Interview - Vivian Didier

19th March 2021


Today, we had the pleasure to have a talk with Mr. Vivian Didier, President of CEDI-CONVERGENCE and President of the Certification and Qualification Pole of COFREND.


Vivian Didier


After more than forty years of career in the NDT field, what do you take away from your experience in this domain?

Most importantly, I remember that, for someone driven by curiosity, this is an absolutely fascinating job, one in which I have never known boredom nor weariness. It is very complete in many ways.

I would mention, first, having all the necessary knowledge from interrelated trades. By that I mean, specifically: knowledge of metallurgy and composite materials, of the transformation process / material development, of metallurgy at large, of welding or assembly processes, of the associated defectology. All of this, of course, without counting those resulting from the breadth of all available or emerging control methods.

Secondly, I retain the richness of professional relationships. I have mainly and most frequently met people with a passion for their profession. This is verified in all strata of companies, from smallest to largest. I also point out the great professionalism of the controllers or system developers that I met along the different phases of my career, which they put at the service of NDT.

Finally, the pleasure of seeing the emergence of new NDT methods and techniques, of promoting them, of supporting their industrial deployment, in an innovative industrial world in perpetual evolution. This has been, for me, a permanent source of motivation.


Today, you are President of CEDI-CONVERGENCE. What are your activities within this company?

First of all, let it be said that the SAS that I created in early 2020 is a micro-company, in which only my son and I are shareholders. Truth be told, and although various entities have strongly solicited me in that sense, I initially had no plans to resume a professional activity after my retirement. Unfortunately, a major family event made me reconsider my position in this area. As a result, I got professionally involved by offering my services to the "Industrial Direction" at EDF (Electricité de France), to the Qualification Commission for NDT, entities based in Saint-Denis (France), and also to various private companies working in the field of Non-Destructive Testing. My contributions mainly consist in technical advice, positioning as an expert in NDT, studies in the field of nuclear engineering, support for the development strategy of private companies.


As an NDT expert within the NDT qualification commission at EDF, what are in your opinion the main qualities sought out in this profession?

Depending on the main areas in which the skills of engineers or technicians in Non-Destructive Testing are exercised (R&D, process development engineering, implementation of NDT…), the essential qualities required may differ, or even be very complementary by necessity.

I would hold that the common denominator to all these skills, which is the extreme rigor that must characterize every person in the exercise of their profession, and especially in their ability to constantly question the relevance and quality of their actions, and in the veracity of the results they have the responsibility to analyze.

The equipment and accessories available to operators and analysts have changed a lot over the last fifteen years. These necessary evolutions require on the part of the controllers, at all levels, to have solid bases in order to be able to master new and ever more sophisticated technologies, which are much more focused on electronic signal processing and robotization of devices.

Although the market offers a growing number of "smart" and efficient systems, enabling us to minimize the risk of error due to the human factor, these require even greater vigilance, curiosity and rigor in the human approach, so that the controller is not solely dependent on implementation and analysis processes falling into "black boxes".


Training and certifications are essential elements to ensure quality services and make NDT reliable. What is your overall vision of the resources available to NDT agents for their training and their skills maintenance right now? Do these seem to meet the requirements of the reality of the profession in your opinion?

Here is a fundamental question, which is at the heart of the success of NDT activities, and of many other professions as well. Indeed, training involving a theoretical part dealing with the physics of methods, and a part on the practical implementation of NDT, is an essential element in acquiring the skills of an agent destined for the NDT profession. Of course, however efficient it may be, it must be closely coupled with a period of appropriate and secure professional experience, enabling control agents to improve their skills.

"[…] for someone driven by curiosity,
this is an absolutely fascinating job,
one in which I have never known
boredom nor weariness."

To date, very competent specialized Training Organizations (TO) provide quality training. It is also possible however that, given the plurality of the offer and of these organizations, very heterogeneous training courses may be offered. This is in part why COFREND will offer, in 2021, an NDT training Label to Training Organizations that would be interested in it. This Label will consist in attesting, at the end of an audit, of the quality of the general and material organization of the training, but also and especially, for all the relevant methods, of a content of the training programs adapted to the skills assessed during the certification exams given in accordance with the conditions of standard NF EN ISO 9712, and possibly standard EN 4179.

