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WELDING INSPECTION AND WELDING QUALITY COMMENTARY

 

INTRODUCTION 

    The following three paragraphs and the numbered listings below them, are commentary provided as guidance for those who are interested in welding quality and welding inspection.

    The basis for designing and building in welding quality is the need to produce a weldment that will perform its intended function, while protecting the health and safety of the public.  The requirements in industrial welding codes, standards, and specifications also have this as their basis.  However, the requirements in industrial welding codes, standards and specifications are the broad minimum requirements.  Therefore in today's litigious society the user of these documents must realize that they are not handbooks, and cannot replace education, experience, and the use of engineering judgment.

    Good or acceptable welding quality results from doing it right the first time, as opposed to bad or poor welding quality, which results when mistakes and defects are made.  Welding inspection is used to confirm, verify, or control the welding quality that's already there, good or bad, it does not improve welding quality.  Welding quality is improved as a result of  good welding, metallurgical, and materials engineering.  Good welding, metallurgical, and materials engineering occur when the weldment is properly designed, the correct materials are selected, specified, purchased, and applied, and the proper welding and fabrication processes are selected, specified, qualified, and performed by a trained and qualified person.  The result, designed and built-in quality.  That is, quality becomes inherent in the design and build process.

    The problem is that most companies and organizations that purchase, design, fabricate or construct weldments, typically rely too heavily on welding inspection to control welding quality and integrity, and therefore has no one on their staff with a material or metallurgical engineering degree to properly specify, and assist with selecting and purchasing materials, and no one with a welding engineering degree to properly specify fabrication and welding of the materials, and a poor, or no quality system to prevent or detect problems and mistakes.  And as a consequence unnecessary costly mistakes are made when designing, selecting and purchasing materials, specifying, or performing welding, heat treating, forming, or other material fabrication methods, which results in lowering welding fabrication and construction quality, and increasing costs.

    Listed below in no particular order, are some additional welding quality and welding inspection commentary that may be helpful:

  1. Welding quality assurance activities prevent defects.  For example, writing and using welding specifications, procedures, instructions etc.

  2. Welding quality control activities detect defects.  For example, welding inspection, examinations, tests, audits etc.

  3. Effective welding inspection occurs before, during, and after welding.

  4. The welding engineer determines the welding inspection requirements when writing the welding specification, and the welding inspector carry out those requirements.

  5. Industrial codes, standards and specifications contain the minimum requirements.  The user of these documents may add additional requirements.

  6. In the absence of industrial codes, standards and specifications, the welding engineer may include welding inspection requirements in the welding specification.

  7. The decisions welding inspectors make are not always popular.  Therefore those who hire welding inspectors should be prepared to support unpopular but correct decisions.

  8. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous contractors, manufacturers and fabricators, and the use of welding inspection often makes them do the work correctly.

  9. The employer in conjunction with the welding inspector determine when, where, how and what is to be inspected.

  10. The American Welding Society has a program to certify welding inspectors.

  11. Welding inspectors must have the necessary freedom, independence, and authority to make inspection and quality decisions.

  12. Welding quality cannot be inspected into the weldment, it must be designed and built in.  In other words it must be done right the first time.

  13. Better welding inspection does not always mean more welding inspection.

  14. Good design and in-process controls of the fabrication and welding process produces quality products.  All subsequent welding inspection only verifies or confirms the quality that's there, good or bad.

  15. The person who fabricates and welds the item must take responsibility for its quality, not the welding inspector.

  16. There is absolutely no reason to have errors or defects in any weld or weldment.

  17. People are conditioned to believe that defects in welds or weldments cannot be avoided, and that welding inspection is always required.

  18. It is much less expensive to prevent defects in welds and weldments than it is to rework or scrap.

  19. An independent welding inspector is not a true independent inspector unless the inspection is independent and final.

  20. Welding quality improvement has no chance unless the individuals recognize that welding improvement is necessary.

  21. Welding quality must be firmly established within the organization, otherwise it will never happen.

  22. Having a welding engineer who has a real welding engineer degree take an examination to become a certified welding inspector is equivalent to having a Doctor take an examination to become a registered nurse.  It makes no sense.

  23. Good welding quality means doing it right the first time.  Poor, bad, no, or nonquality means not doing it right the first time.

  24. The typical company hires a welding inspector to look at the welds and weldment after the welding is done.  At that point it's too late.

  25. Why spend time finding, fixing and fighting over fabrication and welding defects when the defects can be prevented?

  26. How much more profitable would your company be if you completely eliminated fabrication and welding defects and other costs of failure?

  27. The purpose of having an independent welding inspector or quality organization, is to limit the decisions to those who have nothing to gain from the decisions.

  28. Good welds and weldments only happen when they are planned, bad welds and weldments happen when they are not.

  29. There are millions of fabricated and welded products produced every day that don't end up in litigation.

  30. Working and thinking differently to improve fabrication and welding quality is difficult because we reject change or newness.

  31. Most new quality systems don't work like they are supposed to until the people are properly trained, and see the positive benefits in its use.

  32. Management must be personally committed to participating in the quality program to ensure everyone's cooperation, and program progress and success.

  33. The total costs of welding quality are the costs to prevent defects, the costs to find defects, and the costs to repair defects.  When the activities to prevent defects are integrated into the daily operations the total welding quality costs are lowered.

  34. Welding inspection acceptance criteria should be quantifiable.

  35. Some people believe that the term "Quality" always means good.

  36. Allowing the company or organization who produces the weldment to have final welding inspection acceptance of the weldment may not result in accurate reporting of defects.

  37. The function of the quality department or organization is to establish and maintain a system of controls to ensure that all activities related to making a weldment are performed in accordance with established requirements.

  38. If you purchased a defective item at the neighborhood store you would be upset.  Then why should you expect your customers not to be upset when you sell them a defective weldment?

  39. The attitude of top management on quality determines the attitude of the workers on quality.

  40. The amount and accuracy of the paperwork generated as a result of producing a weldment is one of the most frustrating and expensive problems faced today.

  41. The welding procedure specification is a welding engineering document and should only be written by the welding engineer, not the welding inspector or any other quality personnel.  Those who verify and approve documents should not be the same as those who write them.  This is a direct conflict of interest.

  42. Good welding quality results from good welding engineering.

  43. The qualification of welders and welding operators is more important than their certification.

  44. The certification of welders and welding operators is a signed statement that they passed a qualification test.

  45. A certified welder or welding operator will not always make good welds.  See "COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID' in the left side frame, and common mistake no. 10.

  46. Welding inspection and welding quality activities extend to all activities related to completing the weldment, such as purchasing and receiving materials, heat treating, forming, machining and other material processing methods.

  47. Codes are rules and regulations which specify the minimum requirements for design, fabrication, welding, manufacturing, testing, examination, construction, assembly etc.  Codes carry the weight of law.

  48. A standard is a document or object whose requirements are used as a basis for comparison, a model.  Standards are typically developed by a consensus.

  49. A specification is a document that describes the requirements for a product, material, process, system or service.

  50. You must design in quality in order to build in quality.

  51. Welding inspection cannot substitute for welding engineering.