Mr. Puel, you joined the EXTENDE team as head of the TraiNDE project.
Could you tell us what it is about?
Let me introduce the context first. TraiNDE is a new brand of products developed by EXTENDE, with the support of Région Nouvelle Aquitaine (South-West of France), through the FACINA project. This is why we opened a local office at Pessac (Bordeaux Métropole) where we design and build the TraiNDE products, and will soon organize sales and shipping.
TraiNDE is a set of products designed with new ITs to assist the trainers with teaching NDT. The first product, TraiNDE UT, will soon be released and applies for Ultrasonic Testing. It is designed to develop the key skills for UT inspectors. The software includes 3 modules: the exercise manager, the numerical mock-up and the UT device.
EXTENDE is working to propose new TraiNDE products for other NDT techniques in the near future.
Who will be particularly interested in these products?
Of course I expect the training centers for NDT certification and independent trainers to be our first customers. I am also thinking of large industrial groups that have internal training needs. They will probably be interested of our capability to provide specific application cases. Universities can also find interest in the product, which would allow them to work on real industrial exercises.
What are the benefits of TraiNDE UT ?
The first objective is to involve costs reduction for our customers. Not only are TraiNDE UT and its initial use cases cheaper than a UT device, the probes and the blocks, but it also reduces indirect costs such as the storage and handling of blocks, the calibration and maintenance of devices. The hardware to run TraiNDE UT is affordable and accessible around the world.
The second main objective is to offer educational tools to the trainers that are not available with current equipment. All the students can work on their own on the same block at the same time. Digital tools provide visualization capabilities to help understand the signal faster and analyze it more efficiently than sketching on a blackboard with a chalk stick. Trainers can customize the pre-defined exercises in order to fit their needs and the level of the trainees.
We worked hard to offer a virtual experience as close as possible to reality, by focusing on the dummy probe handling, and by offering a virtual UT device with all the classic features (gates, DAC/TCG, memory). A student can learn with TraiNDE UT, then easily switch to conventional inspection devices to perform the same inspection.
The generation of the signals to create the exercises also involves a significant part of the team's energy in two ways: simulation and experiments. This allows us to propose several blocks with a variety of defects (size, type). Trainers can enrich the exercise manager with additional application cases by purchasing the virtual blocks that match their needs, for a lower price than physical blocks. We will enrich this offer in the future, and propose to create on-demand experimental or simulated exercises for our customers' blocks and sensors.
In your opinion, what will be the most surprising to future users?
When we showed the beta version of TraiNDE UT at some conferences, visitors were first of all surprised by the chain from probe handling to the “living” signal. Many people asked “What is the trick?”, before saying “I have never seen that before!”.
I think this is the strength of TraiNDE UT: it is a new way to teach and learn NDT. EXENDE is investing in the TraiNDE brand because we think that recent ITs enables to design products that will improve educational capabilities, enrich the variety of use cases, and reduce costs. We also bet that the use of new technologies may help draw young people to NDT jobs that are not usually attractive.
Is it possible to try it before buying?
Sure! You can first have a look to our dedicated website. We will present TraiNDE UT at all the upcoming conferences we will attend to. You can also come visit us in one of our offices (Massy, Bordeaux, Grenoble). Please feel free to contact us for more information at trainde[at]extende.com!