Databooks and Documentation: Do Quality Reports Matter?


One of the most critical elements in successful NDE/RT examinations is reporting; it also happens to be one of the most neglected. The paperwork can be a tedious subject, but as one company found out the hard way, it doesn’t pay to skimp. This company was involved in a build and trying to sell the pipeline they constructed. Unfortunately, due to a poor workflow and lack of understanding of its importance, the majority of the NDE examination and technique sheets supplied by their previous RT contractors were either misplaced or disposed of.

The technique sheets explained how a shot was taken, as opposed to the results of each test, which is provided on the reader sheet. This particular contractor filled them out by hand, on carbon-copy triplicate forms, separate from the reader sheets… hard to read and easy to lose! Most firms place importance on whether welds were accepted or rejected, not the techniques used, so it's easy to overlook these documents, as this company did. Long story short, the buyer would not approve the data book for the pipeline. In this business, if the report isn’t there, and written properly, the job isn’t done.

The Problem

If you have managed or run the construction of a new pipeline you have experienced having to rework welds. The NDE calls the weld, the weld is redone, and the weld gets inspected. All too often in the push to complete construction, the status of rewelds and redoing NDE gets lost. The pipeline gets put back in the ground and then later someone realizes that the weld was not redone or re-shot with NDE.

What happens now? Re-excavation of the pipes… more lost time… more expense? Definitely more frustration.

So what’s the answer? Effective daily tracking and databasing. If you can easily see what needs re-worked you will naturally schedule it prior to burying the pipe.

What to Look for in NDE/RT Reports

The first consideration is to work with a vendor who understands that data books are an important part of the end game and needed for regulatory purposes, as well as for the later selling of assets, not just for invoicing! Missing information reduces the value of the reports because it cannot show that the work was done completely. Since everyone checks the data book, missing information presents a problem when it comes time to sell your assets.

Other Considerations

Typed Reports vs. Handwritten

As stated earlier, many NDT firms still fill out triplicate forms by hand with yellow and pink carbon copies. This makes them subject not only to possibly illegible handwriting situations but by the time they get to the third copy of a carbon form, it is very difficult to make out what was written.

Technique Sheets Given Proper Weight

Sheets should be filled out completely and accurately for every job, by technicians who understand what every single box means on the form. This seems like a “no-brainer” right? Well, in practice, it is rarely done as many technicians view this as optional. That’s where rigorous classroom training and performance demonstrations make the difference. This is so important, and it’s why we train our people so rigorously on how to fill out paperwork.

Reproducibility - Digital Storage and Databasing

Paper copies are susceptible to getting damaged or misfiled. If the original report is done on paper, there should also be a scanned digital backup. This ensures you can always access a clean, original copy at any time, from anywhere.

An example of this importance comes from one of our customers that had a change in management, and their document storage suffered in the transition. When it came time to try to sell a portion of their pipeline, they had to scramble to assemble and then partially recreate their data book. This was similar to the situation referenced at the beginning of this post, the difference being that since they were a long-time customer, IIA had a digital copy of everything. Our digital copies are stored in a database, immediately searchable by AFE number, job name, and by line.

They called us in a panic, but within minutes we were able to provide them with all the original copy reports electronically. All the NDE was immediately reproducible.

The End Result

Daily Tracking of Each and Every Weld

Our quality systems allow for a daily report, listing the status of every weld. If there is rework to be done on a weld, it is highlighted in RED so that it cannot be missed. This small step has kept countless sections of pipe from being reburied prior to weld completion! The IIA Field Services team understands the value of these reports are how they are used by your company, now and in the future. As such, our reporting paints a full picture of what was done, what was found, and how it was done at every job. The end result, as we have been told countless times, is that we have the best reports in the industry, something we are extremely proud of.

NDE/RT reporting and documentation quality matters! Keep these considerations in mind when choosing an NDT supplier.