Ongoing review process of ISO 9712

The ongoing review process of ISO 9712 is stimulating interesting debates in many areas. One issue that seems to have been resolved is that of vision testing: the ISO standard will provide a reference for near vision testing, while colour vision and greyscale testing requirements will remain with employers, who should be more aware of what is appropraite for their purposes.

One of the more interesting questions that has not been resolved is what defines a technique within a method. An example is the method of ultrasonic testing (UT), which can then be placed in product sectors and industrial sectors (Annex A ISO 9712:2012) but has no mention of techniques. PCN currently offers certification in the following techniques for the UT method: manual, time-of-flight, phased array and guided wave, but does not offer certification in immersion testing, electromagnetic acoustic transducers (EMATs), laser or other variations. There is the question of what defines a technique in relation to a method and how different a technique needs to be when considering a training and certification programme. There is also the need to consider the training hours and experience requirements, as per Tables 2 and 3 of the current ISO 9712 standard, when an additional technique is added to one of the main methods.

There is an alternative thought process that was presented to me and is worthy of consideration. It is that most, if not all, of the techniques are not NDT but basically an understanding of software applications. If ultrasonics is taken as the method, the physics of waves is the same for each technique and the difference is how the signals are processed and presented. This is equally applicable to radiography, in which the collection medium can either be traditional film or panels; once the panels are used, the processing and data presentation has no radiographic knowledge requirement. Does this lead to the conclusion that, after the point of data collection, the NDT method knowledge stops and software knowledge takes over? This could lead to a change in NDT training and certification processes, with the method knowledge being tested by processes given in 
ISO 9712 or EN 4179 and the data processing knowledge being tested by other standards. Would the new syllabuses be referencing 
BS ISO/IEC 30141:2018 Internet of Things (loT) – Reference architecture, along with a suite of IT-related standards, if the new approach were to be adopted? This is an interesting and alternative thought process indeed. At the same meeting, the older attendees were reminiscing over the types and models of ultrasonic sets they had first used and their suitability. We went back in time to valve sets that were transportable on trolleys and cathode ray tube screens, where the trace needed calibrating to provide an acceptable time base. No computers here! The opinion was that in the early days NDT was used more as a threat rather than a controlled inspection tool. Due to my comparative youth I was only able to remember back to Kraut Kramer USM 2s and USK 6s, along with Sonatest Sitescan 110s.

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