Quality is a critical component in business. You would expect your favorite cafe to serve your coffee with the perfect cream-to-sugar ratio, or your local electrician with positive reviews to repair the light fixtures in your home in the quality you expect. If the cafe or electrician lets you down, while the disappointment is there, you will simply move on. In other industries, achieving a high-quality outcome is too critical. Moving on is not an option, and the stakes are too high to entrust the workmanship to a handshake. In such industries, letting down a client can be costly and potentially life-threatening to fix. Such are the industries coating inspectors work in.

The quality control and quality assurance a coating inspector delivers maximizes an asset’s life and prevents corrosion that could lead to expensive equipment failures, structural collapses, and hazardous working conditions. Industrial coating inspectors are an integral part of a quality management system, but what do they actually do and what should you expect from a QP5-certified coatings inspector?

Why It’s Important to Hire an Independent Coating Inspector

An asset owner is responsible for ensuring the quality of an industrial coating project. However, the task has proven to be more challenging than it seems. When assets such as water tanks or bridges need professional coatings, the owner can hire a painting contractor directly or through a general contractor. Hiring a painter alone is a considerably safe route for residential properties and small-scale projects, but for corporations and public utilities, a specification can be easily misinterpreted, and crucial details have a way of escaping notice. This is where a coating inspector plays a significant role in ensuring correct coating application.

A coating inspector acts as a project manager and job enforcer. They are in charge of verifying the various aspects of a project, such as surface preparation, coating application, adhesion, and others, all of which are in line with the asset owner’s demands. Our team delved deeper into the importance of hiring an independent coating inspector in a previous article, which you can read here.

Continue reading to better understand the expectations you should have from a QP5-certified coating inspector.

What to Expect From Certified Coating Inspectors

An independent coating inspector works for the asset owner (or general contractor), confirming the measurements and coatings of the company tasked with the physical labor or painting. A coatings inspector’s role is to ascertain that no corners were cut and that every single aspect of the project was followed and accomplished without shortcomings. Not only do certified coating inspectors help extend the life of valuable assets, but they also help prevent the expensive and hazardous consequences of premature coatings failure and corrosion.

Here at Industrial Inspection & Consulting, our QP5-certified inspectors have the training and experience to deliver the responsibilities below.

1. Pre-Project Responsibilities of a Coatings Inspector

  • Comprehend the full project specification and issue requests for clarification, if any.
  • Understand the coating manufacturer’s product data sheets (PDS), as well as raise and seek immediate resolution for any conflicts between the PDS and project specifications.
  • Follow the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and know the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required for each hazardous product on the project and job site.
  • Be an active participant in the pre-construction conference, noting appropriate changes and clarifications to the job specification.
  • Undergo safety training and required medical surveillance before construction begins.
  • Obtain PPE in correspondence with the job site’s rules and conditions.
  • Corroborate the inspection equipment necessary for project completion.
  • Prepare a complete inspection plan in line with the asset owner’s demands.

2. Proper Handling and Documentation of Materials

  • Ensure proper receipt and storage of materials such as cleaners, abrasives, coatings, and thinners, among several others.
  • Check the shelf life of all materials, ensuring everything is far from their expiration dates.
  • Record the batch numbers of thinners and components.
  • Oversee storage areas, including checking relative humidity and temperature.
  • Document all information in a comprehensive report.

3. Pre-Surface Preparation

  • Confirm solvent cleaning or the removal of visible oil, grease, and other contaminants, as per the AMPP’s surface prep standards.
  • Check the property for difficult-to-access areas. If the inspector finds such areas, they will bring them to the owner’s attention for resolution.
  • Inspect all edges, fasteners, welds, bolts, and nuts for coat-ability, as well as corroborate spatter and lamination removal.
  • Perform surface soluble salt contamination testing, which may also be necessary during post-preparation.
  • Confirm compatibility of surface preparation equipment and expendables (e.g., thinners and abrasives) with the specification requirements.
  • Check and ensure that protective coverings are in place and secure.
  • Verify clear lighting conditions on the job site.
  • Document all information in a comprehensive report.

4. Surface Preparation

  • Evaluate ambient conditions and surface temperature before final surface preparation.
  • Ensure compressed air and surface cleanliness.
  • Verify compliance with the AMPP’s abrasive blast equipment and safety procedures.
  • Establish the original condition or rust grade of steel surfaces.
  • Inspect surface profile depth and peak density.
  • Inspect for thorough soluble salt removal, if contamination testing took place following surface preparation.
  • Ascertain appropriate dust removal.
  • Ensure not to exceed surface preparation-to-priming time.
  • Document all information in a comprehensive report.

5. Mixing and Thinning

  • Measure ambient conditions and surface temperature.
  • Verify correct mixing of coating components based on PDS.
  • Verify correct proportions, if mixing of partial kits is permissible.
  • Measure the coating material’s temperature.
  • Confirm specification and amount of thinner to use.
  • Verify induction time based on PDS.
  • Document all information in a comprehensive report.

6. Coating Application

  • Confirm compatibility of the PDS and coating application equipment.
  • Measure surface temperature and ambient conditions throughout coating application at specific intervals.
  • Ensure completion of stripe coating or the additional coats of paint to edges, fasteners, welds, bolts, nuts, and other irregular surfaces and difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Adjust the wet film thickness (WFT) target according to the thinner amounts added and verify that the applicators are compliant with WFT gauges.
  • Ascertain the minimum and maximum recoat times.
  • Validate coating neatness and examine the coated surface for amine exudate formation, which can appear due to certain types of epoxy coatings.
  • Document all findings and information.

7. Post-Coating Application

  • Measure dry film thickness.
  • Perform pinhole or holiday testing.
  • Perform hardness or cure assessment.
  • Perform adhesion testing.
  • Document all findings and information.

Industrial Inspection & Consulting also specializes in associated monitoring and protection of air, water, soil, and conditions adjacent to the work site. We also make it a point to segregate, store, and transport wastes from the location. If you need competent coating inspectors and would like to know more about the services we provide, contact us to determine how we can strengthen the structural integrity of your assets.

The Value a Well-Trained, Certified Coatings Inspector Brings

Expert knowledge of industry standards and equipment integrated with unmatched integrity and a strong work ethic to enforce coating specifications – these and more are what our inspectors bring to your project. With our knowledge, skills, and abilities, we can attain the common goal of long-term corrosion prevention.