An inspector has to be flexible, whether it be running down paperwork or having to drop everything so you can catch a flight and be on-site across the country in the morning. An inspector adapts to his environment, and with that adaptation you have to be ready for anything. And being ready for anything, you will need these three tools, a phone, flashlight, and fingernail. There are a lot of other tools that you will need to use, a mirror, fillet gauges, and the CAM gauge are all good examples. But these three basics tools will serve you well over and over in your career.
The phone is one of the most versatile and important tool that an inspector needs in his arsenal. With new technologies coming out every day and almost every hour, an inspectors are able to have access to a lot more data via his phone. I personally have a drop box account that I have a lot of specification and codes on, some are old and some are new but they are great for references out in the field. I am able to keep my previous reports with photos that I have taken in the past to review while out on site. Communication with other inspectors or engineering in the field is very helpful in a lot of cases. And being a to reach out to those people with your phone is of great importance. Then of course you have the camera on the phone, as previously blogged about “The camera is the best friend of an inspector.” The phone can do a lot of great things but be careful with some of those apps, it will take up a lot of time and money (Clash of Clans!)
One of the oldest tools for an inspector is a flashlight. Every code and specification that deals with visual inspection will always mention about the lighting on the area of interest. When I started out, an older inspector took his flashlight and shown it directly onto the weld, the weld looked good. Then he put the flashlight at a 45-degree angle on weld, it looked completely different. I was amazed at how just using a flash light you were able to see things in different light (pun intended). The light on your phone is good in a pinch but nothing is better than a good old fashioned hand held flashlight.
And the final tool for an inspector is your hand, I know, I put fingernail but I needed to use all “F” sounding words. You sense of touch is one of the greatest asset for you, your eyes will lie to you but your touch doesn’t. Something looks a little wavy, run your hand down it, a little undercut then scratch your fingernail on it. Something looks hot-DON’T TOUCH IT, you can really on a tempstick. I have had a lot of luck running my fingers over the ID of a pipe weld, helps you get a better feeling for the contour of the weld. I have found a couple of dents by running my hand down a couple heat exchanger tubing, or some corrosion on the back side of a pipe in service. You sense of touch will help in a lot of areas that your eyes just can’t always see.
Inspector need to have allot of different tricks in the bag, but some of the most basic ones will be a reliable and beneficial.