Inspection and Quality: How Far Have We Come in 45 Years?

From JPCL, December 2012

by Kenneth A. Trimber, KTA-Tator, Inc.

The author raises questions about practical improvements in inspection and quality over the past 45 years. To address the question of progress, he compares facets related to inspection and quality control in 1966 with those facets today....
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Tagged categories: Coating inspection; Kenneth A. Trimber; Quality Control

Comment from Stephen Pinney, (2/4/2013, 4:08 AM)

Ray Tooke put the Tooke gage out in the 60s and was very helpful. Also, I miss that pull off thickness gage with the plastic body. It conformed to the shape of the dash board on a hot day!

Comment from William Ross, (2/4/2013, 8:13 AM)

Excellent article Ken. I agree that the spirit of the specifications and intended service, particularly on large projects is sometimes lost during QA / QA activity. Experiance is a rare commodity and "common sense" decision making can only prevail when all stakeholders are able to recognize that the "grey areas" can usually be resolved simply by using concientious judgement in conjuntion with a properly written specification. As you know, this is a difficult proposition at best. While our industry has changed we are still faced with stone age mentality far to often. Unfortunately,due to todays cost per s.f the "sport" of construction claims will continue to flourish.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/5/2013, 9:08 AM)

The biggest problem with accepting 25, 1/8" islands of mill scale as SP-5 is the next day when you are likely to be presented with something closer to 50, 1/4" islands of mill scale to be accepted as SP-5. You accepted mill scale islands yesterday even though the surface plainly didn't meet spec - why can't you accept these today? Now that you have accepted 50, 1/4" islands, you are later likely to be presented with something closer to 75, 1/2" islands of mill scale, et cetera, et cetera.

Comment from Kenneth Trimber, (2/5/2013, 4:03 PM)

Tom, I agree that we need to have limits and an inspector cannot arbitrarily take liberties with the specification for a number of reasons, including getting out of hand as you are suggesting. But it’s also important to recognize that achieving 100% compliance across every square inch of a complex cleaning and painting project is not practically achievable. While the project specification is always the rule, random instances of borderline compliance will always occur, and in those cases, I’m suggesting that the responsible parties (the decision-makers) sit down to discuss the issues and exercise some common sense rather than automatically standing behind the absolute letter of the specification and demanding unwavering compliance. If the issues are critical to the performance of the coating, then no exceptions should be made, but if a few flecks of mill scale or 0.2 mils is meaningless, then make a decision and move forward. Note also that in my example, I used Near White rather than White to cloud the issue a little further, since SP10 allows stains of mill scale on up to 5% of each unit area. This opens up an entirely different question. What’s the difference between mill scale and a stain of mill scale, and how do you determine one from the other?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/6/2013, 8:47 AM)

Ken, I can agree that there needs to be some reason applied to complex structures. On your example in particular: if the surface issue is an "island" of mill scale as described - it is not a stain. Basically, if I can see actual material on the surface and not just discoloration of the parent metal - it does not meet SP5/6/10. A simple answer would be to allow the contractor to remove the islands with power tools under stringent requirements (Say, SP11 with a minimum 2 mil profile - which pretty much defaults to the "rotary impact wire wheel" or something similar.) This will get the steel clean and profiled, but avoid the need for firing up the blast hoses and a major blowdown/de-dusting.

Comment from shane hirvi, (2/15/2013, 1:47 AM)

Good read. I find myself concerned with the lack of experience and common sense alarming but what really freaks me out is the lack of basic inspection fundamentals in some inspectors these days. There are too many inspectors that don't know how to do profile tests, dfts, salt tests, grit tests, blotter tests, etc... Couple these things (inexperience, lack of common sense and lack of the fundamentals) and add them to the 7,000 plus inspectors that NACE & SSPC are pumping out and there will be problems. Many of these inspectors have no idea that they are in the sports arena of claims--as an inspector these things scare me. I've seen some people do some really bad things in this business--I've seen an engineer who told me that he was going to intentionally default a contractor. Then I watched him require that contractor to pressure wash a lead bridge over a river and provide containment of that water, filter that water and disposal all under the auspices of SP1. He said it was to remove soluble salts but he never provided an acceptance criteria for soluble salts--oh and it was in a rural portion of a southwestern state. I kept sayin you can't do this but he'd always say "but it's in the's in the spec." He made them paint a mile of guard rail that didnt require painting but he insisted "it's in the spec it's In the spec." He tested the ph of a newly applied sacking material and insisted that the coating applied on top of it was burned as a result and then tried to direct them to blast it off with dry ice. There are ten or more egregious examples of this guy abusing his authority but nobody really called him on it but rather they fed the fire. This is what scares me--people that don't know what they are doing but are in a position of authority. 25 spots of mill scale? How bout we as inspectors get in there before it is laboratory clean and them let them crank up their blast hoses and do it right. 25 spots of mill scale and it's going to rain? Mark the spots and paint around them. Not sure if it's discoloration in the steel or mill scale? Copper sulfate or be knowledgable enough to do the job you were hired to do. Upset that the mils are high or low? Get out of your truck or office and stick a wet film gauge in the paint. Upset that the contractor is not getting 100% coverage? Get out of your truck or office while they are striping and point out the tough spots. Don't know how to do a salt test? Get out of your truck or office and call the manufacturer. Wonder why the wet film doesn't jive with the dry film? Get out of your truck or office and watch them mix paint. Common sense isn't found sitting in your truck waiting for the perfect paint job and crying when it doesn't magically appear on a wing-Ed Pegasus. There are dirty inspectors and clean inspectors and you can't ever know what's really going on with your project if you sit in your truck and fuss about dirt under your Fingernails. I'm a dirty inspector--maybe I'm just curious or maybe I'm an idiot, or maybe I actually care about the project or maybe I should buy a truck with a nicer interior so I can fuss over it and ignore my job. I really appreciate the roads you guys paved in this industry but I mourn the loss of common sense when you guys retire...anyways it was a good read and brings to mind some things that have been running through my head the last few years.

Comment from Charles Williams, (2/18/2013, 2:12 PM)

We've came along way, but we have along way to go. Its almost as if anyone can become an inspector, the older guys are getting out and the new guys lack to much to be considered qualified. Competentence is the key here, no classroom give you experience. its hard not to become bitter about this issue. Exercise your power for the big picture not to be a pain.

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