Chasing standards

Chasing standards, how much of your time is spent checking that you have the current version of the standard that is referenced in the work procedures; do the work procedures require you to have the most up-to-date version of the standard or do they refer to a specific version?

All of the following can prompt the need to develop or update standards: advances in inspection equipment; greater understanding of the techniques and capabilities; increased understanding of the mechanisms associated with the potential failure of the component; different manufacturing techniques; novel materials used in manufacture; and many other factors.

If we consider the penetrant inspection method, which evolved from the oil and chalk method used in the rail sector, would the engineers who used these methods have foreseen the number of standards that are associated with them? There are standards for the consumables, lighting conditions, certification of testers, acceptance/rejection criteria and environmental impact and these can be specific to an end-user, especially in the aerospace sector, and can be issued at national, European or international level. How do you ensure that you have access to the correct standard(s) and that you are using the current version? One way is to check with the company’s documents/procedures, but where do you gain the confidence that these documents are the current version? For this you will probably find a quality department that oversees this task, ensuring that all documents are current. How do changes filter down to the NDT tester who could be operating remotely on site? Robust procedures/practices are required to facilitate this and there needs to be assurance that the new/amended standards are implemented as required.

There is probably a need for an initiative under the guise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to digitally unite all of the processes and currently there are projects that are using virtual reality headsets to aid manufacturing processes. Will we be wearing virtual reality headsets soon to perform penetrant inspection? In the future, the current standards could be automatically accessed and the consumables could be tracked by use of barcodes or other identifiers; the lighting conditions, etc, could be assessed by cameras/sensors and the surface condition might also be assessed for contaminants or other substances.  The whole process would be monitored and the assessment
of indications could be performed with the use of measuring and defect software. We would be servants to the process, removing the human factor. Will we be able to use this kind of technology in our certification examinations? The future is coming and it will bring change as it always has done.

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