What is the NDE 5.0 Centre of Excellence at IITM?

The NDE5.0 (Non Destructive Evaluation) Centre for Excellence focuses on the examination of structures and materials using non-invasive methods, much like modern medical tools like x-ray and ultrasound. Industrial assets age, and with age develop vulnerability points.

Through early detection and mitigation of faults, the program works on prevention of catastrophic failure and reduction of downtime. For example, India’s extensive railroad system faces constant stress and abuse at the hands of overloaded networks with hundreds of high speed trains plying on the same lines. How does one guarantee the safety of passengers and goods traversing such stressed systems? Through ultrasonic analysis, the condition of cracks and fractures on the tracks can be evaluated and potential rupture points can be detected. Over the course of an year, the team discovered and rectified more than 2000 critical fracture points in the Southern Railway network alone, thereby preventing tens of thousands of possible derailments.

Non-Destructive Evaluation is not an alien concept. The challenge posed at the centre today is the speed, economy and accessibility of such an evaluation at scale. Keeping with the latest norms of ‘Industry 4.0’, the centre has made leaps in improvisation of analysis through AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (internet of things) and robotic integration. WIth the advent of ‘Industry 5.0’, the centre envisions advancements in five key areas: ubiquitous sensing, structured materials, swarm robotics, AI for computation, and collaboration with international universities and labs.

Through its research avenues in contactless ultrasonic testing using metamaterials, to thermography for surface anomaly detection and deep learning algorithms for defect detection, the team strives to revolutionise non-destructive evaluation.

Over the past decade, NDE5.0 has emerged a leader in the field of structural analysis. With fundamental research finding its way into international PhD theses and technologies being adopted in industries across the line, NDE5.0 has direct influence in 12 countries spanning 4 continents. With thorough collaboration with international agencies, labs as well as universities, the centre gives students an exposure to the work being done here as well as sends students abroad to observe research being done elsewhere.

The team has incubated over 10 startups in the last ten years. From novel IOT sensor development in Xyma Analytics to critical pipeline fault detection at Solinas, to Planys’ advanced submarine robotic inspection tools, to Detect Tech’s autonomous aerial drone based inspection systems, the team packs promising entrepreneurial spirit.