Reports: A Closer Look

NDT personnel are often required to compile reports for two primary purposes. The reports are used to communicate information to customers, colleagues and managers, and they are used to document the equipment and procedures used in testing and the results obtained. These results may be used so that the inspection can be repeated if necessary or built upon.

The content and style of NDT reports vary widely depending on the primary purpose and the audience. Many companies and organizations have developed their own standard format. The sections generally included in technical reports are shown in Paragraph 2.1 with extracts from codes and standards regarding NDT reports are presented in Paragraph 2.2.

1. Qualities of Good NDT Reports

  1. Accuracy - Great care should be taken to ensure that all of the information is presented accurately. Make sure values are transferred correctly into the report and calculations are done properly.

    Since many people proofread right over their own typographical errors, it is often best to have another person proofread the report. Mistakes may cause the reader to doubt other points of the report and reflect on the professionalism of the author.

  2. Objectivity - Data must be evaluated honestly and without bias. Conclusions should be drawn solely from the facts presented. Opinions and conjecture should be clearly identified if included at all. Deficiencies or limitations in the testing or the results should be noted. Readers should be informed of all assumptions and probable sources of errors if encountered.

  3. Clarity - The author should work to convey an exact meaning to the reader. The text must be clear and unambiguous, mathematical symbols must be fully defined, and the figures and tables must be easily understood. Clarity must be met from the readers' point of view. Don’t assume that readers are familiar with previous work or previous reports.

    When photographs are included in a report, a scale or some object of standard size could be included in the photograph to help your readers judge the size of the objects shown. Ensure that the scaled object does not fill or dwarf the object being shown. Simply stating the magnification of a photograph can cause uncertainty since the size of photographs often change in reproduction.

  4. Conciseness - Most people are fairly busy and will not want to spend any more time than necessary reading a report. Therefore, reports should be concisely written. Include all the details needed to fully document and explain the work but keep it as brief as possible. Conciseness is especially important in the abstract and conclusion sections.

  5. Continuity - Reports should be organized in a logical manner so that it is easy for the reader to follow. It is often helpful to start with an outline of the report, making good use of headings. The same three step approach for developing an effective presentation can be used to develop an effective report:

    1. Introduce the subject matter (tell readers what they will be reading about)
    2. Provide the detailed information (tell them what you want them to know)
    3. Summarize the results and conclusions (re-tell them the main points)

    Make sure that information is included in the appropriate section of the report. For example, don’t add new information about the procedure followed in the discussion section. Information about the procedure belongs in the procedure section.

    The discussion section should focus on explaining the results, highlighting significant findings, discussing problems with the data and noting possible sources of error, etc. Be sure not to introduce any new information in the conclusion section. The conclusion section should simple state the conclusion drawn from the work.

  6. Writing Style - A relatively formal writing style should be used when composing NDT reports. The personal style of the writer should be secondary to the clear and objective communication of information. Writers should, however, strive to make their reports interesting and enjoyable to read.

2. Typical Reports

  1. Technical Reports - Below is a breakdown of the sections of a typical technical report:

  2. NDT Reports - The following information has been extracted from typical NDT Codes/Standards:

    1. MT

      BS EN 1290:98 - NDT of welds - MT of welds, STATES: the following information that should be included in a MT test report:

      • Name of company carrying out the test
      • the object tested
      • date of testing
      • parent and weld materials
      • post-weld heat treatment
      • type of joint
      • material thickness
      • welding process
      • temperature of the test object, if outside the normal ambient temperature
      • entification of the testing procedure and description of the parameters used, including
        • type of magnetization
        • type of current
        • detection media
        • viewing conditions
      • details and results of the overall performance test, where applicable
      • acceptance levels
      • description and location of all recordable indications
      • test results with reference to acceptance level
      • names, relevant qualifications and signatures of personnel who carried out the testing
    2. RT

      BS EN 1435:97 - NDT of welds - RT of welded joints, STATES: the following information that shall be included in a RT test report:

