CASE STUDY #12 - What is a “Responsible Welding Coordinator”
We do specialise with this type of training and Mark Cozens has been involved in training Welding Coordinators for over 25 years.
As a way of helping you assess the options, Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd offer the following opinions.
The title “Responsible Welding Coordinator” (RWC) is just that and the new legislation regarding EN 1090 and the CE Marking of steel is a complex one. The reason for this is there are many different interpretations on the need with regard to training and competence of the RWC. However, competence is essential in order that the RWC may fulfil appropriate responsibilities and duties in both an efficient and effective manner by continuous improvement to the initial Factory Production Control system that has to be set up within Fabricators.
As stated, it is complex situation as we move nearer to the imminent “deadline” of compliance, but as no one really knows the true implications or what is required specifically, there is a great deal of misinformation regarding the training needs of the RWC, especially when it comes to the practical and technical needs of an RWC, their role and indeed, how they are assessed as being “competent”
Whilst formal training is essential for such a role it is difficult to understand the required scope of welding coordination as it covers many sub topics of welding technology as a whole and measuring the knowledge and performance of individuals from a knowledge perspective is one thing, ensuring competence is far more difficult, especially when there are vast divisions between the current training provision on offer in the UK.
On one hand, there is the International Institute of Welding’s Educational Training Diplomas (Which many perceive are competence driven but they are actually only knowledge based Diplomas).
The IIW Diploma syllabus, which are quoted in some standards such as ISO 3834 are recommended as if you review the specific requirements your company needs to meet this type of training is not mandatory, as far as I am aware they are quoted in many standards with a “should” rather than mandatory with a “shall”. This fact is at least true for many Fabricators in normal structural steel work but some industry such as the Oil and Gas industry may see mandatory requirements for IIW Diplomas. Furthermore, some “Execution Classes” in EN1090 may also lean on IIW qualifications as they can be specified within the requirements of such codes and standards for more demanding applications that perhaps involve fatigue or brittle fracture risks.
The IIW scheme has been around for many years and was adopted from the European Welding Federation Scheme and is operated by various national Welding Bodies across the EU and beyond and we (as Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd) is an independent Authorised Training Body for the International Welding Specialist level IIW Diploma.
Whilst the IIW syllabus provides a very broad welding engineering approach to the subject at large, it is not any single industry sector specific. This means that may companies who perhaps operate only a single arc welding process such as MAG welding or MMA welding are required to send their potential RWC on a course which is between 6 and 14 weeks in duration and which includes exams for a Diploma on subject matter that is not relevant to the needs of a structural steel business.
The IIW syllabus includes many different welding processes including the full range of arc welding processes such as MMA, TIG, SAW, TCAW, FCAW along with a week module on “other processes” such as friction, laser, EB and plastics welding etc.
Equally frustrating are the material types which are included such as steels, stainless steels, aluminium and nickel alloys with “steels making up perhaps only 40% of the module(s) therefore a great deal of time is spent on material types such as aluminium, stainless steels, nickel alloys and cast irons which have little consequence to a SME working with common, weldable constructional type steels.
So in summary, whilst the IIW modules cover a broad range of welding related topics, most would argue that a high percentage of the topics are not relevant to most steel (and aluminium) Fabricators, who are perhaps only welding structural steel up to “S355” type grades using perhaps only a single process such as the MAG welding or MMA welding process.
In contrast to this, other organisations such as the British Constructional Steel Association (BCSA) are allegedly providing a two day course for RWC’s which in my nearly 40 years in the welding industry, is nowhere near adequate to meet the day to day needs of an RWC, unless candidates already have existing welding education and more importantly, experiential (on the job) experience as welding supervisors or welding engineers, which of course, for small and medium enterprises (SME’s) is rarely the case.
Although Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd is an Authorised Training Body for the provision of the IIW International Welding Specialist training courses, we have a very different viewpoint insofar that when a company seeks CE Marking Certification they are required to set up a Factory Production Control system which is audited by a recognised and independent Third Party Body against the requirements of the various standards involved for a range of welding and engineering related standards.
As a consequence, part of this formal assessment includes an in depth technical interview with a “welding expert” (Commonly an experienced welding engineer) and the technical expert will seek to see if the nominated RWC is competent in the specific scope of work that the company is involved with.
Because of this, our belief is that the 2 day course is too short as it relies on existing competence in welding and conversely, the IIW provision is too long and costly as it is not specifically relevant. Therefore, our view is something in between both extremes seems to be the need.
In view experienced welding inspectors attend a 4 - 5 day course plus a 1 day exam to be a qualified welding inspector (which is also a requirement of EN1090 under surveillance inspection) it would seem sensible that an RWC covers a longer and more detailed training and assessment provision.
I have therefore spent a great deal of time discussing this whole issue with experienced welding coordinator/engineers/specialists and technologists for the required training needs for an RWC in the construction industry and the general feeling is a programme of 10 days is required.
The 10 day programme would include a foundation module designed in getting everyone to a reasonable level of welding education and knowledge as well as allowing candidates to look at the inspection requirements of welds. This module would be related to welding basics, welding inspection and testing which is also the remit of an RWC’s scope of work as well as a number of other relevant topics.
The second module however would be geared to looking at the specifics of an RWC and achieving a level of competence in order to fulfil and satisfy the technical interview and in being able to “do the job”. As such we are proposing that, as a base level, RWC’s need to have both education and experience at a level of that of a Level 2 welding inspector in order to start the process and therefore suggest candidates attend our welding inspector L2 provision.
We will then provide a specific RWC follow up course which prepare candidates for both being able to carry out their job function competently and also satisfy the technical interview as part of the CE Marking requirement.
I understand there is a great deal to consider especially in identifying a suitable person for the role, but if you would like to review this and get back to us, I will be pleased to send you further details or discuss your requirements.
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