Application of LEAN techniques in NDT, Welding and Third Party Inspection(TPI)


Rajan Ananthanarayanan,
Product Trustee & Founder,
Idea Brigade Technology Solutions LLP
LEAN is widely used in manufacturing or fabrication processes. Tenet of LEAN is to minimize waste in a process while simultaneously maximizing productivity. Simple reason being, customers are generally not willing to pay for waste. NDT, Welding and Third-Party Inspection are an integral part of manufacturing processes for determining the quality of goods produced.  Therefore, it is appropriate to review the applicability of LEAN in these areas as well.
Application of LEAN begins with the understanding of VALUE from customers’ perspective. In the context of customers of NDT, Welding and TPI companies, it is the Inspection Report which is handed over by the inspectors / engineers that has value.
Post Covid19, challenges for service providers such as NDT / Welding / TPI is to provide value to the customers by ensuring the quality of service at optimum cost.  Enterprises have to assess the entire process right from receiving a call (from a customer) to delivering the inspection service and finally the inspection report. This is an opportunity for implementing LEAN in the service delivery process. Picture below gives a perspective.

LEAN principles applied for NDT, Welding and Third-Party Inspection
(Specify the) Value: Inspection Reports are the collaterals from the customer standpoint. Every service provider – #NDT, #Welding, #TPI has templates of Inspection Reports for various types / methods of testing and inspection. It is important to ensure customer’s expectations are met through standardised Inspection Reports.
(Map the) Value Stream: Identify the steps involved in inspection and delivery of the Inspection Report, be it an inspection of a simple item or a large project that involves multiple man-days (man-month). This would involve men, machine (test devices), methods, governing standards (training and certification of skilled persons performing the work)
(Establish the) Process-Flow: Once the Value and Value Stream Mapping is complete, the internal processes of the organization are defined. This enables in repeating the cycle of work actually being performed. Optimization of processes and resources is critical to be agile and to remain competitive.
(Implement) Pull: ‘PULL’ is about delivering a service when a customer demands.  In other words, an NDT / Welding / TPI is deputed to the customer location when in need. This ensures just-in-time (JIT). This results in optimized deployment of skilled man-power.
(Target) First Time Quality: Processes built-in must result in Inspection Reports that are delivered correctly, the very first time.
(Allow) Continuous Improvement: As the process is adhered to, it allows continuous improvement wherever necessary.
Implementing the above process steps is possible in NDT | Welding | Third-party inspection companies.  It is for those enterprises to understand the LEAN concept holistically and re-write their internal processes.  A software system would also enable adherence to those internal processes.
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