Industrial coatings for steel and concrete are vital to the integrity and operation of the structures, machines, and systems in which they are found. Regardless of initial build, retrofitting or repair/inspection, a NACE coating inspector plays a vital role. The nature of that role as a quality control technician responsible for observing and reporting the many different aspects of a coating project may seem clear on its face. On closer inspection, the role can become muddled if the hierarchy of professionals working on a project is ill defined. Without this clear path, the certified NACE inspector may have difficulty in conforming to the specifications of the ultimate authority on the project: the owner.
In many cases, the coating inspector is an unaffiliated third party to the owners and is hired strictly (and temporarily) for their coating experience. In this scenario it is not uncommon for there to be challenges in terms of authority between the owner’s internalcontractor hierarchy and the coating inspector. These challenges can range from differences of opinion on scope of the inspector’s responsibilities and authority to timetables and methods of inspection.
The authority an inspector has on any given project can often be determined by the roles that they play beyond that of NACE coating inspector. This is particularly true in cases where the coating inspector is part of a third party contracting team that is hired to perform a set of primary functions on a project. The more definitively defined role of the third party “team” can make it much easier to avoid the challenges of the lone third party NACE coating inspector hired for a project.
This can be true due to a number of reasons. First, the defined roles of the outside team are usually one of maintenance and/or repair. Their expertise in the particular areas for which they have been hired is more clearly understood by the internal contractor and their team. In addition (and equally important)is the common fact that the internal team is often a key player in the process of bringing the third-party specialists team onboard the project.
Secondly, as mentioned earlier, the person or persons with the NACE coating inspector certification are most often fulfilling other vital roles on the third party team and therefore in any given project. These roles often serve to avoid the conflicts where strict divisions of roles are in play.
Routinely, the third party team’s NACE inspector is intimately involved in all aspects of the project. Consequently, they have both an intimate knowledge of the timeframes necessary to complete the coating inspection and any NACE coating applications as well as the certification period for the work in question. Since they are performing duties in the project that come before and after these stages, the majority of any potential time pressure conflicts is removed.
Their overall knowledge of the processes needed for any given project also allow them to be able to better define timetables for each stage so that all specialties can be coordinated over the project’s lifecycle, thereby ensuring that there are no specialists or workers waiting to fulfill their roles. This pre-project work and timetable outline ensures comity between all parties as well as the project’s need to adhere to strict timetables and budgets.
This is not to say that every project will go according to schedule as there are often unforeseen circumstances that can lengthen a procedural stage. For a highly experienced NACE coating inspector that has worked on a wide variety of projects and settings, even these unforeseen challenges can be integrated as possibilities into the original project outline based on past project experience.
In the event that the additional time cushion is needed, the project continues on time and budget with all parties having some forewarning of the possible upcoming challenge. In scenarios where theunforeseen challenge never arises, the project can easily exceed expectations in terms of scope, time and budget, which is an all-around win for all parties concerned.
John Merrick is the owner and president of The Merrick Group, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience with coordinating national and international sales efforts for nuclear and fossil fuel related maintenance projects. He has successfully completed projects in over 30 nuclear and fossil fuel sites.