IPEIA 2019

Vision Integrity Engineering (VIE) is proud to have attended and provided a Technical Presentation at this year’s IPEIA Conference & Exhibition. For over 20 years, IPEIA (International Pressure Equipment Integrity Association) has been an annual gathering of Asset Integrity experts, speakers, vendors, educators, industry leaders, and end users. We were honored that VIE was granted an IPEIA award for their Technical Presentation on the “Standardization of Piping NDE: How to inspect, organize, and manage inspection data in the long term periods of 10/15/20 years and beyond to ensure confidence in long term corrosion rate evaluations”.

If you want more information on IPEIA you can visit their website at http://ipeia.com/

Why You Should Outsource your Quality Inspection Team

Behind every successful company in every industry is a strong quality team.

Projects in the energy sector are becoming increasingly complex and involve an abundance of specialized personnel.  Some question the purpose of having a quality assurance team, not realizing it benefits not just the regulators, but everyone.

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality Assurance is a systematic method of preventing defects and avoiding problems.  This discipline should be considered an indispensable investment. Quality teams scrutinize not just the product itself but the process to create the products.  Providing these services are vital to maintain a good reputation and keep the public, workers and environment safe.

Quality Assurance is needed through the full life-cycle of your project.  From the onset, quality assurance professionals will ensure that all aspects of a project have clearly established requirements. The program will establish rules, processes and tools necessary to complete work effectively and efficiently.   As the project progresses, quality teams will track progress and determine improvement opportunities.

Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee.  The role of [quality] management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better – Edwards Deming

Benefits of Outsourcing to an Expert Quality Assurance Team

There are many benefits of having a strong Quality Assurance team including:

  1. Meet Regulatory Requirements

    Consider your QA team the regulatory experts.  They are trained and experienced to know the codes, standards and the best practice for meeting all the project requirements.  A part of the process is to gather the requirements, determine appropriate execution methods, and evaluate implementation and monitoring techniques. With the right personnel you can efficiently meet all requirements.

  2. Cost Savings

    The truth is that an excellent quality assurance team will save you money.  Many project managers often fail to include rework costs when detailing their project budgets.  The best way to avoid these costs is to get it right the first time.  By having a hold point for quality assurance experts they can detect and fix issues at early stages.  Through careful investigation experts can determine the root-cause and can prevent future costly events and improve overall performance.  Ultimately, this will reduce costs of rework and retesting.

  3. Sets High Standards

    Set the expectations high from the beginning. Teams can develop full-cycle quality management programs that will shift the emphasis to prevention rather than detecting issues.  Quality assurance incorporates requirements from corporate management, field personnel, regulators and client representatives.  High quality builds trust with clients and the public and can give you a competitive edge.

Our Team

Our team of quality assurance professionals have a wide range of skills and experience. Our team is capable of handling both complex tasks and are diligent with day-to-day routine tasks.  It is critical to have an effective leader that sets the goals for the quality team. The most effective teams are organized from the top-down by our technical experts and combine both technical and soft skills.

Learn more about Vision Integrity

The Power of Compound Interest

Author: Liana Bertsch

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”  ― Albert Einstein

Most individuals have a sense of the path that they want to be on, and the path that they try to avoid. It is however, hard to stay on the right path given that we tend try to take the occasional shortcut in life. Taking shortcuts will most likely produce poor outcomes in the long term, however even knowing that, we continue to take shortcuts in our work and our every day activities.  It is simply human nature to assume that shortcuts will save time and effort, even though those shortcuts have long lasting impacts on the work we perform which can result in poor quality or even safety concerns. So, the task for each individual is to choose the track that we want to be on and avoid the track that takes us in the wrong direction, even if it seems that it might produce quicker results.

How can we build better habits for our every day activities both at work and at home?

It is easy to do good work and not to think about taking shortcuts when we are motivated, however after a certain amount of time the motivation and the initial spark of inspiration tends to go away. Discipline and determination ultimately sustain our abilities to pursue our goals as that initial spark burns out. As Thomas Edison’s famous quote said, “success is 1% motivation and 99% perspiration”. Therefore to achieve something great, we need to display true persistence, determination, and discipline.

How do we build new habits strategically, that will last long time? How do we teach ourselves to start performing in ways that are not exactly the most exciting or enjoyable?  These questions are critical to the mentality of success.

The compounding interest concept can be used not only in finance, but also in our daily routines to improve our habits. The idea of “Biting off more than we can chew” is destined to lead to failure and disappointment. Instead, we should embrace the tiny gains approach whereby you make a 1% improvement each day in order to accumulate significant success over time. If we can convey ourselves as being disciplined and avoid taking shortcuts, then we can also lead and motivate the people around us to change their habits and encourage them to not take any shortcuts that could harm the long-term quality of services and level of safety.

