WHY WELD CLASS SOLUTIONS LTD.? A BIOGRAPHY OF MARK COZENS
“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” - Albert Einstein
1974 First taste of welding at college – Liked it but didn’t love it.
1975 started an indentured apprenticeship and an ongoing education for 7 years at day release learning about the theory and practice of welding technology
1979 Worked for the MoD alongside other notable organisations including AWE, Vickers and Rolls Royce.
1985 Joined The Welding Institute as a senior welding instructor and evolved TWI’s practical welder training and welding qualification testing facility.
1986 Set up practical welding courses in Practical Control of Welding and Practical Quality Welding as a Course Tutor.
1987 Set up with JP McCormick a Visual Inspection of Welds course D73 and moved into lecturing including Post Graduate Welding course ran for final time with 4 candidates.
1988 Set up 2nd generation welding inspector L2 and went from 4 to 40 attendees overnight.
1989 Set up Diploma in Welding Technology and spent 13 years delivery and improving and qualifying to EWF/IIW. (30 on course)
1990 Set up 2nd generation Senior Welding Inspector L3
1991 Delivered 1st Welding Inspector course in Oman & set up TWI Diploma in Welding Engineering to global interest
1992 Presented 1st UAE course in welding inspection
1993 Presented 1st Malaysia course for welding inspectors at an exotic island
1994 Programme manager now & successfully sat the Cranfield University welding engineering course.
Implemented Visual Welding Inspector 3.0
1995 Modularised the 3 EWF Welding coordinator’s courses into 1 course at 3 levels. Helped a major Fabricator achieve EN729 Certification (Now EN ISO 3834)
1996 Set up IIW examination working group and evolved 3x4 papers for each level (and got married too...)
1997 Set up bridging exams for UK to USA and USA to UK welding inspector qualifications
1998 Set up BGAS welding inspector courses and Asia. A 20,000 thesis takes some time to construct.
1999 Achieved Chartered status which also provided Eur Ing EWE, EWIE and IWE after a long haul due to ongoing TWI international expansion and new work projects in the USA
2000 Designed BGAS welding Inspector for CSWIP welding inspector transitional candidates.
2001 Setting up of original Plant Inspector programme
2002 - Now a 70 hour a week job and new baby so left TWI (The Welding Institute) and set up Weld-Class-Solutions as a specialist welding technology training and consultancy company.
2003 Gained course approval for PCN Welding Inspector for Level 1 and 2 with the SWSNDT.
Also delivered the first specific Introduction to Welding Coordination course for EN 719/729 (Now EN ISO 14731 ISO3834)
Delivered some 40+ courses since
Embarked on a long term visual inspection of welds programme for a major UK shipbuilding company with 4 courses per annum for whole production workforce
2004 Set up practical welding course for the IIW Welding Specialist Diploma for a major luxury motor manufacturer.
2005 Gained IIW recognition for the 6 week Welding Specialist Diploma by authoring 6 modules of welding technology course materials, preparing each module with a learning infrastructure which minimises slide presentations.
2006 Set up a welder competence programme for a major UK Fabricator which ran for 5 years training over 100 welders.
Also ran a 1st BGAS Senior Welding Inspector’s course for 4 people
2007 Set up welding qualification testing facility and qualified welders to EN287 Pt 1.
2008 Designed and delivered a “Welding Auditor’s course” for L2 welding inspectors as part of EN ISO 3834 internal welding audits. Major success and offered to PCN same year.
2009 In Qatar and also set up welding design programme for aircraft carrier design engineers Set up 2nd generation Senior Welding Inspector L3
2010 Set up WCS Ltd’s successful IIW/ EWF Diploma Welding Specialist Diploma course which resulted in a first time 100% pass rate with a comment by the independent IIW Examiner of “best results we have seen”
2011 Delivered an offshore welding course in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Invited to investigate an “aluminium weld failure” in the capacity as the Expert Witness. -Establish specific cause and subsequent closure since accident 8 years earlier.
Also established and implemented a welding competence training programme for 30 maintenance engineers
Finished the last modules of the WCS Ltd IIW Diploma and then the next week delivered a welding design course in Sweden as a first.
2012 Delivered a Welding Technology course for the Oil and Gas industry in Aberdeen which runs routinely to this day.
Also was involved a consultancy job in Monel where porosity was an issue. Problem solved within 2 days after weeks of head scratching.
Acted as a client’s Responsible Welding Coordinator (RWC) to oversee a major repair of a steel frame iconic building in London. Tough job but successfully completed due to practical know how.
2013 Ran a specialist course for a hip replacement company dealing with micro welding using TIG and EB.
Completed a number of consultancy jobs related to welding documentation reviews to ASME IX and EN ISO 15614 for major Oil and Gas project.
Delivered various PCN Welding Inspector courses for Oil and Gas, Marine, Power and multimillion £ steel frame building project in London + all the open courses now on offer.
2014 Started on an oil storage tank repair.
Also ran “Introduction to welding aluminium” courses for major UK company involved in access kit for 50+ people as 12 attendees per course.
Designed and delivered RWC courses for various companies having to satisfy EN1090 as well as design other competence based training modules in welding coordination.
2015 Started with a multimillion £ aluminium project which wasn’t going well. Successfully identified problems and solutions within 2 working days.
Working with a major international company on RWC training initiatives based around proficiency and competence
Over 20 years have elapsed since joining the Membership, Education and Registration Committee and being a Professional Advisor, mentor and motivator to many CEng/IEng.
2016 I spent a great deal of this year looking at improving my own and others “Continuing Professional Development” which included work for the Engineering Council as an Assessor for Chartered and Incorporated Engineers and as a Professional Advisor for candidates looking to achieve their own goals in this area. This is very rewarding work in my view, as I get to learn more about what is happening in the real world which is very important to me and my delivery of training and consultancy, even though it is all voluntary work.
