More than 40 years of experience in the welding, metallurgical, and materials field, has shown that people who are not welding, metallurgical, or materials engineers and whose activities include designing; selecting and purchasing materials; specifying or performing welding, heat treating, forming, or other materials processing methods, tend to repeatedly make the same common costly welding, metallurgical, and materials engineering mistakes, regardless of the industry.
    Making, ignoring or being unaware of common welding, metallurgical, and materials engineering mistakes has had, and continues to have serious consequences, including design changes, specification changes, drawing revisions, reduced quality, low productivity, rework, scrape, schedule delays, cost overruns, field failures, injury accidents, death, liability lawsuits, bankruptcy, and customer bad will.

    Most likely the welding, metallurgical or materials engineering problems you are experiencing now, or in the past can be traced to one or more of the common mistakes. These common mistakes and their consequences can be prevented by knowing what the common mistakes are, and avoiding them.  The result, designed and built-in quality.  Avoiding a mistake is always cheaper than fixing it.


   Listed below are those common mistakes that lower quality, reduce productivity, increase costs, and jeopardize safety, avoid them.

    MISTAKE NO. 1-using other engineering disciplines to make welding, metallurgical and materials engineering decisions, including in-house and contracted personnel.  Lawyers don't practice outside of their specialty, Doctors don't practice outside of their specialty.   However for some unknown reason some employers hire engineers for positions unrelated to their discipline or specialty, or expect them to perform tasks unrelated to their discipline or specialty.
    The fact is, no one understands the depth and breadth of the science and properties of metal alloys and materials more than a person with a degree in metallurgical or materials engineering.  Also no one understands the depth and breadth of the science of welding metal alloys and joining materials, and the complex microstructure and property changes taking place in the weld and heat affected zone more than a person with a degree in welding engineering.  
    Contrary to popular belief, metallurgical and materials engineering are not equivalent to welding engineering; and neither is any other engineering discipline.  Welding is not a required field of study to receive the metallurgical, materials, or other engineering degrees.  Some people studying for the metallurgical, materials, or other engineering degree may also study welding as an elective if it's offered.  However, this study typically lacks depth and breadth because typically the electives allowed are too few, the classes are not dedicated solely to welding, or the person is too busy studying the necessary requirements for the metallurgical, materials, or other engineering degree.  Metallurgical, materials and other engineers may also learn something about welding while working in industry.  Unfortunately what's learned in industry typically comes from others without the necessary formal welding engineering education and training, which only tends to perpetuate misinformation.
    Also contrary to popular belief, metallurgical and materials engineering are not necessarily equivalent, and all materials engineering are not necessarily equivalent.  For example, although materials engineering is considered to be the "new metallurgical engineering", a person studying metallurgical engineering typically will study only the science of metals and alloys.  Whereas a person studying materials engineering may study the science of metals and alloys; ceramics, polymers, and composites, or specialize and study any one or more of these materials.  
    Using the correct discipline will often determine the difference between success and failure.  The bottom line, don't assume, know and compare the qualifications of the people you are considering to hire.  For more information click on "THE WELDING CONSULTANT" and "THE METALLURGICAL OR MATERIALS CONSULTANT" in the left side frame.

    MISTAKE NO. 2-welded designs being made in isolation by designers who have selected materials, written design, materials and process specifications, and specified part and joint geometries on engineering drawings, with little or no thought given to the welding and joining processes to be used, or the consequences of the heat, distortion and metallurgical changes that occur during welding and joining, or the compatibility issues in joining dissimilar materials.
    Successful designs require a multidiscipline team of engineering specialists working concurrently.  Decisions made during the design process will affect the cost, quality and safety of the product throughout its fabrication and life cycle.

    MISTAKE NO. 3-relying solely on text books and handbooks to select filler materials and processes for welding.   The data found in these sources are for ideal conditions which rarely exist in the real world.  Many welds have failed based on text book and handbook recommendations, because the welding metallurgical principles were not fully understood and applied to the real world situation.

    MISTAKE NO. 4-engineers and designers selecting and specifying materials and their processing methods such as welding, heat treating, hot and cold forming, etc., without having a clear understanding of how the processing will affect the performance of the materials.  Many engineers and designers are left scratching their heads when the materials they selected doesn't perform in the manner expected, because of changes which occurred in the material as a result of processing.  For example, the material loses its corrosion resistance, strength or toughness; or it fails prematurely due to fatigue or creep.