This purely technical component of the analysis is not, to date, evaluated in any way by the various entities issuing approvals to Training Organizations whose clients benefit from state subsidies. The "CAOF" (COFREND's Approval Committee of Training Organizations) is in charge of setting up the planned labeling system.

One of the ambitions of the Certification and Qualification Pole of COFREND, via a strong position of progress, is to gradually bring an evolution of training resources and, ultimately, of certification resources too, moving towards "e-training" systems and a substantial "e-certification" component whenever possible. The CAOF has already opened these new technical possibilities in its specifications, and also in its evaluation of TO eligible for the COFREND Label for NDT training. On this occasion, it is very much possible for TO to bring a touch of inventiveness, and to update the content of training courses to make it more adequate through the integration of new ways, using video sequences for example, as well as modern digital media, likely to make the content of the training more attractive. It should be noted, on this occasion, that the profession suffers from a lack of attractiveness in order to draw young talents in, and to keep them in the profession over the long term.

This observation leads me to a transition aiming at encouraging TO to move towards an overhaul, at least partial, of the tools and means of training, in order to integrate a dose of modernism and update, by integrating new media with which young students are now familiar, even in their daily lives.


In this context of training and skill maintenance of NDT agents, what do you think of innovative tools, such as the TraiNDE UT and RT simulators?

Regarding the arrival on the market of the TraiNDE UT and, more recently, TraiNDE RT tools developed by EXTENDE, I consider these to be real innovations, which I had the opportunity to test in an effective way on your stand during the COFREND Days in Strasbourg, and more recently with regards to the TraiNDE RT tool. These products come to cover a new possibility of training, by offering very realistic situations that are also adapted to the training of controllers. These tools provide, for ultrasound with TraiNDE UT, a better rationalization of the unavailability of real ultrasound equipment that can be deployed in an industrial manner, without penalizing training sequences.

As for TraiNDE RT, the product brings a lot of interest by simplifying access to very heavy exposure and dosimetric management for control officers. This is made possible by offering very diversified and very representative situations of industrial production in an irradiation room, with equally diversified means of radioelements Ir 192 (and ultimately Co 60 and Se 75) and X-Rays.

These products provide a real alternative to the training of inspectors on real industrial resources, by offering them adapted and ergonomic tools that meet a need that had yet to be met.


We often hear that there is a lack of enthusiasm for X-Ray (or Gamma) testing among young people who are graduating from schools or universities. Do you think that virtual tools like TraiNDE RT could facilitate hiring, motivate these young generations?

"[…] using this type of tool is completely
within the habits of young people
already trained in handling
electronic gaming stations and
virtual scenes using 3d headsets […]"

There is, overall, a lack of attractiveness to draw young talents in toward the NDT profession and, in particular, in toward industrial radiography. The analysis of this situation is complex. It is linked to a set of parameters and constraints of the trade. In this area, radiography does not enjoy a good image in several ways. The first consists in the fact that this activity, apart from the irradiation room or dedicated protection booth, is carried out in the workshop or on-site during night hours. In addition, hazards caused by radiation, in a context that is nowadays very protectionist of workers and professional health and safety, do not encourage young people to invest themselves in a profession with high life constraints and risks of radiation.

As a result, the TraiNDE RT tool comes as a judicious alternative to these drawbacks, and offers trainees modern and ergonomic means of setting up a virtual work situation which is, I emphasize this point, very realistic and at a lower cost. In addition, access to results in real-time enables for many situations for training and sharing / storing acquisition information.

Training by using this type of tool is completely within the habits of young people already trained in handling electronic gaming stations and virtual scenes using 3d headsets, thus making training and learning a very constraining NDT method become very fun.


How do you envision the development of training over the next ten years?

I think that the evolution of training will inevitably go through a rather radical paradigm shift in the years to come. As a first approach, the TO will have to be inventive to propose an evolution in the field of "e-training" (reduction of travel / transport costs and of associated risks).

They will also have to know how to transform themselves in order to present more modern training materials and to integrate new ways, for example and whenever possible: through access to media in digital format, and to images rather than long texts that young people no longer learn to read, and sometimes understand, in the industrial world.

A cross between practices with training provided in schools and universities will become, if this is not yet the case, an obligation, so that there is no discrepancy between the way of acquiring fundamental academic knowledge and knowledge offered in working life by NDT professions.