Safety-critical systems that can pose risks to people and the environment when things go wrong need regular checks. Take automobiles, for example, by law they must be inspected to ensure they are roadworthy - in some countries on an annual basis. However, when it comes to high-pressure containers, turbines and generators that are pushed to their limits to maximize profitability, conducting these inspections can often be much trickier. Inspectors face tough demands and need a great deal of experience to be able to accurately assess the condition of a huge variety of test subjects. What's more, they need to assess them in their entirety. That raises an important question: When spending days examining a huge surface area, how do you make sure your sensors don’t record some points several times over, while completely missing others? Everyone who is familiar with the Fraunhofer Institutes, will know that help is always close at hand. This time it takes the form of 3D SmartInspect, a system that the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing (IZFP) is unveiling at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.
At the moment, the system is still a prototype and is based on a tablet, but it is soon to be expanded to include a version that uses AR glasses. All the same, the benefits of the new system are already crystal clear: "Inspectors know exactly what has already been measured as well as the results of those measurements. The system also automatically generates a digital protocol," explains Prof. Bernd Valeske, head of department at IZFP. This represents a quantum leap over current procedures. Thanks to 3D SmartInspect, far fewer experienced inspectors will need to be deployed and training times will also be cut. Besides making sure nothing is missed or checked twice over for no reason, the system also independently verifies that sensor data has been recorded correctly. "Not only can inspectors be sure that they have collected 100 percent of the data, they also know that the measurements are valid," says Valeske.