Latest Branch News

News from the Institute Branches – February 2017 

| Yorkshire Branch
BINDT President attracts large number of attendees

John Moody reports

The Yorkshire Branch was extremely pleased to welcome Caroline Bull, the Institute’s new President, and it was a very well-attended meeting, with two female staff members from Lavender International forming part of the audience; fortunately IMechE Engineering Training Solutions (ETS), which hosted the evening, had catered for high numbers.

Caroline started her presentation, titled: ‘My Past – Big Ben to Cardiff Central’, by talking about her journey into NDT while working with Dr Morris Silk on TOFD at UKAEA Harwell, gaining her degree in physics and mathematics along the way and completing research in laser UT and online weld monitoring. NDT took Caroline to Holland, Venezuela, the Middle East, offshore in the southern North Sea and London. Big Ben was tested after an accident, in which a 1½ ton weight fell to the ground, damaged the clock mechanism. This was caused by a fatigue crack in the hour-striking flytube. Employing MT, UT, RT and PT, using paraffin oil and talc, the clock mechanism was inspected, with the challenge of getting the equipment up the 400 steps of the tower. The inspection was carried out in the autumn, when the clocks go back, but the testing started earlier while the mechanism was still operating and the bell still ringing. The mechanism was stopped for around two hours while further testing took place; it must have been a competent inspection as Big Ben is still working today. Caroline’s work in Venezuela involved using TOFD to look for hot hydrogen cracking and her work offshore involved inspecting fin-fan heat exchanger tubes. One inspection that nearly didn’t happen was a CHIME inspection at an oil refinery, as the man on the gate was none too keen on letting two lone women on-site to carry out the testing. Cardiff Central Station was a different proposition as this called on Caroline’s extensive knowledge of safety and risk management, gained while based in London, and resulted in the safe location of the ticket gates.

Currently, Caroline works in the defence sector and gave an overview of the NDT techniques employed in her work. This included advancements in digital radiography and the RT of the well-known Homer Simpson’s head, as shown.

There was a good round of questions and comment for the audience, which made for a very successful meeting. Many thanks to BINDT President Caroline Bull.

| West Midlands Branch

Insight into Air Ambulance charity operations

Bob Naylor reports

The meeting on 13 February highlighted the important work of the Midlands Air Ambulance charity. Guest speaker Geoff Woodford from the organisation gave an insight into the operational issues faced by the Air Ambulance charity. The talk was both entertaining and informative and included many amusing and interesting anecdotes throughout.

The role of the Air Ambulance charity is to provide Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) in the midland counties of England. The charity serves six counties across the Midlands and Welsh borders and was first registered in 1990. At its launch, Midlands Air Ambulance operated a single helicopter based at Halfpenny Green Airport. The charity currently owns one EC135 helicopter, based at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, and leases two further EC135 models from Babcock Mission Critical Services, based at Tatenhill Airfield in Staffordshire and Strensham Services on the M5 in Worcestershire.

Each helicopter is crewed by one pilot and two paramedics or, occasionally, one paramedic and one doctor. The paramedics are selected from the ambulance service nearest to their base. These services include the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and the Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS). Until 31 March 2008, they also operated for the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), based at East Midlands airport but, after some political wrangling between WMAS and EMAS, the aircraft was withdrawn and redeployed into Tatenhill, Staffordshire, despite the presence of the nearby Cosford aircraft.

The Midlands Air Ambulance was the first charity in the UK to use the Eurocopter EC135 helicopter in order to provide an air ambulance service and has made the decision to purchase a larger helicopter and lease only one in the future, to enable it to develop its clinical and operational service in pre-hospital patient care. It is hoped that this will reduce operating costs, making the charity more sustainable for the future.

Since 1991, the charity has responded to more than 47,000 missions and averages 2000 per year, making it one of the most long-established and busiest air ambulance organisations in the UK. The air ambulance continues to save lives across the communities of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands, flying seven days a week, 365 days a year. However, what is not widely known is that Midlands Air Ambulance receives no government or National Lottery funding. Each Midlands Air Ambulance mission costs £2500 and in excess of £7 million is needed each year to keep its three air ambulances operational, funding that is donated entirely by the public and local businesses.

The skill of the pilot is often tested by having to land in some of the most challenging of environments, from rural areas to congested motorways and urban areas. It is the role of the pilot to navigate through the region’s busy airspace to get the aircrew to the patient in the shortest time possible. Once at the scene, the doctors and paramedics will assess and treat the patient, identifying the most appropriate hospital to transfer them to for their condition. Every second of every minute counts when a serious accident or medical emergency is concerned and prompt intervention within the first hour after any traumatic incident is absolutely critical.

A question and answer session followed the talk, which was halted by the arrival of the buffet – a selection of hot chip suppers from the local takeaway kindly provided by our hosts at Aerotech.

Many attendees took the opportunity to support the charity by purchasing items from the range of merchandise on sale during the evening, and cheques to the value of £100 were presented by both Cameron Sinclair, on behalf of BINDT, and Jim Needham, on behalf of Aerotech.

The now traditional Aerotech free Grand Prize Draw brought the evening to a close, with John Whittle and Tony Ryan winning first and second prize, respectively.

The meeting closed with Branch Chairman Jim Needham thanking speaker Geoff Woodford for his interesting and informative talk. Thanks also go to those who attended on a cold February evening for helping to raise in excess of £220 for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity.

| South Wales Branch
Diversity in NDT

Colin Macfarlane reports

The South Wales Branch is proud of the tradition that it is the first Branch to host the new President of BINDT. In line with this tradition, on Thursday 19 January 2017, at the Village Hotel near Cardiff, the South Wales Branch was honoured with a visit from Caroline Bull, the first female President of BINDT.

