In 1941 Detroit was a hub of the aerospace industry, with bombers being manufactured at the nearby Willow Run Airport and elsewhere, and non-destructive testing (NDT) was a promising new technology that drew the attention of a few local investors who started a business by the name of X-Ray Industries, Inc. The company became a client of an NDT equipment salesman who arrived at the realization that he’d like to buy it and go into business for himself. “So my dad begged, borrowed, and scraped up enough money to do so in the mid-fifties,” according to Eric Thams, general manager of X-R-I Testing, Inc., “and it’s been a family-owned business ever since.”
Much else has changed, however, including the establishment of three distinct companies under the X-Ray Industries umbrella: X-R-I Testing, which offers a wide variety of NDT services at its five U.S. sites; Test Equipment Distributors, providing NDT equipment and supplies; and MobileX, which conducts on-site NDT inspection of parts using mobile digital x-ray imaging devices. Clearly, this is a company that can offer a turnkey package to its customers, whether they want to have their parts tested — either at an X-R-I facility or at their own plant—or to purchase the equipment and do the work themselves. When parts are sent to one of X-R-I’s facilities for testing, they are certified according to the exact standard required, whether that be Pratt & Whitney or Boeing, etc. Another option exists, however, for those interested in taking advantage of a hybrid concept the company has developed.
“We call it a ‘co-located facility,’ and we currently have eight of them set up across the country, with the first one dating back to the early seventies,” Thams explains. “This is a situation where we basically establish an X-R-I facility manned by our own certified testing professionals at the customer’s manufacturing site, which provides a whole host of obvious benefits. We’ll bring the equipment, the personnel, and our expertise right into our customer’s facility where they will receive third-party accreditation, just as they would if they’d sent the part to one of our own labs. This allows them to put a very accurate per-piece price on everything they’re producing going forward.”
The typical scenario involves a customer that’s been sending its parts to X-R-I for years and has finally reached the point where its production volume justifies in-house testing. “But it’s a major undertaking for somebody to start from scratch and add that capacity on-site,” he says. “Buying the equipment is the easy part. They will also have to hire certified employees, which is very difficult, as is obtaining all the certifications they will need, and they’ll have to add a whole new layer to their quality system. If that’s what they want to do, it’s no problem at all. In such instances we can provide consulting, train their employees, and sell them the equipment they’ll need. Or we can just take our ‘lab in a box,’ as we call it, set it up wherever it fits best within their manufacturing operation, and we’ll conduct their NDT services for them.”
Should the company decide to house a co-located facility, the process begins with an in-depth analysis by X-R-I of the activities being conducted, and the goals to be achieved. “Whether it’s an aerospace company, a manufacturer cutting gears for wind energy, or someone making parts for nuclear energy, we’ll need to determine what types of approvals, accreditations, and testing methods will be required,” Thams says, “and by that I’m referring to radiography/digital x-ray, magnetic particle inspection, or liquid penetrant. We can also conduct ultrasonic, salt spray, copper-sulfate, and potassium ferricyanide testing, along with cleaning methods including vapor degreasing, chemical descaling, nitric or citric passivation, acid/pre-penetrant etch, and ultrasonic cleaning.”
Through its relationship with Test Equipment Distributors, X-R-I is always on the cutting edge in terms of the latest technologies and equipment designs, and it can also incorporate robotics into its customer’s production line to handle such processes as metal finishing and standard or digital x-ray imaging. Its capabilities were recently enhanced by the purchase of a new ultrasonic immersion inspection system for its Troy facility that will primarily be used to test large rolled rings — five feet in diameter, and weighing as much as 500 lbs. — for contaminants before they are cut into gears, among other applications. X-R-I also offers training to its customer’s employees, allowing them to attain the certification they need to conduct NDT services for their own company.
“While there are other companies out there offering non-destructive testing, we’ve been around since this technology was first developed, and we can step in and help our customers regardless of their specific needs,” Thams says. “We really do provide a ‘soup to nuts’ package.”
MORE INFO Call (248) 362-5050, e-mail email@example.com, or go to www.xritesting.com to learn more about X-R-I Testing. Also visit www.tedndt.com for Test Equipment Distributors and www.xrayindustries.com for X-Ray Industries.