NDE 4.0 Podcast Transcript
NDE 4.0 Podcast Episode 3 — NDE 4.0: Connecting Technologies for a Better Product
Welcome to the NDE 4.0 Podcast, where we ask five questions for a NDE or NDT expert. This is the show for NDE professionals, where we dig into the big questions about NDE inspections and digital transformation. Every episode, we ask a NDT expert five questions that can help you do your job better.
Floodlight Software: Well, today we have Dr. Johannes Vrana. We’re pleased to have Johannes with us because he’s been very active in our industry. You have probably noticed him on his website and some of the postings that he’s done. So, Dr. Vrana, welcome to our show. I’d like to introduce you briefly as a physicist and also ASNT Level III technician. He’s also the managing director of NDE Consulting. Joannes, could you give our audience a little more background about your experience in the NDE field?
Johannes: Yeah. And thank you for the short introduction. You see, my main interest was always in cutting edge technologies. That’s why I studied physics. That’s why I did my masters actually on quantum optics.
Floodlight Software: Okay. With that, we’re definitely going to explore the why form your curiosity to pursue your doctorate. As you know, we have five questions for our NDE experts. So if you’re okay, let’s get started.
Johannes: Yes, sure.
Floodlight Software: Okay. Before the why, let’s start with the big picture. Give us a definition of what is NDE 4.0?
Johannes: That’s a tricky question.
Floodlight Software: I meant it to be tricky ha ha.
Johannes: Yeah, this is– actually, me and Dr. Ripi Singh are currently writing a paper about exactly this topic, which is coming out in summer. And now, if we go one step back to what is Industry 4.0, Now, when you look into Industry 4.0 you see, okay, all those emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchains, IoT and how– whatever you want to collect together and– but, is that really an Industry 4.0? In my eyes, not really. It’s not just emerging technologies. It is the combination of all of them. It is the way of combining them to actually achieve something better for the industry. And so if we now take this over to the NDE world, what could it mean for NDE? For NDE it can be in the data you use, trust those Industry 4.0 measures and apply them to NDE like artificial intelligence or a blockchain? But it can also mean that with all the NDE data we collect, if you think about Industry 4.0, Industry 4.0 thrives on data. They need data actually to do all the statistical work with probabilistic fracture mechanics, predictive maintenance, feedback loops, they all need data. And there’s only one technology which gives them the view of the insight, and that’s NDE. So NDE will become a very valuable data source for industry. And that’s why I see two main things. What is NDE 4.0? It is the use of Industry 4.0 measures for NDE and vice versa. The use of end results for Industry 4.0. But there comes a third one. With the usage of NDE for Industry 4.0. Mostly, a lot of our customers, perhaps see as an unnecessary cost factor. Unfortunately.
Floodlight Software: But once we become one of the most important data sources for Industry 4.0, we will not be an unnecessary cost factor anymore. And perhaps that also helps with growing awareness of that NDE excess. If you talk around, I guess, most of the people– I would even say 90% of the people have never heard the term NDE.
Right. Or NDT, yeah.
Johannes: Yeah. Perhaps, that changes with this whole development.
Floodlight Software: I love that concept, Johaness, because, obviously, we struggle with as an industry of establishing value. Some more than others, obviously. And I love the point about sometimes it’s perceived necessary evil, unnecessary costs. Is it good that you find something? Is it bad that you find something? You know, all of that. But the other point I really like what’s coming out from your comments is Industry 4.0, not just NDE 4.0, and that it’s the data that goes back to your why emphasis because once you have the data, what’s that tell you? What were your options? What can you do? I love the connection between NDE 4.0 and the overall Industry 4.0. And plus, it’s going to help our industry from what I can gather your points are in terms of more awareness and more value as a data source.
Johannes: Yeah. And there is one more thing. If you look onto the industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution. You had the first industrial revolution, which was really about changing from human to some mechanization. On the same side, we had some NDE like implementation of some standards or some simple tools, and then some [inaudible] technology, [inaudible] technology, and so on. So what you can see is if you look onto both of them, the development of both of them is getting more and more the same. We are growing together. And perhaps, it’s finally with the fourth revolution time that NDE and industry is not seen as two parts anymore, it’s one, working together on the same goal.
