Future is bright for FRP composites

March 22, 2022

“Without passion you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.”
— Warren Buffett

UTComp continues to drive FRP composites inspection innovation

I like to take time at anniversaries to reflect on what has been and what will come.

Geoff and I were at the AMPP Conference this month, our first international travel since COVID began two years ago. Prior to COVID, I would travel about 50% of the time to visit with customers and colleagues.  Flying from Canada to the USA for this conference was the first time that I had been on an airplane in two years, almost to the day. In that time, so much of how we operate as a business has changed. The one thing that has not changed is our passion and energy for putting FRP composites intelligence in the hands of our customers and colleagues.

The beginnings of UTComp

Thinking about the last two years had me thinking back even further into our history.  Many people may not know that prior to UTComp, Geoff worked as an independent consultant building his expertise in FRP composites.  In 1997, he met Ron Challenger, one of the first global FRP experts. While Ron has hung up his shingle, at 88 years old he is still fielding calls from past customers. We had the opportunity to have dinner with Ron and his wife, Joyce, in early March.

Ron Challenger, Geoff Clarkson and Joyce Challenger

Geoff Clarkson (centre) with FRP expert Ron Challenger (left) and Ron’s wife Joyce.

Geoff and Ron spoke at length of the early days of the development of FRP composites, their early days working together, and where this industry is going in the future.

Ron stated, “I always knew there was a better way to inspect FRP, and I am thrilled to see you do it.”

It is a huge honour to have Ron’s vote of confidence in the direction UTComp is taking our developments.

The inspiration for UltraAnalytix NDT

It was Ron’s inspiration and confidence and the question “how do you create the curve for FRP like we have for steel?” that spurred Geoff to develop UltraAnalytix, our non-destructive testing solution. In 2008, we launched UltraAnalytix to the industry and then in 2012 we moved all operations from Geoff’s consulting business to UTComp Inc.

UltraAnalytix is the proven NDT system that Geoff envisioned. It combines ultrasonic data collected in the field with external visual inspection and analysis using a proprietary algorithm to determine if FRP composite assets are fit for service and to calculate their remaining service life. 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.

ASNT-compliant certification

Our latest news is that we have established a certification program for UltraAnalytix inspection personnel that complies with the requirements of Recommended Practice SNT-TC-1A by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT).

COVID has not changed the need for our customers to have reliable and safe plant operations. UTComp has systems to enable them to get unparalleled confidence in FRP composites. We believe that the “tide will raise all boats” if we are all able to work together.

We have continued to support our licensees and launched our Onsite Data Collection Rep model.  These service delivery models will continue to be cornerstones in how we support our global community. They provide customers with readily accessible inspections in their community and the confidence of knowing that globally recognize FRP composites experts are right there with them.

Looking ahead: new services, new industries, new solutions

What is next for us?  It is widely acknowledged that the work world has changed. Trips to conferences are coming back but will be less common. Speaking with our global customers through technology (e.g., Teams, Zoom, etc…) is here to stay.

We will continue to support our staff and will continue to work remotely. We have the best staff – they are awesome. They are working well from their home offices with occasional breaks to go to customer sites around the world. We are going to make time to come together periodically to make sure we maintain our community. This is even more important as we begin to grow again. We have plans to add more staff in the coming months.

And there is more: we are looking into new services and new industries. We are also looking at filling the gaps in the industry. Our ASNT certification program is a huge leap for us and for the industry. Next up is looking at codes and standards.

Our passion and our energy are at an all-time high. The future for UTComp is bright!

— Jo Anne Watton, UTComp CEO

UTComp and our licensees are ready to help with all your composite material needs – across all applications, anywhere around the world.

Questions about your FRP composite equipment?