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Quality Time: Mike Bisek, Level III NDT at SRC's Chaska Division

Posted by Super Radiator Coils on Nov 2, 2021 2:11:09 PM

Our Quality Time blog series features profiles on Super Radiator Coils’ various quality programs, their purposes, and the skilled personnel that run the show. For our first installment, we’ll shine the spotlight on Mike Bisek, a level III NDT at our Chaska, Minnesota division.

SRC’s Chaska Division is where we manufacture our ASME N-stamped safety-critical nuclear heat transfer components. One application for which these hyper-engineered heat exchangers are used is backup emergency cooling of nuclear fuel in the event of a loss of cooling accident (LOCA). The stakes are extremely high and the consequences can be devastating if these coils don’t perform as expected.

Because of that, our nuclear quality program is exceedingly rigorous, scrutinizing everything from material composition to craftsmanship with the utmost detail. It has to be in order to meet the requirements of ASME NQA-1, ASME NCA-4000, & 10CFR50-Appendix B, including 10CFR21 reportability, and satisfying CSA N285.0.

Since 2012, Mike Bisek is one of the people tasked with ensuring our nuclear products measure up. Mike has spent the last 25+ years immersed in the world of quality control and we brought him on board to help run our nuclear quality program. We sat down with Mike for a Q & A to learn more about his background and what it means to be an ASNT NDT Level III.

Q: First things first – where are you from?

MB: I’m from New Prague, MN. It’s a small town about 25 miles south of Chaska. After graduating from New Prague High School, I attended Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, MN where I earned an AAS degree in Non-Destructive Testing Technology.

Q: And what type of experience did you gather while you were in school?

MB:I worked multiple internships to in order to gain some hands-on experience, as well as help pay for tuition. These included a nuclear power plant as a level I inspector assisting the Level II during a routine outage.

I also spent time at a garbage incinerator, where I worked with a team of inspectors checking the remaining thickness of in-service boiler tubes. I also spent a few months in Detroit, where I inspected axle shafts. And, just prior to finishing up at Ridgewater, I took an internship performing primarily gamma ray radiography on pipe line welds.”

Q: What about after graduation? Where’d you go next?

MB: “After graduating from Ridgewater, I spent about a year working for a company that built LPG (liquified petroleum gas) transport vessels in accordance with ASME Section VIII boiler and Pressure vessel code, the same code that SRC follows to build a lot of our coils. While working here I gained a lot of experience performing radiography, magnetic particle, liquid penetrant, and ultrasonic tests on the welded vessels. This job was almost exclusively weld inspection.

After that I spent about eight years at an aluminum foundry in the Twin Cities area performing x-ray radiography – both film and real time – and fluorescent liquid penetrant testing on aluminum castings.

After my time at the foundry, I began working for a defense contractor in the Twin Cities area, who designed and manufactured weapon systems for the U.S. Navy. I worked there for about five years inspecting large weldments as well as castings and forgings using magnetic particle, liquid penetrant as well as visual weld inspection.”

Q: That’s quite the diverse resume! You’ve worked in several quality roles prior to your time at Super Radiator. When did you start with SRC?

MB:I was hired in 2012 to hep support the nuclear product line.”

Q: We already touched on the scope and rigor of nuclear quality programs. Just what is required of someone in your role? What qualifications/certifications are required?

MB: “I am Certified through the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) as an ASNT NDT Level III in Visual testing as well as Liquid penetrant testing (certificate number 171958).”

Q: What’s involved in achieving that certification?

MB:This Certification consists of three exams, the first is a Basic Examination (administered by ASNT) which broken down into three subject areas:

  • The first area tests your knowledge and understanding of the SNT-TC-1A document.
  • The second part of the basic exam tests your knowledge and understanding of engineering materials and different manufacturing/fabrication processes such as castings, metal forming (ex. forging), metal joining (ex. welding and brazing), material removal such as machining and metal finishing such as painting and plating for example.
  • The third part of the basic exam tests your knowledge and understanding of all methods of NDT such as ultrasonics, Radiography, and Magnetic Particle testing etc.

 he second exam is what’s called the method examination (administered by ASNT). This exam only tests your knowledge and understanding of the method that you are testing for. With Liquid Penetrant, for example, you are tested on the fundamentals and principles of Liquid penetrant as well and your ability to establish techniques and procedures as they relate to the Liquid penetrant testing method. The method exam also tests your capability to interpret codes, standards and specifications related to Liquid Penetrant testing.

The third test is called a Specific Examination (Administered by SRC). This exam tests your knowledge as it relates to the specific codes, equipment, techniques, and procedures applicable to the products of Super Radiator Coils.”

 In addition to his ASNT NDT Level III, Mike’s also a certified weld inspector (CWI, certificate number 10100023).

How Mike and His Team Support SRC’s Customers

Examiners like Mike are our standard bearers – there at every step of the design and manufacturing process to ensure that SRC’s nuclear products meet the rigorous code requirements.

And, perhaps more importantly, a major portion of the NDT Level III is employer-specific, as Mike touched on above. The SNT-TC-1A exam is what’s known as an employer-based certification system, meaning that Mike is an expert in the specific processes that we use at SRC. If Mike were to leave SRC, that qualification would be nullified. So, when a customer purchases an SRC nuclear coil, part of what they’re getting is peace of mind in the following areas:

  • Material composition: our examination team tests the elemental composition of all materials used for nuclear products. They look for any imperfections, potential weak spots, crystalline alloy structure and many others when evaluating raw materials.
  • Fabrication: Once the raw material has been deemed acceptable, Mike and his team then examine the impact of manufacturing processes like welding, tube expansion, and others. They use non-destructive testing like dye penetrant on welds to ensure the workmanship is up to snuff.

For mechanical processes like material expansion, Mike and his team are there to ensure all expanded materials meet minimum thickness values determined by ASME and ASNT based on the coil’s operating pressure. They also keep an eye on things like consumption factor and other impacts of manufacturing processes that can impact calculations.

That rigor and attention to detail affords SRC’s nuclear customers the peace of mind that their equipment is certain to do its job as intended. Our nuclear quality program exists to ensure that our nuclear products do what we say they will in scenarios where the contrary isn’t an option. The power stations we work with can rest assured knowing that their SRC engineering contact has a full complement of elite quality personnel at their disposal throughout the process. And when nuclear power stations have scheduled outages, they need to know that their vendors can execute in a timely manner without compromising one iota on quality and we pride ourselves on fitting that description.

If you’re a nuclear engineer looking for a heat transfer partner, check out some of our nuclear options or reach out to us to see if there’s a fit.

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