Floodlight Software: Let me ask you. Relative to coming together, I’m thinking of connectivity or interfaces. All these various technologies, where do interfaces come to play with this topic?
Johannes: Again, you see those interfaces in both of those world, both in the industry for NDE world and in the NDE for Industry 4.0 world. Let’s start with the, yeah, Industry 4.0 for NDE. If you think about how we are doing currently our business, somebody needs an inspection and has an inspection company, and gives them a PO. How does he do the PO? He has his ERP system. He does his, yeah, PO. He prints it, mails it over, and somebody else hacks it back into his ERP system.
Floodlight Software: Everyday.
Johannes: Only the inspection is done yeah, you print the report, send it over, and it’s hacked back into a system.
Floodlight Software: Yes.
Johannes: That’s not industry 4.0.
Floodlight Software: Right?
Johannes: And we have those digital systems in both sites so let’s use standard interfaces so that those systems can communicate and we can send the results.
Floodlight Software: Would it be correct to think of that such as you have transactional data, you have images and other data collected to do the analysis– as you started out talking about a PO and being mailed and so forth and all that data entry and all that room for error, it seems like we have a golden opportunity not just in timeliness but in simplicity and accuracy. But streamline that process from just on the inspection aspect alone and the opportunity for the data to be routed for other purposes.
Johannes:Yeah. And not only that, we also have to make sure that data which is once created, it’s not changed later on.
Floodlight Software: Great point. Right.
Johannes: And that’s something which could be done with blockchains. Yeah. If you think about the e-currencies, what do those e-currencies make sure? That all of the transaction which have ever been done are recorded and cannot be changed anymore.
Floodlight Software: The integrity of the asset inspection is really critical.
Johannes: Yeah. And therefore, let’s use blockchains to document our results and to make sure that nobody will be able to change them later on. Or if you change them, that it’s documented how it was before and how it was after.
Floodlight Software: Interesting. I never would have entered blockchain into this conversation [laughter]. That’s very interesting.
Johannes: That’s how quick it goes [laughter].
Floodlight Software: We talked about the technology and one feeding the other and [inaudible] Industrial 4.0 and we talked about the interfacing and the ability to streamline and even control data like the use of blockchains. What about the standards that are applied? Is there a need for that? Do we already have them? What’s coming? What’s your thought on that?
Johannes: If you look into the Industrial 4.0 world, you have, I would think, a few hundred thousand people working on establishing standards. Now when we first started with those Industry 4.0 activities in Germany, we discussed about, “Okay, what do we do? Should we create new standard interfaces from our side?” And I said, “Guys, look at what’s going on on industry. They have all those people. You think we can make them to change or to adopt to our interfaces or should we be the ones adopting their interfaces?” And so, this is the way we chose to do it at least with the German society and this is why we are now. If you think about the industry things, it’s really for how to get data from a machine, from NDE equipment, from a sensor into a digital twin, into a cloud, into an artificial intelligence calculation and how can you do that without any burdens? And one of these standards which is currently established is OPC UA.
Floodlight Software: OP CUA?
Johannes: Yeah. That and what you do with OPC UA. Actually you can just use OPC UA out of the box. But where it’s getting interesting is with a semantic information model. So, now, if you have, let’s say, an information you’re transferring, what does 23 mean? Your computer has kind of to understand what this means. Is 23 my arm length? Is it my weight? Is it the length of a bus? Is it the current time? Perhaps the answer is it’s the length of a bus. And that’s the length of a bus which was built in the year 2017 from the manufacturer. Whatever. So you have to have all those connections within the data to make the data really valuable and that’s what’s the basis for or this is what the semantic information models do.
Floodlight Software: Excellent.
Johannes: And that’s what we’re currently building up for OPC UA.
