June 2017, Vol. 244, No. 6


What to Expect from a Coating Inspector

By Michael Harkin, President, FeO, Virginia Beach, VA

A critical part in any corrosion-control program is regular inspection of industrial coatings by certified third-party inspectors. This article explains why coating inspections are necessary, what they entail and why it is important for asset owners to take control of quality assurance.

With many of the goods and services we buy, quality is simply expected. It’s an aspect of good business that’s simply taken for granted. You’d expect a reputable mechanic to get your car running again, for instance, or that your favorite restaurant will keep serving up the kind of food you’ve come to expect.

But in some industries, quality control is simply too important to make assumptions about. The stakes are just too high to trust the workmanship to a contract and a handshake. Those are the industries coating inspectors find themselves working in. The quality they control (verify, really) helps to prevent the corrosion that can lead to devastating structural collapses, expensive equipment failures and downright dangerous working conditions.

Why is an Inspector Necessary?

While it would be nice to simply trust that a coating applicator’s work has been done right the first time, every time, it is simply not a smart or safe bet to make. Things happen. People make mistakes. Specifications are misinterpreted and even crucial details have a way of escaping notice. That, again, is where your coating inspector comes in.

Managing quality on industrial painting jobs falls on both the contractor and a responsible asset owner. All painting contractors should have an individual in charge of the quality control (QC) for the job. This employee of the painting contractor is in charge of verifying that all aspects of surface prep, coating application, adhesion and other details are in line with all of the demands made of the job by its specification document.

But, once again, quality control is simply too important in many of the industries in which industrial painters operate to be expected or presumed. Here’s where that responsible asset owner comes into play. To verify the high quality of work performed by an industrial painting contractor, asset owners often (and very much should) hire third-party inspectors to corroborate the findings and measurements of a contractor’s QC.

What Does an Inspector Do?

This position, often called a quality assurance specialist (QA), acts as a vital check on the sort of unscrupulous or simply careless contractor that can lead to some of the disastrous consequences mentioned above. But a QA specialist is far from a “gotcha” position. Coating systems are complicated, and a myriad of factors, from ambient conditions to application method, make the business of applying them even more complex. So it’s helpful for trained, experienced professionals to work together to achieve a final product that matches the project’s specifications. (That document that guides the job, laying out all of the intended practices and control measures agreed upon by the owner and contractor for producing best results).

It’s important for asset owners to make sure they’re in control of QA, both to guard against a careless application and to ensure that a complicated process goes off without a hitch. An experienced coating inspector can verify that a project has been conducted correctly at every step.

And inspections do more than just prevent a catastrophic failure. Coating inspectors help to ensure that the coating protecting your assets has a long life and serves with distinction, saving you money over the long run.

Author: Michael Harkin is a NACE and SSPC coating inspector and current president of FeO – a QP5-certified coating inspection and consulting company. Prior to FeO, he served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Related Articles


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}