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Modern Third-Party Inspection alludes to independent inspection services that are provided by inspection agencies like RPS Welding Consultants. This blog post purpose is to explain to you about TPI companies, TPI definitions, TPI responsibilities, and also supplies you with third party independent inspection procedures for different fix, rotary, electrical and instrumental equipment.

In purchasing and procurement projects the sellers and vendors are first parties. The second parties are purchasers or buyers.

First party inspection refers to quality control activities that are done by equipment vendors or sellers.

Second party inspection refers to inspection activities that are done by equipment buyers or purchasers.

In fact, first party is seller and second party are buyer. So, when you say second party inspection, it means that an inspection and quality control activities that are done by a buyer and when you say first party inspection, it means that an inspection and quality check that are done by a vendor in its construction shop.

These quality controls and inspections are done based on manufactures procedures, purchase order, customer requirements, and International standards.

The Third-Party Inspection refers to independent inspection activities that are done by a Third-Party Inspection Agency either hired by a buyer or seller.

Based on these requirements, these agencies must be impartial and independent in their inspection activities and in their inspection reports and results. All interested companies such as traders, buyers, sellers, engineering companies, construction companies must have access to the services of these inspection agencies.

The impartial and independence conditions are very important factors for third party Inspection agencies. In this direction ISO 17020 does not allow these companies to be participated or involved in any procurement, purchasing, construction, installation and even design activities.
They must only provide third party inspection services and not anything else.

Based definition of the ISO 17020, these inspection companies are category A inspection organization. Based on this standard there are two more inspection organizations that are not independent.

A category B inspection organization is an inspection department in a large-scale company that is involved in the design, procurement, construction, installation, etc. and this inspection department provides inspection services to its own company.

Normally a category B inspection organization is a quality control department in an engineering or EPC company. This department assists company in procurement and purchasing projects and makes inspections on the equipment and materials that are purchased by own company.

Suggest an EPC company has a contract with an oil company for design, procurement, and construction of a desalting plant. Then the quality control department of this EPC Company makes inspection on the equipment and material that have been ordered by EPC contractor for this desalting plant. So, this is what we name second party inspection and based the ISO 17020 is category B type inspection.

This inspection will not be enough by end-user or in this example oil company. The oil company will hire an independent inspection agency or in other word a category A inspection company to conduct inspection on the procured equipment and material by EPC company.
Sometimes the end-user or “oil company in this example” ignores to hire an independent inspection company by itself but mandates that the EPC Company to hire an independent inspection agency that is in their approved list.

Different projects have different procedures for handling inspection activities in their procurement projects. Sometimes the procured equipment is inspected by both parties i.e. by EPC contractor quality control as well as by end-user third party inspection agency. In other word equipment are inspected by category A and category B inspection organizations.
Based on ISO 17020 definition, there is also category C inspection organizations. These inspection organizations are not too much. It refers to an inspection department of engineering company that provide services to its own procurement and purchasing projects as well as to other engineering companies. Similar to the category B inspection organizations these companies also cannot be independent.

There are lots of scopes of work for Category A inspection agencies or in other word in third party inspection companies. One of them is Third Party Quality Inspection that refers to quality part of work. In this part an inspection agency checks and makes sure that the quality of the commodity is as the same of purchase order specification.

The scope of work is determined by buyers and purchasers. Some of them require only a pre-shipment inspection and some other may mandate more stringent scope and ask their third-party inspection agency to witness important tests and inspections such as material certificate review, material identification, welding inspection, NDE test review, dimensional control, hydro-static testing, mechanical running testing, performance testing, painting inspection, packing and marking inspection and loading inspection.

The scope of work for inspection and testing is defined through inspection and test plan (ITP), see previous article about how to write an ITP. This is very important document in purchasing and procurement projects. This document identifies duty and task of each parties regarding inspection during manufacturing and construction process.

In giant project it is necessary that an inspection company or a category A inspection organization to expedite inspection activities. It is duty of inspection agency to check that to see if all inspections and tests are done with satisfactory results before issuing of inspection release notes. But in no case an inspection agency must expedite procurement work such as reporting to client about percentage of manufacturing progress or etc. These are not task of inspection agency; this must be done by EPC contractor expeditor engineer or technician.

This checking must be done based approved inspection and test plan. The inspection agency can use the ITP as check list to see if all inspection completed and their inspection visit reports are available.

It is best practice that an inspection releases note to be referred to the purchase order number as well as to the inspection and test plan document number. The quantity also must be stated in release note if the commodity is going to be shipped partially.

It is responsibility of the category A inspection organization or inspection agency to issue an inspection visit report after each visit in manufacturer shop. The inspection date must be notified to inspection agency normally 7 working days in advance. It is responsibility of the vendor to notify the inspector agency. The quality control team of a manufacturer must check inspection and test plan frequently and when they see they have reached to specific stage of construction that need an inspection, then must notify inspector for its visit.

The communication channel between inspection agency, vendor and client must be set-up. This normally is done in Pre-Inspection meeting or Pre-Production meeting. In this meeting that is conducted before commencement of project, all parties will be attended in the meeting and discuss about project coordination and communication.

All parties are responsible to act and communicate based what is agreed and confirmed in the meeting and Minute of Meeting (MOM) will be based for coming actions.

As TPI’s who are in fabrication, machine, assembly, coatings, etc. shops it is your responsibility to carry out the inspections that are required by the customer or industrial standards. A TPI is to observe and report, at no time should you vary from the ITP unless a conflict in procedures arise. DO NOT tell a vendor what to do or how to operate during inspections. Being a TPI means you verify that all procedures were followed, and the out-come of those inspections were documented.

If a failure or non-conformance is noted during your inspection, it is not your responsibility to solve the issue. The quality system that is in place should have steps on how to resolve the NCR with the acceptance of the client.

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