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Perhaps before we talk about “how” to go the Cloud with NDT, we should talk about “why” you should go to the Cloud. Quite simply, as so many industries have discovered, Cloud computing increases efficiency and helps cut overhead costs. It also provides these benefits:
- disaster recovery
- easy collaboration
- data control
- secure access to information from any internet connection.
For anyone involved in NDT, all of these factors are important, but perhaps one of the most important is the fact that all data and image files are stored centrally so everyone sees one version of the truth. This is a big deal, whether you’re comparing changes in an internal stress fracture in a highly traveled bridge or the internal functioning of a jet engine.
Greater visibility means improved collaboration, which ultimately means better decisions, improved safety, and lower costs. If you’re still relying on the old way, it could be time to try something a little more streamlined.
Working with NDT Digital Archiving
NDT means images, and the Cloud means digital images. The Cloud provides a central archive of historical inspection data. But, in order to be meaningful over time, an image standard must be maintained.
The DICONDE standard, borrowed from the medical industry’s DICOM standard, became official for NDT as far back as 2004. DICONDE stands for Digital Imaging and Communication for Non-Destructive Evaluation. The DICOM standard has proven an effective way to standardize medical images for sharing over multiple viewing platforms, became virtually de facto for Non-Destructive Evaluation, where it morphed into DICONDE. It was the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E07.11 subcommittee that made DICONDE the standard (E2339-11) for NDT imaging.
By adhering to the DICONDE standard, a Cloud-based central archive of NDT images can be maintained, making storing, pre-inspection planning, and post-inspection analysis happen more quickly and more accurately. It also provides a platform for future re-analysis (with newer software tools) or assisting in root cause inquiries. In a digital archive, images are stored with critical metadata (part, revision, inspector) allowing for quick image search, and retrieval.
Making It Happen
So, you think it all sounds pretty good, but you think that the move from film images to digital would take too long, be so time-consuming and complicated that the change itself would nullify any benefit gained from Cloud computing. After all, the way you’ve been doing things works, right?
Unfortunately, companies who think like this don’t stay competitive for long. If staying competitive is part of your long-range plan, then one of the easiest organizational changes you can make is to move to the Cloud. Moving your NDT to the cloud gives your company access to enterprise-class technology that comes at a lower cost than nearly anything else that you could do. Cloud computing allows smaller businesses to act more quickly than big, established competitors. The pay-as-you-go service of the NDT Cloud means that even small manufacturing firms and testing firms can compete with the larger companies.
As you update testing equipment, you will be forced to move to digital as older technologies fade out. So, have a plan in place.
The first thing to do is to address the handling of prior analog film. Secure a good film digitizer or outsource the film digitizing and go fully digital and into the Cloud. Don’t try to work in both the analog and digital worlds. As you deploy your Cloud image management system, fully embrace it to prevent additional costs and disrupted workflow. Remember the Cloud is about efficiency, but for a technician, just one analog film a day can create significant workflow and product review challenges.
With the use of digital (DICONDE) technology, and Cloud-based storage and access, NDT image workflows are simpler and more cost-efficient than traditional film workflows. From acquisition to sharing, a cloud-based digital image workflow improves delivery and report integration for visual and radiographic NDT users