Accredited by Cofrac (French Accreditation Committee) for personnel certification activities according to the EN ISO 9712 standard (Non-destructive testing – Qualification and certification of END personnel), Cofrend continues to adapt its devices to meet technological developments and the needs of manufacturers. In terms of certification, there are many announcements in 2021.
Interview with Vivian Didier (EDF), President of Cofrend's certification and qualification division.
What new certifications does Cofrend offer?
Conventional methods such as radiography, ultrasound, PEN ANDT, MT, eddy current examinations, leak tests, are robust methods for which today we are continuously seeking improvements in the way we conduct our examinations. In addition to all this, we are listening to manufacturers and our members to develop devices that meet needs not yet covered by Cofrend. Thus, we are able to offer a new certification in the field of phased array ultrasound (UT Phased Array) which represents a current technique for which France did not have certification. Thanks to considerable work by the relevant sectoral committee, the CIFM (Comité sectoriel fabrication & maintenance), Cofrend can offer this certification as early as this year 2021. The documentation, procedure and everything related to the exam questionnaire for Level 2 and 3 certifications are ready. This is important work that I salute and that was expected by the profession. Approved examination centres have already applied to be audited and obtain Cofrend approval to cover this new method.
Are other methods NDT affected by new certifications?
We have also focused on developing a certification in direct visual examination while the standard we have to apply, which is the ISO 9712 standard, specifies that only indirect visual examinations are covered by the certification. We realized that there was a real industrial need in France in this area. The CCPM (Metal Products Certification Committee) is in charge of this issue. It is in the process of creating direct visual certification for everything related to metal products. We will create a particular standard that will make it possible to offer manufacturers a certification on the model of an ISO 9712 certification, but which cannot claim to be a certification under this standard since this standard does not offer it. We are also responding to a fairly strong demand from manufacturers by creating a restricted certification for the interpretation of radiograms. Due to the evolution of the professions, there is a form of specialization in the interpretation and analysis of silver films to identify conforming and non-conforming defects. In addition, we have taken the decision to offer a new certification to offer examinations concerning digital radiography. Digital radiography equipment is now available, with results equivalent to those of silver X-rays. Sectors such as aeronautics are using these new technologies. These are not yet generalized but are developing and we want to be able to offer our members to evaluate the skills of their controllers in this field. Another important point: the CFCM (Railway Certification Committee for Maintenance) has also evolved its certification to take into account the evolution of regulations in the field at European level.
Can you tell us about the new approved exam center in Montbard, Burgundy?
The Ifat Feignies Approved Examination Centre (SAS CEM) applied for a dossier two years ago in order to benefit from an examination centre in Montbard, specifically reserved for metallurgy. This examination site was created and audited. Today, it has an approval that allows it to cover part of the certification that can now be relocated to the Montbard region. Industrialists from the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region needed geographical proximity to be able to pass exams to their controllers who previously had to go to Feignies in the Haut-de-France, in particular to cover the field of tubes. This is a good thing: it facilitates transport, reduces overall costs and the costs inherent in the travel of agents.
Is it also possible to take stock of staff approval for pressure equipment?
Please note: we are no longer here in the field of certification. To clarify the situation, Cofrend, the only certification body authorized by the French administration to be able to issue approvals to personnel working on pressure equipment, according to the DESP, was asked by Abendi, its equivalent in Brazil, to approve certified personnel. As part of the application of the European Pressure Equipment Directive, Cofrend was able to respond favourably. We felt, at the level of the certification division, that it could be interesting to position ourselves on these services, especially since Brexit, since there are a lot of industrialists who had their staff approved by English organizations. Cofrend has drawn up procedures which now make it possible to propose the approval of personnel to countries that would like to have control staff approved for the control of pressure equipment that could be sold and put into service in Europe. Discussions have been initiated with Portugal and Russia. This is a completely new activity for the Cofrend. We were not previously present on these subjects.
Can you tell us more about the 9712 standard?
