NDT Certification

NDT Certification Differences

Institutional certifications and recommended practice certifications. What’s the difference?

Supplying clients with certificated technicians is essential in our industry; unfortunately, not all contractors provide the expected quality of technician. The result is that the client wants evidence that the technicians are properly qualified.
In many cases the technician holds the responsibility of passing a judgement on the acceptance or rejection of the inspected component. It is the operator through whom we depend to accurately evaluate defects and indications; if the operator is not properly knowledgeable, trained and experienced they might totally misjudge the results of NDT and reject components which are sound and capable of performing in the service. On the other hand, they might send the faulty components into service which may become a source of premature failure. In both cases the consequences are going to be adverse. In the first case the organization is going to suffer undue production losses while in the second the premature failure may lead to even bigger losses. Of no less importance is the integrity of the operator in view of his ability to provide accurate reports.
A central system of certification (per ISO 9712 and EN473) such as CGSB, PCN, CSWIP and ACCP has technicians study the relevant subject material, undertake the necessary experience and training requirements and then go to an authorized examination provider to take an independently set and invigilated examination. When they pass their exam, they are awarded a certificate of competency in that respective NDT Discipline. This can then be used by their employer or a potential employer anywhere within its jurisdictional or accepted limits. At Buffalo Inspection Services, we have chosen to support our clients and technicians with certifications that are recognized broadly as thee standard. We see this as a competitive advantage and a sustainable quality standard for our clients.
The employer still has a level of responsibility of ensuring the capability of the technician in applying their qualification (Duty of Care) to the specific work process, but this is relatively easy task compared to the qualification process. However, When the technician asserts an opinion on an inspection with an institutional certification their opinion has increased “Value at law” due to their duty of care obligations.

In the ASME system, the ASNT Recommended Practice SNT-TC-1A is the dominant certification program, it is not an institutional program but an employer-based form of certification. SNT-TC-1A is a recommended practice and not a standard, which gives the employer a certain amount of flexibility concerning the necessary requirements needed for an NDT technician pertaining to the specific NDT applied. A written practice allows discretion in the practical nature of examination, which is for all intent and purpose a positive element. However, the negative aspects of discretion give way to the temptation to provide inadequate structure and correctness to the certification process along with the relative capacity to ‘rubber stamp’ certification. Additionally, the SNT-TC-1A program has no portability for the technician and as such has no central database for verification. This has been an ongoing challenge and complaint from NDT customers for years when it comes to the overall competency of a technician. In addition to this challenge is that the technician’s opinion is inherently linked to the NDT service provider who is linked by code to the manufacturer or fabricator. Which means that a technician’s opinion has limited or no Value at Law (per code) by comparison to the employer or fabricator. Buffalo does provide our technicians with the added practical in-house oversight of an SNT exam however, we are moving towards wanting as a minimum for our technicians to have CGSB, PCN,CSWIP and ACCP as table stakes for competency.
As production demands and reliability increase, the opinion of an NDT technician has become more and more important as far as identifying and evaluating defects and indications correctly and accurately.

I remember in the Middle East years ago, when technicians came from all over the world and there was not a clear understanding of consistency in certification; for this reason and others similar, the ‘performance demonstration’ was established.
In the interim we have had API establish performance evaluation tests and more recently ASNT’s central certification program ACCP and now we have ASME coming up with their own contribution in the form of ANDE “The ASME Nondestructive examination” program. The instigator of all these performance demonstrations to identify technicians capable of finding cracking in SS welds was the Nuclear Industry.
Now, with the plethora of certification programs out there we have what appears to be a never-ending requirement for training and all its incumbent expenses. Whether this creates better technicians or not remains to be seen, but, it sure creates a scarcity of skilled personnel.
Industry needs to agree on a standard of certification that ensures competency and accuracy in the delivery of the service. CGSB, PCN, CSWIP and ACCP are the pillars of internationally recognized central certification programs and are increasingly essential for hiring and advancement at Buffalo Inspection Services, These programs should be a minimum pre-requisite to all NDT undertaken in our country.


