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Back to a Digital - ASTM International

Future

Developing

Standards for

Managing and

Preserving

Inspection Data

B y P a t r i c k H o wa r d

40 a s t m S T A N D A R D I Z A T I O N N e w s o J u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 1 1 w w w . a s t m . o r g

Back to a Digital


Nondestructive Evaluation

Viewing inspection data created with outdated or unavailable

technology is not a problem, thanks to the standards of the

ASTM DICONDE subcommittee.

Being unable to view a Blu-ray DVD on an HD-DVD player may be an

exasperating inconvenience. But being unable to view, access, store or

exchange inspection data for key components of, say, aging nuclear power

plants, aircraft or bridges potentially imperils public health and safety. It

also limits the value of that data for evaluating a component’s performance over its

service life.

“Every year, new technologies produce new modalities for testing,” notes Yehuda

Rosenstock, director of research and development at Air Techniques Inc., in Melville,

N.Y., and a member of ASTM International Committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing.

“Very few companies have all the hardware and software they need to deal with

all the different testing modalities,” Rosenstock says. He adds, “Systems have to be

able to talk to each other.”

For nearly a decade, ASTM Subcommittee E07.11 on Digital Imaging and Communication

in Nondestructive Evaluation (DICONDE), a part of Committee E07,

has been developing standards to facilitate the exchange and storage of nondestructive

evaluation data. As E07 member Lloyd Arrowood, a physical testing engineer

in the Product Certification Organization of Babcock and Wilcox Y-12 Technical

Services, Oak Ridge, Tenn., explains, “Standardized metadata and system interoper-

This is an authorized reprint from ASTM Standardization News, Volume 39, Number

4, July/August 2011 (© Copyright 2011 ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, P.O.

Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959) for personal use only. It may not be

copied, uploaded to the Internet or any internal computer network without written

permission. For permission or more information, contact mgorman@astm.org.

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ability are the best ways we can ensure

that inspection data is available 20, 40

and even 60 years or more into the

future over the lifetime of a product.”

NONDESTRUCTIVE TESTING OF

INDUSTRIAL COMPONENTS

Th e NDE industry uses a variety of

inspection modalities, including ultrasound,

computed tomography, neutron

radiography and electromagnetism, to

check for internal fl aws — like cracks or

foreign materials — in the components

of all sorts of products produced in a

wide variety of industries. Th e intent

is to discover anomalies or to monitor

conditions that might cause health,

safety or performance issues.

Historically, the NDE industry has

relied on proprietary formats to store

inspection data. While those formats

have advantages in terms of effi ciency

and fl exibility, they also have limitations

when it comes to data interchange

and migration, especially when applied

to components in products with a 20-

to 40-year life span, such as military

and commercial aircraft or nuclear

power plants. Over such long periods

of time, the need to access inspection

data remains, even as the equipment

that initially acquired that data and the

computer hardware that stored it are

retired or upgraded.

LEARNING FROM THE HEALTH-

CARE INDUSTRY

In the 1980s, the healthcare industry

faced a similar problem. When manufacturers

of medical imaging devices

initially used proprietary communication

and data exchange mechanisms, it

was diffi cult for hospitals and clinicians

to easily access and view patients’ X-rays

and other diagnostic images over the

course of the patients’ lives. Th e different

systems and equipment simply

didn’t communicate with each other.

In response, manufacturers and users

of medical digital imaging equipment

formed the Digital Imaging and

Communications in Medicine Committee

(DICOM). By the mid-1980s,

the committee published the American

College of Radiology – National Electrical

Manufacturers Association standard

(ACR-NEMA 300-1985, Digital Imaging

and Communications Standard) allowing

digital images produced by diff erent

equipment to be shared and viewed in

a common format. Ten years later, the

DICOM standard achieved near universal

acceptance among medical imaging

equipment manufacturers and healthcare

For nearly a decade, ASTM International Subcommittee

E07.11 on Digital Imaging and Communication

in Nondestructive Evaluation (DICONDE), part of

Committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing, has been

developing standards to facilitate the exchange and

storage of nondestructive evaluation data.

information technology organizations.

Today, even patients with copies of their

MRIs taken by diff erent equipment can

download soft ware to view their digital

images on a home computer.

DICOM TO DICONDE

Based on the success of the DICOM

standard, in the late 1990s, a group

of NDE experts began working with

ASTM to form ASTM Subcommittee

E07.11 on Digital Imaging and

Communication in Nondestructive

Evaluation. Th e goal was to develop

an NDE industry standard based on

the DICOM standard. In 2004, the subcommittee

published E2339, Practice

for Digital Imaging and Communication

in Nondestructive Evaluation

(DICONDE), which allows wide-scale

adoption of a common standard for

data storage and exchange.

