This page is related to the “Standard Platforms” page of the TCRI website. It is a conversation between TCRI and an NDT lab concerning their compatibility with the TDS and how the shutdown relationship works. It clearly explains the situation the paper mill is faced with when attempting to gather, archive and analyze the UT data from their boiler inspections. The objective is to get many different documents from many different software platforms that are being used by many different people over many years of inspections. The incoming documents are large and represent literally hundreds of thousands of UT readings coming from a very technical 3D space that represents the boiler. Any software designed to analyze such quantities of data can be written in a variety of ways. However a software package is designed, it is always dependant on the correct information being at the correct location when it is needed (i.e. all of the letters have to be in the correct mail boxes). The analysis of UT data is totally dependant on this fact, regardless of which software platform the mill uses.


  The following conversation is real. Only the names have been changed. It is very important for you to read the final paragraph of this page. A particular mill has been using the TCRI software (TDS) as their database for more than ten years. In 2009, the mill wanted to use a different NDT lab to conduct the inspection. The preferred lab was local and offered a very competitive price. However, the lab did not have the capability of producing TDS-type data files during the shutdown. They used the GE Krautkramer DMS2 logger and associated software, which does not produce TDS-type files. It was a show stopper. So, at no additional cost to the lab or the mill, TCRI offered to use the “Logger Communications” portion of the TDS and interface with the technicians to conduct the UT inspection. The 2009 inspection was conducted with TCRI interfacing with the technicians. It worked, but not without differences of opinions as to how things should be done. We did not want the same working relationship during the 2011 shutdown and therefore offered the NDT lab assistance with respect to them being able to produce TDS-type data files from their software.


  The following text is not just technical. It reveals several different points of view.


(1.) January 14, 2011 am

Dear Mr. Job Foreman

  During November of 2009 TCRI worked with your lab when you performed the UT inspection of the recovery boiler at “Brand X” paper company. The TCRI representative / computer operator that interfaced with your technicians was John Thorsten. The mill engineer is asking that we do it (or something similar) again in the Spring of 2011. Therefore, I would like to open a dialogue where you and I discuss the computer and logger details of the upcoming shutdown. It is our preference that you manage the logger/technician issues with whatever software you use and then simply give us the data. We will send you our "Compatibility Package" if you have interest in be able to produce TCRI-Type UT data files.

   There are several options that can be employed in order to get the boiler inspected and the data analyzed. Lets discuss them.

Thanks,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335


 (2.) January 14, 2011 pm

Hello Tom Ridgeway,

  We use GE (Krautkramer) DMS2’s and interface with them using GE (Krautkramer) Ultramate Software. From the Ultramate software I copy and paste the data into a spreadsheet.


Job Foreman


(3.) January 14, 2011 pm

Dear Mr. Job Foreman

  Can I assume from your statement that you would like to manage the logger/technician issues during the shutdown and just give us the data? If so, the next step is for me to send you our compatibility package that describes the UT data file structure. You would need to convert the data from your spreadsheet and place it in a simple text file as described in the literature I'll be sending you.

Thanks,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335


(4.) January 14, 2011 pm

Hello Tom Ridgeway,

  That does sound like the way to proceed. We can collect the raw data and send it to you so you can provide the mill with the report. My colleague Mr. Xxx (lab’s programmer) may have more technical questions as we proceed.


Job Foreman


(5.) January 17, 2011 am

Dear Mr. Job Foreman,

  Attached is a MS Word document that your programmer can use to convert the UT data from whatever format you are using, to the necessary TDS format. Long story short, you gather the data, put it in the proper format and name the files according to the Track Sheets. The Track Sheets will be specific to the scope of work that the mill engineer issues. Your programmer can call at any time for assistance.

Thanks,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335


(6.) January 17, 2011 pm

Hello Tom Ridgeway,

  Please have a peek at the attached spreadsheet file. From the native Ultramate .utm file I can copy & paste directly to Excel to give you the attached data. The file represents the front wall of the power boiler at five (5) elevations and three (3) reading per tube. Does this work for you?


Job Foreman


(7.) January 17, 2011 pm

Dear Mr. Job Foreman,

  The best way to answer your question is to have you read the "Standard Format" page on my web site. We really need to get your programmer involved.

Thanks,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335


(8.) February 8th am

Dear Mr. Job Foreman,

   Have you and your programmer made any headway with producing TDS compatible files? If the programmer thinks it is not accomplishable, there is an alternative. Without charge, we can loan you our software for your use during the upcoming shutdown. We will set up the specific scope of work in the TDS. All your computer people will need to do is use the logger communications part of the TDS to gather the data. Your computer people would be the ones interfacing with the technicians. By doing so, you will be able to give us compatible data files during the on-going inspection. This will work if you are still using the KB DMS2 logger and we have a little time to show your computer people how to use the logger portion of the TDS. If this sounds interesting to you, we can discuss the details.

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335

TCRI-TDS.COM


(9.) February 8th pm

Hello Tom Ridgeway,

  Please see the attached Excel file. The upper portion of data is the way our techs would see and take the readings, much faster than the setup you require. With the touch of a single button in the Ultramate software, the data is presented in a linear view (below the first set of data in the Excel file) which is I believe what you’re looking for.


