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News from the Institute Branches 

| West of England Branch
Updates from West of England Branch members

Annabel Dance reports

Following the disappointment of the postponement of the Aerospace Event in Bristol, we at the West of England Branch have consoled ourselves by sending each other email updates of how our working lives are progressing in these times of COVID-19. Here is a brief summary, written towards the end of April.

Pete Burrows of Baugh & Weedon reported that: “On large-item production we luckily entered the COVID-19 situation with a decent backlog of magnetic particle inspection (MPI) bench and penetrant line orders and, last Friday, we shipped a decent-sized order for a penetrant line and MPI bench to a major UK defence supplier, which is off to foreign shores. That project kept us very busy and provided some unique logistical challenges when it came to the customer performing the acceptance tests prior to dispatch. They are not allowed to visit any suppliers during lockdown, so we had to conduct a series of videos and web chats, which produced its own logistical challenges!”

Tom Bertenshaw from GKN relayed these comments: “The aerospace civil industry is affected already, as you well know! We are starting to see the effects, with some GKN site closures, some employees on furlough and a slow-up of deliveries in line with customer demand. Most people in research and technology are able to work from home and we are doing so right now. It is the longer term where there are still a lot of unknowns. However, the defence parts of our business are still busy. In other research organisations, it seems the Catapult centres are affected; the NCC is closed and the MTC is enforcing holiday for two weeks in April.”

Rob Rose from the National Composites Centre reported as follows: “Working from home has been challenging for those who are used to a more hands-on role, but has resulted in new ways of working. For instance, we have all become very used to holding meetings over video conference and often we find that it is easier to catch colleagues to speak to them than it would normally be in the office. Obviously, most of our NDT work is currently limited to desktop studies, planning and scoping of new projects, and some much-needed housekeeping work, but since 20 April we are now able to return to our workshop to support specific NDT needs for customer projects.”

Professor Robert Smith of the University of Bristol sent the following: “My own academic position, and RCNDE’s position, has not changed much – researchers and students continue to work, but remotely. I work mostly from home anyway, so no change for me. Experimental work is almost impossible at present, as laboratories are closed. This is resulting in many discussions about how to use more modelling and theoretical work to achieve some objectives, with experimental validation once we regain access to equipment. If Catapult centres are also closing, that removes their equipment as an alternative.”

Darren Mapletoft of Carestream reported that: “I am still working from home, only going out for urgent customer visits, for issues where they cannot be fixed over the phone or by email, etc. Currently, I am not carrying out demonstrations; however, I am happy to make plans for the near future. My demo HPX-1 and HPX-pro are available, however my HPX-DR is away with another customer in Italy. I can get it returned if required, but this will take a few days to plan. Film and digital consumables deliveries are still going ahead and Sonatest is still operating; it has a large Carestream stock and is getting regular deliveries from us to its office.”

Richard Day from RWE reported with a quick update on the power industry: “Demand for electricity is currently down 
10-15%, although this is anticipated to reduce another 10-15% if the lockdown continues and inertia in manufacturing starts slowing as the weeks progress. From a practical perspective, we are just about to embark on the 2020 outage programme on thermal plant, which is causing some logistical concern. All power companies are looking to optimise the availability of plant, nevertheless this is proving problematic when trying to isolate mechanical and inspection teams before going to the site and then keeping them quarantined from other sites.”

James Malone has recently joined the group and has extensive experience in worldwide oil & gas rope access ultrasonic testing (UT) and MPI, particularly tank surveys and underwater UT. All his overseas projects have now been cancelled and he is looking for work anywhere in anything. Please email me if you would like to get in touch with him and I will let him know.

Chris Minton from Minton, Treharne and Davies said that: “MTD continues to operate both its NDT department and the South West School of NDT, albeit on a somewhat reduced capacity. We are lucky to have a very large facility, with big classrooms and plenty of lab space, which allows effective social distancing to be implemented. This has enabled us to support our clients with their training/examination and inspection needs, as they arise.

Personally, although I have enjoyed getting to see more of my family while working from home, I look forward to taking phone calls without worrying that my children will burst into the room to show me their latest Lego construction! Without doubt, these are difficult times we are facing, but I feel a strong sense of community from my colleagues, our clients and the NDT industry as a whole that I hope will outlive the coronavirus.”

Tony Dunhill spent his career as Head of R&D (NDE) at Rolls-Royce, Bristol, and is now a governor of a school. He is currently trying to set up a 3D printer and is asking if anyone can help with ‘friendly software to build shapes on’. If you can help, please email me and I will forward it to him.

As for me, Annabel Dance, as an independent worker my work has completely dried up (leaving me time to do this), but do not be too worried for me as my husband has a reasonable pension. I do have some exciting projects waiting once restrictions are lifted, so I am very much looking forward to that.

If anyone around the country would like to join us in our email updates, please contact me at: annabelbowker@hotmail.co.uk


| South Wales Branch
An overview of Baker Hughes

Colin Macfarlane reports

The South Wales Branch assembled at the Village Hotel, Cardiff, for a presentation from Chris Davies of Baker Hughes. The Branch was particularly grateful to Chris as he had agreed to come along at very short notice, as the original speaker had to postpone at the last minute. The Branch was also pleased to welcome Dr Rukshan Navaratne with a group of 20 students from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science at the University of South Wales, who were attending the talk.

Chris began with an introduction to Baker Hughes, including its history and how the old GE Inspection Technology brands fit into the new ‘Waygate’ structure.

The presentation continued by highlighting the company’s German Applications Laboratory and its ability to develop bespoke ultrasonic and eddy current inspection solutions in terms of probes, arrays, wedges and the method of delivery, such as specialised scanners, etc. Chris noted: “The Apps Lab team is not only providing custom solutions in the form of the physical kit you need but also in how the interface on the phased array ultrasonic flaw detector is bespoke to each and every solution, meaning the whole package is tailored to the customer’s needs.”  
                                             
Following on, Chris described some actual inspection solutions, including:
  • Wind turbines – phased array inspection of gear teeth and turbine blades;
  • Formula 1 – fast inspection of composites;
  • Large earth-moving equipment weld inspection;
  • Road vehicles – bond inspection of adhesively-bonded joints; and
  • Trains – solid axle mechanised testing (SAMT).

The presentation moved on to a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the ‘Create’ software and how easy it is to create workflows/applications for the Mentor ultrasonic phased array flaw detector, with a practical demonstration on how to set the instrument up for a 64-element roller array to generate A-, B-, C- and E-scan data.

The Branch would like to express its gratitude to Chris Davies for a very interesting and enjoyable presentation and again acknowledge its particular appreciation in view of the short notice.


| Virtual Branch meetings

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty over when the current lockdown arrangement might be lifted, it is hoped that it will be possible to hold Branch meetings online for the foreseeable future using conferencing software such as Webex, Skype or Zoom. This will allow people to maintain contact with each other and still hear about the latest developments and news in NDT and CM.

The plan is that there will be two virtual meetings each month from September 2020 until Spring 2021, with each Branch taking turns to organise the speaker and topic. Of course, being virtual, this means that anyone will be able to log-in to the meetings.

In parallel, each Branch aims to organise virtual meetings for their local members.

Information on the topics, dates, times and how to log-in will be posted on the BINDT website at: www.bindt.org

If you would like to contribute a presentation to this series of meetings, please contact Cindy Bailey by email to: cindy.bailey@bindt.org