working at the CNEA (Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica - National Atomic Energy Commission) facility, and CTO at Besna Company.
You are a researcher at the CONICET working at the CNEA facility. Can you explain to us what your activities there consist in?
As a researcher of CONICET, I have become involved in technology issues through agreements and consulting aimed at resolving problems of great interest in different industrial sectors, always attending drawbacks that normally occur when commercial systems do not offer an appropriate solution. As a researcher, I have participated in several research projects, all related to the industrial applications of ultrasound, material characterization, embedded and real time systems, FPGA & GPU programming, data processing for high-resolution ultrasonic imaging generation, system integration and transfer technology activities. My research activities have been applied in the energy, railway, oil&gas, aeronautics, aerospace, nuclear, and medical sectors. At the CNEA facilities I have the laboratory for carrying out my research activities. I also work with a team of experts giving NDT support to the nuclear power plants of Argentina.
In parallel, you also are CTO at BESNA company. In a few words, could you let us know what the mission of BESNA company is?
Besna is a young engineering company which is fully committed to study, planning, design, and project management, providing effective solutions to meet today’s engineering challenges. Besna stands out for providing R&D consulting services in several areas (mechanical, nuclear, hydraulic, transportation, logistics, testing and monitoring). At Besna facilities, we are a team of 14 professionals with large experience, who looks at meeting all costumers needs. Nowadays, Besna is in expansion. For example, at the end of 2020, Besna has opened its subsidiary "Besna Corp." in the USA to facilitate commercial transactions with our foreign clients.
How did you start with NDT simulation?
It was in 2014, at CNEA, when I started to use CIVA UT simulator to develop NDT pre-services procedures for a nuclear project. After that, I begun using this simulation tool in different projects for several industries.
How does CIVA UT help you in your different activities? How often do you use CIVA?
CIVA UT simulator is an extremely helpful tool for my research activities. I work with CIVA every week to develop inspection procedures, check probes design, and perform the analysis of inspection systems in which I am involved. I am supported by simulations to predict the beam transmitted by a transducer into the specimen to optimize the conception of a proposed method, or to demonstrate its performance by introducing different defects in a sample that can be difficult to be mechanized. These features allow me, for instance, to reduce the costs in manufacturing calibration blocks and decrease the time in providing an inspection procedure. Moreover, I use CIVA UT to provide support to NDT technicians and for teaching.
If I am not mistaken, you also use the analysis part of CIVA (CIVA Analysis) to read and analyze real acquisitions. In your opinion, what are the strong points and those in need of improvement in CIVA Analysis?
Indeed, I use CIVA Analysis to read and to analyze acquisition from inspection services. Frequently, I use it to perform consulting for several NDT companies who needs support in analyzing phased array images taken from complex samples. Recently, I used CIVA Analysis to evaluate more than 480 phased array images that were taken from the blades-roots of a steam turbine. In this case, would I not have had the segmentation utility which is available in CIVA Analysis, performing the evaluation in a short time and giving a feasible result would have been a difficult task. In the future, I would like CIVA Analysis to be more compatible with other equipment manufacturers, because the tool has several strong points for evaluating data acquisition. For example, it allows to handle data with the sample geometry, overlays the ray tracing on the image, and the mode identification tool is useful to understand the interpretation of the echoes.
Using both CIVA UT simulation and CIVA Analysis, have you already compared real data with simulated data? Are you aware of the "simulation to acquisition" feature? (This tool aims at offering, even during an inspection, the opportunity to use simulation to help in the diagnosis.)
Yes, I have compared both data and the results are terribly similar. However, it is important to keep in mind what the simulation scenario is and its parameters, to have a model in good agreement with the real data. I use the "simulation to acquisition" features in courses to give full a explanation of the real data taken as sample.
CIVA is in constant development. Have you heard about the new modules, SHM (Structural Health Monitoring) by Guided Waves, and CIVA Script, that enables to drive CIVA simulations and perform the analysis of the results (potentially with iterative loops) without opening the user interface?
Personally, I have not yet tried those new simulation modules. However, I am interested in trying the SHM module, because in Besna's portfolio, there are many projects associated to structural health monitoring. So this module could be particularly useful to develop those applications.
What improvements of the software are you expecting?
The software has a friendly interface! The library of probes allows for the possibility to perform faster simulations using commercial probes from different manufacturers. As a personal expectation, in the future, I hope for the software to be compatible with other OS platforms.
In your opinion, what will the main challenge for NDT companies be in the upcoming years?
Nowadays, simulation has more and more of an important role into NDT companies’ activities, not only for POD studies or flaw characterization and sizing. Simulation is getting weight into NDT qualification as well. This feature allows to reduce costs and time dramatically, doing simulated practical trials of samples, especially for the development of complex technologies, such as phased array, Guided Wave, EMAT or radiography techniques. Moreover, during the design stages, advances in new materials and complex design of critical components require novel NDT solutions that can be achieved faster when supported by simulations.
On the other hand, during service, the conventional NDT concept of finding and repairing defects is moving towards a proactive management. This concept involves the understanding of life management and the method of remaining life assessment. So, this suggests that the conventional NDT is gradually being replaced by SHM technology. SHM requires new sensors that must be embedded in the structure to collect data under real operating conditions. The SHM data processor must include learning processes to analyze and identify the degradation mechanism, position/area of defects, and degradation stage. So, once these parameters have been evaluated, it is possible to predict the structure’s future.
Therefore, NDT companies must start introducing and operating gradually with concepts of embedded sensors, simulation and analysis software, and technologies for connecting and exchanging data from different NDT techniques applied for monitoring and predicting the health of components, structures, etc.
Lastly, have you heard about TRAINDE UT and RT tools? How useful do you think these innovative products, aiming at improving the efficiency and ease of training and skill maintenance for NDT operators, could be for the NDT field?
I have heard about the range of products available in TraiNDE. They are certainly innovative products on the NDT market. These virtual tools are very suitable in the NDT field to help and enhance the training of people who work in NDTs, and also to maintain the personal skills of operators. As these virtual tools include a database of signals simulating real inspection conditions in various applications and provide the possibility of introducing virtual components or calibration blocks, this leads to a drastic reduction of the costs of training and to an increase of the performance of operators. On the other hand, these tools allow training centers to keep social distancing due to the pandemic context, and to continue forming NDT experts or technicians who are beginning to learn NDT techniques, in particular UT or RT.