·Table of Contents
The Role of IAEA for the promotion of NDT Technology around the World
Asghar Ali Khan ; H. Vera Ruiz,
Industrial Applications & Chemistry Section, Division of Physical & Chemical Sciences,
International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is promoting the industrial applications of radiation technology which include Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) under its various programmes such as individual country Technical Co-operation (TC) projects, Regional Projects and Co-ordinated Research projects (CRPs). Salient features of the NDT programme have been the establishment, in each of the Member States, of a system for training and certification of NDT personnel and National Certifying Bodies based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 9712 (FDIS 1999); establishment of national Professional NDT Societies and issuance of national standards conforming to the minimum requirements of ISO 9712. IAEA is probably the only international organization having in its regular programme a continuous and very effective promotion of NDT technology in about 85 developing countries. The programme has shown highly encouraging results worldwide. Some 30,000 persons in different developing countries have been trained to various levels of competence. A stage of self sufficiency on sustainable basis has been achieved in numerous countries in the field of training and certification of personnel and for provision of services to industries. This has had a positive impact on the improvement of the quality of industrial goods and services.
2. REGIONAL PROJECTS
In the Regional Projects a number of countries in a specific region of the world join together and participate in joint regional events such as meetings, seminars, regional training courses etc. Such regional projects are currently in progress in the regions of East Asia & Pacific (RCA), Africa (AFRA) and West Asia. The project in the Latin American region (ARCAL) has been completed. NDT using radiography and its complementary techniques such as ultrasonic testing, eddy current testing and surface methods testing has been an important component of all these regional projects along with other nuclear techniques such as radiation processing, radio-tracers & radio-gauges, nuclear instrumentation, use of radiation in agriculture & biology, nuclear medicine and research reactor utilization.
Some 85 countries have benefited from such regional projects so far. Thousands of persons in the developing countries have been trained as a result of these programmes. The training is aimed at developing the trainers in all these methods in order to initiate the activities of training and certification in each Member State. Most countries can now train the manpower locally. Many new professional NDT Societies have been established and NDT has been accepted as an essentially needed technology for industrial quality control all over the world. There are different ways of financing the regional projects. Some developed countries may become 'donors' and support specific activities. Some projects have been funded by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) while others are funded from the regular budget of the IAEA. Salient features of the regional projects have been:
- Appointment of NDT national co-ordinators (one person from each Member State).
- Appointment of a Project Leader at the IAEA in Vienna.
- Organization of co-ordination meetings.
- Organization of regional training courses.
- Establishment of professional NDT societies.
- Establishment of national certifying bodies/boards responsible for training and certification of NDT personnel at the national level.
- Issuance of national standards fulfilling the minimum requirements of international standard, ISO 9712, on qualification and certification of NDT personnel.
- Organization of national training courses in different Member States.
- Utilization of expert services from within the region and especially from among the developing countries.
- Introduction of new applications of NDT such as NDT of concrete and other ceramic materials, NDT in railways and petroleum industries, Digital industrial radiology and Fabrication of NDT test pieces etc.
3. INDIVIDUAL COUNTRY TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION PROJECTS
Under individual country technical co-operation ( TC ) projects individual Member States are supported by the provision of experts, equipment and fellowship training for the development of NDT technology. Numerous Member States have benefited from this programme in the past. Typical focus of the programme under this heading has been the establishment of facilities/laboratories/centres for non destructive testing, award of fellowships for training, development of capabilities for provision of NDT services to industries and creation of systems for training and certification of NDT personnel.
Such projects are currently active in 16 countries while another ten may be added from January of next year. Typically the projects are approved on a two-year term basis. For example, the implementation of current projects will be completed by the end of the year 2000 while the new projects will be approved for the next two-year term of 2001-2002.
4. CO-ORDINATED RESEARCH PROGRAMMES (CRPs)
Co-ordinated research programmes (CRPs) and research contracts are undertaken keeping in view the current status of the technology and the need for undertaking some research. Such research contracts and agreements can be placed with universities, colleges, research centres, laboratories and other institutions in Member States. Such institutions can be selected in two ways:
- When it has been recognized that the award of a particular research contract or agreement would materially assist one of the Agency's programmes (especially in terms of participating in a CRP), an invitation is sent to those institutes believed to have the necessary facilities and personnel, the Member States concerned being kept informed; or
- If a specific proposal for research is made to the Agency by an institution in a Member State, the decision whether to award a research contract or agreement is made after careful consideration of all circumstances, such as facilities and personnel available to the Institution, previous research work related to the project, and, in particular, the compatibility of the project with the Agency's own functions and approved programmes.
If the proposed project is approved, a contract or agreement will be sent to the head of the institution for approval and signature, and the Government of the Member State will be duly notified through the appropriate channels of the conclusion of the contract or agreement.
The financial support of a project by the Agency is normally provided by means of a lump sum cost-sharing contract. The contractor is usually expected to bear part of the cost of the project and, in any case, to continue to make normal contributions in the form of overhead and other expenses. The Agency, therefore, contributes an appropriate percentage to the total estimated costs. Due to the limited resources available, the amounts awarded are rarely large - the present average being approximately US$ 5,000 per annum per contract. In a few instances, however, larger amounts may be awarded. In addition to the contract award, contractors participating in Agency CRPs are invited to attend periodic research co-ordination meetings at the Agency's expense.