    MISTAKE NO. 5-relying on welders for information affecting engineering and design decisions.  This is dicey.   The useful information that you get will vary widely depending on the knowledge level of the welders.  Welders are taught the manipulative skills necessary to deposit a sound weld bead, typically by instructors who were former welders.  There are not many welding school programs that teach both manipulative skills and the science and metallurgy of welding.  I learned to weld at a welding trade school, operated by a former welder.  I learned good manipulative skills, but nothing about the science and metallurgy of welding.  I learned the science and metallurgy of welding when I began working towards getting my bachelors degree in welding, many years after the trade school.

    MISTAKE NO. 6-relying on inspection to control quality, costs and safety.  Inspection is a verification process, not a prevention process.  Inspection verifies or confirms the quality that is there after the operation is complete, whether that quality is good or bad.  For example: if the product is welded, and inspection determines the product is unacceptable after welding, because of cracked welds due to the wrong filler metal being specified in the design stage, the product will be either reworked or scrapped.  In either case the quality has decreased, and the safety jeopardized, because the product is not usable, and the cost has increased, because more materials and labor must be used to rework the product or make a new product if it is scrapped.  Inspection did not, and could not have prevented making an unacceptable product, because the specification of the wrong filler metal occurred in the design stage.
    In other words quality can not be inspected into the product, it must be designed in before it can be built-in.  That is, if a product can not be made properly because of a poor design, in this case the wrong filler metal, no amount of inspection will correct the problem.  The problem must be prevented in the design stage.  Inspection assumes the design is correct.

    MISTAKE NO. 7-living with lower quality work believing that it would be more expensive to improve.  In fact some people actually budget for scrape and rework.  The fact of the matter is, prevention as a result of improvement is always cheaper than rework and scrape.   Basically every time a person must redo any part of work already completed, due to self failure or the failure of others, the actual cost of the work is increasing.   Believe it or not, welding repairs and rejects need not be a normal occurrence.   When specified and used correctly by a knowledgeable person, welding is one of the most economical processes used for joining materials; contributing millions of dollars each year to the national economy.  In fact there is absolutely no reason for having defects, and making repairs to any product when the proper materials and procedures are used by trained personnel.

    MISTAKE NO. 8-assuming that because components and materials in power generating facilities are designed, fabricated, welded and installed to ASME Codes and standards, they will perform properly and be safe.  This is not always the case.  One only needs to read the annual Incident Reports of The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors to get a sense of the number of accidents, injuries and deaths resulting from faulty design or fabrication, improper installation and repairs etc., in code compliant components and materials.  ASME Codes and standards are not detailed design, fabrication, welding or installation manuals.  Although the code does provide some guidelines, they do not cover all the possible changes in loads, pressure, temperature, stresses and material properties that may occur over time during operating conditions.  Also they do not cover all the unique or special fabrication and welding requirements that may be necessary for some types of material.  A case in point are the attempts of some utilities, their engineers and  designers to specify advanced power plant materials approved by the ASME Code, such as SA-335, Grade P91, 9Cr-1Mo-V pipe, because of its greater thermal fatigue resistance, and enhanced creep strength.  And as a result having the material fail prematurely, due to improper fabrication, welding, and heat treating procedures used by contractors, subcontractors, or maintenance personnel.  Codes and standards are the minimum requirements necessary to meet an acceptable level of safe operation.   Therefore engineering judgment by qualified persons in the appropriate disciplines are always required for the design, fabrication, welding, installation and maintenance activities.
    With the trend toward cleaner energy systems, the requirement for engineering judgment by qualified persons becomes more critical.  Because new and improved materials; materials processing methods; and joining processes, are enabling technologies which will allow both cleaner traditional energy systems, and advanced clean energy systems to achieve safe, reliable, efficient, low cost, and environmentally compliant generation, in addition to extended facility or plant life.  Therefore unexpected failure of materials, air pollution control equipment, piping systems, vessels, turbines etc., and related accidents, injuries, deaths, plant outages and higher operating costs in these clean energy systems as a result of guesswork, misinformation and preventable common mistakes, are not acceptable options for energy companies and utilities that plan to remain in business and be competitive.
    As the requirement for clean energy, greater thermal efficiency, and higher operating temperatures and pressures continue, so will the requirement for new and improved materials, including their processing and joining methods.  To take advantage of these new and improved materials, and their superior properties, energy companies, utilities, and their designers, engineers, contractors, and maintenance personnel must take the appropriate responsibility and either develop the ability, or get the necessary support required to properly design, select, process, or join these materials economically; using procedures that will maintain the integrity of the material properties over time, and during changing operating conditions, or the clean energy systems can not exist.  If the clean energy systems can not exist, market competition, regulatory agencies, and the public will make it difficult for energy companies and utilities to exist.  It's that simple.