Continuous Improvement and the NDT market

Believe it or not, we are now 18 years into the 21st century, no flying cars quite yet but look closer to earth and the change that is occurring may spin your head. Our industry, NDT – used to be a simple RT, UT, MT, PT, ET, VT type scenario; yet, in the last decade we have seen the unabated rise of Digital versions of these disciplines with 3D imaging, digitized outputs and Cloud connectivity that allows a person in Alberta to monitor, in real-time, an inspection in Argentina; whether it be a digital film, a phased array scan or a Tangential Eddy Current scan, all can be done remotely and at the speed of light.
Our market can change on a dime depending on commodity prices, competitiveness or regulatory needs. Technological changes to the status quo are being thrust upon us whether we like it or not.

How do we keep ahead of the game and stay in the market? As a company, Buffalo Inspection Services are alert to change and ahead of the herd in identifying trends and technologies; a bigger part of the picture is certification and competencies. Some of which we cover with our institutional and company accreditation programs but increasingly with dedicated OEM training.
As front-line participants in this industry, it is incumbent upon us as technicians to keep up to date, adapt to changes as quickly as possible through continuous education and continuous improvement, and expand our body of knowledge in all disciplines. This then allows us to move into markets and sectors seamlessly and build out our customer base.

Buffalo TrainingIf you aren’t a member of an institutional body such as CINDE, ASNT, BINDT then you should join. These institutions publish monthly and quarterly journals packed with information on the latest in technology and training. It can also count for credit towards your certification renewals.
Plan to educate yourself every year with courses, certifications or conference attendance (its tax deductible), take the time to learn something new as often as possible to increase your skill sets and employability. Jobs done well and with a high level of quality and competency are ours and your best advertisement.


Buffalo is very well aware of the pace of change and we endeavor to support our technicians with training, practical support and leading technology to ensure they are as productive as possible. We encourage our team to be the best by rewarding the best technicians in technical and academic achievement annually. Come join the herd, your efforts for Life Long Learning and achievement with clients will not go unnoticed.


By: Andrew Crawford, TQMS Manager and Resident SME
Larry Kaumeyer, CEO


Buffalo Has First Paper Presented at CINDE Conference

Executive Summary

This paper documents the development of an alternative ultrasonic testing (UT) technique for examination of structural welds as per CSA W59.

The purpose of developing a new technique is to bring CSA W59 into the 21st century, allowing for modern techniques, equipment, and to provide a pathway for future development not permitted by the current 1960’s-era practices. The existing techniques were part of the 1969 edition of AWS D1.0. They were not developed from scientific principles or empirical evidence, yet have remained the “line in the sand” for structural UT in North America for nearly 50 years. Since then, exponential changes have taken place in technology and in the general UT world, yet Canadian and U.S codes have failed to keep pace. This has resulted in awkward techniques that many technicians misunderstand and circumvent. Ultimately, these outdated techniques fail to serve the purposes of repeatable and accurate inspections they propose to facilitate.

The existing fixed attenuation, or “FA” technique is shown to be based on assumptions of sound attenuation and inspection angles which do not hold up under scientific scrutiny. There is a philosophy of “one probe to rule them all” and angle-specific procedure tables which were installed to achieve consistent inspection results. However, the practices involved in limiting one’s options does not produce the consistencies intended. A new technique is presented which is similar to those used elsewhere in the UT industry. This is written as a true alternative to the existing technique, offering adapted acceptance criteria that retain the existing quality levels. Mathematical models and experimental data are presented which were used to generate the new criteria. Equivalence is also demonstrated through modeling. Variation in results is also significantly reduced.

The proposed alternative technique is under public review for inclusion in CSA W59-2018. The techniques developed in 1969 have served industry well for a very long time, but change is inevitable. To progress in a world of rapidly advancing technologies, it is important to adopt less regressive, more forward-thinking practices that can adapt and suit the needs of today.

Download the entire paper by clicking the image below:

Sa-W59 Ultrasound Inspection