THE ISSUE OF “STANDARD FORMAT” PLATFORMS

 

   Over the years, people have asked why TCRI wrote a specific Inference Engine for the TDS instead of using off-the-shelf software packages that other people use.

   The intent of this section is to show there is a big difference between reading an off-the-shelf or “standard format” document and actually doing something interactive with that document. By definition, a standard format document is one that originated from platforms such as Excel, Word, Access, Lotus, etc. Doing something interactive with the document means, enabling a database to search the file for specific items such as the UT Inspection Due Date of the storage tanks at your paper mill. Another example is trending the UT data from multiple inspection dates thus multiple documents.

   It is true that if user “A” creates a document using Excel, user “B” will be able to read that document on his computer, if he has Excel installed. The same is true for the other “standard format” platforms. If user “B” wants to extract specific information from the document, the fact the document came from Excel is not the whole story. The order of the file must also be known to correctly extract the desired information.

   It would not be uncommon for the mill engineer to design a specific form using Excel. A good example would be the Specification Sheet for his storage tanks. He would use Excel to make the specification sheet look just like he wants it to look. He would then tell the NDT lab to gather the spec sheet information from the tanks in the field and put it in a Excel document.    After the lab gathers the information from the field and enters it into their computer using Excel, they would give their Excel file to the mill engineer. When the engineer restores the lab’s file to his computer, he would see the information come up in the lab’s form, not the form he created.

   If the engineer wanted to see the lab’s spec sheet information embedded on the form he designed, he would have to extract it from the lab’s Excel file. In order to do that automatically, he must know the order of the lab’s Excel file so a macro could be written. At first glance, this may not seem to be a problem. However, when you consider the numerous ways Excel can be used, as well as the quantity of information coming from the lab, it becomes a very big problem.

   This problem is not specific to Excel. It is universal, no matter which of the “standard format” programs are being used by the NDT lab and mill engineer. It is not enough for the mill engineer to request the labs to use a standard format platform. He must specify how the platform is to be used.

   Back to the original question. Why did TCRI write a specific Inference Engine for the TDS instead of using off-the-shelf software packages that other people use? As was already mentioned, the problem described here is universal and will cause problems in the real world. The order of the lab’s documents must always be specified and controlled by the people managing the NDT Inspection Projects at the mill. Otherwise, no database would be able to interpret the ever changing documents coming in from the various NDT labs.

Stop and think about what I just said and consider these three points.

1. The NDT inspections take literally years to gather enough UT data to yield meaningful mathematical trending. No trending, no forecasting.

2. How many junior mill engineers stay in the “NDT management” position for more than a few years before they move to other career enhancing positions? Not many.

3. The personnel attrition rate in the NDT community is quite high. The NDT labs are constantly training to keep the expertise high on the job site during a boiler shutdown. However, it is not uncommon for their computer operators to deviate from the established order of their reporting software.

   Bottom dollar ! Most of the mills and NDT labs do not have the money budgeted or the foresight to have a dedicated position for managing the reporting of NDT Inspection Projects. When the mill engineer changes position, nobody is left behind to make sure the labs use the proper engine and file order for their reporting documents. This is a very real problem.

   TCRI saw this problem back in 1984 and realized that all of the off-the-shelf databases were faced with this database management problem. Therefore, why not write a Inference Engine specific to reporting NDT data and publish the file structure of the files as public domain information? TCRI did just that and over the last nineteen years has distributed the TCRI Compatibility Package to dozens of NDT labs in North America. At this time there are many labs that are compatible with the TDS.

   The next several pages depict two examples of Excel files being put together in a different order follows. Please note that there are four answers to the same question concerning the tank’s inspection date. The same is true with respect to the database address of a particular UT reading.

 

 

           PAPER COMPANY’S TANK SPECIFICATION SHEET

Excel

Columns

A                                             B                                                         C . . .

Excel

Rows

1. Tank Name                  North fuel oil tank

2. Current Insp. Date;      March 1999

3. Governing Code          API-510

4. Tank Height                 25 feet

5. Tank Diameter            10 feet

6. Date Installed              January 1997

7. Tank Manufacturer      Acme Fabricators, Inc.

8. Inspection Freq.          Annual

9. Risk Category             Low

10

 

QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the current inspection date ? ANSWER : Excel’s Row 2, Column B.

 

 

 

NDT LAB “A” TANK SPECIFICATION SHEET

 

 Excel

Columns

A                                              B                                                     C . . .

Excel

Rows

1 Tank Name                      North fuel oil tank

2 Tank Manufacturer          Acme Fabricators, Inc.

3 Date Installed                  January 1997

4 Current Insp. Date          March 1999

5 Inspection Freq               Annual

6 Governing Code             API-510

7 Tank Height                    25 feet

8 Tank Diameter               10 feet

9 Contents                          Fuel Oil

10 Insulation Type             None

11

.

.

QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the current inspection date ?