    MISTAKE NO. 9-an unjustified fear of using welds in a design.  This prevents innovation and progress in weldment designs, and limits the ability to improve quality and reduce costs.
    Contrary to popular belief and what text books would have you believe, welds are not miniature castings, and they do not have cast structures.   People are afraid of what they don't understand.  An as deposited single pass carbon steel weld made in a carbon steel plate is a dynamic process with heat being continually added to the weld, whose chemical composition is changing due to dilution with the carbon steel plate.  The weld solidifies epitaxially at the interface of the weld and plate, taking on the grain size, structure, and orientation of the carbon steel plate.  The weld solidifies rapidly producing small dendrite arm spacings in its substructures and a large number of dislocations which contribute to its strength.  A properly made welded joint when pulled in a tension test such as when qualifying welding procedures, will typically fail in the carbon steel base plate, outside of the weld and heat-affected zone.
    In comparison the pouring of a carbon steel casting with the same chemical composition as the carbon steel weld is a static process with heat being continually removed and no appreciable change in chemical composition due to pouring.  The casting cools slowly and solidifies by a process of
heterogeneous  nucleation and growth which begins at the mold wall of the casting.  Slow cooling castings produce large dendrite arm spacings and inferior tensile properties as compared to welds.
    A basic materials engineering principle states that, the structure of a material determines its properties, and its properties determines its performance.  If welds had cast structures, welds would perform like castings.  Clearly this is not the case.

    MISTAKE NO. 10-assuming a certified welder will always make good welds, and that the certification allows the welder to weld in any industry.   Certified welders are like the rest of us, and like the rest of us have bad days.   They fight with their husbands, wives, boy friends, girl friends, children, siblings, and they stay out late and get hangovers.
    A certified welder will not makeup for a bad design, inadequate welding specifications and procedures, or parts to be welded that do not align and fit up properly.
    Becoming a certified welder is similar to getting a driver license.  To get a driver license, typically requires a person to take a written and driver skills test.  After passing the tests a person is issued a license which documents the person's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely; not that the person will always operate the vehicle safely.
    To become a certified welder, the welder takes a qualification skills test based on specific industry requirements.  After passing the test, the testing facility certifies the welder for the welding conditions tested, such as welding process used, position of welding, materials welded, thickness of materials welded etc.   The certification documents the welder's ability to make sound welds, not that the welder will always make sound welds.
    There is no one qualification test a welder can take to become certified to weld in all industries, such as buildings, bridges, power plants, aerospace etc.  Each industry has its own qualification testing and certification requirements.   Therefore when I see help wanted ads in the local newspaper for "certified welders" my first response is, certified to weld what?
    Depending on the industry, welder certifications may or may not be transferred from one employer to another employer.  Also depending on industry, the employer may be required to perform the qualification testing and certification of the welders working for him, and in other cases an out side facility may be allowed to perform some or all of the qualification testing and certification.
    One last point, there is no such person as a "ASME certified welder".  ASME does not certify welders.  However a welder may be qualified or certified in accordance with the requirements of the ASME Code.  Be careful of the terms you use, they may have legal consequences.

MISTAKE NO. 11-assuming that because the tension tests, and bend tests are acceptable when qualifying a welding procedure, that the charpy impact toughness tests will also be satisfactory.  This assumption has cost companies thousands of dollars in rework, scrape and schedule delays.   Typically this assumption is made when companies are trying to maintain a schedule and want to start welding before all of the welding procedure qualification test results are known.  Those who make the decision to proceed without the charpy impact toughness test results, do not realize that, because the microstructure in the weld and base metal heat-affected zone produced good tensile strength and ductility, it is no guarantee that the same microstructure will also produce good charpy impact toughness values.  Wait for all test results.

