Earth Day 2022

April 22, 2022

Answering the Call to Invest in Our Planet, on Earth Day and Every Day

Jo Anne Watton

Jo Anne Watton

“Invest in Our Planet” is the theme of Earth Day 2022, with the call to action being “act boldly, innovate broadly and implement equitably.” This task can seem huge and daunting for small- and medium-sized companies.

As the CEO of UTComp, a global FRP composites engineering and inspection company, I often ask myself: “How can my actions as a leader benefit people and the planet? What can we do as a company to ensure the long-term health of the planet? Are we doing enough? Can we do more?”

Act boldly to solve problems

UTComp has always been bold in our approach to solving problems. More than 15 years ago we set a daring goal to create a non-destructive and non-intrusive way to inspect FRP composites.

We wanted to give our customers an accurate, evidence-based alternative to visual inspections and destructive testing.

We wanted to provide the right information at the right time to enable our customers to make the right decisions for their industrial assets, which include pipes and tanks that contain highly corrosive and toxic materials. These asset management decisions are crucial to ensure that equipment is repaired or replaced in time to avoid catastrophic failures that could hurt people or damage the environment.

We also wanted to make sure that inspections are done with safety top of mind by minimizing confined space entries. Ultimately, we wanted to expand, not compromise, the power of the evaluation.

What this means for the planet: UTComp is first and foremost focused on protecting people and the planet. Our non-destructive testing technology, UltraAnalytix, provides accurate fitness-for-service evaluations and remaining service life projections to avoid equipment failures. Our solution also ensures that equipment isn’t unnecessarily replaced while it still has many years of reliable service life remaining. This reduces the amount of equipment going to landfills, saves resources (better use of existing equipment means less resin and glass needed for replacements) and protects our environment.

Innovate broadly — and never stop

UTComp has had a focus on innovation from the beginning, and that mindset is key to our development and continued growth as a company. We felt that conventional ways of inspecting FRP composites were limited and unproven. We wanted to do something better and provide customers with more than guesswork. We wanted to give them answers to their questions that were reliable and valid, based on the best science possible. The advent of UltraAnalytix NDT in 2008 enables our customers to have confidence in their composite equipment.

Our inspection technology also has the potential to contribute to the overall growth of FRP composites as an industrial material by making reliability evaluation as easy and rigorous as it is for steel. And we have not stopped there. In the years since we introduced the technology, we have continued making many improvements, including:

  • Establishing an ASNT-compliant certification program for UltraAnalytix inspection personnel
  • Advancing the algorithm to have even better predictive capabilities
  • Isolating and reporting on the corrosion barrier condition
  • Improving thickness measurement through the software
  • Introducing QCAnalytix for quality control in FRP composites fabrication and manufacturing
  • Enhancing reporting and communication
  • Revising training in response to COVID restrictions to create a new format that will yield long-term benefits.

What this means for the planet: Our continued innovation is helping a growing number of industries realize the many benefits of FRP composite assets while supporting environmental health and safety. There are many more innovations to come. The more we learn about this technology and see the power of the information that we can deliver to our customers, the more we will be able to offer. This will include new applications for our technology in the near future, including inspecting wind turbines, reverse osmosis vessels, boats and more.

Implement equitably — reduce barriers to adoption

From the beginning days of UTComp, when we sketched out the plan for this company and our UltraAnalytix NDT services literally on the back of a napkin in a bar, we felt that a distributed model would have tremendous value for everyone. We set upon developing a network of licensees and training them to work with their customers locally.

We now have licensees spanning the globe. The majority of customers are able to have their FRP composite equipment evaluated with the combination of UTComp expertise and trained knowledgeable data collectors on site. This was another bold move for us. As a growing company with an emerging technology, putting our trust in others to be able to deliver the same quality service was a leap of faith. This has paid off dramatically. Not have we been able to meet some amazing industry people from all around the world, we have minimized the amount of air travel necessary to get the job done.

What this means for the planet: We are reducing the barriers to this service all over the world. Through our expanding licensee network, we are able to make sure our global customers receive the same knowledge about their assets to make the best decision possible while reducing carbon emissions from travel for a huge benefit to the planet.

And to the future….

UTComp has been a forward-thinking company from day one and will remain so. We are always looking to see how we can build on this base for future growth. We are looking at the wind-turbine industry and exploring how we can provide the same non-destructive and non-intrusive evaluations to those customers. This will limit the need to retire blades too soon and keep them in the air producing valuable renewable energy for the planet. Our engineering team is always looking to create designs that are creative and safe for customers. This is critical for our customers that are near our waterways, and to safeguard precious land resources.

This is our commitment to the planet – what’s yours?

Jo Anne Watton is CEO of UTComp Inc., a global leader in FRP composites engineering and inspection services for chemical processing, oil and gas, pulp and paper, mining and other industries. Our patented UltraAnalytix NDT inspection system ensures reliability and proactive service life forecasting for FRP composite asset management. UltraAnalytix results have been validated through academic research and by 500+ comparisons with destructive tests in the field. More than 4,000 assets are now enrolled in UltraAnalytix inspection programs for more than 200 companies worldwide.

Questions about your FRP composite equipment?