Phased array ultrasonic training – an innovative approach


Phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) is now a widely-accepted and frequently-mandated method of inspection. It can be used to either enhance existing ultrasonic capability or as a replacement for radiography.

PAUT is a powerful but complex tool and there are no shortcut solutions to ensuring its competent use. Upskilling from conventional ultrasonics to become an ISO 9712 certificated PAUT Level 2 Technician requires over 100 hours of training and months of experience. Not only is this time consuming but also costly when taking into account course fees, lost production, hotel, travel and subsistence, etc. It therefore falls to the training provider to create efficient methods to allow industry to develop the essential knowledge and skills to match its needs.

TWI Training & Examination Services is launching a new innovative solution to PAUT training, which will not only enhance the learning experience but also offer significant time and cost savings for candidate sponsors and self-sponsored individuals. With its partner PhaseX, TWI is introducing a new online option around the world for students to acquire the essential knowledge element required for PAUT competence certification. The new course will be offered as ‘blended learning’, a mix of eLearning and in-class practical training followed by competence assessment or full BS EN 9712 CSWIP certification.

The new PAUT eLearning package leads the student through high-quality theory training, which can be either part- or full-time study. Being portable, individuals can study when and where it is most convenient, to match learning preferences and reduce the overall cost and impact of training. The package separates the learning of key concepts from the learning of a specific instrument, coupled with interactive exercises focused on the principals behind set-up, calibration, acquisition and data analysis. An intuitive logical training structure helps the students understand key concepts step-by-step.

Not all students learn at the same speed, so the package enables mandatory hours to be completed within a certain time frame; students are given 60 days to complete requisite training hours. Students are able to access previously-covered material and can also repeat interactive exercises until fully understood. Self-evaluation is essential to enable students to recognise their weaknesses and offers them an opportunity to practise. In-built self-evaluation tests help the students verify their level of understanding and ongoing access to pre-learned areas enables them to consolidate knowledge and build self-confidence.

Once logged on as a TWI student, regional nominated lecturers will be able to monitor their online progress and final online result, and will advise whether the student is ready to go forward for in-class practical training to gain full Level 2 certification. In the event that a student requires assistance during the online phase, they will be supported by the respective lecturer, which will ensure the student is better prepared for the practical phase and also allows a rapport to be established with the student.

Distance learning is an established and accepted method of academic and vocational training for many professions, providing an opportunity to access training that would otherwise be cost- and time-prohibitive. TWI sees this as adapting to customer and industry needs, and the introduction of eLearning sits well with its ethos to embrace innovation whilst maintaining a high quality of training for its customers.