Inspectioneering Journal

The Role of the Source Inspector in the QA Process

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. This article appears in the September/October 2017 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


First of all – what is source inspection all about? It’s the process of providing quality surveillance of materials, equipment and fabrications being supplied for use in the oil, gas and petrochemical Industries. Source Inspection provides confidence to the purchaser that materials and equipment being purchased meet the minimum requirements as specified in the contractual agreements. Source Inspection is an important part of the quality assurance process of the overall quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC) function for designing, fabricating, and installing equipment for use in the oil, gas, and chemical industry.

The purpose of this article is to briefly explain the QA/QC process for heavy equipment designed, fabricated and delivered for use in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, and what the role of the source inspector is within that QA/QC process. A second purpose is to peak the reader’s interest in becoming trained and skilled at source inspection in order to fill industry needs for working in this safety critical job.

Important Definitions of QA/QC and Source Inspection

First, it is important to understand what QA/QC is all about and the role the source inspector plays in the QA/QC process. Quality Assurance is defined as a proactive quality process that aims to prevent defects and refers to a program of planned, systematic and preventative activities implemented in a quality system that is intended to provide a degree of confidence that a product will consistently meet specifications. It includes the systematic measurement, comparison with a standard, monitoring of processes, and an associated feedback loop that is intended to avoid deviations from specification. QA is everything needed to plan for, produce, and deliver a quality product, and source inspection is a very important part of the overall QA process. 

Quality Control, on the other hand, includes the specific steps in a QA process that aim to find potential defects in a product before it is released for delivery (e.g., VT, PT, RT, UT, dimensional verification, etc.). The QA process will specify the particular QC steps necessary during the manufacturing / fabrication of a product. QC is essentially everything done by the supplier/vendor (S/V) to produce a quality product in the shop which the source inspector oversees.

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