In the mid 1980's, Russell formed an R&D group to develop its Remote Field technique into a field tool for evaluating the condition of ferromagnetic tubing. A team of engineers and technologists was assembled; the initial project started with fundamental research on the Remote Field phenomenon. The first commercial sale of Ferroscope 108 equipment was made in 1988. Further development of the Ferroscope system was undertaken in the late 80's to modernize the design and develop probes for evaluation of tubes larger than 25 mm diameter. The Ferroscope 204 system, was released in 1992, and the Ferroscope Model 308 was released in January 2000.
During these projects, a close working relationship was established with the Applied Magnetics Group in the Department of Physics, Queen's University. This group is regarded as a world leader in the theoretical aspects of Remote Field Eddy Current technology. In subsequent years, much of Russell development work has been carried out in conjunction with the Applied Magnetics Group; the relationship has developed into a strategic alliance.
Contract research to adapt modern Remote Field technology for inspection of casing in oil and gas wells was carried out in 1990 on behalf of an international oilfield service company. Probe designs were developed for large diameter carbon steel casing, and tool encapsulation was enhanced to withstand rigorous downhole environments.
During the period of 1988 to 1990, Russell R&D team also developed a 4-inch Magnetic Flux Leakage in-line inspection (ILI) tool for pipelines. Larger tools existed, but Russell was the first company to successfully miniaturize instrumentation and memory while retaining acceptable sensitivity and resolution. The self-contained tool is injected into 4-inch diameter pipelines to collect pipe wall integrity data. Analysis and graphic presentation software, was released in early 1994.
Russell NDE Systems Inc. developed a waterline evaluation tool, the Hydroscope, capable of detecting flaws and wall loss in cast-iron lines. Demonstration projects were completed in Canada, Australia and Great Britain. A strategic partnership was established with EPCOR, itself a leader in waterline asset management, to conduct a series of comparative studies during the summers of 1994 and 1995. State-of-the-art analysis software was then developed through a joint research venture with the Alberta Research Council. Waterline evaluation services have been commercially available since 1996.
The City of Calgary Water Dept., (Roy Brander, Bill Ng & Gregory Kozhushner) exhumed 2700m of CI & DI water main between the period of 1993-1999 to validate the use of Russell's Hydroscope tools Condition Assessment results in conjunction with existing data (Break Histories, soil resistivity, etc.)
Excerpt from pg 17, of G. Kozhushner, R. Brander, B. Ng,paper: “Use of Pipe Recovery Data and the Hydroscope ® NDT Inspection Tool For Condition Assessment of Buried Water Mains”, Calgary Waterworks (Canada), 2000:
Hydroscope Data and Its Use in Condition Assessment
Improved accuracy of Hydroscope analysis opened to us a wide field of possible applications. First of all we (City of Calgary) altered our own conclusions about how to use the examination data. Instead of the original replace/not replace decision, we have derived the following applications of this technology:
- Higher confidence in replacement decisions where break history alone is marginal;
- Confidence to not replace in sensitive situations where extreme caution is needed;
- Find opportunities for “surgical” replacements where only a small portion of one block of main is in poor condition and the remainder is very good;
- “Benchmark” pipes of representative vintage and soil to improve estimates of failure rates and lifespan for the system as a whole