BINDT 59th Annual British Conference

I recently spent four days in Telford, the first of which related to the Engineering Council and the training of its assessors. It could have been very easy to have gone to the training day with a closed mind, thinking that I knew it all already, so what could I learn? As it transpires, there is still much to be learnt and revisited. The success of the day was measured by how quickly it passed by, as all of the presenters were very good at delivering the information, and how much we learnt and remembered.

Tuesday 6 September was the opening of the 59th Annual British Conference on Non-Destructive Testing and Materials Testing 2022 Exhibition and the atmosphere was very positive. In the exhibition area the stands were fresh and vibrant, with new equipment and materials showing that NDT is open for business in a positive manner. It was good to meet old and new acquaintances and to catch up on what had happened and what their future plans are. For those of you who did not make it to Telford, you missed a good event and next year’s conference in Northampton is one you should be considering for the diary (bosses willing).  There were apprentices present, who often came as a pack rather than individually, and they were very pleasant to talk to.

While on a recent holiday in Scotland we stayed close to a bridge that was being blasted and coated. This bridge featured a plaque saying it was built in 1903 as part of a rail link, but was later changed into a single-carriageway road bridge. I had to walk across this narrow bridge to see what was happening and, as the painters and blaster were at work, I could sense my wife’s concern that I would start asking questions around the process involved and how they coped with the humidity levels with it raining most days, but I refrained.
BINDT is working on ongoing projects regarding the apprenticeships and, until there are final conclusions, it is probably best to not hint at what may or may not be happening.

There is a review group working on the revision of the PCN certification scheme in line with the changes brought about by the revision of ISO 9712 and, again, until the conclusion of this work there are no revelations as to the changes. The review process for the next edition of ISO 9712 has started, which is probably a good move as the last revision took such a long time to complete.

One of the first areas to be reviewed is the vision testing requirements, which over the years has created much confusion. For proper optical care you must visit an optometrist or similar, but for work there has to be a confidence that you are able to see what you need to see. This includes small indications and colours, including fluorescents and shades of grey, and for each of these there are basic tests that can be used. The requirements are NDT method-specific. A Level 3 
is probably the most aware person to define what is required for the methods in use and a trade test can assist with people who are showing some signs of vision deficiency, often colour-related, in a method. As we age our vision changes and if we develop such illnesses as diabetes our vision can change further. Glasses can help for the detection of small indications and if this is the case you will need safety glasses or protective eyewear that fits over your glasses. If you are wearing contact lenses, check that there are no issues with the method you will be using and also the working environment you will be in. Additionally, reactive lenses are typically not good. The employer should have a procedure for annual vision testing reflecting the nature of work the staff are employed in. A cheap pair of reading glasses can often suffice for correcting vision, but these are probably not suitable in the work environment.

I was recently drawn into a conversation relating to the ultrasonic testing of a group of welds and, as it was explained, the welds were between cast and wrought components that had been galvanised and had a natural unfused land area. The fabricator had apparently used a different NDT contractor before switching to another company. Unfortunately, the welds were still failing even after one of the NDT methods was dropped, so the ‘new’ company was also got rid of. I thought that industry practices had improved, but in this situation that was not the case. From BINDT and PCN, there is nothing that we can do other than be thankful that the NDT was carried out in a competent manner and the testers had the courage of their convictions.  Always ensure that you work to the agreed standards and procedures and if there are issues report them to the Level 3s and/or management. Do not bend to the clients’ requirements to keep the job; once corrupted, it will go against you in the future.

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