Field Evaluation Services for Electrical Products

We are pleased to announce that we have expanded our services to include Field Evaluations for electrical products. We are accredited by the Standards Council of Canada and recognized as an Accredited Inspection Body.

 We are accredited to serve clients throughout both Canada and the United States. With this new department we can provide field evaluations to ensure electrical products are code compliant and free of safety hazards. Electrical products will be evaluated to meet the requirements of the Canadian Electrical Code and CSA SPE-1000.  Upon successful evaluation, Field Evaluation inspectors will apply a regulatory mandated label on all compliant equipment.

Our team has extensive technical expertise and can capably meet client and regulatory requirements.

The right tools for the right job

Author: David Mulders

Having a kit of tools at your disposal as an inspector is an imperative part of your job.  From the specialized tools and equipment for UT/RT/ET, to the diverse range of tools used in Quality Control and visual inspection, there is an ever expanding number of items to make our jobs easier.

The flashlight, possibly the most ubiquitous tool in our arsenal, but not without its subtleties and issues. I try to keep a range of flashlights with me including a large flood lamp for confined spaces and night conditions, a standard trouble light for large scale inspections, a high lumen hand held flash light for general work and a two power penlight for close up and intricate inspection. Many inspectors strive to have the largest most powerful flashlight possible to perform their work, but in my experience it has shown that brighter is not always better, some flashlights leading to obscuring or washing out defects through the inspection. One of the key ways in which a flashlight helps in our inspection process is by casting a shadow through indications, this will highlight cracks and irregularities in the materials surface. Ensure that when you use a light source, it is appropriate for the level of inspection, manipulate the angle of light source throughout the inspection to produce the telltale shadows of a defect.

The ruler, once we have identified the location or existence of a defect or discontinuity we will need to report on its size and evaluate the extent of the indication.  I carry with me a 100’, 50’, 35’ measuring tape with metric and imperial measurements, a 12” steel machinists ruler and a 6” pocket ruler with holes ranging from 1/16” to ¼” for the assessment of indications.  I also carry a 12” flexible magnetic ruler, this helps as a reference when photographing and documenting defects for future considerations.

The mirror, the harder it is to see, the more likely there will be indications. Our mirror can be the difference between an educated guess and a clear view of the condition of a part or component, they let us see around corners and behind walls and can make all of the difference in an inspection.  I include a 12-30” extendable 2X3 rectangular mirror with lights as my go-to mirror, a 12-30” extendable 1” diameter mirror for smaller nozzles and openings, and a ½” dental mirror for small openings.  I also carry a 24” flexible camera that attaches to my cell phone for tube inspections and to verify the installation of internal parts.

Gauges, every visual inspector should have a set of gauges with them, the following include what I carry in my kit.  The fillet gauge is used to measure the toe/throat of a fillet weld to determine the effective weld size, a bridge cam can also be used to measure fillet weld sizes, as well as reinforcement, misalignment, depth or height of discontinuities and more! A versatile tool, but bulky and not optimal for all situations. Pit gauges or the commonly called V-WAC single weld gauge is excellent for determining underfill, oversized welds, depths of indications and more. A weld reinforcement gauge is designed to straddle butt welds and measure the reinforcement off of the parent material, these can also be used to measure fillet welds, but are very useful on piping and vessels to measure reinforcement. A High low gauge is used to measure the alignment of parent materials, and finally a socket weld gauge is used to determine the schedule of materials, and throat dimensions on socket welds. These gauges are optimal for the visual inspector, but have been very useful in the past to make clear reports when performing UT, RT, MT, PT and other NDE processes, they can help us to size defects, size weld thicknesses and materials and report on the welds we inspect.

Specialized equipment.

There is a myriad of specialized equipment that can come up for use during an inspection, and along with those items listed above I try to keep an inventory of any equipment that may come in handy on future inspections through my experience on previous jobs and throughout my career. The following are items that I keep handy when inspecting. An infrared thermometer is essential for monitoring preheat, interpass temperature, PWHT and consumable storage. A volt/amp meter is needed for checking adherence to weld procedures, verifying the output on a welding machine, and for performance qualification testing. A psychrometer or dewpoint meter can be used for drying and cleaning processes on pipelines, and determining relative humidity when welding is taking place to reduce hydrogen interference. An anemometer can be used to determine wind speeds when welding outdoors to ensure shielding gas coverage as many clients now have specifications for wind speed allowance using gas shielding processes. Micrometers, digital pit gauges and Calipers are irreplaceable for accurate measurement of  material thicknesses, part dimensions and sizing indications. Digital levels are an excellent way to give tangible data for plumb and level measurements. A magnetic field or Gaussmeter can be useful for determining sources of arc blow, and previous NDT testing.

