Tuesday, December 29, 2015

“The only Welder that hasn’t failed a Welder Test is the one that hasn’t been a Welder very long.” - Roger "Bud" Malley

I remember you saying that if we had a question about something to just ask.  My question is about welder recertification.  The owner of the place where I work wants me to come up with a “welder recertification process” that includes two 3/8 plate test, one aluminum and one steel, send them out and have them tested.  With 24 welders, think that this would be very costly to do on an annual basis.  I’ve contacted our external CWI for information and he has never herd of doing that other that staying current with continuity.  I was wondering if you have any information on this subject that would help me down that road?  Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Joey D.

I like your question.  Sounds like the boss wants to go above and beyond the code requirements (or, he doesn’t understand them), nothing wrong with that, but here’s some of the problems you’ll encounter…

Our first objective is to meet the code requirements.  Going beyond them is great, but the first objective has to be to meet them.

I’ve been in many environments where going beyond the code requirements was somebodies dream (never mine) forced onto me.  I have also found that often, the job of the CWI is to protect the Boss from himself.  Adding additional requirements can be a good way of maintaining skill levels and quality, but they will also, always increase drama & cost.

The Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) will require that CWB Certified Welders re-test every 2 years.  I have found, working in CWB shops that skill levels are easier to maintain.  I always attributed that to the testing requirement.  But maintaining that program is expensive, and when times get tight it is one of the first things looked at to drop.

I have also worked with companies who have used additional testing requirements as a way of maintaining Welder Continuity (a requirement under AWS-D1.1), but these programs have been bulky and expensive and as an auditor it would take me about 10 minutes of snooping to find holes in the program.  In your email you mentioned this annual testing as possibly benefiting Welder Continuity.  There is your first hole.  Logs need to be updated every 6 months and your testing was every 12 months.  It wouldn’t take a lot of digging for me to find a Welder with an out-of-date log.

If you develop an annual testing program you will need to answer the question, “What happens to the Welder who fails an annual test?”  That needs to be known before you implement the requirement.

My Uncle (who me & my family considered the greatest Welder who ever lived) once told me, “The only Welder that hasn’t failed a Welder Test is the one that hasn’t been a Welder very long.”
What happens to your Welder that fails (and many will)?  He can’t fail the test and then go back out on the line as a Welder, right?  What about the work he was doing just prior to testing?  Isn’t that called into question?

You can always get those who fail your testing back up to speed with training and evaluation.  It’s been my experience that they don’t loose their skill, they loose their eyes.  Ol’ Welders that have been doing what they do for ever can make perfectly acceptable welds day in and day out, even as their eye sight deteriorates. But give that Ol’ Welder a qualification test (which is almost always different then their day-to-day) and they’ll struggle.  Often, to see.

With todays aging Welder Workforce I have issued “Cheaters” (reading glasses for welding helmets) at 4 of the fabricators I served as Weld Engineer for.

Again, you have to be clear on how you’ll handle these situations before they happen.  I had one Boss that commanded that, “If they fail the test we let them go.”  First Welder to fail was in his 60’s and had been at the company over 30 years (He didn’t get fired.  I worked with him, got him all “Cheatered-Up” and he was back doing what he knew and seeing what he’d forgot.).

I guess my point is, when we attempt to exceed the requirements we build cost and “drama” which seems to escalate to an unhealthy level and then suddenly the program is dropped and we are at risk of not complying to the code, our first objective.

There ya go, Ask me the time and I build ya a watch.
Good Luck,

When a Welder Qualifies a Procedure

Specifically, AWS D1.1-2015 4.15.3 Welder an Welding Operator Qualification Through WPS Qualification states. "A welder or welding operator may also be qualified by welding a satisfactory WPS qualification test plate, pipe or tubing that meets the requirements of 4.9 The welder or welding operator is thereby qualified in conformance with 4.15.1 and 4.15.2."

Does this mean if an operator performs the same test as was done on the PQR, but it's only subjected to the Two Side bends, this operator is clear to use this WPS? If so, does an operator need to perform a test for every WPS that they use?

This reference (4.15.3) is only referring to the actual operator that welded the actual PQR test.

Whenever an operator completes a successful PQR test that operator is awarded a Welder Performance Qualification Record (WPQR).  So from a single test plate you will develop 3 (min.) different documents;

  • 1) a Procedure Qualification Record (PQR), 
  • 2) a Weld Procedure Specification (WPS) and 
  • 3) a Welder Performance Qualification Record (WPQR).

The first (PQR) will be a record of the actual parameters and acceptable results from the visual, destructive & nondestructive testing.  The second (WPS) will use the PQR data and Tables 4.1, 4.2 (or 4.3 & 4.4 if applicable), Table 4.5 (4.6 or 4.7 if applicable) and Table 4.8 to determine the ranges qualified and layout an actual procedure for welding.  The third (WPQR) will use the PQR data and Tables 4.10, 4.11 & 4.12 to determine the ranges for Welder qualification.

So to summarize, you have the same group of data, but you are developing 2 completely different documents from it.  One for the process and one for the person.  You end up with these funky conditions where a Welder is qualified to do far more then the procedure allows.

Nothing wrong with that.  Even though the Welder is “over-qualified” his limiting factor is that his welding needs to be done to a Weld Procedure Specification, so additional WPS’s would need to be developed for that Welder to use these additional qualifications.

For all additional Welders the PQR (Figure 4.6 & 4.7) and Welder/Operator (Figures 4.16, 4.17, 4.19, 4.20 or 4.21) test plates are different.  You would have to review those figures to determine what is appropriate.  A single tests performed by the Welder/Operator typically will qualify them to weld with multiple WPS’s.  Once a Welder/Operator completes a test, Tables 4.10, 4.11 & 4.12 would be used to determine if additional testing is needed.