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What does it take to be a coating inspector?

Posted by Tom Swan on Mar 25th 2020

What does it take to be a coating inspector?


BE Prepared – It’s just not for Boy Scouts.


Before they take on a job, coating inspectors can do several types of preparation. In addition to obtaining professional certification, they should also have knowledge and experience that's appropriate for the job. A good inspector not only know how to use the inspection tools but also understands how the tools work and why you follow certain procedures. If you meet these qualitifications, whether you are inspection a bridge, a pipeline, a tank lining or marine structure, there are enough similarities between these projects that inspectors should be able to transition between projects with only a slight learning cure.

Prior to taking on any project, whether as a lead inspector or just an inspector, it is important to prepare in advance before you get to the job site. You should have read and summarized the specifications. If you have any question, bring them up before the start of the project. Get clarification or changes in writing. If the contractor does not know the answer, it is his responsibility to get the answer and provide it in writing. You can read more about the project preparation in our online Coating Inspector's Handbook.


Though it's only a part of the inspector's training, this can give each inspector a solid ground to build best inspection practices off of. It's important to note that each certification represents specific skill sets that might not necessarily apply to all aspects of a job. NACE and SSPC programs both require time commitments. Either course can provide an excellent base, but nothing is a substitute for on the job experience.

For concrete-specific jobs, certification from the International Concrete Repair Institute may also apply. Programs from this source include concrete slab moisture testing and concrete surface repair technician certification, the latter of which encompasses a five-year training period

"A pre-construction meeting can leave all parties with realistic expectations."

Pre-inspection planning
Successful preparation involves both making sure you are ready and communicating effectively with the contractor. When I am in control of the program, I require the contractor to supply a submittal with their job plan. This provides a solid basis for the pre-construction meeting where everyone on the project can make sure they are starting from the same perspective. It is much easier to hold a contractor to their own plan submittal than arguing about what the specifications mean in the middle of a project.

Make sure both the inspectors and the contractors have the proper tools based on the project specifications. Determine in advance if the instruments need third party certification. Make sure you have the proper standards on site to make sure all instruments are in proper working order. Not all instruments measure the same. For example, if the contractor is using TestEx tape to determine surface profile and you are using a Surface Profile meter, you will probably get different values. If you understand why this occurs, it may be fine to do it this way but this should be discussed prior to starting the project. Also, if The contractor is using a sling and you are using an electronic meter, it is quite possible to get different readings. Do you know why and how do you resolve this. (Hint: this is discussed in detail in our Technical information on the web site)

Inspection Aids
while it may not be required for the project, there are several useful aids Inspectors should be familiar with such as surface preparation standards, as well as tests for visible contaminants such as oil, mildew and rust. Inspectors should have access to SSPC's various guides and references photographs, including VIS 1 through 5. Items such as tape tests can aid in determining visible surface contaminates, and UV or Black Lights can be useful for seeing Hydrocarbons

Coating inspectors need to know what to expect and which tools to use in their work.

Equipment troubleshooting skills
Before jumping to conclusions, make sure if you get a wrong measurement that it wasn’t caused by an improperly calibrated tool. For example, if measuring Dry fil thickness make sure the tool was adjusted to the properly blasted surface. If you are getting different reading from the contractor, before arguing, compare instruments. Calibrate them to the same substrate. Use the same shims to compare readings. Surface profile readings, if using TestEx tape, make sure the micrometer is reading right. Was it rubbed properly. Is there a lot of grit on the back of the tape.

You can troubleshoot the best when you not only understand how the test works but also why it works or doesn’t work. Many of the tips can be found in the Coating Inspectors Handbook on our web site

Contact M-Test to learn more about what makes an inspector, as well as inspection equipment options.


Testing Tips


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