Carlos González
Director General
Zion NDT
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View from the Top

Modern Non-Destructive Testing Sorely Needed in Mexico

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:22

Q: How has Zion NDT’s portfolio of technology, services, and training for non-destructive testing evolved to cater to Mexican demand?

A: Non-destructive testing methods have greatly evolved over the years, with a broad number of new technologies hitting the market. Our company is relatively new but I have been working in this specific area for over 20 years. When this company was created, we wanted to bring all the available technologies from around the world to Mexico. Before Zion NDT, most of the non-destructive testing companies in the country were stuck with old technologies. While conventional methods did evolve, few providers brought them into their portfolios. For example, conventional ultrasound was used for over 60 years with great success. However, new ultrasonic methods, such as phased array or time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD), are vastly more effective. These two technologies are booming in the USA and in Europe but have not been broadly implemented in Mexico. We provide the technology and the training that companies need in order to implement these solutions into their operations. For them, the biggest advantages of using these methods are seen when they are applied to welding operations for pipelines, tanks, or containers. Traditionally, such work involved radiography which can be slow and potentially dangerous for technicians. Besides providing accurate information, our technologies also reduce the time of analysis and eliminate risks. At the moment, our main priority is to ensure that our workforce is well trained in the use and understanding of these modern techniques. Many companies outside of Mexico already use phased array or TODF and will demand this technology when they enter Mexico. If Mexican companies want to remain competitive against foreign competitors, they will have to implement the most advanced analytical technologies. Moreover, Zion NDT continues to provide two types of training courses. The first is for those who still want to stick to conventional methods, while the other covers training for phased array, TOFD, and guided waves. We are the only company in Mexico to offer training for these.

Q: How do you ensure that potential clients see your solutions as an investment rather than a cost?

A: No matter what the markets conditions are, companies are always looking to obtain the best cost to benefit ratio from their suppliers. If you compare the prices of our most modern technologies to the old ones you will definitely see a cost increase, but if you map out the benefits in the long term you will see that modern technologies will end up creating major savings. Our technologies allow for faster analysis, which in turn represents cost savings because you reduce downtime. Technicians could take up to two hours to analyze pipe welding joints using regular methods. With Zion’s technologies it is possible to perform such analysis in less than 20 minutes. Despite the current market conditions, companies should not reduce their investments in this type of solutions.

Q: What are the main challenges when implementing these new technologies?

A: The most important factor is preparation as it is hard to train people in the use of new technologies. In the highly competitive oil and gas market it is essential for operators and providers to stay updated on the latest technologies if they want to remain competitive. Our technicians are constantly visiting companies to show the added value of our analytical tools to review their installations. They show potential customers the problems they can encounter if the information provided by their old analytical tools is faulty, and how our new technologies can improve their operations once implemented. Our technologies do not only reduce inspection times and safety hazards, they also provide the most reliable information of a system’s status.

Q: What are the company’s ambitions for contributing to the development of the Mexican oil and gas industry over the coming decade?

A: Our first priority is to expand our sales force as well as our number of technicians. At the moment we have two offices in Mexico City and Monterrey, but we want to open new ones in Queretaro and in Ciudad del Carmen in order to be closer to the oil and gas industry. We would also like to participate in the creation of an association dedicated to non-destructive testing. Every leading country in this field has an association where experts gather to exchange ideas and support each other in the development or modernization of testing technologies. We would like to bring together more companies to help create Mexican testing norms and upgrade the control of products being delivered to this market.