ANSWER   : Excel's row 4 column B

 
 NDT LAB “B” TANK SPECIFICATION SHEET 
Excel 
Columns
             A                 B                   C . . . 
 Excel
 Rows
 1 Tank Name               North fuel oil tank
 2 Date Installed          January 1997
 3 Tank Manufacturer       Acme Fabricators, Inc.
 4 Governing Code          API-510
 5 Current Insp. Date      March 1999
 6 Inspection Frequency    Annual
 7 Tank Height             25 feet
 8 Tank Diameter           10 feet
 9 
 10
 .
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the current inspection date ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 5, Column B.
  
  NDT LAB “C” TANK SPECIFICATION SHEET
Excel 
Columns
             A                B                   C . . . 
 Excel
 Rows
 1 Tank Name               North fuel oil tank
 2 Tank Height             25 feet
 3 Tank Diameter           10 feet
 4 Date Installed         January 1997
 5 Tank Manufacturer      Acme Fabricators, Inc.
 6 Governing Code         API-510
 7 Current Insp. Date    March 1999
 8 Inspection Frequency  Annual
 9 
 10
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the current inspection date ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 7, Column B.
 
  PAPER COMPANY’S UT DATA SHEET FOR THE SHELL
Excel               Degrees Around The Circumference
Columns
   A    B    C     D    E     F     G    H   I    J
Excel
Rows
 1 0 deg 45 deg 90 deg 135 deg 180 deg 225 deg 270 deg 315 deg
 2
 3 E +25 ft. .250 .255 .251 .249 .250 .248 .252 .248
 4 L
 5 E +20 ft. .252 .253 .249 .247 .252 .246 .254 .246
 6 V
 7 A +15 ft. .248 .254 .256 .250 .251 .249 .251 .243
 8 T
 9 I +10 ft. .253 .252 .249 .248 .253 .247 .250 .249
 10 O
 11 N +5 ft. .250 .247 .250 .245 .254 .243 .253 .247
 12 S
 13 0 Ref. .254 .256 .253 .251 .249 .242 .255 .245
 14
 15
 .
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the UT reading that came from the +25 ft. elevation,0 degree on the tank shell ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 3, Column C.
 
 NDT LAB “A” UT DATA SHEET FOR THE SHELL
Excel
Columns
     A     B      C     D     E     F     G    H    I    J
Excel
Rows
 1 Degrees Around The Circumference
 2 0 deg 45 deg 90 deg 135 deg 180 deg 225 deg 270 deg 315 deg
 3
 4 E +25 ft. .250 .255 .251 .249 .250 .248 .252 .248
 5 L
 6 E +20 ft. .252 .253 .249 .247 .252 .246 .254 .246
 7 V
 8 A +15 ft. .248 .254 .256 .250 .251 .249 .251 .243
 9 T
 10 I +10 ft. .253 .252 .249 .248 .253 .247 .250 .249
 11 O
 12 N +5 ft. .250 .247 .250 .245 .254 .243 .253 .247
 13 S
 14 0 Ref. .254 .256 .253 .251 .249 .242 .255 .245
 15
 16
 .
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the UT reading that came from the +25 ft. elevation,0 degree on the tank shell ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 4, Column C.



                              NDT LAB “B” UT DATA SHEET FOR THE SHELL

Excel

Columns
     A     B    C    D     E    F     G    H    I     J
Excel
Rows
 1 Degrees Around The Circumference
 2
 3 0 deg 45 deg 90 deg 135 deg 180 deg 225 deg 270 deg 315 deg
 4
 5 E +25 ft. .250 .255 .251 .249 .250 .248 .252 .248
 6 L
 7 E +20 ft. .252 .253 .249 .247 .252 .246 .254 .246
 8 V
 9 A +15 ft. .248 .254 .256 .250 .251 .249 .251 .243
 10 T
 11 I +10 ft. .253 .252 .249 .248 .253 .247 .250 .249
 12 O
 13 N +5 ft. .250 .247 .250 .245 .254 .243 .253 .247
 14 S
 15 0 Ref. .254 .256 .253 .251 .249 .242 .255 .245
 16
 17
 .
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the UT reading that came from the +25 ft. elevation, 0 degree on the tank shell ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 5, Column C.
 
           NDT LAB “C” UT DATA SHEET FOR THE SHELL
Columns
    A     B      C     D      E      F      G      H 
Rows
 1 ELEVATIONS
 2
 3 0 Ref. +5 FT. +10FT. +15FT. +20FT. +25FT.
 4
 5 C 0 Ref. .254 .250 .253 .248 .252 .250 
 6 I
 7 R 45 deg .256 .247 .252 .254 .253 .255 
 8 C
 9 U 90 deg .253 .250 .249 .256 .249 .251 
10 M
11 F 135 deg .251 .245 .248 .250 .247 .249 
12 E
13 R 180 deg .249 .254 .253 .251 .252 .250 
14 E
15 N 225 deg .242 .243 .247 .249 .246 .248 
16 C
17 E 270 deg .255 .253 .250 .251 .254 .252
18
19 315 deg .245 .247 .249 .243 .246 .248 
20
21
 .
 .
 .
QUESTION : In computer terms, where is the UT reading that came from the +25 ft. elevation, 0 degree on the tank shell ?
ANSWER : Excel’s Row 5, Column H.





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