29 / Jun / 2023

Enhancing NDT Reporting in Offshore Asset Integrity Inspections: Overcoming Spreadsheet Limitations

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Martin Longmuir – NDT Manager and Technical Authority

Inspection is critical for maintaining the safety and reliability of offshore structures. However, relying solely on spreadsheets for NDT reporting presents challenges that can undermine the effectiveness of the whole process.

Over my career in inspection, I’ve become very familiar with the limitations of spreadsheet-based reporting; it’s a time-consuming process that requires a reasonable level of competence in the various software packages to overcome these challenges.

At AquaTerra, we dedicate our time and experience to finding answers to inspection challenges and this is no different. But before we dive into talking about solutions, let’s explore the different challenges an NDT inspection team can be up against with spreadsheet-based reporting methods.

Data Management Complexity

From the outset, the volume and complexity of data generated during inspections makes spreadsheet management cumbersome. Spreadsheets struggle to accommodate diverse data types and become unwieldy as the quantity of information increases. Manual data entry and updates also raise the risk of errors, leading to inaccurate reporting and potential safety hazards.

Limited Data Analysis Capabilities

Further down the line, spreadsheets also offer limited analytical capabilities, making it difficult to derive valuable insights from inspection data. Offshore inspections involve multiple parameters, such as corrosion rates, wall thickness, and fatigue analysis. Analysing this data manually through spreadsheets is time-consuming and prone to errors which can hamper informed decisions about maintenance and repair strategies.

Collaboration and Communication Challenges

Effective collaboration and communication among stakeholders is crucial for asset integrity management. However, relying solely on spreadsheets can slow this all down and create obstacles to these interactions.

Sharing spreadsheets via email or file-sharing platforms can lead to version control issues and confusion among team members. There is also a lack of real-time collaboration features, making it difficult for multiple inspectors, engineers, and managers to work simultaneously on the same dataset. This fragmented communication can cause delays and compromise the efficiency of the inspection process.

Data Security and Integrity Risks

Asset integrity data is highly sensitive and valuable. Spreadsheets inherently lack robust data encryption and access controls, introducing security risks. Unauthorized access or accidental deletion of data can have severe consequences, jeopardizing inspection integrity and asset safety.

Additionally, spreadsheets lack built-in audit trails, making it difficult to track changes and maintain data integrity.

Scalability and Future Adaptability

As inspection programs expand, adding new assets and incorporating evolving industry standards and regulations becomes increasingly complex with spreadsheet-based reporting. Inefficient processes hinder the ability to adapt to changing inspection requirements, potentially leading to delays, compliance issues, and compromised safety.

The Way Forward? Embracing Tailored Digital Solutions

To address the challenges of reporting when carrying out inspections, many organisations are considering adoption of more advanced digital solutions. These solutions can be tailored to the complex requirements of asset integrity management, offering centralised data management, real-time collaboration for effective teamwork, enhanced data security measures, and scalability to accommodate expanding inspection programmes.

Martin Longmuir is the Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technical Authority at AquaTerra. Beginning his working life in the armed forces, Martin moved into the offshore inspection industry in 2006 as an NDT Technician, working all over the world on offshore projects and in shipyards. In 2014 he moved into a role focussed on the development of NDT personnel and the technical management and development of NDT, before joining the AquaTerra team in August 2021. Martin has led the development of AquaTerra’s newly launched Veritas software.