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· Training, Certification & Codes
Certification in the New Millenium.Peter A Sheedy
Consultant and Hon. Secretary AINDT Certification Board.
KEYWORDS: Certification, Qualification, AS3998, ISO9712, Certified
Historically non-destructive testing is as old as mankind. Genesis Chapter 1 makes four or five references to ". . . and God SAW that it was good". As a discipline, I believe NDT as we know it today dates back to the 1930's. Since then, the various NDT methods have evolved and become better understood, and more widely applied.
Training in NDT, that once occurred almost universally "on-the-job", has also evolved since the first formal training course in Australia was established by Sydney Technical College in 1968.
Along with training the need has developed for assessment and certification. The first formal and independent certification scheme was introduced in Australia by the Australian Institute for Non-Destructive Testing (AINDT) in 1971. This scheme had two (2) levels of certification, known as Technician and Technologist. This scheme was operational, and quite successful, for many years until, in 1992 Standards Australia published AS 3998-1992 , Non-destructive testing - Qualification and certification of personnel - General Engineering, based on the then draft International Standard ISO/DIS 9712.2 . In fact it was published only a few months before the publication of ISO9712.1992.
The Standard was prepared in response to industries' desire for training and accreditation that provided a level of confidence in the skills of the NDT technician that was not previously available. The old scheme required training and what we now refer to as a General Examination. In addition, Ultrasonic and Radiographic certification included a Practical examination, though the relevance of the practical examination to everyday testing was, with hindsight, suspect.
The new standard was based on the then ISO draft Standard because of the need for international harmonisation of NDT personnel qualification and certification schemes, and this was already the basis for many similar schemes, particularly in Europe and Asia. Now even the Americans and Canadians have based their Certification schemes on the ISO Standard. The Standard called for independent certification of the NDT practitioner, in this case by the AINDT.
In 1999, a revised version of the ISO standard was published - ISO9712.1999 - and the Australian Standard is currently under revision with the intent to fully align it with this ISO standard.
AINDT has set in place a committee, the Certification Board, supported by a Panel of Examiners and an Applications Committee, to oversee the administration of the AS3998 Certification scheme.
Basically the AS3998 scheme provides certification by an organisation (AINDT) that is independent of the employer, at any of three levels of competence (1,2 or 3) for a particular NDT method (e.g. ultrasonic testing) in an industrial sector (e.g. welds). The three levels of competence are defined by AS3998.1992 as follows:
A person certified to Level 1 is qualified to perform all or part of the applicable non-destructive tests under supervision of Level 2 or Level 3 personnel. The person may perform and report the results of simple tests in accordance with clearly defined procedures and unambiguous acceptance/rejection criteria. The person shall not be responsible for the choice of method, technique or procedure to be used.
A person certified to level 2 is qualified to perform and direct non-destructive testing in accordance with established or recognised techniques. For the NDT method and industrial sector in which certification is held, the person shall be competent to
A Level 2 person shall also be familiar with the scope and limitations of the method for which certification is held, and be able to exercise assigned responsibility for on the job training and guidance of trainees and Level 1 personnel.
A person certified to Level 3 is qualified to assume responsibility for a test facility and staff, and shall be competent to make significant contributions to discussions with other technical staff concerning the use of NDT methods, to select and approve test methods, and to assist in the establishment of acceptance criteria where necessary.
Within the limits of the certification, the person shall be competent to:-
In addition to the AS3998 certification, the Board introduced a "General" Qualification in each of the 5 main NDT methods in 1992, intended as an interim step to provide a stepping stone for persons wishing to gain AS3998 certification. Unfortunately, many in the industry have accepted this as the ultimate qualification and have not proceeded to full certification. The General Qualification is NOT an AS3998 qualification. Persons with the General Qualification have passed only the General Examination component of the AS3998 certification process, and have shown evidence of training, optical acuity and experience in the NDT method. They have not shown evidence of knowledge of the industry sector nor have they demonstrated competence in a practical examination.
The NDT methods in which certification is currently available are:
The industrial sectors currently being covered by the scheme are:
Other sectors can be made available if there is a demand.
Under AS3998, certification is for a limited period, five years initially, and must be renewed, either on the basis of continuing work experience in the appropriate area or by examination. After ten years re-certification is based on examination.