In providing research support from the limited funds available to the programme, priority is normally given to proposals received from institutions in developing countries.
Cost-free agreements may be awarded to institutes, normally for participation in an Agency CRP. Under such agreements, no financial award is made to the agreement holder other than the provision to attend research co-ordination meetings at the Agency's expense if the agreement forms part of a CRP.
A CRP on "validation of protocols for corrosion and deposit determination in small diameter pipes by radiography (CORDEP)" is currently on-going with the participation of eleven laboratories from Algeria, China, Costa Rica, France, India, Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
The general scope of the CRP covers radiographic measurement of corrosion and deposits in straight and bent pipes made of carbon or stainless steels corroded/eroded on the outer or inner surfaces with or without insulation. In particular, it involves:
- full inspection identifying the corrosion attack across the wall and on the perimeter of the pipe by radiography;
- local inspection of selected areas for determination of wall thickness;
- verification of radiographic results by ultrasonic and destructive testing measurements whenever appropriate (validation).
At the conclusion of this CRP, it is hoped that sufficient experimental data will be available to be able to prepare a detailed Technical Document (TECDOC) as well as to present a draft standard on this aspect to the ISO. In the future, similar CRPs on topics such as "Corrosion measurement in large diameter pipes" and "Digital industrial radiography" are being considered.
The programme includes the organization of different types of meetings such as consultants' meetings (CS), expert advisory group meetings (EAGM), expert working group meetings (EWGM), task force meetings and project co-ordination meetings (PCM/RCM). Some typical meetings that have been organized in the near past were on topics such as advanced NDT techniques; development of manual for surface methods(PT, MT) testing at level 2; development of level 1, 2 & 3 examination questions; development of guidebook for NDT of concrete structures ; development of guidebook for fabrication of NDT test pieces; development of recommended NDT syllabus for B. S. curriculum at the universities; state-of-art review of digital industrial radiology (DIR) techniques and research coordination meetings for the on-going CRP.
6. TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS
Work on the development of a number of publications has been one of the salient features of the programme in the field of NDT. Main area being emphasized is the publications required in support of various training programmes. Various categories of such publications on which work has been going on and is still continuing include TECDOCS, training course series, manuals, guidebooks and co-ordination meeting reports. A number of these publications are currently being extensively used for the training and certification of NDT personnel especially in the developing member states.
Some of the well known publications in NDT that have been developed during the past few years include the following:
- IAEA TECDOC 407 (1987) : Training guidelines in non-destructive testing.
- IAEA TECDOC 628 (1991) : Training guidelines in non-destructive testing.
- Industrial radiography: Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA-TECDOC 628.
- Non Destructive Testing: A Guidebook for Industrial Management and Quality Control Personnel.
- Ultrasonic Testing of Materials at Level 2: Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA-TECDOC 628.
- Surface Methods-Liquid Penetrant Testing and Magnetic Particle Testing at Level 2: Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA-TECDOC 628.
- Level 1, 2 & 3 examination questions.
- Recommended NDT syllabus for B. S. Curriculum.
- Guidebook on Non Destructive Testing of Concrete Structures (draft ready)
- Guidebook for fabrication of NDT test pieces (under preparation)
Some of the publications which are planned to be developed during the coming years include the following:
- Eddy Current Testing at Level 2: Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA TECDOC 628.
- Measurement of corrosion in pipes by radiography (TECDOC based on CRP).
- Guidebook on Digital Industrial Radiology: State of the Art Survey.
- Visual Testing at Level 2: Training Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA TECDOC 628.
- Leak Testing at Level 2: Training Manual for the Syllabi Contained in IAEA TECDOC 628.
- Non Destructive Evaluation: A Study of NDT and Fracture Mechanics Methods for Life Assessment of Industrial Plants and Components.
7. INTERNATIONAL HARMONIZATION OF TRAINING & CERTIFICATION OF NDT PERSONNEL
As has been indicated in the preceding Sections the IAEA is playing a very important role for the spread of NDT technology around the world. All along its efforts in this regard the ultimate goal of achieving harmonization of NDT practices especially for the training and certification of personnel has always been kept in view. some of the steps which have guided the direction of our programme are listed below. it is hoped that all those who are working for the similar goal of achieving international harmonization of certification of personnel will give due consideration to these.
- There should be well defined syllabi for various levels of certification, firstly in the basic six NDT methods as listed in ISO 9712 and then for the additional methods such as leak testing, acoustic emission, neutron radiography etc. This has been done by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in two of its TECDOC publications. The first was TECDOC 407 which included syllabi for Liquid Penetrant Testing, Magnetic Particle Testing, Eddy Current Testing, Radiographic Testing and Ultrasonic Testing and the latter and revised is the TECDOC 628 which includes additional methods of Visual Testing and Leak Testing.
No doubt that the TECDOC 628 is not an ideal document and there is a room for improvement. In view of rapid developments that are taking place in the field of technology and also the commensurate testing methods, it would be appropriate if a revision of the syllabi is made every five years.
