NDT Level 1, 2, and 3: Supporting Trainees With Cutting-Edge Equipment
As nondestructive testing (NDT) technology progresses, highly-skilled technicians specializing in nondestructive testing techniques are imperative. Employer-based training programs are beneficial, but they are usually tailored to a company’s specific need with little room for wider expertise. Instead, you may wish to use outside training programs to certify inspectors. A third-party agency, like an NDT training center or school, will also provide the necessary NDT devices and train analysts on behalf of any company in need of certified technicians. Using an unbiased entity, managers and owners can recruit impeccable analysts with the appropriate skill sets.
Third-party companies can customize nondestructive testing schemes for eddy current testing, ultrasonic testing, and penetrant testing, among others. Independent analysts will also benefit from third-party certification if they wish to broaden their own horizons. Regardless of the company’s goals, it’s in the best interests of managers and owners alike to use third-party agencies to train NDT level 1, NDT level 2, and NDT level 3 analysts. Third-party companies can give trainees hands-on experience with the latest NDT equipment.
NDT Level 1: The Beginning of the Process
When it comes to level 1 NDT testers, it’s vital to ensure that all trainees receive top-notch training and stellar equipment to fulfill their duties as analysts. Training can be expensive, and additional time and resources may be needed to guide them in the field. However, a separate company can focus on training new technicians so managers and owners can devote company resources elsewhere.
If we’re talking about eddy current testing (ECT), for instance, an agency will provide level 1 certification, including level 2 and 3 credentials if the analyst wishes to advance further. The same agency can provide hours of hands-on experience and specialized ECT training in such areas as data analysis. Companies can also partner with an NDT certification company to provide all ECT equipment to new officers.
Example: A level 1 analyst must inspect wheel bead seats on four tires attached to an airplane for an aerospace firm. He can use a handheld eddy current testing device to detect cracks or stress points with a single pass across the wheel. Using bead seat probes, a novice inspector can read the appropriate data with ease and conduct a reading with minimal supervision. Even though portable ECT devices are simple to use, a level 2 or 3 analyst should be nearby to ensure the level 1 analyst properly calibrated the equipment and achieved the correct frequency for the inspection.
The new analyst will also report the results to his or her superiors and record the data as necessary. Level 1 analysts operate under the guidance and supervision of level 2 operators, but the new arrival will be better equipped to handle impromptu testing scenarios because of the top-notch equipment afforded to him by the agency that trained him.
NDT Level 2: The Next Stage
Level 2 analysts can perform testing plans including setup and calibration without supervision. A person in this category can handle diverse nondestructive testing procedures, especially if they received training through a trusted agency. Not only will an outsourced company cover general NDT knowledge, but it will also train students in special protocols. If an analyst chooses a path in phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT), they will learn the appropriate skills within this field, including any exceptional knowledge and training regimen that a client company wishes to impart to its technicians.
Example: A level 2 analyst must inspect the wall thickness of storage tanks for a gas fuel supply system. They are also working without anyone looking over their shoulder. The training company provided a portable PAUT unit with 2D matrix array probes through its product training program. The analyst needs to determine the wall thickness of the interior, but the coarse grain levels within the stainless-steel structure cause higher noise levels from the grain reflections. Luckily, such PAUT units allow experienced level 2 analysts to angle the wave beam, optimize the depth focus, and lower the frequency to overcome propagation issues without a hassle
Even with the convenience of portable UT equipment, PAUT probing can quickly become difficult if an analyst doesn’t know how to adjust the device accordingly—which why level 2 analysts and above are crucial to companies that need analysts for anything more than the most basic inspections.
NDT Level 3: The Final Phase
Level 3 investigators can have special certification in an NDT field or retain certification in general testing schemes, and can typically train and draft exams for lower-tier inspectors. They have full autonomy when implementing various nondestructive testing techniques, and have seniority over lower-class technicians.
Example: A level 3 analyst is working with level 1 and level 2 technicians. They’re overseeing a long-range UT inspection for an underground pipeline. After the appropriate long-range UT methods, the level 3 analyst pinpoints several structural flaws and instances of wall thinness within various sections of the underground piping. After the pipes are dug up, an NDT Paintbrush provided by the training company helps the analyst to clearly and accurately detect corrosion that could have jeopardized the future of the project had it continued to go unnoticed.
When discussing ultrasound and other nondestructive testing methods, there are two major issues: the lack of technicians who can read the analytics of advanced NDT technology, and the cost of training quality level 3 personnel. A training agency can provide state-of-the-art equipment and software that makes training and testing easier for any technician, regardless of the tier level.
Independent training firms lift cost burdens associated with training and ensure all students are properly trained to handle the best testing equipment. These companies also provide cutting-edge software with simple interfaces, ensuring a smoother training process for new hires. Outside companies should train NDT level 1, level 2, and level 3 personnel for companies that need experienced staff members.
As a whole, the company retains quality personnel who will identify defective assets that could hamper operations and endanger the public. Moreover, training firms will help companies cut costs associated with training new NDT members, allowing management to reduce expenditures and possibly divert additional monies to other initiatives. Companies will also be exposed to innovative NDT equipment and technologies that foster smoother operations and secure environmental safeguards. Most importantly, management can improve efficiencies without jeopardizing workers’ safety.
Zetec’s designers are industry-leading experts in ultrasonic and eddy current technologies, and we can help you navigate any of our NDT testing solutions or devices.