In Depth: XCEL NDT
Who is XCEL NDT and how do they continue growing?
The development of onshore tight oil and shale gas horizontal resource plays has led to record growth of both crude oil and natural gas production, positioning the United States to become the world’s largest producer of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. All three of these product streams require pipelines to transport them from the wellhead to processing and refining plants, and then on to end-use markets.
Consequently, soaring U.S. production volumes have translated into equally high levels of pipeline infrastructure development. According to an American Petroleum Institute study, companies are expected to invest more than $15.5 billion dollars on average each year in new oil, gas and NGL pipelines through 2035, adding some 300,000 miles of new pipelines for transportation and gathering service alone. Across the nation, there are already more than 1.4 million miles of existing installed pipelines, enough to stretch the moon and back almost six times over!
Every square inch along all those miles of pipe is susceptible to different kinds of damage--corrosion, wear, stress, cracking, etc.--that can degrade the integrity of the base steel alloys and other materials used to construct pipelines. Federal and state regulations vary, but all pipelines require some form of periodic inspection and testing to evaluate their condition. One of the primary methods is non-destructive testing (NDT).
What is NDT?
Wikipedia’s definition of NDT ‘is a wide group of analysis techniques used in the science and technology industry to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage.’ A more simplistic definition of NDT is ‘a way to find imperfection or defects in objects without damaging it or taking it apart.’ Non-destructive testing is also commonly referred to as non-destructive examination, non-destructive evaluation (NDE), or non-destructive inspections (NDI). Though worded slightly differently, these all refer to the same type of testing.
XCEL NDT LLC is an up and coming non-destructive testing inspection company. Over the past five years, XCEL NDT has proven that it is a force to be reckoned with in the NDT industry. In 2017, the company had a 50% growth rate and has already surpassed that same 50% growth in 2018. There is no doubt that the XCEL NDT name is becoming familiar to inspectors and engineers responsible for ensuring the reliability and safety of America’s rapidly expanding pipeline infrastructure. What is the Kansas-based NDT company doing to drive such outstanding growth?
The Greatest Team
Before launching XCEL NDT, Cole Morehead, owner and president, graduated from Southeast Community College in Milford, NE, earning an Associates of Science degree in non-destructive testing. After graduation, he took his diploma down to the Gulf of Mexico, where he worked in the advanced services division at one of the larger NDT companies. Cole recognizes the experiences gained in the early days of his career were priceless. The most important lessons learned came through observations. He says he witnessed the larger NDT companies’ inability to modify their operations to meet the clients’ and employees’ needs and desires, sparking the idea of creating a grass roots company focused on providing the highest-quality NDT services with the flexibility to adapt to customers’ changing requirements.
As a young man, Morehead remembers dreaming of one day running his own business. On May 16, 2012, he registered XCEL NDT LLC with the state of Kansas, putting his dreams into action. Over the next several months Cole developed a business plan that would become the cornerstone in building an organization and assembling a team capable of providing best-in-class NDT services on a national and even international scope.
Today, Morehead gives all credit to the ‘greatest team of men and women he has ever had the privilege of knowing.’ The management team consists of some of the most motivated individuals in the industry. This group continues to set team goals year after year. Not only have these goals been met, but greatly exceeded year after year. The team continues to strive for more. With more than 90 employees and seven office locations, XCEL NDT has performed work in 21 of the lower 48 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Morehead admits there have been bumps in the road, but with those bumps came very valuable lessons that have provided crucial learning and growth opportunities for each member of the XCEL NDT team.
Morehead says he thinks of XCEL NDT’s services as being similar to that of an ‘industrial doctor.’ The company’s technicians are called out to a job site where the client presents them with some type of specimen or equipment to be tested and diagnosed, similar to a patient going to a doctor for preventative checkups. Just like doctors have their examination tools, XCEL NDT utilizes its top of the line industrial tools to assess the health of the equipment and identify potential problems, if there indeed are any. XCEL NDT always strives to deliver accurate, cost-effective results. These results provide clients’ confidence to make educated decisions on the tested specimen/equipment’s future.
Numerous types of different NDT methods can be utilized in the industry, which can then be broken down even further into many specialized techniques. Visual inspection or visual examination is the first and most fundamental method utilized. It requires no technologies or specialized tools except for an inspector’s vision. Literally, a skilled NDT technician is trained to spot imperfections on the surface of materials. Other more complex and diagnostic forms of NDT testing include, but are not limited to: radiographic testing (RT); x-ray testing, ultrasonic testing (UT); magnetic particle testing (MT); dye penetrant testing (PT); eddy current testing (ET); plus multiple other non-destructive testing methods.
NDT is utilized in many industries. From pipelines to petrochemical refineries, the automotive industry to aerospace, and almost all construction industries utilize some form of non-destructive testing. The NDT testing is conducted either during the construction process or once construction is complete to monitor integrity.
XCEL NDT was formed with a couple of primary goals in mind. The first was creating a company that provides employees a safe work environment, plus gives them an opportunity to be a part of a work family that cares about each other’s successes in the industry. This is something that XCEL’s management team felt had been lacking in the industry. The second goal was to simply provide the highest quality of inspections services available. This has been achieved by putting together the industry’s most qualified group of inspectors and technicians.
A major challenge XCEL NDT faces is gaining client’s trust and confidence in regard to NDT inspections due to past experiences with other companies’ poor delivery of services and results. XCEL NDT is confident that high-quality, consistent results will open doors to many future opportunities. At this time, XCEL NDT’s management feels they have done an outstanding job in letting these two primary goals steer the company down the path of success. Remaining true to these goals is key to keeping the company’s growth moving forward and defining its future objectives.
"Even though I know XCEL NDT has much room for growth, I am pleased knowing the foundation for success is set," Morehead says. By sticking to its roots of hiring only the best technicians and focusing on quality services delivered safely, XCEL NDT will keep moving in a positive direction.
As a service-based business, XCEL NDT will continue to focus on current and potential client needs, according to Morehead. The XCEL NDT team knows their reputation is only as strong as the work delivered on the next job. Focusing on delivering fast and accurate results so clients have a better understanding of how to proceed will continue to set them above other NDT companies.
For more information about XCEL NDT visit www.xcelnet.com.