- Following the syllabi development of training materials, text books are the next important steps which need to be developed. IAEA has started to work in this area as well. Some of these text books have already been completed and are being extensively used for conducting training in the Member States while others are being similarly developed. Related to these it would be appropriate if the books are updated following the revision of syllabi every five years. Also at some stage the IAEA may send them for comments to various well known certification bodies around the world such as those in USA, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia and China with a view to achieving a uniformity in the teaching materials.
- The next important step for achieving harmonization is a uniformity in the content of practical work aimed at various levels of certification as well as a uniformity in the standard test pieces containing known defects which are used for training and examinations for certification. The TECDOC 628 contains some guidelines about the practical content of various training courses for different levels and different NDT methods. Guidelines for conducting and assessing the practical examinations were also developed at a regional workshop on qualification and certification of NDT personnel organized by IAEA in 1987. There, however, remains the need to put it in a format such that it is suitable for circulation to and inviting comments from the international NDT community.
IAEA has conducted numerous workshops on the methodology of production of standard test pieces. The main emphasis was on welding. There is a need to expand this exercise to other sectors of technology such as casting, forging, concrete and other ceramic materials. Also a guideline should be prepared as to what sort of standard test pieces are needed for specific sectors as outlined in ISO 9712. Then their designs and possible methods of fabrication should be given. The standard test pieces presently available from various manufacturers around the world along with their designs and tolerances on defects should next be reviewed. The IAEA and ISO can then consider persuading various training and certification agencies to use such recommended test pieces for their training and certification programmes.
- The uniformity in the standard of examinations and examination questions should be considered as the next important step towards achieving harmonization. Various certifying bodies in the developed countries maintain a bank of questions for conducting certification examinations. An example of this is the "questions bank of ASNT". Some other bodies, perhaps, also have similar published questions. The possibility of combining all of these and adding new ones such as to cover all the topics given in TECDOC 628 for each method should be explored. The IAEA could then publish these as its own publication and recommend it for use to all the Member States having certifying bodies.
The idea of keeping the questions restricted and confidential from the trainees and the applicants for certification is not very appealing. If someone can master answers to that many questions, he certainly deserves praise. In fact the emphasis should be on increasing the number of questions to, say, about 500 to 600 for each method. That will ensure that almost all the aspects of the subject have been covered. It will help the candidate tremendously if he had a clear idea of what sort of questions can be expected in the examination.
- NDT is being practised and developed in many countries and English is understood not in all of these. Therefore, for spreading the message for harmonization far and wide the essential ingredients such as text books, guidelines detailing practical work and the questions will need to be translated. As a first step the translations could be made for the UNO-recognized languages and later on into other languages if the need be.
- Rightly motivated and educated teachers and trainers in NDT can play an important role in bringing about uniformity in teaching and training ultimately bringing uniformity in NDT practices. IAEA realized this from the beginning by issuing the train-the- trainer guidelines. This concept needs to be further developed and incorporated and practised by the well known training and certifying bodies. If at least one premier training institute is selected in each country and its teachers motivated to adopt a certain methodology of teaching using same text books and identical test pieces, we would have advanced fairly well towards achieving harmonization.
- The question of specific sectors for certification need to be defined in narrower and clearer terms. Only then would harmonization be meaningful because persons trained and certified in well defined specific sectors in one country would mean to have same knowledge and competence as in other countries.
- While most of the regions have been encompassed by the IAEA regional projects for development and harmonization of NDT certification, there are others which still remain. For true international harmonization there is a need to plan projects focusing on these areas of the world as well.
- Finally there is a need to assess as to how far the requirements of ISO are being met by each country. A number of standards for assessment and accreditation of NDT laboratories and training institutions are already available to assess the capability of these organizations. A similar new accreditation standard needs to be formulated to check conformance to ISO 9712 which itself is trying to promote a new concept of harmonization at the world level in the filed of NDT. Then there should be a mechanism, perhaps established through IAEA, or ICNDT to monitor conformance to ISO 9712 with the help of new accreditation standard. Societies and institutions found to be satisfactory should be issued a conformance certificate just as, for example, the ISO 9000 conformance certificate. The NDT certificates issued by these ISO 9712-conforming societies and institutions should then be acceptable at the international level and their holders considered qualified and competent to work in the area of their certification in any country of the world.
8. FUTURE DIRECTIONS
In the years ahead it is foreseen that NDT will continue to remain an essential part of our programme in view of its utmost importance for quality control of industrial as well as nuclear plants and components. Efforts will be continued to consolidate the present NDT development in different member states. Member states will be encouraged to form the national NDT societies and issue national standards conforming to the minimum requirements of ISO standard for the qualification and certification of NDT personnel. More regional projects will be initiated. Additional as well as advanced NDT techniques will be addressed. Special emphasis will be laid on harmonization of training and certification of NDT personnel at the regional and international levels. In this regard the relationship with the other world bodies working towards the same end such as the ICNDT, EFNDT, ASNT and others will be further strengthened. Studies will be initiated for using the NDT for the life assessment studies for industrial and nuclear plants and components.