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A New Code of Practice for Remote Field Testing (RFT)
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A New Code of Practice for Remote Field Testing (RFT)

Courtesy of : R.T.Co. - "a RUSSELL COMPANY"

As world leaders in RFT (Remote Field Testing), R.T.Co. is spearheading the initiative to create codes of practice that will help improve the quality of RFT services industry-wide. A new ASTM standard practice for RFT-for which R.T.Co. were primary authors-is due out soon. Watch for some positive changes in the RFT industry when the new standard comes into general use.


RFT is an electromagnetic method used to examine tubes such as those commonly found in boilers and heat exchangers. Use of RFT has been expanding during the last decade, helping to improve efficiency in heavy industries such as power, petrochemical, and oil and gas. In this competitive climate, companies seeking RFT services face an increasingly difficult task finding and evaluating vendors. There is a potential for confusion due to the lack of codes of practice. Right now anyone can purchase an instrument and offer services, whether they have had ten years or ten minutes experience. A single vendor carrying out poor quality work can affect the reputation of a technology across the continent, no matter how much good work is being done elsewhere. A standard practice is urgently needed.

A New Standard Practice for RFT

R.T.Co. is proud to have started and led the initiative to create a standard practice for RFT. The standard is being developed through ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), one of the world's best known forums for the development of standards.

The standard practice is entitled In Situ Examination of Ferromagnetic Heat Exchanger Tubes Using Remote Field Testing. The main features are:

  • The standard establishes RFT as a technology distinct from eddy current, with its own terminology, data display, instrumentation, and personnel qualifications.
  • The standard recognizes the factors that can cause inaccuracy in RFT-such as varying material properties in carbon steel tubes-and gives compensating methods.
  • The standard describes a specialized calibration tube that is used to demonstrate sensitivity to flaws on every RFT job.
If you would like to review the standard practice to provide feedback to the committee, contact us using one of the e-mail addresses below.

Preview of the proposed RFT system reference tube:

How the standard was developed

The major producers, consumers, researchers, and consultants in North American RFT were first brought together in the same room at an October 1998 symposium in Nashville. Sponsors were R.T.Co. (organizers), ASNT and EPRI. An RFT industry group was formed to create codes of practice and personnel qualification for RFT. The first task we decided on was to make a standard practice through ASTM, which we hope will lead to other guidelines and practices under ASNT, CSNDT (The Canadian Society for Nondestructive Testing), ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), and ISO (International Organisation for Standardization)

In early 1999, the draft standard practice was authored at R.T.Co. and was sent out to RFT group members for comment. Over the course of 1999, the draft was simplified and improved through the hard work and commitment of the RFT group members. Those of us who worked through the standard line by line in the discussion meetings learned that an excruciating attention to detail is often rewarded by a clearer and more useful standard.

EPRI invested time and money into the creation of a test bundle which was circulated to several companies in Canada and the USA. The bundle was used to evaluate the current state of the art in RFT, and had a considerable effect on the accuracy and credibility of our work.

When Will the New Standard be Available?

The standard is now under review by members of ASTM's committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing, for discussion at their June 2000 meeting. If the standard meets with unanimous approval, it could be published this summer (2000). If there are persuasive negative ballots, amendments will be made for balloting in January 2001. Check the R.T.Co. web site for continuing updates.

R.T.Co.'s Involvement with ASNT codes

R.T.Co. also maintains an active involvement in the ASNT Electromagnetic Committee, which meets twice-yearly, at the ASNT Spring and Fall conferences, to develop codes of personnel qualification in electromagnetic methods of NDT.

Would you like to be involved in RFT standards development?

At the R.T.Co. head office in Edmonton, contact David Mackintosh or Jim Yukes, 780-468-6800. At the EPRI NDE Center, contact Larry Cagle, Project Manager and RFT Group Chairman, tel. 704-547-6171.

Why get involved in the development of standards?

  • Corporate involvement in standards development is becoming less and less of a "volunteer option." Industrial standards have become an essential requirement for quality, for marketing, and for giving direction to technological developments.
  • An impartial forum such as that provided at ASTM allows objective debate about a service without the immediate pressure of commercial overtones.
  • The standards development process encourages sharing of methods that improve quality, so the customer benefits.
  • The standards development process encourages involvement from companies who are proud of their product or service. Who else would you want involved?
  • A standard helps set a reasonable level of quality and gives customers realistic expectations. In sales talks and on job sites, less time is spent debating the issues and more time getting down to well-defined tasks.
  • Involvement in standards development is a good way for a company to let people see that they are at the forefront of a technology.

Selected References on RFT and Standards Development

  • "Remote Field Practitioners Meet to Discuss Standards," Materials Evaluation, Vol. 57, No. 5, May 1999, p. 498.
  • Schmidt, T.R., "History of the Remote-Field Eddy Current Inspection Technique," Materials Evaluation, Vol. 47, No. 1, January 1989, pp 14 - 22.
  • David D. Mackintosh, David L. Atherton, Thomas R. Schmidt, and David E. Russell, "Remote Field Eddy Current for Examination of Ferromagnetic Tubes," Materials Evaluation, Vol. 54, No. 6, June 1996, pp. 652 - 657.
  • Stephen C. Lowell, "The Yin and Yang of Standards Development," ASTM Standardization News, Vol. 27, No. 12, December 1999, pp. 30 - 35.
  • Tom Siewert, "The International Standards System and NDT," Materials Evaluation, Vol. 57, No. 12, December 1999, pp. 1225 - 1230.

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