Engineering products need to be inspected during and after manufacturing, to ensure suitability of purpose. In order to ensure that a product or a device functions safely during its service life, it is necessary to conduct a non-destructive testing (NDT) inspection.
NDT consists of a number of methods performed in ways that to do not render its engineering parts and structures unusable. This method has gained momentum, as it saves the time and money involved in evaluating and troubleshooting products. Commonly used NDT techniques include visual testing, radiography testing, liquid penetrant testing, magnetic particle inspection, ultrasonic testing, acoustic emission testing, and liquid penetrant testing. The NDT method used for a device depends on the physical properties of the material used to create the device. Every NDT method has its own advantage and disadvantage, and hence some methods are better suited than the others for a particular application.
NDT has its application in industries such as automotive, oil and gas, aerospace and defense, and infrastructure. Customers and manufacturers are concerned about the residual life of their assets. The need to identify defects, to provide early warnings in order to avoid adverse consequences has resulted in driving the non-destructive testing market.
The major reason for growth in the NDT market is it’s the rising demand from its end users. The use of NDT is crucial in the aerospace industry. It plays an important role in identifying defects in aircraft components and also leaves them unharmed after testing is completed. Aerospace components need to be examined several times throughout their lifetime to prevent hazards resulting in operation failure. Aerospace components are subject to cyclic stress and therefore are prone to cracking and fatigue. Hence, NDT becomes a must in the aerospace industry. The most widely used NDT technique in the aerospace industry is visual testing. NDT inspectors identify flaws on the exterior of the aircraft by means of visual inspection. Since all flaws in an aircraft cannot be identified by visual testing, methods such as eddy current testing, magnetic particle, and liquid penetrant testing are also being used.
Apart from aerospace and defense industry, the NDT applications are crucial in industries such as automotive and infrastructure as well. In order to meet the safety requirements in automobiles, the need on NDT inspection has grown. This has boosted the NDT market in the automobile industry. NDT in the infrastructure industry has also gained importance. To improve life of existing infrastructure and in order to prevent it from deteriorating further, NDT inspections are very much required. Ageing infrastructure needs to be inspected periodically to prevent them from corrosion and prevent them from hazardous failures.
Maintenance operations at thermal power stations have played an important role in reducing the hazard caused by decommissioning of many dependable units in thermal power plants. Hence, NDT plays a vital role in the power generation industry. The oil and gas industry uses advanced products and systems. In order to ensure high degree of reliability and safety in the operations, it has become a mandate to carry out NDT inspections in this industry. To prevent hazards due to pipeline leakage and explosion, it is necessary to periodically inspect the tanks, vessels, heat exchangers and condensers, and pipes used in the oil and gas industry.
Stringent government regulations on safety have resulted in an increase in NDT inspections. Current regulations have become stringent to cover a wide range of industries. This has resulted in strong performance of NDTs globally.
The NDT market is affected by the changes in a nation’s economy. Macro-economic shocks affect the economy of a country, reducing its spending capacity on activities such as NDT. Moreover, the NDT end users are highly price conscious. This makes it difficult for companies to provide high quality service at lower prices.
NDT is carried out in-house as well as onsite by inspection providers. The NDT market faces a challenge due to lack of skilled professionals. The use of NDT equipments and techniques requires high degree of skills. It is necessary to engage trained professionals to carry out NDT inspection efficiently. However, the NDT market is facing a challenge owing to the lack of trained professionals to conduct such inspections. The NDT industry relies on skilled technicians for revenue, and their shortage poses a significant problem for the effective growth of this market.
The regions of North America and Europe are the leading markets for NDT inspection. But recently, the growth of markets is concentrated in the Asian continent and the BRIC countries. Rapid industrialization and infrastructural development in these regions has fuelled in the growth of NDT in these regions. In Latin America, Brazil is the major revenue drawing market for NDTs. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is an emerging market for NDT inspections, owing to huge infrastructural development projects that are mapped within the country. In India, development in the railway industry and infrastructure industry has created a market for NDT inspection to a large extent.