Common NDT reporting mistakes - Report Numbering

Kevin Bett Jun 2017

This is the first post in a series about common NDT reporting mistakes. One of the most common mistakes I see while consulting with NDT service providers is that many of them don’t have a centralised standardised report numbering system.

A report numbering system is essential for quality management and archiving. Often times report numbering is an after thought and without a standard technique and procedure for numbering reports, it can sometimes be left to technicians to come up with report numbers themselves which can lead to inconsistencies, errors and a loss of faith from your customers.

What makes a good NDT report number?

Report numbers should tell as much about the report as possible using as few characters as possible. It’s a balance between readability and being descriptive. We should keep them short enough that we can use them in conversation and fill them up with enough information to give us a starting point as to what the report is about just by knowing the number.

A good starting point is to include the method code eg. PT for Penetrant Testing or MT for Magnetic Testing. Using the method code can straight away separate reports into categories and help us communicate to both customers and colleagues.

Including the year is important for giving the report a time frame and for archiving. Knowing the year without looking more closely at the report can save time.

Then simply counting up from 0 would give us the unique part of the report number. So a typical report number starting point would be for example PT-20-150

What also might be included is a code for the service provider location if they have multiple ones. So NY or AZ might also be incorporated to add a regional office location for example. AZ-PT-20-150 might tell us this is a PT report from the Arizona office created in 2020 and is number 150 in the sequence.

Automated Generation?

The critical issue with report numbering however is not so much the format of the number but the way the numbers are generated and maintained. The integrity of the report numbering system should be kept using some kind of centralised repository. Many times service providers use a book or spreadsheet held at the company HQ to do this. As a new report is created the next number in the list is generated and given out to the technician to use. This can work on a small scale but is fragile and the potential exists for costly mistakes as this kind of number generation can only be as good as the person filling out the book or spreadsheet.

Complications can exist when for example technicians are working away from the HQ and may need a block of report numbers to be issued. It requires a constant communication link between the technician and the person maintaining the list. This can break when reports need to be created outside of normal business hours.

What often happens is that technicians are forced to create project specific report numbers which deviate from the agreed company format either because they cannot communicate with the company HQ or they don’t know in advance how many report numbers they need. This can lead to confusion and errors in report numbering.

The solution to this is an automated centralised report numbering system that maintains the company format and every technician has access to. This removes as much as possible the human element and is essential for quality management.

Having a centralised reporting system that also maintains the report numbering system is the ultimate goal. This is the most favourable and an elegant solution.

If you’re looking for complete cloud based NDT reporting solution which incorporates automated centralised report numbering as standard and can help you streamline and improve your reporting processes, consider getting in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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