Importance of Ultrasonics in Maritime Industry

The development of ultrasonic technology has given scientists a new way to “see” the world. In medicine, ultrasonic imaging can be used to get images of unborn babies in the womb. In industry, ultrasonics is used by engineers and technicians to test materials, machines and structures.

Trying to understand the importance of ultrasonic inspections in maritime industry is like trying to count the grains of sand on a beach. Inspection methods have evolved over time, but one thing is clear: Ultrasonic testing is here to stay.

Importance of ultrasonics in today’s maritime industry is enormous, because it provides a great number of advantages to the overall performance of vessels and their crew. The most obvious advantage is the ability to detect objects at a distance using sonar systems. This technology enables ship’s crew to avoid obstacles safely in foggy, low visibility or dark conditions. The detection of underwater objects or on-surface targets by means of echo sounding and ranging techniques is made possible through the use of ultrasonic transducers.

The major advantage that ultrasonic sensors provide is their use in anti-collision systems. Most ships are equipped with radar, but this technology has its limitations when it comes to detecting small and maneuverable objects in the water such as motorboats, kayaks and jet skis. In such cases, the only way to be aware of other vessels nearby is through sonar.

In order for sonar systems to be effective there must be an efficient way for converting acoustic energy into electrical signals for processing by the control system and display on a monitor. This process requires special sensor transducers capable of converting ultrasonic energy into electric signals. These sensors are usually constructed using piezoelectric materials such as lead zirconatetitanate (PZT).

Like any other technology, ultrasonics isn’t perfect. It will not detect cracks or defects that are too small for its waves to reach. While it’s difficult for humans to detect cracks smaller than 1/8-inch with their naked eyes, this type of defect could easily be found out by ultrasonics.

Troubleshooting and maintenance are regularly carried out on pipes through ultrasonic testing, to save time and money on repairs and maintenance work. This keeps costs low for all parties involved. The only time that this test would not be utilized is if there is a crack or break in the pipe, as any sound waves that are transmitted through will bounce back immediately, alerting engineers to an issue. The fact that it can identify problems before they become something serious makes it a vital part of any maritime business.