Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Do you give the Welder "test taking tips"? -or- Do you shut up and let the Welder pass or fail on their own?

So, a company is paying you to help them comply with AWS/D1.1 You've written the WPS's and now it's time to qualify the Welders. Do you give the Welder "test taking tips"? -or- Do you shut up and let the Welder pass or fail on their own? -and- Once they fail, do you give the Welder test taking tips before the re-test?

Keep in mind the premise... a 3rd party inspector helping a company that requested it, comply with AWS-D1.1

Often, in fact usually, when I'm in this situation, it's a small company looking to bid on a job that is requiring them to do something they've never had to do before; show proof of compliance to the structural welding code. These companies are too small to have a Welding Engineer on staff and wouldn't have a Certified Inspector. Generally, what I find, they have a Welder they've hired, or has been working for them for some time. His/Her qualification documents (if any) are from a previous employer. The company is counting on their Welder to know all that is needed to know about welding the product.

I'll also find that the company needing to comply with AWS-D1.1 doesn't own a copy of the code (or the copy they have is 2-3 revisions old).  So now they've called me to see if I can help them out. I'll typically tour the shop, view the product, watch how the sausage is made... then I'll come up with a list of recommendations;

• These are the codes you need to comply with (typically D1.1 and D1.3, but often others as well).
• These are the Pre-Qualified WPS's needed.
• These are the Qualified WPS's needed.
• These are the Welder Qualifications required.

Total cost can easily fall around $3k-$10k, so we break it into small chunks. 1st the Pre-Qualified WPS's, then some Welder Quals... and that brings us back to my original question, "Do you give the Welder test taking tips?"

I'm going to provide the Welders a detailed WPS. I'll provide detailed test instructions. I'll let them know the acceptance criteria (visually acceptable root pass, cover reinforcement/crown not greater than 1/8"...). I'll answer every question they'll ask. Beyond that, I have to leave them on their own. Under this scenario I have to know / they have to know, "Do the skills and techniques that they have/use today get them the required result?" Most of the time, they do not. Failing the Welder Qualification test shows the Welder and the company that the process they currently have in place doesn't work. Something needs to change.

Had I offered helpful tips on the initial Welder Qualification, and the test fail, the only response would be, "The Inspector told me to ____ and that's why I failed." On the retest I will always ask, "Can I give you some tips?", but never on their initial test.

In a School or Training situation, that is a different scenario, but this isn't training. This is determining if the process you currently have in place yields the result you need and if not, what needs to change.

Thanks for reading and following.