The revision of ISO 9712:2012

I have been drafted in to help with the revision of ISO 9712:2012 Non-destructive testing – Qualification and certification of NDT personnel, which is one of the core standards relating to the PCN Scheme, among many of the other NDT international certification schemes available. There is a requirement for standards to be reviewed at the five-year point and the first part of the process was to enquire if it was necessary to consider a review – over 80 sides of A4 comments indicated that it was.

The first meeting I attended took place at the AFNOR facility in the suburbs of Paris. It was an interesting greeting, with comments on both Brexit and the NDT International situation, but these were soon put aside as there were so many comments on ISO 9712 to discuss. This meeting consisted of the European ISO 9712 users and it was apparent that the different schemes were applying the requirements in different ways in accordance with how their industrial partners or other drivers required them. None of the variances appeared to be outside of the requirements of the standard. In some instances, UK industry has required a more robust scheme and certainly the splitting of a method into techniques and industry sectors has been the UK’s preferred option. An example is ultrasonic (method) manual (technique) welds (industry sector), where the standard allows ultrasonic and all techniques such as UTPA, UT TOFD, long-range UT and all industry sectors covered to be administered in one course and one examination. Another section with significant variance is the renewal/recertification process. The training hours and experience requirements are also applied differently. One of the points debated related to what constitutes as experience and whether it is only hands-on practical application of the method or if time spent in the area where items are being manufactured and gaining knowledge of the materials and processes is valid experience. After an intense day, the French hosts had the significant task of condensing the comments into a package that could be presented at the next meeting.

The second meeting I attended was over two days, which was still not long enough and was truly international. America was represented, as it aims to fully align ASNT to the requirements of ISO 9712, so it had its own list of what it does and does not want. Many of the countries have college courses that encompass aspects of engineering and major in NDT and are looking at ways of bringing young, well-educated engineers into senior positions within our industry at an earlier point in their career, rather than requiring that they gain experience for years in each method before being eligible for senior roles. England has the apprenticeship schemes, which can lead to both academic and vocational qualifications in NDT to degree and Level 3 qualifications, and the UK in general is looking at post-16 technical education reforms under the Technical level (T level) action plan, which could lead to NDT being introduced to the younger generation as part of their formal education.

I expect that the ongoing meetings and work will generate their own challenges and the need for patience and understanding by all parties and I am sure there will be times when it will feel that we are trying to herd cats. This will then lead to a revision of ISO 9712 being published, which, after five years, will be subject to review. So, if we do not get it right this time there will be further opportunities.

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