Floodlight Software: Okay.
Johannes: And what I learned actually yesterday and then in a conversation I had with one of the Microsoft managers, they actually have OPC UA implemented in their Azure database system or in the Azure cloud.
Floodlight Software: Excellent. Yeah.
Johannes: So you can directly go if we implement OPC UA standards for NDE. With the information models, we can go directly from our device into the Azure cloud and have everything stored with the semantic description.
Floodlight Software: Are there other industries that the NDE world could learn from that are already doing this well?
Johannes: Hmm. Multiple.
Floodlight Software: Okay. That’s encouraging.
Johannes: Or there are some industries which are public players like the electrical industry with the manufacturing of those PCBs and stuff like that
Floodlight Software: Okay.
Johannes: But I would say with the NDE industry with the current activities we are not late. We are a good player. All those activities started around 2011. We started summer 2017. So that was kind of a good thing for NDE, especially as NDE is normally a very conservative business. And yes, there will be other industries where we can learn from, but let’s see how it goes on. We have to watch for what others are doing and then adopt to our own industry.
Floodlight Software: Johannes, as our final question, let me ask, what should industry leaders be doing to best prepare and lead their organization for NDE 4.0?
Johannes: I think they can do multiple steps and it will be some effort to get to it, but I think it was worth it. I think for me the step number one is really to get into reading what’s already out there, getting some training, which is perhaps easier than reading dozens of books, getting somebody who is able to help them, some consulting, but this is only a first step. The second step is really that they kind of need to get a basic understanding. Number one we are — it’s more and more getting — NDE is more and more getting into software. They need to understand software. They need to enforce understand, informatics, computers, networks, and they also need to understand one thing. We have to reduce our barriers, we have to reduce our proprietary data formats and interfaces, we need those semantic informations, and this all leads to one point that we will be able to combine all those different emerging technologies so that finally our customer can get something better. That also means that the companies can really focus on their core competencies. And then even if an X-ray manufacturer can focus on X-ray and not on all those interfaces anymore, they can offer their customer actually a better product by focusing on what is their core competency. So the way of thinking has to change from — and if you look into some NDE manufacturers currently are establishing clouds. This is using emerging technologies for the old way of thinking. And for me, that’s not NDE 4.0 or Industry 4.0. So the way of thinking is really what needs to be adopted and that takes some time.
Floodlight Software: Well, thank you. We have covered a lot today for our audience I believe when we started out talking about the connectivity, no pun intended, but the connection between NDE 4.0 and Industry 4.0, to the various technologies used and including interfaces and need for standards, which encouragingly, they already are standards that we could utilize, and really understanding the value to our industry, and also to our purpose, which is to make the world a safer place. And, yeah. It’s exciting to me. It’s very educational to listen to you. So clearly, thank you for that. And at the same token, we’re just so excited about what’s possible with this
Johannes: Me too. I’m so excited. This is coming back to my beginning, cutting edge technologies, or cutting edge way of thinking I have to add here.
Floodlight Software: Perhaps that’s the best line, cutting edge way of thinking, which will define the technology and so on and so on.
Johannes: And perhaps for me in the future, with quantum computers now getting to be really something you can use, perhaps in five years we can have quantum computers to actually help us, yeah, do the interpretation of our NDE data in ways we never thought about.
Floodlight Software:Well, that sounds like a new way of thinking that might be for another podcast.
Johannes: Oh yeah.
Floodlight Software: So thank you again for joining us. Can you indicate to our audience what’s the best way to contact you?
Johannes: Yeah. One of the best ways is clearly LinkedIn. But if I’m pretty sure you will also put some information down in the description. And therefore, you can just click on the links and then you will see all the information you need.
Floodlight Software: Excellent. And we will do that. Thank you, Johannes.
Johannes: You’re very welcome. Thank you for the invitation.
Floodlight Software: Bye now.
Floodlight Software: For more expert views on NDT and NDE 4.0, subscribe to the Floodlight Software blog at floodlightsoft.com/blog.