Several themes come up consistently when I talk with customers about their issues with radiographic testing firms. Based on their feedback and anecdotes, the seven points outlined below seem to be the ones that cause the most grief.
Now before I get to them, I’ll point out that of course there are firms that do a pretty good job at avoiding these, and I’d like to think that we are one of them. However, the industry as a whole can definitely do a better job at meeting customer expectations in the following areas:
1. Switching technicians’ mid-job
Surprisingly, this is the number one area of dissatisfaction overall. Customers express lots of frustration that their provider is not available when they need their welds shot. This points to the need for more and better trained techs overall.
2. Switching technicians’ mid-job
Switching technicians in the middle of a job causes a cascade of extra work for customers. In addition to lost production time, they basically have to start from scratch to get the new crew up to speed. There is also additional time and communication required to build trust with the new crew’s “calls.”
Some customers even report that they have lost a crew in the middle of a shift because they were pulled for another job, leaving them in limbo.
It seems to be a widespread issue that techs are not being adequately trained in filling out examination forms and technique sheets. Customers report general dissatisfaction with reporting due to reports not filled out completely, illegible writing, or technique and exam sheets getting separated and lost.
Another issue is that many firms still use manual carbon copies, which become very hard to read and are not easily reproducible if misplaced. The desire for standardized electronic reports which are easily recovered if paper reports are misplaced is prevalent.
Most of the issues with X-ray firms can be handled through communication. Even scheduling issues or technician swaps can be made less onerous if the customer is made aware ahead of time rather than be caught off guard.
Customers report inadequate communication regarding when jobs can be scheduled and staffed, important information from techs, any necessary job changes and invoicing matters (more on that below).
5. Film quality and making correct “calls”
RT services users regularly report film quality as a common issue, with a lack of confidence that techs will deliver all the elements for it to be “code” X-ray. Users also report that when there are issues with a “call,” as in the case where a tech calls a weld bad or good and they do not have fast and easy access to a Level 3 technician to review and verify.
Another issue prevalent in the reports we have received is astonishingly low levels of weld production from their X-ray crews. The causes of this low production are varied. Some cite “weak” gamma ray sources which lead to longer shot times than necessary, inexperienced techs who mess up shots and require reshoots, techs being trained on the job which slow things down, and even general laziness.
Finally, many users report invoicing to be a sore spot when dealing with RT firms. They report lost invoices, incorrect or surprise charges that show up such as generators, trucks, and other miscellaneous items, incorrect job and AFE #s, and being over and under billed.