MISTAKE NO. 12 -failure to specify nondestructive examination for welding procedure qualification.  Most codes and standards only require mechanical testing to qualify welding procedures.  However the acceptance criteria for the shop and field welds, are often for nondestructive examination, such as by radiography, ultrasonic,  dye penetrant, magnetic particle, visual, leak, etc.  The mistake is not performing the nondestructive examination method to be used on shop, and field welds during welding procedure development and qualification, regardless of whether it is required by code or standard.  If the welding procedure is producing unacceptable welds based on nondestructive examination standards, the time to find this out is during procedure development and qualification, not on the shop floor, or in the field.  Mechanical testing will not always be affected by what nondestructive examination reveals.  In other words, a defect found by nondestructive examination may pass the mechanical testing.

MISTAKE NO. 13 -failure to communicate using or interpreting the correct terminology has caused unnecessary misunderstandings.  And in some cases has led to scrap, rework, bad will, and litigation.  For example, the nonstandard term "butt weld", which some people use to specify a weld in a joint butted together as a square joint, really allows the making of any weld that can be made in a butt joint, which includes square groove weld, single or double u-groove weld, single or double v-groove weld, single or double j-groove weld, single or double bevel-groove weld, etc.  Instead of using the nonstandard term "butt weld" the specific type of weld should be illustrated or specified for the butt joint.  Also with respect to codes, standards, and specifications, the terms "shall", "will", or "must", indicates a mandatory requirement, whereas the terms "should" or "may" indicates a choice to perform or not perform the requirement.

MISTAKE NO. 14-failure to provide the welder or welding operator with a copy of the welding procedure specification he or she needs to do the work.  The welding procedure is the motion the welder or welding operator goes through when making a weld.  For example, positioning the work, setting the root opening, back purging the joint, making the first weld pass, wire brushing etc.  This motion or welding procedure is documented in the welding procedure specification which must be available to the welder or welding operator to follow, not filed away in the office file cabinet.  It does no one any good filed away in the cabinet.  The purpose of having a welding procedure specification is to control the welding operation by insuring each welder or welding operator performs the welding procedure the same.  It produces consistency.  Without this control each person would perform the welding operation based on his or her knowledge and experience, which may or may not be desirable depending on their knowledge and experience.

MISTAKE NO. 15-ignoring or not allowing for the possibility of corrosion.  Periodically the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) reports on the cost of corrosion in America across all industry sectors.  These cost figures are always in the billions of dollars per year.  So apparently designers and engineers are either ignoring the corrosion possibility, forgetting to allow for it, or don't understand it.  Corrosion can be eliminated or controlled through a three step process of: (a) investigate the system (materials, environment, influencing factors) for possible corrosion, (b) if system is susceptible to corrosion use protective methods, (c) monitor the system for corrosion progress, and effectiveness of the protective methods.

MISTAKE NO. 16-specification of the incorrect heat treatment and processing for the properties desired.  Heat treating and processing can be designed to develop specific combinations of properties in a material.  That is, one can customize the properties of a material for a given application.  However it is not always easy because of the material and processing variables that must be considered, such as: the material type, alloy content, initial microstructure, geometry (size, shape, thickness), heating rate, maximum and intermediate temperatures, time at temperature, cooling rate, temperature cooled too, mechanical working at selected temperatures, and furnace atmosphere.  What you can achieve in properties is only limited by your imagination, and the depth and breadth of your knowledge of the science of metallurgy.

MISTAKE NO. 17-inadequate welding specifications.  Over the years I have come across welding specifications that in my opinion were not worth the paper they were written on.  I have also written welding specifications for companies who have changed them to become not worth the paper they were written on.  The welding specification is written by the welding engineer who is a member of, or supports the design organization.  The purpose of the welding specification is to select and control the welding processes that are allowed to be used by others on the designed item.  The shop and field organization uses the welding specification as a basis for writing, developing and qualifying welding procedures, and qualifying welders and welding operators.  The procurement organization uses it as a basis for selecting and qualifying subcontractors, and the quality organization uses it as a basis for selecting inspection methods and procedures.  Therefore it is essential to get it right the first time to prevent costly ripple effects throughout the company or organization.

