Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a quality control measure designed to ensure the safety of products according to established variability thresholds. With the development of advanced technologies and a lack of formalised knowledge of the state-of-the-art, the National Composites Centre, Bristol, has identified that the increasing complexity of composite products will lead to some severe inspection challenges. To address the apparent knowledge gap and understand system complexity, a formulaic approach to introduce intelligence and improve the robustness of NDT operations is presented. The systemic development of a high-fidelity knowledge base (KB) involves the establishment of a capability matrix that maps material, component, and defect configuration to the capabilities and limitations of selected detection methods. Population and validation are demonstrated through the experimental testing of reference standards and evaluated against an assessment criteria. System complexity in ultrasonic testing operations focusses on capturing the inherent risks in inspection and the designation of evidence-based path plans for automation platforms. Anticipated deployment of the validated applicability data within the KB will allow for road-mapping of the inspection technique development and will provide opportunities for knowledge-based decision making. Moreover, the KB highlights the need for Design for Inspection, providing measurable data that the methodology should not be ignored.
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