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PILESENSE Project Progresses

Mon, 07 September, 2020

The collaborative PILESENSE Project, of which TWI is a part, continues to progress. The project, which began in March 2019 and is due to conclude in November 2021, has brought together TWI, BIC and Transmission Dynamics to develop an ultrasonic guided wave system for the inspection of sheet piles.

Sheet piles are used for a wide range of applications including for docks, flood defences and piers. Due to the extreme environments sheet piles operate in they often require frequent inspection to ensure their ongoing structural integrity. However, inspection poses challenges since it generally requires access while only the above surface region of the sheet pile can be readily inspected, leaving the condition and integrity of the sub-surface part unknown.

PILESENSE aims to remove these problems by using ultrasonic guided waves to enable the entire pile length to be inspected from the surface to the sub-surface of the structure. TWI had previously pioneered this technology with the Teletest System and it should allow for fast and reliable remote inspection of sheet piles.

TWI has been working on developing the probe array and associated hardware for the PILESENSE system, with BIC conducting modelling and software development. Project leaders, Transmission Dynamics have been coordinating and conducting system integration and testing.

TWI has developed the prototype probe array and tests have shown a good level of performance. However, the array is being further refined and developed in order to achieve improved results. Transmission Dynamics have built a bespoke test rig (see Figure 1, below), which will enable representative laboratory tests to be conducted on the probe array in the coming weeks. A representative facility is now being built in a dry dock at a location operated by the ORE Catapult. This will allow the system to be trialled under conditions that replicate those in the real world, so that the performance of the system to detect defects can be verified.

Figure 1. PILESENSE Test Rig
Figure 1. PILESENSE Test Rig

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