Pandemic Pivot: How COVID-19 sparked a year of change and innovation

March 12, 2021

It has now been a full year since words like “COVID,” “pandemic” and “Zoom” became commonplace in our day-to-day language. It has been a hard year for many reasons: seeing the devastation that this virus has brought to family and friends, having to adjust so quickly to new ways of working and living in our homes and communities, and waiting with anticipation for the promise of tomorrow.

If I had to sum up this year in a word, it would be “pivot.” As some activities in our daily life fell away, others gained in focus. We all had to change to keep each other safe from harm and to try to keep moving forward with our businesses, maintaining some sense of normalcy. At UTComp, we have accommodated employees who are also parents trying to balance working at home with supporting children at the same time. One of our new licensees completed training with a toddler on his lap!

We took a long view, knowing there would be a second wave and a while before vaccines would be available: our staff continue to work from home with the occasional site visit. Everyone has done an excellent job working from home offices. We all enjoy seeing a kitten or puppy join the meetings.

UTComp team conference call screen shot

The UTComp team adjusted quickly to remote work and modified UltraAnalytix training programs for remote delivery.

New Developments

We travelled about 50% of the time before COVID struck, which does not allow for much time to reflect and think deeply about future technology development. COVID-19 has given our CTO, Geoff Clarkson, time to complete some outstanding projects that have been percolating in the back of his mind. It also has allowed our programmers time to get the UltraAnalytix composite inspection technology interface, analysis tools and database running even more efficiently. Here are some additional developments that are completed or in the works:

  1. We have trained new licensees and Onsite Data Collection Reps in Singapore, the United States, the Middle East and western Canada by video conference. The trainees have demonstrated that the remote training approach is successful.
  2. New training and software has been developed and deployed to allow an inspector to perform UltraAnalytix inspection almost anywhere in the world with a few hours of video training, the required equipment and an Internet connection. This advance provides clients in remote, difficult-to-reach locations with easy access to non-intrusive and non-destructive UltraAnalytix inspections, often using their own personnel.
  3. Several new patent applications have been finalized.
  4. All software deployed in the field has been equipped to automatically evaluate raw UltraAnalytix readings to alert inspectors at the work site if anomalies exist in the readings, thus allowing for correction while they are on site.
  5. We have developed automated analysis of zones within composites that have different properties due to corrosion or ultraviolet damage. This work allows us to accurately quantify the depth of the damage and the impact on the corrosion barrier. It also allows us to connect in-service inspection to ASTM standards and save owners the expense of unnecessary replacement or repair work.
  6. A new report format will capture all these changes and additional updates that we’ve made based on asset owner feedback.
  7. Geoff has also published two articles in Inspectioneering Journal: “Practical External Inspection of FRP Vessels” (Jan/Feb 2021) and “FRP Corrosion Barrier Inspection: Non-destructive and non-intrusive technique” (Mar/April 2020).

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and the best that you have to give.” Given that there was so much of this past year that we had no control over, I believe that the management and staff of UTComp have risen to the challenge.

Moving forward, we will build on what we knew from before and what we learned in the past year. We are looking forward to being able to see family, friends, colleagues and clients once again in person, and to continuing to innovate to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.

— Jo Anne Watton, CEO



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