Letter to the editor: A fade-proof approach

Dear Editor, NDT News

Inspired by Bernard McGrath’s ‘OntheJob’ article: ‘A fade-proof approach’, in the February 2015 issue of NDT News, I would like to continue his discussion on how we can ‘look at the NDT business model in a different light’ and ‘change how we sell NDT so we can have a more robust industry in the future’. I detected similar sentiments to those I wrote about in the ‘Comment’ of the January 2015 issue of Insight, where I talked about presenting ‘NDT as a benefit rather than a burden’. Bernard is right that NDT is often a reluctant purchase. It is seen to increase cost, reduce throughput and decrease yield. So, how do we present a more positive message?

I believe that the key is in a better understanding of the drivers and objectives of the end-users of NDT, as well as their pain and what causes it. NDT is a benefit when it achieves objectives (for example higher-performance designs and more efficient vehicles or plant) and a burden when it increases pain (cost, scrap, downtime, etc). If the benefit outweighs the burden then we have a purpose, a sale. Unless we can understand and speak the same language as those end-users, we will not be able to articulate the benefits of NDT in terms that they can appreciate. This means learning about plant integrity, structural integrity, operation, design or manufacture – whichever is appropriate to the sector or opportunity.

So, my recommendation is that we, in the NDT industry, should question the potential users of NDT in order to really understand what they want and challenge their preconceived ideas about the burden of NDT. Then, we need to propose how we can maximise benefit, rather than accept their decision about the least-burden solution. In the process, we may find conflicts between design, operation or manufacturing drivers and we need to understand those conflicts too. It may be that NDT could provide a benefit in two traditionally conflicting areas, such as by guaranteeing increased performance whilst also increasing manufacturing yield by providing information to optimise manufacturing a process-control feedback loop.

The Aerospace and Composites Groups of BINDT are actively seeking engagement with experts in structural integrity and design in order to educate us on the drivers for these communities. They will be speaking at the Aerospace Event, taking place at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Sheffield, from 14-15 April 2015. The NDT industry needs to take the lead in building bridges with its end-user communities. I hope to see you there!


Robert Smith, BINDT President

Letters can be mailed to The Editor, NDT News, Newton Building, St George’s Avenue, Northampton NN2 6JB. Fax: 01604 89 3861; Email: ndtnews@bindt.org or email Bernard McGrath direct at bernard.mcgrath@amec.com

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