CASE STUDY #13 - Assessment of welding documentation and scopes of assessments
My Company has been asked to provide welding procedure and welder qualification documentation for “Client Review” and we don’t know what is required to be included.
Having performed numerous welding procedure document reviews in the past, it is all too common to note a sense of urgency from clients in getting the “paperwork” assessed for a project, especially as the production work becomes increasingly more imminent or has perhaps started. Evidently, no one from the company welding department was fully engaged in the contract review process, which is seen as a basic requirement of ISO 9001 Quality Requirements and is also seen as industry best practice.
The implications of this are that it leads to significant individual and or departmental pressure and subsequent delays to the productive stage of the project from the outset. The project effectively starts on the “wrong foot” and the project in total then clamours through in a muddle throughout the duration.
The consequence is the manufacturer makes mistakes, the client finds fault, the manufacturer loses the clients faith and goodwill and ultimately the manufacturer loses contract/money/future business/loss of reputation, sometimes all of these facets. In short a disaster that could have been avoided.
The management team representing the manufacturer decide to bring in a specialist in as a last minute thought, [Now a reactive process] and this situation, albeit at a stage of panic from the manufacturer, is a result of getting it wrong at the start-up phase of the planning and organising process. Bringing in someone who may know what is needed at a stage that is too late becomes a “firefighting exercise” rather than a proactive and productive exercise to keep the project on time, with a happy crew and satisfying the needs of the client, code and contract.
Time waits for no man
Worse to come is that the scope of work is not understood by the welding engineer as the manufacturer may have the possibility of either a basic, or indeed, a significant scope of work is required to be reviewed, analysed and understood. This means that any assessment is rather “open ended” in relation to providing a specific timeframe the manufacturer often needs. The consequence is as the full scope of what is actually required is still uncertain or unknown; this compounds the delay even further at the initial fact finding and discovery phase of the documentation review.
Whilst the welding engineer can start the review process, the review is also delayed further by the fact that the documentation assessment will have to initially attempt to predict and satisfy all the technical details that the main client’s own welding authority would require or insist on.
This can, of course, create even further technical complications, time management problems or indeed, longer term implications with the contract, especially if certain aspects of the assessment, which are not appropriately identified during the initial review due to the scope not being known, are now a potentially contentious issues with the main client.
Communication is the key, the speed of response and the clarity and understanding of the recipients is paramount in order to fulfil the need.
A full “compliance assessment” which would mean significant additional time being added to the process before production can start as the assessment scope is significantly increased as the scope and boundaries of such an assessment is now against both the specified technical welding engineering requirements and perhaps specific requirements within the Code of Practice, or Clients specifications, or Regulatory & Statutory Requirements. (E.g. PED/PER in Europe).
This is a legal requirement and often requires a manufacturer to engage a recognised industry expert who holds specific welding engineering competence based qualifications such as Certified International (C-IWE) or Certified European Welding Engineer (C-EWE).
What paperwork can be reviewed?
Reviews can include (but is not limited to) Engineering drawings, Quality Requirements, Quality Plans, Method Statements, Material Certification, Material Maps, Heat Treatment Records, NDE, Welding Consumable Certification, Welder Qualification /Certification, Repair Procedures, regulatory aspects, environmental considerations and many other technical and quality related aspects or activities.
How are the delays caused?
From experience, most of the common delays seen are largely due to the “Documentation packs” being incomplete, e.g. certain documents are missing or there is not a clearly defined traceable package identified from the outset. The latter is of course difficult as people are perhaps unaware of what is required to make the documentation audit friendly and as previously mentioned, the client has not provided a clearly defined scope of assessment/review which would allow some boundaries to be made and thus met.
Scope of reviews and technical assessments of fabrication files and documentation packs:
Commonly, welding documentation assessments can include some or all of the following scopes which can be from simplistic to a full code and contract compliance review. Depending on the type of scope of assessment will depend on the timeframe required.
The code of practice also defines certain documents which must be included in the review so the time element of such an analysis is largely dependent on the product in question, code requirements, contract details and other unknown criteria which can cause even further delays in getting from the documentation review to the production phase.
Examples of documentation and Levels of assessments:
Level Scope of application
1) A basic technical review of the application of the parent material, welding process type and welding consumable combinations which may also include assessment of other essential variables. (This is more recently known as a “weldology” assessment).
2) In addition to 1), the client can also ask for confirmation that the non-destructive and destructive testing was carried out in accordance with the specified standard(s) e.g. EN ISO 15614 Part 1 or other parts or ASME IX or both or other standards or parts.
Note: This assessment is very time consuming and various other standards are required to be reviewed in order to satisfy such compliance.
3) The assessment can also include the WPS’s satisfying the “range of qualification” of the WPS/WPQR’s versus the applications shown in the drawings.
4) The assessment can also include any specific code requirements of say PD 5500 or ASME VIII which are in addition to EN ISO 15614 and ASME IX requirements respectively. (For example, all weld tensile testing is often specified in the code but not in the qualification standard).
5) The assessment can also include an assessment of the NDT or destructive test procedures such as the method used to inspect a particular weld with regard to its ability to detect specific imperfections.
6) The assessment can also include checking the personnel who carried out the testing are competent by assessing the weld test details against their qualifications and their individual scope of qualification/approval.
7) The assessment can also require that the weld history report ties in with the arc monitoring print out with regard to welding variables and heat inputs or arc energy which can include, current type, polarity, interpass temperatures, run sequence, no of passes and the actual volts and amps and travel speed used for each weld run.
8) Commonly there is also a need for a traceability check between the specified essential variables such as materials and welding consumables used for the test against for example, EN 10025 or ASTM requirements
9) A check can also be made between the materials and welding consumables used on the test versus those used for production to check for any compositional or heat treatment variations or variations in mechanical properties.
10) That all of the materials and consumables used for the project are contract/standard specific such as EN, EN ISO, BS EN, ISO, DIN EN, or AWS compliant.
The above examples do not cover all of the possible factors of a documentation assessment; therefore it is not a complete set of rules for all clients or contracts, so it is merely for guidance. Furthermore, it does not deal with all types of industry sectors, contract and specific Codes of Practice.
When such an unknown or poorly scoped assessment, recently cost a fabricator ~£100K in additional testing costs of the product after initial review found flaws, there are clearly technical problems that need to be addressed with appropriate solutions.
Note: This additional cost was only because the Fabricator inadvertently used a non- compliant welding consumable.
Therefore knowing the scope and depth of the documentation analysis and what was required was, in this case, critical from the outset.
If you require such help, Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd has significant experience and expertise in this area including C-IWE and C-EWE qualifications.
Do you wish to see what Weld-Class-Solutions can do for your business?
Contact us today on 01223 839682/Mobile +44 (0) 7790 163097