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Magnetic Lifting Solution for Ultrasonic Calibration Blocks at Nuclear AMRC

Company Name: The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC)

Location: Sheffield UK

Eclipse Product Installed: UltraLift Plus

Industry: Nuclear

Process Type: Ultrasonic Calibration

Our Client

Located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in South Yorkshire, on the border of Sheffield and Rotherham, The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) helps UK manufacturers win work across the nuclear sector. The centre’s manufacturing innovation capabilities and supply chain development services are open to all UK manufacturers, from specialist SMEs to top-tier OEMs.

Engineers and specialists at the Nuclear AMRC work directly with companies to develop innovative techniques and optimised processes for large-scale high-precision manufacturing. The centre also provides a range of supply chain development support to help manufacturers enter the nuclear market and compete worldwide.

Backed by industry leaders and government, the Nuclear AMRC is owned by the University of Sheffield, and forms part of a world-leading innovation cluster alongside the AMRC, Castings Technology International and AMRC Training Centre. It is also part of the UK's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, backed by Innovate UK.

Challenge

The welding team at the Nuclear AMRC develops advanced and innovative joining and cladding techniques tailored to the nuclear industry. Nuclear power plants require extremely high levels of quality and assurances, and many key components must be manufactured by joining together large sub-components in a way that is resistant to corrosion, and that maintain material integrity under extreme conditions whilst in service.

Welding solutions are a complex task on this scale, with welded joints between thick-walled nuclear components often requiring over 100 weld passes using standard techniques. Then there is the repeated heating and cooling that the joint may be exposed to, this can have significant effects on the properties of the material around the joint, potentially harming the long-term performance of the component.

The quality of joints and the surface thickness must be specified for fracture mechanic properties. The pipes may go into gas pipelines and nuclear reactors, and are typically used as part of steam generator pipes and high-pressure feed line pipes, meaning that they must meet tight tolerances in order to be deemed acceptable for use in these critical environments.

As part of its non-destructive testing (NDT) capabilities, the Nuclear AMRC carries out Ultrasonic examination and inspection of interior flaws on the weld profiles of sub-components used in nuclear applications. The ultrasonic inspection process includes the use of pulse echo, phased array and time of flight diffraction techniques. As a UKAS accredited testing facility, the Nuclear AMRC must ensure traceable testing, therefore the accuracy of the inspection process is key.

Large steel blocks for calibrating ultrasonic test equipment are required to be moved around the facility on a regular basis. The Nuclear AMRC, therefore, needed a method of picking up and lifting the ultrasonic calibration blocks safely and reliably, without causing any damage to them in the process.

Solution

The Nuclear AMRC uses Eclipse Magnetics’ Ultralift Plus magnetic lifter in order to pick up and lift the ultrasonic calibration blocks. The Ultralift Plus provides safe magnetic lifting using high-energy neodymium magnets, arranged in an efficient magnetic circuit, to give a superb holding force and a safe, reliable lift.

The Ultralift Plus is also supplied with a ‘Safety Shim’ which allows the user to undertake a safety test prior to the lift. The safety interlock prevents the operator accidentally switching the magnet off; once under load, the interlock mechanism prevents the operating handle being moved to the off position. The hand break release ensures that the magnet can easily be released using one hand, allowing for simple, one-man operation. Access is only needed on top of the load, therefore the Ultralift Plus is a convenient, compact lifting solution.

Following the lifting process, the ultrasonic calibration blocks are demagnetised using a magnetometer, with a reading of less than 3 gauss needing to be established in order for the part to go into industry. Anything above that level of magnetism will result in the rejection of the part.

Comment

John Crossley M.InstNDT, NDT Technology Lead at the Nuclear AMRC said: “The Ultralift Plus magnetic lifter from Eclipse Magnetics is the perfect solution for the pick-up and transportation of the ultrasonic calibration blocks in our facility.

They allow us to quickly and safely lift the blocks out for calibration, and return them as needed. The Ultralift Plus performs straight lifts safely and easily, completely avoiding the risk of damage that could be inflicted by using chains as a lifting method. There are large, heavy blocks of metal, so it’s absolutely imperative that we can lift them safely. The Ultralift Plus allows us to do this with ease.”