MISTAKE NO. 18-inadequate processing specifications.  Processing specifications such as for heat treating, cleaning, plating, hot and cold rolling, bending, forming, or forging and casting are written by the metallurgical or materials engineer who is a member of or supports the design organization.  The purpose of processing specifications is to provide control over the processes that may be used by others on the materials for the designed items.  This control is to ensure that the properties of the materials are not compromised so that the design will perform its materials related intended function.  The shop and field organizations use the processing specifications as a basis for writing and developing procedures for use in the shop and field.  The procurement organization uses the processing specifications as a basis for qualifying and selecting subcontractors, and the quality organization uses it as a basis for selecting inspection methods and procedures.  Good processing specifications are essential for low cost efficient processing.

MISTAKE NO. 19-inadequate material specifications.  The purpose of material specifications is to allow you to specify and control the materials to be used in your designed item.  For most companies and organizations, the standard commercial material specifications such as AISI, ASME, ASTM, etc, are sufficient to satisfy their needs.  However when unique requirements in chemical composition, properties, testing or processing is required that are not adequately covered by the available commercial specifications, unique material specifications can be written.  Sometimes these unique material specifications will specify a standard commercial specification plus additional requirements unique to the item being designed.  Material specifications are written by the metallurgical or materials engineer who is a member of, or supports the design organization.  The procurement organization uses the material specification as a basis for purchasing materials, and the quality organization uses it as a basis for determining receiving inspection methods.  To avoid problems, the material specification must be clear as to what the technical requirements are, and how the material is to be identified for receiving inspection.  Some common receiving inspection problem areas are; no certified material test report for the material, or missing or incomplete data on the certified material test reports, material not identified with specification number, type, size, thickness and heat number.  The common technical problems with respect to specifying unique material property requirements are too numerous to list.

MISTAKE NO. 20-faulty materials selection practices.  The purpose of the materials selection exercise is to select the best materials for the application based on the design criteria, cost, availability, and ease of processing and maintaining.  Selecting the best materials for the application is fundamental to designing a component that will consistently perform its intended function.  Materials selection is one of the most abused activities occurring during the design stage, because its typically performed by those with little or no formal materials training.  For a successful materials selection exercise, it should be supported by the input from a metallurgical or materials engineer.  If there are weldability concerns a welding engineer should also be consulted.

MISTAKE NO. 21-welding without a qualified welding procedure.  Not everything welded is done with a qualified welding procedure.  Also not everything that's welded requires a qualified welding procedure.  The requirement to qualify a welding procedure may come from codes, standards, specifications, or local, state, or federal rules, regulations, or laws governing the item to be welded, or the requirement may come from your customer.  If there are no procedure qualification requirements for the item you are to weld, ask yourself, what are the liability concerns if the weld failed?  If there are liability concerns you should qualify your welding procedure.  Some companies and organizations have ignored the liability question and found themselves in litigation.  The purpose of qualifying a welding procedure is to determine the ability of the welding parameters, variables, and instructions to produce a sound weld with acceptable mechanical properties.  The mechanical properties of most concern with welding procedure qualification are tensile strength, ductility, and toughness.

MISTAKE NO. 22-inadequate processing procedures.  Processing procedures such as for heat treating, cleaning, plating, hot and cold rolling, bending, forming, or forging and casting, allows you to control how processes are to be performed to ensure high quality and consistent results.  Therefore the purpose of processing procedures is to ensure that everyone performs the operation the same for consistent results, and the same level of quality.  Without processing procedures everyone would perform the operation based on his or her knowledge and experience, which may or may not be desirable, depending on their knowledge and experience.  For certain the results would be inconsistent, and the quality would be variable.  Take the time to write and qualify if necessary, good clear processing procedures.

MISTAKE NO. 23-the practice in the construction industry of having the contractor hire and pay the independent welding inspector, and the owner or owner's representative or engineer reimbursing the contractor.  This is not true independent inspection.  It also can, and has caused conflict and hostility between the contractor and inspector.  I have known unscrupulous contractors who would withhold the inspector's payment if the inspection was not favorable to the contractor, or hire only relatives who are inspectors, or only hire inspectors who are personal friends.  The contractor should not be involved in the process of selecting and paying the independent inspector.  This is the sole responsibility of the owner or owner's representative or engineer.

