Aerotech Inspection and NDT celebrates ten years


Aerotech Inspection & NDT originated as British Industrial X-Ray (BIX) in 1969 and then became part of OIS and latterly the Oceaneering Group. In November 2004, the Cradley Heath and Yeovil test facilities were the subject of a management buy-out, with Jim Needham, Bob Couldrey, Allan Coley and Richard Phillips forming the board of directors – Aerotech Inspection & NDT Ltd was founded. Since then, Aerotech Inspection has grown steadily, whilst maintaining its core values of performing NDT in a timely, professional manner to the highest of standards.

Investment throughout has been a key feature under the board of directors. Starting with five X-ray bays, Aerotech has not only expanded to ten operational X-ray bays at its Cradley Heath facility, but has also invested in the latest X-ray equipment from Gulmay and GE Inspection Technologies to ensure the highest quality and reliability is achieved. Aerotech’s second facility in Yeovil has also been upgraded to match.

A 6 MeV Betatron system was installed in 2007 making it possible to radiograph large castings relatively quickly, something that would have been impossible using past techniques. An all-new dye penetrant inspection line was commissioned in 2006, allowing Aerotech to process larger batches of components than ever before.

Aerotech is a UKAS-accredited laboratory and continues to be Nadcap-approved, currently holding 24-month merit. The company has also recently become a BINDT-approved Inside Agency, enabling it to continually invest in employees by running regular in-house training programmes. This commitment to training and education is further demonstrated as the company looks to offer more ASNT and PCN Level 3 qualified technicians than ever before, as well as employer-based certifications such as EN 4179, NAS 410 and SNT-TC-1A. With members of staff working towards degrees in NDT with the University of Northampton, the levels of qualifications and experience will be unrivalled.

Managing Director Jim Needham said: “The past ten years have flown by and I can’t express how proud I am of Aerotech and all its employees. When I started out at British Industrial X-Rays in 1981, I certainly didn’t imagine myself to be here as Managing Director 33 years later. Historically, BIX’s client base was largely in the form of site work for oil & gas, power generation and petrochemical industries. However, when they were acquired by the OIS Group, along with QIS and Inspectorate, it became part of a larger organisation, with branches and sites based all over the UK. It was then necessary for us to evolve and broaden our customer base to a point where we have largely specialised in in-house radiography for the aerospace industry.

“As we continue to grow, we are able to keep the flexibility and responsiveness of a smaller company whilst expanding to give us far greater levels of production.”

The future for Aerotech continues to look very bright. With a strong customer base, largely from the aerospace industry, further growth and technological advances are on the horizon. With the potential future shift from film to digital radiography, Aerotech is working closely with suppliers of digital radiography equipment and the aerospace industry to ensure they are at the forefront of these advances and has recently placed an order for a second CR system. As it becomes clear which technologies the industry will favour, Aerotech is guaranteed to be a market leader, whilst continuing to supply confidence in NDT services.