Being prepared and having the right tools for the right job can make or break your process. Always be prepared and you will never be surprised.

Instability in the work place

Author: David Mulders

Sometimes the road to success can have some unexpected twists and turns, challenges that we must adapt to and overcome, but even with all of these unforeseen bumps in the road it can be important to have a roadmap and a sense of direction.  When dealing with workers and their workflow it is important to keep this same idea of direction in mind.  If we create instability for our employees by adding and changing tasks frequently, we create obstacles in the way of their success by moving their targets and achievements further out of reach, making it so that they can never complete what they say they will complete. This same circumstance can lead your employees to favor small simple tasks that can be completed in a short amount of time rather than the larger fundamental projects that might be more important as they fear their goals or workflow may change at any moment, and if they start a larger task they will not be able to see it to fruition. The same can be said for short term goals and an invisible future, when we share our long-term goals with our employees it gives everyone a sense of direction for the bigger picture. The small mundane and monotonous tasks take on new meaning and importance when we can see where they fit in the bigger plan and how they will benefit the team as a whole. Another contributor to instability in the workplace is the confusion or miscommunication of tasks and goals, when we communicate a goal to our employees in a broad sense such as organizing a filing system, our employees may have a drastically different interpretation of the task than we do. Perhaps the employee sees this task as collating and re-ordering the contents of the files, but the manager sees this task as color coding the folders and labelling each with their contents. Two drastically different outcomes to the same broad goal in which we only have communication to blame.  The hardest thing many people will go through in the workplace is being held accountable for something that they don’t understand.  Clear, concise and understood communications and goals can be the foundation to progress and production in the work place, working as a team toward a common future can make a great difference.

Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised (Denis Waitley)

Author: David Mulders

Denis Waitley’s simple words have rung through the minds of leaders around the world as a simple way to operate their business, they are a motto that can be applied to every industry, every work place, every home and every activity.  Though there are a myriad of situations that can never be expected, they can certainly be predicted and planned for. On a long enough time line, the statistical inevitability of an un planned occurrence within the predictable scope of operations is definite. How does this apply to our day to day work? If we can analyze the common outcomes of a given situation, and the necessity for training, equipment, support, appropriate time frames and controls then we can gather and implement the resources needed to cover most, if not all of the unexpected, yet predictable results. How do we factor this in to our business?  The primary issue when dealing with preparation in business will always be the cost, if we try to plan for each and every possible situation and acquire the equipment, training and time necessary to cover these possibilities, we would surely run out of funds long before most of these situations occur, however if we are able to trend and prioritize the likelihood of these occurrences, we are able to triage the needs of our business and cost-effectively plan for the worst. So what is the cost of being prepared versus being un prepared? Many studies have been done on businesses to try to determine the cost of downtime per hour, these studies factor in the time paid for employees when work is not able to be performed and billed appropriately to the client, the cost for management and administration to attempt to mitigate the situation, the cost for repairs, or replacement of inappropriate equipment, re-training, re-branding, client communications, loss of information, HSE implications, and most importantly the loss or alteration of reputation.  Can you put a dollar figure on these factors to an hour of downtime to your own business?  Most studies show that the average cost of downtime for a medium sized business in the USA is $100,000.00 of direct and indirect costs, with most situations of one hour of downtime having disruptions to work flow for over one week of operation. How does this compare to the efforts and extent of your business to prepare and plan for the worst? Does the cost of extra training or equipment outweigh the potential for downtime? In some situations it may, including specialized equipment, rare or special expertise and certification demands, or specialized job postings and easily predictable roles and work scopes.  The best business leaders will be able to predict or identify the situations where the cost of downtime outweighs the cost of preparedness.  Is your business prepared to take a hit to their operations or reputation due to poor planning? Are you prepared?

Using the right people for the right tasks

Using the right person for the right task can be one of the most valuable skills in any industry, it creates efficiencies and helps any brand project themselves in a professional and competent manner. The first step in this process, is to properly assess your skills pool to determine the competencies, training, and experiences that each member of your team has. Everyone will have their strengths and weaknesses, not only with technical processes, but with personal traits as well. Communication, organization, expedience, documentation, patience, and even flair or a personal touch can bring the right edge to a project. The second step is to determine the needs of your project, many projects will have complex intricacies or projected encumbrances that come up in the future that will need a particular skillset. When it comes to completing these tasks it’s likely possible to complete the task using any of your assets, but to excel at the task will require someone well suited to the challenge. The third step is to assign your assets accordingly, with your personnel being your greatest tool.  How will this workers past experience help them overcome the challenges of this job? How will their attitudes and work ethic mesh with the rest of the team or the client? Is the pacing for the project appropriate to the drive of the individual? What training or certifications will compliment the necessary qualifications for this job? Remember, its always possible to hammer a square peg through a round hole, but that will wear on the corners and break down your square peg over time. using the right tool for the right job to not only meet, but to exceed the expectations of management, clients, and even peers will be one of the keys to making your company shine.