MISTAKE NO. 24-ignoring or being unaware of the costs of over welding.  Over welding occurs when more weld filler metal than necessary is deposited when making a weld.  Over welding results when making larger or longer fillet welds when a smaller or shorter fillet weld will do.  Also over welding results when an incorrect joint design is specified; that is, one that uses more weld filler metal than is necessary for the application.  The most common causes of over welding are: engineering and fabrication drawings that do not specify weld sizes or lengths, leaving it up to the welder to determine the sizes and lengths, parts that don't fit together properly leaving gaps to be filled, improperly specified joint designs and welds for the application, and the field or shop foreman, supervisor, or welders taking it upon themselves to make the welds larger or longer, thinking that more is better or stronger.  In welding more is not always better or stronger.  More weld than necessary can lead to distortion, shrinkage, residual stresses, and deterioration in the base metal heat affected zone properties.  Over welding uses more labor because it takes longer to make larger and longer welds.  Over welding uses more material to make larger and longer welds.  Additional materials used can include weld filler metals, shielding gases, or fluxes depending on the welding process.  In addition more welding power is used because the welding takes longer.  If over welding occurs on a daily basis for a year, and by more than one welder, you could be looking at some serious wasted money, or an opportunity for a substantial cost saving.

MISTAKE NO. 25-ignoring or being unaware of the costs associated with the time it takes to actually make a weld.  That is, the arc time of the welder or welding machine.  The goal is to make an acceptable weld in as little time as possible.  In other words to weld faster to complete the weldment sooner.  To reach this goal requires the selection of the proper welding processes, and the development of optimum welding procedures for the processes.  Other contributing factors which may influence reaching the goal are, weld and joint type, welding position, joint accessibility, material fit up, and weldability.  Reducing arc time will increase productivity and lower the cost of the weldment.

 MISTAKE NO. 26-ignoring or being unaware of the physical work effort required to make a weld.  When I was a welder I remember having some welding jobs that required me to be a contortionist to make some welds.  I would have to assume unnatural positions to get to the joints.  For example, crawling into tight spaces and trying to position myself and the welding electrode to make a weld inches from my face, or making welds in joints that can only be seen with a mirror, or balancing my self in awkward and difficult positions in order to complete a weld uninterrupted once the welding started, etc.  Sometimes these conditions are necessary due to the location of the joints, and sometimes these conditions can be eliminated or minimized with a little forethought and preplanning.  The more work effort required to make a weld increases the welder's frustration, fatigue, and time to complete the weld.  This situation can lead to accidents, lower quality welds, reduction in productivity, and increased costs.

MISTAKE NO. 27-ignoring or being unaware of those nuisances that keep a welder from continuously welding.  Less welding means lower productivity and higher costs.  Some nuisances that cut into the time a welder should be welding are: welding equipment malfunctions due to inadequate preventive maintenance, waiting for deliver of parts or assemblies to weld, manipulating parts to put them in the correct position to weld, waiting for the crane to move or position heavy parts or assemblies, waiting for the inspector to accept a weld before continuing to weld, excessive pounding, hammering, bending or twisting parts to close gaps to make them fit better before welding, fixturing of parts and assemblies, changing electrodes welding wire or welding gun or torch parts, changing and transporting shielding gas cylinders, waiting for assembly drawings shop travelers or instructions, moving welding equipment to and from the welding location, looking for the proper hand tools, etc.

MISTAKE NO. 28-failure to provide the necessary training to everyone who may have an influence on the outcome of your welding operations.  If welding is one of the major processes being performed at your company, and you look at it as a necessary evil, added cost, or bottleneck, instead of a profitable operation, you may be missing an opportunity for improvement because of untrained employees.  Welding is one of the most misunderstood industrial processes, plagued by misinformation because most people have no formal training in the subject, or inadequate training, or they received exposure to welding while working in industry.  Unfortunately what's typically learned in industry comes from others without the necessary formal education and training, which only tends to continue to perpetuate misinformation.  It then becomes a situation of the blind leading the blind.  Formal training should be provided to the welders, lead persons, forepersons, supervisors, managers, design engineers, and procurement personnel who purchase welding materials and equipment, and who are responsible of welding subcontracting.  Stop the spread of misinformation, low quality, reduced productivity and unnecessary high costs.

