Humeida, Y., Wilcox, P. D., Todd, M. D., & Drinkwater, B. W. (2014). A probabilistic approach for the optimisation of ultrasonic array inspection techniques. NDT & E International, 68, 43–52. doi:10.1016/j.ndteint.2014.07.007
Ultrasonic arrays are now used routinely for the inspection of engineering structures in order to maintain their integrity and assess their performance. Such inspections are usually optimised manually using empirical measurements and parametric studies which are laborious, time-consuming, and may not result in an optimal approach. In this paper, a general framework for the optimisation of ultrasonic array inspection techniques in NDE is presented. Defect detection rate is set as the main inspection objective and used to assess the performance of the optimisation framework. Statistical modelling of the inspection is used to form the optimisation problem and incorporate inspection uncertainty such as crack type and location, material properties and geometry, etc. A genetic algorithm is used to solve the global optimisation problem. As a demonstration, the optimisation framework is used with two objective functions based on array signal amplitude and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The optimal use of plane B-scan and total focusing method imaging algorithms is also investigated. The performance of the optimisation scheme is explored in simulation and then validated experimentally. It has been found that, for the inspection scenarios considered, TFM provides better detectability in a statistical sense than plane B-scan imaging in scenarios where uncertainty in the inspection is expected.