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Wilkinson Coutts & Matthews Integrity Training

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WILKINSON COUTTS / MATTHEWS INTEGRITY HUB: an up-to-the-minute information mix designed to help you with your lifework and career development in the asset integrity, inspection and NDE industries.

Matthew Petroleum Notes

NDE and Asset Integrity: THE DIFFERENCE

It’s easy to get confused

Looking from outside the industry, the term Non-Destructive Testing or (examination if you prefer) are easy to confuse with its big brothers, Asset Integrity and Asset Management. These last two terms are fairly recent newcomers leading to a tendency, even within the industry, to use them interchangeably. Let’s try and clear up the differences with some simple definitions.

NDT is the group of analysis techniques used to check for defects in a component. About 90% of the subject is hands-on doing activity with the other 10% behind the scenes devising, improving and validating new and existing techniques.

Asset Integrity is the wider discipline of ensuring a piece of equipment remains, safe to use and fit-for-purpose. It uses NDT plus other techniques such as design assessment, corrosion assessment, inspection, testing, metallurgy and other aspects of chemistry, physics and mechanics to get an overall view of the whole thing. NDT is a significant (perhaps 30-40%), part of the picture but needs all the other disciplines around it.


Asset Integrity Management (AIM)

Asset Integrity Management (AIM)

Drop the word ‘management’ into any term and it widens the scope, at the same time taking the edge off what it is really about. The words get longer and the acronyms more prolific. AIM is therefore about Asset Integrity (as above) plus all the systems covering policy, management, planning, objectives, feedback, environmental this-and-that, economics, personnel issues and money that surround it.

In the offshore industry AIM came into focus with the Health and Safety Executive Key Programme 3 (KP3) report which looked the UK offshore installations (about 40% of them). It divided them into red, yellow and green ‘safety traffic light’ status. The results weren’t too good and everybody got very excited about it. As it the way with ‘concepts’ an industry has grown up around the concept of AIM to include standards (See ISO 55000:2014) and an expanding number of institutes and organisations.

AIM is therefore a very wide topic, of which NDE and inspection are a constituent part.

The difference on the ground

Let’s stick to the difference between NDE and Asset Integrity, leaving the motiveless management metrics for another day.

A lot of successful Integrity Inspectors come from an NDT technician background.  They have formal NDT qualifications (CSWIP, PCN, ASNT or whatever) and have gained practical experience by involvement with welding, fabricated structures and pressure equipment. This is a useful background. To make the move into integrity easier however it is necessary to consider the various other knowledge areas that have not featured in that NDT background. Here are some of them:

  • The operational aspects of engineering plant and systems, and how they work
  • Technical appreciation of plant design
  • Knowledge of damage mechanisms (DMs)
  • Appreciation of more academic topics such as fitness-for-purpose (FFP) assessment

Alongside these can lie the difficulty in adapting from the world of NDT, which is based around well-defined techniques and defect acceptance criteria to the more judgmental, ‘multiple shades of grey’, world of in-service inspection and asset integrity. This is a step that can be difficult for some people, previously used to presenting their NDT results then leaving the decision-making to someone else.

The Challenge

There’s the challenge

Its challenges like these that make a career in Asset Integrity interesting. If you want to know more about moving on from NDE then read our article: NDT Upskilling: Mid-career lane changing.  If you want to check the suitability of your knowledge ,then test yourself with the various technical quizzes around our website. Start with the: NDT Upskilling knowledge QUIZ


 Who are we?

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