Instead of a patient information

module, including patient name and

patient identifi cation, the DICONDE

standard uses a component module with

such standardized metadata as a component

name and serial number as well

as component shape and environmental

conditions. In addition to building on

DICOM’S data storage capabilities, the

DICONDE standard also utilizes DI-

COM’s communications capabilities and

employs image data display features that

are not found in other commonly used

data storage standards, such as TIFF

or JPEG. Such advanced features allow

NDE industrial users to view remote

digital data on their computers, readily

share inspection data that indicate

equipment component fl aws or potential

problems, view archived data exactly as

it was viewed by inspectors at the time

an inspection was conducted, and eliminate

paper records by having convenient

computer access to all digital data.

Additionally, there are a wide variety

of DICOM-compatible tools, such as

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In addition to building on DICOM’S data storage

capabilities, the DICONDE standard also utilizes

DICOM’s communications capabilities and employs

image data display features that are not found in

other commonly used data storage standards, such as

TIFF or JPEG.

picture-archiving systems, image review

soft ware and open source soft ware, that

can be easily adapted for use with the

DICONDE standards.

USING DICONDE-COMPLIANT

SOFTWARE

One organization that has benefi ted

from using the original DICONDE

standard is Babcock and Wilcox Y-12

Technical Services, a managing contractor

for the U.S. Department of Energy

that performs radiographic inspections

of nuclear weapons components. While

inspection data is required to be maintained

for the life of a weapons program,

over time, a number of inspection

processes have been transformed from

fi lm-based to digital radiography.

In 2007, the company began using

a suite of soft ware tools that comply

with ASTM E2339. Says Babcock and

Wilcox’s Arrowood, “Th e soft ware

enables us to collect radiographic data

at diff erent locations and transmit it to a

central location where our most skilled

inspectors make evaluations.” Additionally,

standardized metadata, storage and

communications protocols ensure that

the type of data collected is consistent,

that it can migrate to new storage media

and that interoperability is maintained,

even as new technologies, hardware and

soft ware are developed, and vendors

leave and enter the NDE market.

ADDITIONAL NDE STANDARDS

According to Arrowood, despite adoption

of the initial ASTM NDE standard

by some NDE vendors, ASTM Subcommittee

E07.11 members realized

that “if we really wanted to see greater

adoption, we’d have to make a greater

eff ort to develop standards for specifi c

modalities.” Consequently, in 2008

the subcommittee completed E2663,

Practice for Digital Imaging and

Communications in Nondestructive

Evaluation (DICONDE) for Ultrasonic

Test Methods. Th is standard addresses

metadata needed to describe ultrasonic

inspection processes that do not apply

to other NDE modalities.

In 2010, standards specifi c to three

other testing modalities — digital radiography,

computed radiography and

X-ray computed tomography — were

published. Th e standards are E2699,

Practice for Digital Imaging and

Communication in Nondestructive

Evaluation (DICONDE) for Digital

Radiographic (DR) Test Methods;

E2738, Practice for Digital Imaging

and Communication Nondestructive

Evaluation (DICONDE) for Computed

Radiography (CR) Test Methods; and

E2767, Practice for Digital Imaging

and Communication in Nondestructive

Evaluation (DICONDE) for

X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT)

Test Methods.

Nondestructive Evaluation

Currently, ASTM Subcommittee

E07.11 is working on a proposed

new standard, WK33705, Practice for

Digital Imaging and Communication in

Nondestructive Evaluation (DICONDE)

for Eddy Current Test Methods. Th e

subcommittee is also investigating

methods for testing the interoperability

of diff erent products following the

DICONDE standard for data storage

and communication.

Explains Rosenstock, who leads the

E07.11 subcommittee’s interoperability

task group, “Whenever you develop

standards, it’s always important for users

to have a test that ensures that the

equipment they’re buying does what

they need it to do and that they can

hold vendors accountable.”

EMBRACING ASTM STANDARDS

To date, according to Rosenstock, the

NDE market is still moving toward

acceptance of ASTME NDE standards

with nearly all major NDE equipment

manufacturers beginning to utilize

them. Adoption of the standards is still

widest in the area of digital radiographic

testing, where the similarities

between medical and industrial imaging

are most pronounced. But, with rapid

changes in technology accelerating the

digitization of NDE methods and with

critical national defense and commercial

equipment and infrastructure continuing

to mature, the understanding and

acceptance of the need for standards

addressing data exchange and storage

methods is likely to grow.

PATRICK HOWARD, principal engineer

for digital nondestructive testing, GE Aviation,

Cincinnati, Ohio, has been an ASTM International

member since 2004 and is chairman of ASTM

Subcommittee E07.11 on Digital Imaging and

Communication in Nondestructive Evaluation

(DICONDE), part of Committee E07 on Nondestructive

Testing.

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