What have we learned by living through a pandemic?
As living with COVID becomes less restrictive, I’m hopeful that our industry will once again be able to host face to face forums, seminars and events that provide the opportunity for the sharing of new ideas, like minded industry connections and an opportunity to engage and learn from subject matter experts.Although a lot of these events successfully transitioned to online over the last 2 years, many would agree there’s something not quite the same as being physically present and, in that fashion, the same could be said for working from home and remote inspection.
COVID not only created an acceptance for certain occupations to work from home, but often challenged how inspections could be conducted without the technician or inspector being physically present at the location of inspection.
While remotely controlling inspection equipment or providing a video feed of an asset being inspected have been implemented with some success, it’s the responsibility of the inspection organisation, AICIP, AINDT and other global peak bodies to ensure these introduced technologies and methods do not reduce the quality, safety or the standard of inspection conducted.
Those familiar with remote digital video inspection, or RDVI, would know the accepted practice of an in-service inspector conducting an interval vessel inspection with a borescope, pole camera or other means thereby removing the requirement for confined space entry. But what if the inspector wasn’t at the vessel? What if they were providing inspection guidance from the other side of the world? Would there be any loss of quality? Could a UAV be guided from across the country?
Could a dye penetrant or magnetic particle inspection be conducted by someone with no experience while being guided remotely by an NDT technician? What if artificial intelligence provided some of the decision making? When can an accredited/certified report be issued? For some of these examples, the answer is clear, for others, there’s a grey area which needs some ongoing discussion and guidance. The automotive industry provides some interesting parallels in their reach for fully autonomous vehicles. The Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) have produced guidance which maps the key “gates” or requirements for technology to ultimately provide autonomous driving through 6 stepped tiers, being: Level 0 – no automation; Level 1 – hands on/shared control; Level 2 – hands off; Level 3 – eyes off; Level 4 – mind off, and Level 5 – steering wheel optional.
Another document, more closely aligned with in-service inspection, is the assessment standard produced by the Lloyds Register Group for remote inspection technique systems (RITS) of Lloyds Register marine structures. This document outlines the requirements for remote inspection as well as the relevant performance tests needed to qualify any technology looking to replace direct marine inspection with a remote technology.
This year, in consultation with Australian industry and in line with this increasing trend, AICIP will deliver inspection guidance outlining the limits of applicability for both ISI and SISI when conducting remote inspection, as well as recommended best practice for conducting inspections remotely. The document will aim to serve as guidance for inspectors who are uncertain as to whether they’re able to issue a certified inspection report for work conducted remotely and to give confidence to clients that the remote work conducted is equivalent to or better than a conventional direct inspection. While further information will be posted on the AICIP website in the future, organisations or members of the inspection community wanting to contribute are encouraged to contact AICIP via [email protected].
AICIP Board of Directors