·Table of Contents
·Education, Training and Certification
A three Year Experience of an Examination Center According to EN 473G. Cataldo [Omeco srl]
E.Cechet [CTM sas]
E.Trentini [Omeco srl]
In this paper we present the Omeco Examination Centre (CEO) activity and show some problems due to the application of the new European Standard EN 473, together with our parallel activity of performing examinations according to SNT-TC-1A.
In particular we analyse the news produced by the above-mentioned European Standard regarding the training and experience requirements for the eligibility to the examination and its consequent development.
We also present our way of performing the practical examination in order to make the examiners judgement fair and impartial.
In conclusion we try to give a few hints to the trainers of the training courses for providing mainly level 2 candidates with the best preparation.
The "Centro d'Esami Omeco"(CEO) was initiated in October 1994 with the purpose to give to the customers of Omeco Material Testing Centre the opportunity to perform the education (training) and examination for the certification in the same place.
A task force of 14 certified level III (2 from Omeco and 12 selected among our most representative of our customers) was involved in the work of lay out, control and validation of procedures, questions and specimens. These 14 level III constitute also the examiner team of CEO.
NDT Methods involved are : UT - RT - MT - PT - LT . It is also foreseen to introduce VT.
The appointment and the manage of multiple choice questions, examination radiographic films, examination samples, level I instruction and admission modality to the examination are regulated from 4 specific procedures, which was approved, regarding EN 473, from Italian Certification Body (CICPND). The activity of CEO is regulated for the rest conforming to the Quality System of the Laboratory, that is accredited by SINAL (Italian Accreditation Body for the Laboratories) for all the above-mentioned NDT methods. Other procedures are also applicable regarding the recording, calibration and maintenance of the instrumentation, recording of the documentation, managing of the examination activity.
The number of general an specific available questions are at least the double of the minimum required from the standard EN 473.
The following number of examination specimens are available: 22 UT - 19 RT - 16 MT - 9 PT - 4 LT It is foreseen to extent the PT specimen number.
11 Omeco level II operators are available for auxiliary tasks during the examinations.
The facilities for the practical examinations include two RT bunkers with X-ray and Gamma-ray sources, 10 UT manual equipment, analogue and digital, yoke and prod equipment for MT, three spectrometer for LT and all auxiliary devices, including apparatus, material and specimens for the necessary calibrations.
The approbation of CEO by CICPND was obtained in April 1997 after 3 examination sessions.
Till now the following examinations were carried out in accordance with to EN 473:
Number of sessions: 16
Total number of examinations : 225 (level II : 204 - level I : 21)
Successful Candidates (Methods) : 214
Failed Candidates (Methods) : 11
The activity as Outside Agency for the examination according to SNT-TC-1A was about 40 examination per year until 1997, then they progressively decreased.
There is no doubt that the profile of level II individual is a little different between the two scheme. The EN 473 level II is more an inspector or a NDT Co-ordinator  ; Level I profile is otherwise the same for the two scheme.
If in the choice of the questions and samples the examiners consider the experience of the candidate, the examination in accordance with EN 473 is for both levels substantially valid also for SNT-TC-1A. In the first case we work for the Certification Body, in the second one we work for the Employer.
Vice versa a SNT-TC-1A level II examination doesn't cover a EN 473 level II examination, because the "NDT Instruction suitable for Level I", typical of European Standard, are missing. The introduction of this part of practical examination caused initially some discussions, but after explanations , the candidates have no more problems.
We think in conclusion that no problem were in the examination procedures the two scheme to uniform.
This is the principal difficulty in planing and managing examinations. Although we request at the beginning supplementary information about training and experience of the candidates, many training course are "employed specific" and work experience are very different. So, the same argument is very familiar for one candidate and only theoretical for the other one.
The terminology self is quite different in the various working ambient, specially in the definition of defects.
Also the standard utilisation is very different, but we pretend that almost one of the two main standard family (ASME/ASTM or UNI EN) are well known.
We also select specific questions and specimens and equipment for practical examinations, with attention to the declared experience of the candidates and the level III examiner takes in account these elements in the grading of practical examination. In fact we try to reproduce the real operating conditions typical of the candidate whiteout renounce to standardise the question and the practical examination procedure, to ensure the impartiality, the objectivity and the low cost of the examinations.
The large spectrum of candidates profiles is not the only problem of an Examination Centre with more then 10 level III examiner. Also the different professional and personal characteristics of the examiners can have a large influence in the objective evaluation of the candidates.
For this reason we prepared a rigid lay-out also for practical examination, with standardised questions in selecting the NDT technique, determine the operating conditions and reporting the results. The same for the radiographs submitted to a level II for the interpretation.
Furthermore it is not permitted a personal or professional relationship between examiners and candidates. This realised the objective to separate the trainer from the examiner.
Training and industrial experience are not easily measurable. Many of our candidate are self-educated technicians, with no standardised experience. Also the people who attend to standard training courses at Omeco start from very different knowledge level. So that in the most cases the capacities are at the end of the training very different. Our training system foresee a second round of training consisting in one personalised route for each participant that include, depending on the specific situations, one or more of the following works: exercises on question & answer, studies on the standards, draft of instructions for performing NDT, for calibration and/or verification of equipment or materials for NDT , supplement of practical skills on the instrumentation.
For those reasons in the judgement of eligibility we give more importance to the declaration of the candidate level III sponsor that to a detailed control of the declared training and experience .
Frequently discussions occur between examiners or between examiner and candidate on various points of the practical examination, due to the different individual experiences. Also different interpretation of the questions and standards can occur. Normally we have no time to discuss those problems during the examinations, but we consider them very important for the continuous improvement of the examination procedures, to register and probe these problems and make the consequent variations on the examination documents.
In the future we will also provide a feed-back from our examination to our Customer and to NDT schools with information about the above-mentioned discussions.
The most important suggestion to the teachers is to use more and more the standards as teaching books, because two main reasons:
An other important suggestion concerns the skill on the questions and answers, rarely used in Italian schools and therefore cause of unexpected failure. The same, in case of EN 473, for the NDT instruction suitable for level I , for which guide are  available.
Other cases of failure are the uncorrect comprehension and terminology about defects in materials.
Generally we consider very important the national and international uniformity of the candidates preparation. These objectives are very ambitious, but important. We started with a set of questions referred to NDT Books edited by Italian Society for Nondestructive Testing (AIPND) similar to those edited by ASNT . The reference to a specific book realised, like in the calibration of instrumentation, a kind of traceability of the personal competence. For this type of traceability it will be, in our opinion, important also the qualification of the organisations that perform training courses.
Measuring and grading the professional competence is a "test" with elevated uncertainity. The reference to different scheme for this measure increased the uncertainity and therefor we warmly ask the International Committee for standards to make any possible effort to confirm the substantially identity of the two main applicated schema.
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