For years, our client could not accurately quantify the extent to which it was over-inspecting.
Government regulations require a minimum inspection rate for various types of welds, for each welder; to stay on top of it, the company was performing more inspections than necessary, at their cost, because they were blind as to how many inspections they needed or did not need. Further, in doing too many in some areas, they were missing too many in other areas. They were simply operating blind, carrying too much risk that they couldn't reduce, and generally not meeting their own internal standard of excellence.
Tracking the weld inspections on paper was simply not good enough for the degree of control that we knew was possible. During a turnaround, when contract welders come onto site, that could add up to hundreds of welders.
Working closely with senior inspectors, we developed a tool* that may be a first in the entire industry for its simplicity yet comprehensive scope in managing all welders, welds, inspections and issues.
Phase 1 - Moving forward from paper
Our first phase was to set up a spreadsheet Log for each individual welder. It was definitely progress over paper, enabling data entry standardization and quality control to improve the quality of the data being retained.
Inspectors add weld records to a controlled log sheet, highlighting fields that are mandatory for Inspection compliance, and enabling them to see clearly if they're missing anything. And if a weld fails its inspection, the correct number of tracer flags show up, pinpointing which welder, weld, weld type, job file and drawing number needs to be followed up.
This progress was primarily for the Inspectors and the data entry and day-to-day compliance activity. But, all the data was saved across all the individual spreadsheets. Security and data integrity risk were unsustainable - more management tools and company value required we take it to the next level.
Phase 2 - A true database
Phase 2 introduced an MS Access back-end to a single Excel front-end.
The dashboard above provides management with a quick overview of the team's performance. If the trend changes, they see it immediately (report updates each time the entire data set is updated, which happens several times each day).
The summary above gives inspectors a bird's eye view of their entire practice. Any compliance issues are easily visible and can be acted upon quickly. Now, they're working smartly, doing the right inspection at the right time, and not doing any unnecessary inspections.
Overviews are great. And so are well-laid out, clear details...
One click filters the hundreds of rows of summary data to the action list, by welder, or weld procedure, or job file...all the data is broken out by weld type.
Inspection failures are broken out by welder, procedure, pipe size, job file...or any other slice/dice that may provide value for proactive management.
User controls are managed on (you guessed it) a Control sheet, including welder ID, weld and inspection parameters, and even backup management to the most recent versions without having to contact your IT department for yesterday's enterprise tape back up copy.
Tracking welder certifications is another challenge. Whose certifications are going to expire in 90 days? 60 days? 30 days? Are the welders on a job certified to perform that particular weld?
A weld certification database that connects to the welder percent log would help avoid the cost of cutting out welds that were themselves performed well, but performed by a welder without a valid certification, and would help administrators contact welders to anticipate having to renew certifications in a timely manner before the expiry, ensuring maximum availability.
Whereas, before, it was impossible to know how close to inspections compliance they were, team leaders now have a tool that raises a flag if their team falls below 99.5%.
Yep, you read that right - if they fall beyond one half of 1% below perfect, they are immediately aware of all the whos, whats, whens and wheres of it, and can respond, in a timely and pinpointed manner, to address the specific issue. In a space of a few months in development, they went from darkness to razor sharp, real-time clarity about their portfolio's performance.
The value of this tool is measured in mitigated risk and unnecessary costs saved, amounting to millions of dollars. The investment to develop this tool was, by comparison, paltry, for the exponential return on investment it is producing.
If you suspect your organization could be doing things much more quickly, accurately, cost-effectively, securely, and profitably, you're probably right. If you want to explore what's possible, talk to us - we can help.
* To protect the confidentiality of our client, titles that could be used to identify their information has been blurred out, of course.