It must be remembered that in all cases certification is only the initial step in assuring the quality of inspection because the training and particularly the practical examinations cannot cover every conceivable inspection situation. Ultimately it is the employer's responsibility to ensure the competence of NDT technicians employed by the company.
To obtain certification to AS 3998-1992 , requires that the candidate meet specified vision requirements, complete recognised training, obtain a satisfactory pass in written and practical examinations and provide evidence of a specified practical (on-the-job) experience. Thus it is necessary to be employed in the industry as a trainee, either before, during or after formal training in order to gain the required experience.
Before certification a candidate must provide evidence of satisfactory vision including near vision and distance vision acuity and colour vision.
(b) Training and experience
The standard sets down the recommended minimum training hours required in the NDT method before assessment and the minimum experience required before certification. These are as follows:
|Eddy current testing||40||3|
|Magnetic particle testing||24||1|
|NDT Method||Training (hours)||Experience (months)|
|With Level 1||Without Level 1||With Level 1||Without Level 1|
|Eddy current testing||80||120||9||12|
|Magnetic particle testing||40||64||3||4|
Training is available from TAFE colleges and private providers. Distance learning programs are currently being prepared by at least two TAFE systems.
The training courses are based on the requirements of AS 3998-1992 and the syllabi closely follow the those laid down by international documents such as IAEA-TECDOC-628 . These syllabi (called module descriptors in Australia) are endorsed by the National Training Authority and Industry Training Advisory Body, and must be followed by all registered training bodies.
In view of the requirements for Level 3 personnel, candidates for Level 3 must have satisfied Level 2 General Examination requirements in all those NDT methods used in the industry sector and must have a high standard of general education as well as extensive training and experience. The standard outlines these requirements.
There are three examinations required in each NDT method and Industry Sector. These are:
For level 3, the candidate must have the Level 2 Practical examination and may be required to undertake an Oral examination.
In all cases the minimum pass mark for each examination is 70%.
Australia is very likely to adopt ISO9712.1999  in the near future by endorsing this international standard as a revised AS3998.. This will bring some changes to the National certification process.
NDT Level 1
An individual certified to level I shall not be responsible for the choice, of the test method or technique to be used,
NDT Level 2
NDT Level 3
An individual certified to level 3 shall have:
|NDT Method||Level 1||Level 2 Direct (includes hours at Level 1)|
|Penetrant Testing||16 hours (*16 Hours)||40 Hours (*56 Hours)|
|Magnetic Particle Testing||16 Hours (*24 Hours)||40 Hours (*64 Hours)|
|Eddy Current Testing||40 Hours (*40 Hours)||80 Hours (*120 Hours)|
A Main Method Examination which assesses
The candidate shall have access to relevant codes etc for this examination.
One of the important outcome that the full adoption of ISO9712.1999 should be the formalisation of mutual recognition of NDT certification schemes across different countries. At present the AINDT has informal agreements with the UK PCN and CSWIP in relation to recognition. It is hoped that we can extend this to other countries, particularly our neighbouring countries such as New Zealand.
Another ISO initiative that is well advanced is Certification for Limited NDT. The ISO working group for this standard last met in USA in April 2001, and recommended that the Draft standard should proceed to Ballot. This will be known as ISO 20807 - Certification of Personnel for Limited Applications of Non-Destructive Testing. The standard lists four (4) applications, though use of the standard is not limited to these. They are:
The standard includes syllabus documents to be used as a guide to training in the above applications. +It was intended to include Radiographic Interpretation in this standard but it has now been agreed by the Working Group that this should be covered by ISO9712.
It is expected that Australia will endorse this when it is finally published as an ISO standard.
ISO9712 is again under review by ISO Working Group TC135/SC7/WG6. This has come about mainly because of the revision of the European Standard En473 that also covers certification of personnel and is widely used in UK and Europe. The objective is to develop a truly international standard.
Unfortunately, at this stage, many of the conditions of ISO9712.1999 that suit the Australian circumstance are being eroded by this committee. Matters of concern include;
The writer cautions those concerned with certification in Australia to look closely at this document when it comes around for ballot before recommending how Australia should vote.
Certification has undergone significant change since it was first introduced in Australia back in 1971. It is a fact of life that everything continues to change and it is certain that Certification is no exception to this rule. Furthermore, Certification is itself not an end, but only a beginning to an ongoing process of updating ones knowledge and skills and remaining abreast of the developments in the technology of non-destructive testing.
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