The evening began with dinner, which included plenty of lively and entertaining conversations and was enjoyed by all.

Following dinner, the group moved to one of the meeting rooms in the hotel, where Caroline gave a presentation titled: ‘Diversity in NDT’. The presentation began with the observation that diversity is not a quota or a job for HR, but it is a culture, a journey; it is about people being different together. Diversity and inclusion bring a sense of belonging. This results in substantial gains for organisations, such as innovation, wider market penetration, talent and engagement and thus a competitive advantage.

The presentation highlighted a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering, which identified that an extra 500,000 engineers would be needed by 2022. The report went on to pinpoint a need to double the number of engineering apprentices and graduates to fill this gap. At the moment, of the engineering population, 92% are white, with only 8% from other ethnicities and only 6% are female.

Caroline went on to describe the Diversity Concordat, supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, which she signed on behalf of BINDT. This is a voluntary agreement between organisations that seeks to ensure that the profession properly reflects the society it serves and takes action to attract engineers from increasingly diverse backgrounds. To reflect this, the new President listed BINDT’s key business drivers as:
  • Increasing engagement
  • Increasing diversity
  • Improving standards
  • Maintaining sustainability.
BINDT’s vision is that by the end of 2021 there will be a significant increase in engagement.

To achieve this, the presentation detailed the BINDT Diversity Strategy, which includes:
  • Communicating commitment to equality
  • Being inclusive to all
  • Collecting diversity data and benchmarking
  • Portraying diversity in all media
  • Capitalising on diversity of thought and innovation
  • Outreach activities. 
The presentation went on to describe diversity within BINDT as a ‘work in progress’, noting that in February 2016 a Diversity Working Group was set up. In addition, links have been established with the Royal Academy of Engineering and associate networks. There is a roll-out of ‘unconscious bias’ training to committees and staff, along with media consciousness. Moreover, Caroline noted that BINDT needs to ‘influence our stakeholders’ and the importance of harmonisation of NDT, CM and SHM.

The final part of the presentation centred on the question: “How can we realise the benefits of a more diverse and inclusive industry in the future?” Caroline proposed that the answer lay in:
  • Understanding and removing barriers, ie equal opportunities
  • Broadening recruitment pools
  • Supporting inclusive learning and development programmes
  • Role models and mentors
  • Influencing stakeholders and media
  • Demonstrating good practice
  • Inspiring the next generation.
Caroline concluded the presentation with one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Programme Report findings that an increase in diversity results in financial earnings above the average. 

From the comments following the presentation, it was clear that there was strong agreement from everyone there of the importance of diversity, not just in NDT but in engineering in general.
The Branch would like to express its gratitude to Caroline for a very entertaining, informative and thought-provoking presentation. In addition, the Branch thanks its Secretary, Steve O’Brien, for making all the necessary arrangements to make the evening possible.

| Scottish Branch
Annual Burns Supper and Ceilidh as good as ever

Colin Macfarlane reports

The annual Scottish Branch Burns Supper and Ceilidh was held on Friday 27 January 2017 at the Watermill Hotel, Paisley. Seventy people in total, including the President of BINDT, Caroline Bull, and four Past Presidents, were present for this traditional night of celebration of the life and work of the Scottish poet.

Branch Chairman Tony Gachagan led in the top table and introduced the guests, who entered to music from Pipe Major Colin Johnston. Tony warmly welcomed the companies that had taken tables, namely Axiom NDT, Greenbank Technical Services, Strathclyde University, ETher NDE and Baugh & Weedon.

Francis Hancock ‘addressed the Haggis’ in fine style and Fraser Hardie delivered The Selkirk Grace. A fine meal of cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tatties, roast chicken and cranachan was served by the Watermill Hotel staff.

After dinner, Mike Farley proposed the toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. In his speech, Mike compared the Scottish Branch Burns Suppers over the last 40 plus years, recalling the first one he attended, where Benny Donnelly had been a bouncer on the door. He was delighted to welcome Benny, now in his 80s, to the event and recognised the three generations of Donnellys in NDT – Benny, Craig and Michael. Benny, from the floor, added his own embellishments to Mike’s story about a royal visit to Babcock where Benny had the chance to speak to Prince Philip and got into trouble for speaking out of turn! Mike concluded his highly amusing speech with some reminders of Burns’ work. After the ‘Lament’, Jim Thomson, a former Chairman of the Scottish Branch, proposed the Toast to the Lassies and Caroline Bull gave an equally spirited reply. This part of the evening was concluded with a superb pipe melody by Colin Johnston, who also demonstrated his capabilities as a piping tutor!

The Bob Service Award for 2016 was presented by Caroline Bull to Michael Donnelly of Axiom NDT.
There followed nearly two hours of hectic Ceilidh dancing, led and guided by the excellent band Reel Fling, who coaxed the appropriate steps out of both experienced and novice dancers.
During the interval, the raffle was drawn and many guests were pleased to win prizes kindly donated by Axiom NDT, Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE) Strathclyde, Doosan Babcock, ETher NDE, Francis Hancock, Greenbank Technical Services, Inspection Ecosse, Scot-Test, Tennants and the Watermill Hotel.

It was widely agreed that the event had been as good as ever and that next year’s event should be planned sooner and advertised more widely.