MRO Magazine

How to Save Money with NDT

By By Steve Gahbauer   

Machinery and Equipment Maintenance Operations

Nondestructive testing (NDT) has become an important tool for equipment condition monitoring, failure detection and quality control. Evolving technologies and methodologies have raised it to new levels, helping manufacturing and processing...

Nondestructive testing (NDT) has become an important tool for equipment condition monitoring, failure detection and quality control. Evolving technologies and methodologies have raised it to new levels, helping manufacturing and processing plants to save money.

Decades ago, when Canadian organizations were busy learning how to use newly emerging nondestructive testing technologies, the inspection, measurement and quality assurance techniques we are taking for granted today were driving research and creating a new way of looking at these methods.

Now, new ways of applying NDT are expanding, and doing so at a critical time when an aging NDT workforce will be retiring in the next five to 10 years. And this is happening against a backdrop of mergers and acquisitions, changed economic realities, uncertainties in financial markets, and increasing global competition – all the more reason why you cannot afford to ignore a tool that contributes directly to improving bottom line profits.

By definition, nondestructive testing – or nondestructive evaluation (NDE) as some prefer to call it – is the primary means of measuring the structural integrity of industrial pressure boundary components. In many jurisdictions such inspections are now mandatory, either by regulation or to obtain insurance coverage. Regulatory rules require that inspection personnel be certified, either through a central system such as ISO 9712, or an employer-based system like the one used in the USA.


In Canada, the organization that provides world-class NDT training and certification is CINDE, the Canadian Institute for NDE. It operates a government-approved test centre, conducts Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) examinations and provides consulting services on a contract basis.

The NDT training certification courses cover CGSB Levels 1, 2 and 3, and the professional development programs cover engineering, materials and components, math preparation, principles and applications of NDT, basic radiation safety, ultrasonic weld inspection and thickness gauging, and weld quality control. CINDE also offers live on-line interactive training through Northern Lakes College.

In addition, CINDE provides on-site training, the most economical, cost-effective and convenient way to train a number of people in a company without paying thousands of dollars for airfares, hotels and meals. Technicians can learn at their own pace and on their own equipment and systems. Courses can be planned around individual department schedules.

So what can NDT do for your enterprise?

That question was answered by CINDE executive Larry Cote and NDT specialist Shane Turcott in a full-day workshop at MainTrain, Canada’s annual maintenance, reliability and asset management conference for knowledge transfer, professional development and networking, convened last November in Toronto by PEMAC, the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada. 

Cote defines NDT inspection as “a way to monitor the condition of equipment and processes by scanning them for cracks, flaws and other defects at or below the surface.” He says everything from simple visual inspections to advanced technologies and methods can be used for these tests.

Electromagnetism, sound transmission, fluid capillary action, and similar physical and chemical investigation techniques are used to acquire and analyze data. These include surface and volumetric techniques, airborne ultrasound, acoustic emissions, flow monitoring and strain gauging. Tests can include magnetic particle and liquid penetrant inspections, strain and torque measurement, and radiography. 

Beyond machine condition monitoring, NDT can also be used to evaluate the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, railbeds, tanks, welds, etc., or to monitor critical process and control equipment. Typical applications include inspections of pipeline integrity and flow, pressure vessels, tubing and barstock, lifting equipment, and roll grinding. “NDT is an essential tool for risk and reliability predictions,” adds Turcott.

For more information about NDT and details about CINDE, visit the website at

Steve Gahbauer is an engineer, a Toronto-based freelance writer, and a contributor of technical articles to Machinery & Equipment MRO.


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