Job Foreman


(10.) February 8th pm

Dear Job Foreman and Programmer,

  You are missing the point. It is up to you to gather the UT data from the boiler and download it to your computer. Once it is on your computer, the objective is for you convert it to simple text files. The files we need are simple text files and must be in the exact order as described in the TCRI Compatibility document I sent to you. Each line of the text file is quote delimited and of a certain length. Each line contains certain information. Using MS NotePad, open and take a look at the sample file that I sent to you. Please re-examine the compatibility document and email me your questions.

Thanks,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335


(11.) February 10th am

Good morning Tom,

  Having looked through the compatibility package you sent to us, I’ve concluded the most   recent spreadsheet we sent you can be formatted and saved as tab delimited, csv or whatever else your software needs, they’re just numbers we can format them however necessary. The issue as I see it is not technical, it is time cost. 

   It must be understood that our reporting team is a chargeable service as well and there is a cost associated with their time. From what we’ve been talking about it looks like we’d be putting time against the prepping the data for your needs. This is no issue for us to do as long as the mill engineer is aware that this is the case. 

  The second issue to address is that during the actual collection of the data, it was expressed to us last year by our UT techs that not having the flexibility to program the DMS2’s added time on to the inspection process. In some cases the uploaded data logging files did not follow the most natural route for the technicians to follow while taking their measurements.

  From a technical perspective I don’t see how it’s a problem for us to program the DMS’s however is best for the technicians as it’s easier and less time consuming for us to form data on the backend when it’s downloaded than to have a technician climbing up and down staging to get readings. 

  At this point I am referring this subject to the owner of the NDT lab that I work for so he can get input from the mill’s representatives.

Thank you for your time,

NDT Lab’s Programmer


(12.) February 10th pm

Dear Mr. Programmer,

  I'm glad to see that you and the job foreman are looking into the issue of compatibility and all that it entails. Your observations are correct being that there are technical and business issues that need to be addressed.

  The mill's objective is long term and involves several different companies over many shutdowns. Primarily, the immediate condition of the boiler must be determined during the shutdown. Therefore, the inspection must be conducted and the UT data analyzed. The secondary objective is to analyze the UT data that came from all previous inspections to yield the tube wastage rate. With a rate-of-change known, the mill's future maintenance and budget planning becomes a little more accurate. So much for the overall concept of boiler inspections. A little more detail is now needed.

  Mathematical analysis of the UT data is greatly improved if the data comes from many inspections of the same boiler. The more shutdowns, the better the analysis. On the business side, the mill will probably use several different NDT labs over the years needed to gather enough UT data. Because of the very large quantity of data that is to be analyzed, it cannot be done manually. Therefore, a software package must be used. There are several software platforms that are capable of receiving, archiving and analyzing all of the UT data. For example, macros can be written within MS Excel Pivot Tables to accomplish the mission. Some of the logger manufacturers have some pretty good software as well. It does not really matter which software package the mill uses for its database, as long as it performs the basic functions of receiving data, archiving data and analyzing data.

  Regardless which database the mill decides on, there is still a universal problem. The problem arises because the UT data is coming from different NDT labs that are using different software packages. Many times, the lab's software was developed in house and has a file structure unique to that software package. The problem would not be solved even if all of the labs used the same software package. For example, assume the package of choice was MS Excel and all of the labs used it as well as the mill. The mill would have written macros within Excel to analyze the data. In order for those macros to work, each of the Excel fields (Rows/Columns) must contain the specific data the macro is looking for. Therefore, it is not enough that all labs use Excel. They must use it in a very specific manner as required by the mill's macros. As you know, there are a million ways to use Excel and therefore no macro could be written that would understand the ever-changing ways the labs used Excel. The same would be true even if all of the labs were using the DMS logger software. As you said, the technicians can program the DMS's loggers to gather the data in the most efficient way in the boiler. The varying file structures between NDT labs and the inconsistent use of any given software platform results in both apples and oranges being in the same mix. This problem is universal and pertains to EVERY software package designed to analyze UT data.

  So how is the objective of receiving, archiving and analyzing UT data from many NDT labs, over many years, going to be achieved by the mill? A file structure “standard” needed to be developed and published by a company that is not an NDT lab. That is the bases upon which TCRI exist. We are not an NDT lab and therefore are not competition to any lab. We just make sure the right letters are in the right mail boxes. 

  As mentioned on the "Standard Platforms" page of our website, we saw this universal data management problem in 1984 and published the TCRI Compatibility Package. The intent is for the lab to use whatever software and logger it wants to use to conduct the UT inspection. By doing so, the lab's foreman, technicians and lab's computer operator can conduct the inspection as they see fit. Once the data in the logger is downloaded to the lab's computer, the lab's computer operator would run macros/routines that would make a copy of the data and put it in the TDS file structure. Those files are then given to TCRI several times per shift during the shutdown so the Working Copies of the report can be printed. The macros/routines the lab's computer operator would use would have been written by the lab and would be based on however the technicians did the inspection and however the lab's software is structured. Gathering and converting the data to the TDS file structure is totally up to the lab. TCRI does not intend nor desire to govern how the lab does the inspection. All we need is the data in the TDS format as described in the Compatibility Package that I previously sent to you.

  Hopefully, this is starting to make more sense. Being that we do not govern, nor know how each technician moved through the boiler, we can't convert your data to our file structure. Only you know the information needed to make the conversion. As you can see, something needs to be done on your end. Which brings up the point of your reporting team's cost. That is an issue you will need to discuss with the mill. If all lights are green, lets keep communicating to make sure your "test files" are in the correct format before we all meet at the mill in June.


Sincerely,

Tom Ridgeway

1-843-766-3335

TCRI-TDS.COM