The 9712 standard is the international standard that specifies all the provisions that must be implemented and complied with in order to be able to conduct certification exams reliably and validly wherever it is applied in the world, regardless of the country in which the controllers take their exam. Once it is taken as a reference, the requirements of the standard cannot be reduced. On the other hand, they can be increased. This is the case in France: there are some fields for which the Cofrend is a little more demanding than the 9712 standard, without going very far so as not to set the bar higher in France than in other countries. The work to revise the standard has been somewhat delayed due to the health crisis but the standard will still enter its new version very soon, with some important changes. France has also been a promoter of new possibilities that have been validated. This offers a much more pragmatic view of maintaining agents' skills. Rather than inviting agents to take an exam to renew their certification, manufacturers will be able to support a credit file of points allowing them to provide documented evidence of the maintenance of the competence of their agents. I am convinced that for the majority of French manufacturers, it is a real flexibility that is provided, especially since files are already established when companies are ISO 9001 certified.
What about the implementation of dematerialized files for certification?
We use Gericco, a Cofrend certification management tool, which now integrates the needs of the aeronautics sector. We have evolved this software so that it allows us to offer a registration of certification files online, while still offering the possibility of making these files in paper format. Dematerialization allows us to process files more optimally: to follow the certification of agents, from their registration to the validation of their certification when they have passed their exams.
What other topics are you currently working on?
We must never sit on achievements and always have an eye for the future. At Cofrend, we are constantly questioning the relevance of our certification system. We are on the watch on everything that can be useful to our customers and certification users in order to evolve in the right direction compared to what is happening in the industrial environment. For example, we are on the watch on an industrial field that is gaining importance: additive manufacturing. Some processes, in this case, are no longer part of conventional industrial practices. The question thus arises as to whether the industrial control that is practiced today is still relevant to be able to detect manufacturing drifts that would result in defects contained in the material. With these developments related to manufacturing, it is relevant to question and see if particular certifications would make it possible to trap manufacturing drifts resulting from these new processes. We are also on the watch very active on the subject of industrial tomography. Industrial tomography is a technique or practice that is taking off a lot, especially in the field of aeronautics. The idea would be to establish, if the industrial need was confirmed, a certification on the radiography generated by tomographic technique (evaluation of parts in three dimensions) if the need arose.
Civil engineering also appears to be awaiting certification. What about?
Actually. A new sectoral committee was created this year: the Civil Engineering Committee, chaired by Bernard Quénée. It will start working from the beginning of the school year to establish all the documentary corpus it needs to comply with the ISO 9712 standard. A group of experts has been appointed to work on the development of a questionnaire to be used for evaluation during the examinations. A certification will thus be created probably at the end of 2022. It will initially concern specific techniques and methods for diagnosing concrete infrastructures by radar waves and low-frequency eddy currents.
Review of the Cofrend 2020 certification
As every year, Cofrend publishes the results of its certification activity. We look forward to seeing you on our website to access the full report.
Among the main lessons is a decrease in the number of certificates issued in 2020 (3807) compared to 2019 (4225). This decrease, which is more marked in the steel sector (tube production in particular), is explained by the Covid crisis. Similarly, this crisis has had an impact on the number of certified primos which stands at 1433 in 2020 against 1674 the previous year. When it comes to certified methods, NETT is still at the top of the ranking, accounting for more than a third of certifications. La Cofrend concludes its balance sheet as follows: "In 2020, the highlight is the decline in activities related to the exceptional sanitary conditions we have experienced and the uncertainty for the months and years to come. However, new projects will succeed and allow Cofrend to diversify and offer new services to its customers and members. »
The statistics presented in this document are based on data extracted from Gericco, the Cofrend certification management tool. This tool is constantly updated by the Cofrend Approved Examination Centres during the registration of candidates and their examination. The qualifications according to EN4179 have been validated by Afenda Fr ANDTB since 6 December 2017. The data related to the qualification examinations according to EN 4179 are provided by Afenda and are presented on page 4.