Coating Inspectors: Witness Protection

Photo courtesy of OMC.

The role of an inspector is basically to be the eyes and ears for a specific end user, supplier, or whoever may be contracting you. In the pipeline coating world, the inspector is basically the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) on site, witnessing the process.

However, there are a lot of companies that still don’t utilize third-party inspection in coating facilities — and that’s interesting to me. Here’s why.

Quantity Over Quality

First of all, coating inspectors are certified, and some of the individuals on site who work for the facilities providing the application aren’t certified or properly trained. Having third-party inspectors onsite means they’re going to ensure that each step is documented (e.g., there are pictures taken, reports being made, and that no issues are making it through the coating process).

This starts with bare steel before it goes through the coating process, where any dents, bevel issues, salt contamination, etc., can be observed. Next, inspectors look at the joints after blasting for their anchor profile and any steel defects. The ambient temperature, humidity, dew point, and salt contamination are checked to ensure the joints are being acid washed, if present.

The inspection goes on into the coating process where other specific points are checked and documented. It’s good to know that you’re getting the material done correctly per specification and/or per industry standards — the first time.

Correct the First Time

Imagine if some material gets delivered to the jobsite with fisheyes on the coating or issues with coating adhesion. You’re going to have to send it back, probably to strip and recoat it, or, if you have steel defects, you may be able to cut it off, but may not, which leads to loss footage. But that’s a lot of finances that you would have to go through for shipping material back and forth.

That means that if you have a third-party inspector on site, you should be able to get your material delivered correctly the first time, which should save money in the long run. It also helps to avoid the domino effect of causing stress on the project team, the facilities, and the inspectors in the field if you don’t get your material done correctly.

We have a saying: “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” Everything goes back to the specification; we live and die by the spec.

Never Give Up

We build up trust. We know the do’s and don’ts of what the client wants. We become very familiar with their needs, the communication tactics, and what to look for. We understand that third-party inspection might look like an added cost, and some even might say there is no benefit in hiring third-party inspectors, but we disagree. It’s tough to dig against those firewalls, but it needs to be done.

We’re always looking for the next big thing, always grinding, and always moving up that mountain, which certainly includes third-party inspection.

The content in this article was originally presented during a podcast interview. Listen to the full episode below, and check out more interviews at

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