Rise of Industrial IoT Drives the Adoption of Predictive Inspection Models
Recovering from a two-year downturn, the nondestructive testing (NDT) inspection services market is finally rebounding with increased sales and growth. The development of new technologies including big data, machine learning, predictive analytics, cloud computing, and smart factories is enhancing growth opportunities in the market, culminating in several new business models. Vendors are making increased efforts to convert Big Data to smart data and shift the market from the traditional labor resale business model to performance-based business models which reward increased efficiencies.

"Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based NDT capabilities are altering market structures and driving the transformation of traditional business models," said Prem Shanmugam, Senior Consultant for Measurement & Instrumentation at Frost & Sullivan. "Automation companies are increasingly repositioning themselves as service providers, while sensorization and predictive analytics have enabled vendors to develop innovative business models."

"This evolving market ecosystem will encourage numerous mergers and acquisitions as NDT inspection service companies look to broaden their capabilities in areas such as online monitoring, robotics, and predictive analytics," noted Shanmugam. "The convergence of dimensional metrology with NDT applications will help create a competitive advantage for NDT vendors by allowing them to expand beyond their core capabilities. For instance, technology synergies will enable vendors to use 3D portable laser scanners to scan pipeline corrosion."

A major benefit of new technologies including connectivity, cloud, and advanced analytics is dealing with the effects of a shrinking labor pool of experienced and qualified NDT technicians. Many revenue opportunities exist by increasing productivity with technology, including:

1. AI-powered industrial robots
2. Efficient and accurate algorithms for real-time data processing
3. Automated drones inspection and damage repair
4. New or advanced technologies such as 3D CT X-ray.
5. Combines technologies of inspection services and connected monitoring solutions

The most notable new players in the burgeoning space for intelligent automation, analytics, and connectivity include Workpad.com, Ondia, Veriphase, and Visconsult.

Platform and infrastructure providers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft continue to develop tools which can be leveraged by the nondestructive testing industry for robotics automation, machine learning, AI algorithm development, and big data automation and analysis. Notably, Amazon has recently released Robomaker, and platform for the command and control of automated robotic devices, and ML, a generic machine learning platform which can be customized and adapted to most any machine learning application.


AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate researchers Capt. Sarah Wallentine and Alex Brown demonstrate the use of augmented reality for nondestructive inspections. AFRL researchers are developing a capability that uses the technology to display all necessary information for performing an aircraft inspection within the userís field of view, eliminating the need to view information from multiple sources simultaneously. (U.S. Air Force photo/David Dixon)


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