      • Name of testing body
      • object
      • material
      • heat treatment
      • geometry of the weld
      • material thickness
      • welding process
      • specification of test, including requirements for acceptance
      • radiographic technique and class, required IQI sensitivity in accordance with this standard
      • test arrangement
      • system of marking used
      • film position plan
      • radiation source, type and size of focal spot and identification of equipment used
      • film, screens and filters
      • used tube voltage and current or source activity
      • time of exposure and source-to-film distance
      • processing technique: manual/automatic
      • type and position of image quality indicators
      • results of test, including data on film density, reading of IQI
      • any deviation from this standard, by special agreement
      • name, reference to certificate and signature of the responsible person(s)
      • date(s) of exposure and test report
    3. UT

      BS EN 1714:98 - NDT of welds - UT of welded joints, STATES: the following information as a minimum that shall be included in a UT test report:

      General Data

      • identification of the object under testing:
        • material and product form
        • dimensions
        • location of weld/welded joint tested
        • sketch showing geometrical configuration (if necessary)
        • reference to the welding procedure, specification and heat treatment
        • state of manufacture
        • surface conditions
        • temperature of the object, if outside the range of 0 °C to 40 °C
      • contract requirements, e.g. specifications, guidelines, special agreements etc
      • place and date of testing
      • identification of testing organisations and identification and certification of operator
      • identification of inspection authority
    4. Information relating to equipment

      • maker and type of ultrasonic equipment with identification number, if required
      • maker, type, nominal frequency and actual angle of incidence of probes used with identification number, if required
      • identification of reference blocks used, with a sketch if necessary
      • couplant medium

      Information relating to test technique

      • testing level(s) and reference to written procedure, when used
      • extent of testing
      • location of the scanning areas
      • reference points and details of co-ordinate system used, as specified in 12.4
      • identification of probe positions, as specified in Annex A or by use of a sketch
      • time base range
      • method and values used for sensitivity setting (gain setting for reference levels and values used for transfer corrections)
      • reference levels
      • result of the parent material testing
      • standard for acceptance levels
      • deviations from this standard, or contract requirements

      Results of the testing

      Tabular summary (or sketches) providing the following information for recorded indications:

      • coordinates of the indication, with details of associated probes and corresponding probe positions
      • maximum echo amplitude, and information, if required, on the type and size of indication
      • lengths of indications
      • results of evaluation, according to specified acceptance levels
    5. PT

      EN 571-1:97 - Penetrant Testing Part 1: General principles, STATES: the following information shall be included in a test report with reference to this standard:

      • information on the part tested
        • designation
        • dimensions
        • material
        • surface condition
        • production stage
      • purpose for testing
      • designation of the penetrant system used, as specified in sub clause 6.4, giving the manufacturer’s name and product designation as well as the batch number
      • test instructions
      • deviations from the test instructions
      • test results (description of discontinuities detected)
      • test location, date of testing, name of operator
      • name certification and signature of the test supervisor
    6. ET

      ISO 17643-1:05 NDT of welds Eddy current testing of welds by complex-plane analysis, STATES: the following information shall be included in a test report as a minimum:

      • name of the testing company (if relevant)
      • component identification
      • material
      • coating type and nominal thickness (if relevant)
      • heat treatment
      • type of joint
      • material thickness
      • welding process
      • procedure number;
      • acceptance criteria
      • surface preparation
      • the extent of the testing with e.g. references to drawings
      • calibration block description
      • test equipment
      • test conditions (e.g. frequency, sensitivity and phase)
      • calibration report
      • description and location of non-acceptable indications exceeding the acceptance criteria (e.g. by sketching, photographing)
      • results of testing
      • name of inspector and date of testing
      • customer’s signature and relevant certifying authority’s signature (if relevant)

      Judging by what is shown above; it would be extremely prudent to read all of the report requirements when performing work to a specification or code. Full compliance is always necessary.

3. Bibliography General Resources, Technical Reports

Keith Cain