Compliance VS. Conformance

Compliance

Compliance has been commonly defined as doing what you are told to do, and in simple terms this does prove to be correct, however when it applies to our industry and the overarching quality management realm, its definition is far more complex.  One of the key traits to compliance is the fundamental basis on legality, a standard, or requirement in which legal channels may pursue their enforcement or application through jurisdictional channels or authorities. This legal foundation of course implies the second key trait of compliance, which is that it is a requirement or expectation that is externally applied upon a person(s) or organization. The complexity lies in who has the authority or right to impose such a legal expectation, a category that can encompass a broad range of situations and entities. A common example of an expectation of compliance comes through the widely applied Occupational Health and Safety standards that mandate the treatment of workers and the rights and responsibilities of both employees, employers, and even the general public in relation to safety at the work place. This standard is enforced by Occupational Health and Safety officers employed by the government that authors the standard, an entity that has the capability to enforce the legal obligations to this regulation upon any person(s) or company that is found to be in non-compliance with the regulation.

 

Conformance

Conformance on the other hand is seen as the voluntary adherence to do something in a recognized way. Conformance is widely applied in every facet of life in and out of the workplace, cultural norms and social expectations of how to act are a widely applied form of conformance, and the exercise of rebelling against or challenging these is at its most basic form, a non-conformance. The spirit of conformity when it applies to quality systems and their application comes from the desire to improve and better the processes and procedures that a company may have in place to ensure consistent results when providing products or services to a client. Conformance comes from within, or from the bottom up, we choose to remove our shoes when entering someone’s home as a form of voluntary conformance to a widely recognized cultural standard, this standard may change in different situations or locations based on what is recognized as acceptable in that area, and isn’t imposed upon us by any external influence. To get everything in order, in alignment and cohesion, to create a status quo as an expectation for the operation of a company or application of a standard or process is the heart of conformity in our industry.

 

Special Applications

Why is there confusion surrounding this topic?  When I chose to research the difference between the two terms I found a myriad of conflicting reports and viewpoints on the subject, arguments and disagreements depending on the perspective of the author or the application of the term. In fact, in many cases sources would say that the terms are downright interchangeable, and that the disagreement in the usage of the term actually stems from the difference between standard “British English” and standard “American English” as so many terms or spellings fall to.  Through investigation into the origins of the words and their applications across a wide berth of situations I was able to differentiate the difference and come to a conclusion because of one distinct caveat. “If someone mandates you meet the requirements of a standard or test method then conformance becomes compliance (i.e. your conformity is required in order for you to comply).”  This very important distinction, and how it applies to the codes and standards that I am familiar with provides a clear difference that is easily demonstrated and repeated. For example, ISO:9001 is a commonly applied international standard for the structure and application of a quality management program. This standard is a matter of conformance when viewed in solidarity, a widely recognized way of doing something that a company or organization will choose to adhere to in order to better their own processed and procedures, and in fact improve the company as a whole. However, when we take this standard and apply it in conjunction with a matter of compliance such as a client contract. The conformance standard becomes a matter of compliance in itself. If we do not conform to the standard, we will not comply to the contract and could be penalized by law, an external force is implying this voluntary standard, making it an involuntary matter of compliance.  Many companies deal with repeating similar situations within their industry in which contractual requirements are the norm, a standard such as ISO 9001 will be continually stipulated in contractual legal agreements making ISO 9001, in their eyes, a matter of compliance. Many other organizations choose to adhere to the standard as a widely recognized guideline, making it a matter of conformance. A second example of this phenomenon would be the instance of an owner operator producing or procuring a system of pressure piping. If the pressure piping in question falls within the defined scope of the jurisdictional authority’s code, e.g. ASME B31.1, then the production of that system to the requirements of the code is a matter of compliance. This standard is being externally applied by the jurisdictional authority to a legal degree. If that same company is producing a piping system that does not fall within the scope of the aforementioned code, but requests that engineers and fabricators use ASME B31.1 as a guideline for production, this code becomes a matter of conformance as it is being voluntarily adhered to from within.

Conclusion

In summary, the main difference between compliance and conformance is the source of the implementation of whichever guideline or standard is in question. Externally applied with legal ramifications is a matter of compliance, internally applied with voluntary adherence is conformance. But don’t forget that some standards of compliance can be conformed to, and some guidelines for conformance can become a matter of compliance.