Test Specimen Concepts in Regard to Quality Assurance and Validation of Nondestructive Testing in Civil Engineering

The process of ensuring reliability of NDT applications contains various aspects, such as determining the performance and probability of success, the uncertainty in measurement, the provision of clear and functional procedures and ensuring the correct application accordingly. Test specimens have become powerful elements in supporting many of these aspects. Within the committee for NDT in Civil Engineering (NDT-CE) of the German Society for Nondestructive Testing (DGZfP), the subcommittee on Quality Assurance (UA-QS) therefore addresses the design and the integration of test specimens in the quality assurance process. Depending on the specific purpose, the requirements on test specimens can vary significantly based on the defined simulated scenario. The most prominent purposes of test specimens might be seen in providing references for inspection systems in regard to function control, calibration and validation. Further aspects can be parametric studies, basic investigation of physical principles related to NDT or a simplified and therefore comprehensive demonstration of inspection concepts (e.g. for teaching purposes). The specific purpose of a test specimen dictates the requirements regarding its conception, including the exact design, the material or the fabrication accuracy and the conditioning. In the development of a general guideline by the UA-QS for application-specific procedures and their validation, the use of test specimens is addressed and specific concepts for the design of test specimens are made. This includes the analysis of the measurement process regarding any given application, deriving an adequate calibration approach for it and designing test specimens (calibration specimens) accordingly. Furthermore, it includes the validation of the procedure taking into account all conditions related to the specific application in the field. The validation requires a statistically sufficient number of trials. Thorough evaluation of each trial can only be established if the ground-truth is known. Therefore, test specimens providing a realistic but controlled simulation of the inspection problem are valuable and indispensable elements in the validation process. The requirement of being fully realistic will often not be possible to fulfill due to practical restrictions. Any aspect that cannot be included in the simulation realistically needs to be simulated conservatively. This again, requires a sufficient understanding of the inspection principle and technique to ensure conservativeness. Among other quality-assurance-related aspects, the UA-QS establishes concepts and guidelines regarding sound and efficient approaches for the specific purposes of test specimens. This subcommittee brings together representatives of different groups along the entire value chain of NDT-CE, including researchers, practitioners, manufacturers and clients. They all work together in establishing a common understanding and level of quality assurance in the industry.



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