MISTAKE NO. 29-not using a qualified independent welding, metallurgical, or materials engineering consultant to support your project.  What is a qualified independent engineering consultant?  A qualified independent engineering consultant is a full time independent business person with an employer identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service.  This person is not an employee of a company that sells equipment, components, material or perform job shop services.  The main objective of people who work for these commodity and service companies and provide advice, is to sell you equipment, components, materials or job shop services as part of the solution to your problem, which may or may not be the best and most economical solution.  Also a qualified independent engineering consultant has the appropriate degree for the engineering discipline he or she is consulting in, and is a registered professional engineer in the engineering discipline.  That is, he or she has an engineering license issued by the state which will allow him or her to practice that engineering discipline.  For example, if you hire someone as an independent welding engineering consultant, that person must have a welding engineering degree, and be registered by the state in the discipline of welding engineering.  The same holds true for qualified independent metallurgical and materials engineering consultants.  More specifically, by state laws a person cannot use the words "engineer", "engineering", "consultant", "consulting", etc, and offer services to the general public using these words unless he or she is a registered professional engineer in that state.  There are exemptions for some industries.  This is to "safeguard property and public welfare" from unqualified persons who may cause harm.  Most states recognize professional engineering registrations from other states, and the laws of each state will vary.  Save yourself a lot of head aches and grief by hiring the right qualified person to support your project.

MISTAKE NO. 30-not taking advantage of the time and money that can be saved by using an independent welding, metallurgical, or materials engineering consultant to support your project.  Simply stated, companies and organizations with access to knowledgeable and experienced talent enjoy greater financial success.  However making a long term commitment in finding, hiring, training and maintaining the necessary in-house talent can be risky and expensive.  It makes better economic sense to supplement the knowledge and experience of existing employees with flexible support and consulting which can be used and paid for on an as needed basis.  This will allow existing employees to get answers to questions, and solutions to problems when needed, in a fast easy cost saving manner.  Although the rates for a consultant are typically higher than what is normally paid a permanent or temporary employee, past experience has shown that you will save in the long run.  How is this possible?  It's possible because in addition to eliminating those costs associated with finding, hiring, training, and maintaining a permanent or temporary employee, costs will also be lowered because a highly skilled and knowledgeable professional will get the job done quicker, and right the first time.  There is no learning curve.  The consultant is ready to produce when hired.  Also unlike an employee, when the job is done, the consultant is no longer a cost to you. Therefore in the long run your total cost will be lower.  A simple cost-benefit analysis will confirm the savings and convenience.

MISTAKE NO. 31-ineffective use of the welding, metallurgical, or materials engineering consultant's time.  Consultants can improve the quality, productivity and cost of your operations if used effectively.  If you are being billed by the hour or day, the key to using consultants effectively is to think in terms of time, because that's what you're paying for; the consultant's knowledge and skill for a period of time.  Therefore anything that takes up the consultant's time, whether that time is productive or wasted will cost you money.  So use the consultant's time wisely.  Some typical time wasters are: having the consultant wait for long periods in the lobby for an appointment that's late getting started, getting the consultant involved in side projects not in the original contract, having the consultant travel to your site to solve a problem when the problem could be resolved by phone, email, etc., having the consultant look for someone in your organization or company to make a decision before the project can proceed, having the consultant perform tasks not related to his or her special skill that anyone in your organization or company can do, answering the phone or becoming involved or distracted while in a meeting with the consultant, getting the consultant involved in company politics or red tape, waiting until the very last minute before getting the consultant involved in a project that is failing, changing the project objective as the  project proceeds.

MISTAKE NO. 32-assuming that nitrogen is a true inert gas.  Many people use nitrogen in processing and joining materials, such as for purging, shielding, heating, cooling etc., and refer to it as an inert gas.  Nitrogen in its most stable diatomic form has been successfully used for these purposes and others, and behaves as an inert gas.  However nitrogen is not a true inert gas.  That is, it is not chemically inactive in all its forms.  Under certain conditions of temperature and pressure, nitrogen can dissociate into its monatomic form, combine with other elements to form various compounds of carbonitrides, nitrides, oxides, halides, and hydrides.  Some of these nitrogen compounds can change the properties of materials, or are toxic, corrosive, or explosive.  Nitrogen does not have a stable atomic electron structure as does the more common true inert gases of argon and helium.  So be careful of where and how you use it, and don't call it an inert gas.

