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Member Profile  Robert Kimmins

Member Profile Robert Kimmins

Category: Member Profile

How many Years have you worked in the NDT Industry?

Fifty Five Years.   

Why Did you choose a career in NDT?

I didn’t it just happened. I started work at BHP Steelworks Port Kembla (Wollongong) as a trainee Metallurgist in 1962 and there were two old ultrasonic sets (a Sperry Reflectascope and a Kelvin Hughes Mk 5) in the laboratory that weren’t being used because noboby in the lab knew how to work them. I read up on the instructions and was soon testing steel slabs and plates to detect discontinuites like lamination and hydrogen flaking.

 What Education/Training Route did you follow?

I completed my Metallurgy studies at Wollongong Technical College at about the same time as the first

NDT Course (two years 12 hours a week part time evenings) started at Sydney Technical.


Upon completion I became the part time lecturer in the same course at both Sydney and Wollongong NDT Technical Colleges for the next eight years.I also lectured and demonstrated NDT to metallurgical and engineering trainees in the BHP in-house training programmes. Under my leadership the NDT department at the Port Kembla steelworks grew to 68 people in 1980 providing NDT services not only to the steelworks but to the whole of the BHP company network.


Can you share with us a career highlight?

In 1973 I was appointed convenor of the first AINDT National Panel of Examiners.In 1975 I was part of the NDT team that went to New Zealand to retest the welds on the Maui “A” oil platform which had been towed from Japan to New Zealand.

In 1980 I joined Woodside in Perth as their NDT Engineer on the then biggest offshore project in Australia – The North West Project. I required that all NDT to be done on the project shall be done only by qualified (AINDT or CSWIP) NDT technicians – as a result the percentage of qualified NDT technicians in Australia rose from less that 10% to more than 80% within two years.


In 1984 I joined BHP Petroleum in Melbourne as Senior Quality Assurance Engineer and supervised NDT and QA on Offshore Projects principally offshore from Darwin in the Timor Sea.


In 1990 I started my own one man consultancy company and only started to wind down last year.

How did you become involved with NATA and what is your current role?

My first NDT NATA assessments were in the late 1960s and no doubt due to my capability with an ultrasonic probe. Doing assessments was a good way to see what other people were doing in NDT, a change from the Steelworks and a great boozy lunch.


One of the oldest fields of testing within NATA is the NDT field. I have always believed NATA accreditation was good for the NDT industry – sort of like “keep the bastards honest” and technically improve quality especially in reporting NDT results.


I have been Chairman of NATA’s NDT Accreditation Advisory Committee for the past four years – a role I enjoy and consider the acme of my career.

 How long have you been a member of AINDT,and how have you seen the institute change over the years?

I have been a member since 1964 – I joined the then NDTAA when I attended the first seminar on NDT in Australia at the University of NSW. There were no standards or qualifying scheme till the early 1970s and these did not come of age till the 1980s.


The NDTAA was founded in 1963 by a few academics mainly physicists and metallurgists and run purely on a voluntary basis till around 2010. Major funding came from the yearly NDT conferences conducted by the branches as they came into being after Sydney.


There has been steady progress to the professional status of the institute today – the journal is of a high standard and the qualification scheme is excellent although somewhat complex for NDT technicians.


 Do you recall any memorable moments during your time with the Institute?

I proposed the motion at the 1977 Federal Council meeting that we make a bid to hold the next World NDT Conference.In 1979 as AINDT Federal President I introduced the Governor General of Australia, Sir Zelman Cowan, to open the 9th World NDT Conference in Melbourne.

 How do you think the industry has changed since you began working?

NDT technicians today come straight from school whereas the early technicians were mainly metallurgists.

What is the best piece of advise you have ever received ?

 Remember the only thing remaining after the testing is done, is the report on which you will be judged so make it a good one.

 Do you have any advice for people new to the industry?

Study the nature, significance and origins of the discontinuities you are hoping to detect, not just how to use the various techniques.

And ensure your report has;

• positive identification of the article and areas tested.

• contains enough information of the method used to unable another technician to carry out the same test.

• precise statement of the results.

• there should be no requirement for any explanatory questions to asked.