The Professional Body is a non-statutory, self-funding, non-profit organization with its main source of income being derived from the registration of its professional members
The Professional Body is a non-statutory, self-funding, non-profit organization with its main source of income being derived from the registration of its professional members.
A long awaited and exciting transformation within the Non Destructive Testing (NDT) industry is currently underway. During an NDT Indaba, held in February 2013 - following a very successful NDT World conference held in Durban - 2012, the need for an entity that can enhance the professionalism and quality of NDT within industry was expressed. The need for integration of the various training, qualification and certification processes into one workable solution, that would address the industry, as well as end-user requirements, was emphasised. While the framework / individual aspects relating to professional designation process has long been in place, the alignment of functions into one coherent process was required.
It is crucial for personnel performing NDT to be properly trained, qualified and certified, since NDT forms one of the cornerstones for statutory inspections which are mandated by law to protect the public and employees at their place of work.
Apart from the challenge of uniting the internationally recognised certification systems viz. the personnel based certification (ISO 9712) system with the company based certification (SNT-TC-1A / CP 189); the industry needs to comply with the NQF Act (Act No 67 of 2008) The objectives of the NQF Act are designed to contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large. SAQA's (South African Qualification Authority) responsibility is to recongise learning achievement through the registration of Professional Bodies and Professional Designations.
The SAINT Professional Body for NDT have embarked on this ambitious route by developing a workable solution and holding road shows during January 2014, in the various regions, to gather support and to explain the process and benefits of having a professional designation. In a nutshell, the professional designation process is utilising the benefits from each of the individual and well established systems, to enhance the overall quality of the service delivery within the NDT industry. Let's consider each aspect individually.
Although training guidelines are provided in documents such as ISO 25108, with syllabi being proposed in ISO 25107, CP 105 and IAEA Tecdoc 628, no international standard exists that would facilitate an accreditation audit, of training providers, to be performed. At present the registered ETQA (Education and Traning Qualifications Authority) is responsible for accrediting training providers against the eight (8) core critieria set by SAQA. The SAINT Professional Body for NDT will be applying to take over this responsibility by applying to the QCTO (Qualifications Council for Trade and Occupations) who are now reponsible for quality assurance to ensure that companies providing training do comply with the national and international requirements within the NDT industry.
Initial training of personnel, relating to specific product or industrial sectors and in accordance with International codes, standards and procedures shall be performed at approved training bodies (ATB) and shall comply with ISO 9712. Following the training program an assessement or end - of course test shall be required, prior to the candidate being issued with a proof of training document.
After successfully completing the "formal" training program, the candidate can either enter a workplace application program (also referred to as the industrial experience phase) or select to write the independent qualification examination. Regardless which option is selected first, the remaining option also has to be completed.
During the workplace application program the candidate is required to get training on company specific procedures and processes with emphasis placed on mastering the skill required in each NDT technique. This area of training, evaluation (which includes company specific examinations) and mentoring shall be based on the SNT-TC-1A approach where progress of the student is recorded against the established written practice. The NDT level 3s, in compliance with approved written practices, shall be responsible for this training / experience phase and would be required to assess and record the candidate's progress.
The independent qualification examination shall be based on the ICNDT (International Committee for Non-Destructive Testing) question databank and shall be compliant with ISO 9712 requirements. The Authorised Qualification Body (AQB), which forms part of the certification body, shall be responsible for all examination related procedures and deliverables.
Only after the training, qualification examination and industrial experience has been completed, would the candidate be eligible to apply for ISO 9712 certification by submitting the required information, which must include a copy of a vision acuity certificate.
The company would, following the issuing of the personnel certificate and based on the industrial experience matrix completed, be able to provide either an authorisation or company certificate for the NDT individual which documents the fact that the candidate are allowed to perform inspection on behalf of the NDT company.
The professional designation process requires that all of the abovementioned processes be completed, before the candidate can be designated as a NDT Operator (Level 1), NDT Technician (Level 2) or other designations as developed by the Professional Body and based on industry demands.
Annual renewal of professional designation shall be based on the accumulation of CPD (continued professional development) points as well as on-going performance in the field of NDT, while still maintaining the ISO 9712 certificate as well as company authorisation or certificate (which is generally valid for 5 years).
The benefit for the end-user can be found in the fact that annual ‘performance assessment' is required for each individual, and where site or end-user authorisation tests are required, these tests can form part of the assessment process, thus eliminating the need for additional resources having to be allocated by the end-user. For example, if the candidate is assessed via a practical test and found competent to inspect certain components, then the designation should be adequate for all petrochemical and / or power generation plants. The participation of end-users in developing this process is of utmost importance.
Thus to summarise, this course of action undertaken by the Professional Body takes the independence and focus on international requirements of the ISO 9712 system, combines it with the hands-on mentoring and company based knowledge required by the SNT-TC-1A system and moulds it within the framework of a structured national training program and continuous professional development into a product that would enhance the professional stature of NDT and the related quality of service provided to industry.