MISTAKE NO. 33-assuming that when a welder says a weld can't be made, that it can't be made.  When a welder says a weld can't be made, he or she is saying one of two things: (a) He or she can't make the weld.  That is, he or she is lacking the skill to make the weld, or (b) the weld really can't be made under the present conditions with that process, in that material, in that location etc, etc.  Lets look at (a), welders have different skill levels and experience.  What one welder can do, others may find difficult or impossible.  When I was a welder I had trouble making welds in the vertical up position, whereas it was second nature to some other welders.  All through my career as a welder I never completely mastered that welding position.  However I could lay on my back and make a picture perfect weld in the overhead position every time, whereas some other welders struggled with making the same weld.  My point is, get a second opinion from another welder or a welding engineer who has had practical experience as a welder.  With respect to (b), if the weld can't be made under a set of conditions, perhaps a few minor changes in the process, materials, location, position etc., may rectify the situation.  Here again a second opinion may be required.

MISTAKE NO. 34-inadequate quality program or system.  The purpose of a quality program or system is to ensure that all items are designed, procured, manufactured, constructed, shipped and installed in accordance with established requirements.  These requirements may be in codes, standards, or specifications, mandated by federal, state, or local governments, or customers.  A good quality system should be documented, self audited to ensure that it's working, and cover as a minimum the company organization, the design function, procurement, manufacturing, construction, shipping and receiving.  The details and extent of control of each function will depend on how critical the items are that are being produced, and the governing requirements.  A good quality system or program states what is to be done, and how to do it, using written policies, specifications, procedures, instructions, checklists, drawings, sketches, travelers, process and route sheets, etc.  In addition a good quality system or program documents that an activity was done, as evidenced by certifications; inspection, examination, and test results; reports, completed checklists, and results of audits; status tags, stamps, markings, and labels; etc.  And most important of all, you must say what you do, and do what you say.  Having a documented quality system or program that lists all the right policies, procedures and phrases and you don't actually do any of it, is absolutely useless.

MISTAKE NO. 35-not following the quality system or program.  Some typical reasons the quality system or program may not be followed are:  (a) It's to complicated and inconvenient.  That is, it's easier to do the work without following the quality system or program.  (b) People may be unaware of the quality system or program requirements.  That is, they are not properly trained in using the system or program and therefore don't perform all the necessary steps in performing and documenting their work.  (c) The quality system or program has not been properly debugged and implemented.  That is, there are no procedures, checklists, travelers, etc available when needed, or are of the wrong revision.  (d) The importance or reason for the quality system has not been explained to those who are expected to work within it.  (e) The system or program does not have the full backing of top management and therefore middle and lower management are lax in enforcing the system or program.  There is no discipline.  (f) The quality system or program is not well documented.  That is, quality policies and requirements are vague or missing.  (g) The quality department is not independent from the production department, and has not been given the authority to make independent quality decisions, and therefore production often supercedes quality.  (h) There is no corrective action taken on deficiencies found in the system or program by internal audits.
    If you spend the time and money in setting up a quality system or program why not use it.  It can save you money in the long run.

MISTAKE NO. 36-having a person with a welding engineering degree take an exam to become a certified welding inspector.  This makes absolutely no sense.  It's equivalent to having a Doctor take an exam to become a nurse.  The welding engineer has a greater in depth knowledge of welding and welding inspection methods, techniques, their application and capabilities.  Therefore the welding engineer establishes welding and welding inspection requirements and the welding inspector insures that the welding and welding inspection requirements are carried out.  Having a welding engineer become a certified welding inspector causes no quality problems.  It's just redundant, and a waste of time and money, accomplishes nothing, and shows a lack of understanding of the role of the welding engineer and welding inspector.  Having a engineer who does not have a welding engineering degree take an exam to become a certified welding inspector makes more sense, since a nonwelding engineer does not have the in depth knowledge of welding and welding inspection as does a person with a welding engineering degree.