Personnel certification and quality assurance
Non-destructive testing and inspection are vital functions in achieving the goals of efficiency and quality at an acceptable cost. In many cases, these functions are highly critical; painstaking procedures are adopted to provide the necessary degree of quality assurance. The consequences of failure of engineering materials, components and structures are well known and can be disastrous.
It is an increasing requirement of quality assurance systems that a company’s engineers, technicians and craftsmen are able to demonstrate that they have the required level of knowledge and skill. This is particularly so since NDT and inspection activities are very operator dependent and those in authority have to place great reliance on the skill, experience, judgement and integrity of the personnel involved. Indeed, during fabrication, NDT and inspection provides the last line of defence before the product enters service, whilst once a product or structure enters service, in-service NDT is often the only line of defence against failure.
Non-destructive testing is reliable only when undertaken to appropriate standards. To ensure this a wide range of national and international standards are documented which covers specific industry needs.
Personnel certification – the options
There are two main routes to qualifying NDT personnel:
1. In-company certification; for example SNT-TC-1A
In company certification means that the scheme for examining and certifying inspection and test personnel is controlled by a company procedure. This procedure is usually produced and operated by an independently qualified person who may be employed by the company or be an external consultant. The main advantage of this system is that companies with unusual inspection requirements can ensure that their personnel are qualified only in areas specific to the inspection task.
2. Third Party Independent certification complying with international standards, for example the PCI Scheme (as per ISO9712)
Independent central (or third party) certification means that personnel are required to pass examinations which are devised and set by professional examiners authorised by a Certifying Body which has overall control over the certification process which it operates
The main advantage of such a system is that independently awarded verifiable qualifications carry wider recognition and acceptance. The PCI scheme also offers a system whereby qualification of NDT personnel can be carried out in accordance with international standards by the CB.