I also started a new working relationship with a UK Government Agency looking at how welding procedures and welders should be trained and qualified compared to current trends. Again, this is both interesting and rewarding work in helping Inspection companies learn on how to improve so as to do things better and with competence.
Weld-Class-Solutions is also running more and more welding coordinator courses as one of the few Chartered and Certified Welding Engineers who have been in training for 30 years. I am also looking at the different competence of welding coordinators too. Welding Coordination isn’t just a Welding Quality Management System (WQMS) as behind the WQMS is real engineering that relates to many engineering disciplines where the correct education is critical. EN ISO 3834 will become increasingly more important in the future for companies to show their welding prowess.
Training practicing Welding Engineers has also been a very positive and interesting time and I have helped many in the past but this year has seen several folk who have not been successful with their IWE welding exams.
Also, in 2016 and in 2017 Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd is now becoming involved with the automotive industry with welding quality requirements and with shipbuilding and repair work too where the standards are similar to other industry sectors…….There is still a great deal to do of course!!
2017- Key achievements
Execution of correct techniques for repair welding:
Probably the best challenge was moving into a completely new division of an industry sector which involved the training of personnel in surveillance welding inspection. The organisation I was/am involved with had a very competent training manager and we spent a year taking a pilot course to a revision 3 course by incorporating many new aspects. This was both from a continuous improvement culture that Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd operate, but mainly from the feedback of real positive comments of course members on suggested changes and modifications. The course now enters revision 6 with even more improvements
Welding qualification testing:
Also, Weld-Class Solutions Ltd also worked on competence in welding procedure and welder qualification testing and in providing constructive feedback to inspection organisations on improvements to their Management Systems, procedures and to the competence of personnel who are required to supervise the inspection and test function of qualification testing to various standards including EN ISO and ASME standards. The EN ISO standards also underwent change with a number of revisions too, which meant that further work to include this within the scope of work on such changes had to be fully understood
This area of the qualification of welding procedures and welder qualifications is so under estimated even by welding engineers. This critical preparation, welding and testing regime is an insurance policy and again can minimise risks to a particular project or to a fabrication company overall.
Surprisingly such tests are often carried out by organisations who do not hold UKAS ISO17020 Accreditation which means Fabricators may not have satisfied the exacting qualification standards and the impartiality requirements, with a consequence of risk to firstly production and consequential high repair rates, but also welders not following welding procedure requirements and the consequence of higher risks to the product’s integrity where it can lead to contractual disputes or product failure in service.
Pressure Equipment Directive
Weld-Class Solutions Ltd were also involved in a litigation project based on a product under PED requirement and as such Weld-Class therefore immersed itself in this for around 8 months The Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) is also very much in need of similar qualifications to the same standards but perhaps due to the risk and consequence of failure, there is a need for a higher-level application of the standards compared to other industry sectors, due to the more critical nature of pressure equipment in general.
Engineering Council Assessor and Mentor
The development of personnel becomes a more significant aspect as each year passes so on a personal level I also continued my volunteer work with the Welding Institute as an Engineering Council Approved Assessor by conducting Professional Review Interviews for Chartered and Incorporated Engineer status of applicants. Much of this assessment process has already been carried out via the candidates submitting technical reports which are rigorously assessed. Other candidates opt to providing evidence of achievement in their careers by what is termed the experiential route. This is all assessed and overseen by a Committee of industry experts so the process is both hard work but very rewarding. I also produced some self help guides for candidates who embark on this process. Mentoring has been a huge part of my aims for some 25 years perhaps due to working in a training environment for many years and seeing people grow from small acorns into huge oak trees.
Mentor a candidate on this type of work is time consuming and I calculated that the volunteer activity is some 50 to 60 hurs of effort which as it is not fee paying, is many, many hours of effort.
EN ISO 3834 and EN ISO 14731 requirements under the Construction Products regulations.
A great deal of my time in the year was spent with working with EN ISO 3834 and EN ISO 14731 standards which come on the back on the Construction Products Regulations and EN 1090 Execution of steel and aluminium structures. My first exposure to the EN ISO 3834 for welding quality management and EN ISO 14731 standards for welding coordination was way back in the early 1990’s when the standard was then EN729 and EN719 respectively and were evolving at a slow pace.
Both standards are linked and are about welding quality management systems and the tasks and responsibilities of welding coordination personnel. By providing meaningful inputs to both aspects of the standards can see Fabrication companies become more efficient and competitive. Both standards are however not well understood or indeed implemented.
Many see this is a mere tick box exercise which adds little value but if understood it can be an excellent tool in ensuring that the product that was ordered – either as an off the shelf or as a specific client contract meets the specific agreed characteristics of the design and build. This process, which has been both verified and validated during the production process is complex and only welding personnel with a proven track record fully understand this concept. There are some clear shortfalls in the current implementation with regard to value added, as many Fabricators only see a cost rather than a benefit. However, perhaps the key benefit is repeat orders from satisfied customers and what is also regarding “risk management” of the product.
One real highlight for me in 2017 was being involved in an expert witness case which ran for several months of what is known as the initial “discovery and evaluation” phase.
This phase involves exactly that, where the team (who included a very well industry respected Investigation Lead Expert) worked on a complex product build. We worked well as a team in establishing many technical facts regarding the condition of a product and its shortfalls in manufacture. This work is incredibly challenging and basically, you are immersed in it for the duration literally 24/7. The actual effort and commitment is however a complete unknown at the time. I have been involved in a number of theses now dating back to the 1990’s when I implemented the first failure investigation procedure at my old company.
The work is both technology led, but also “forensic” in nature and whilst it is both technically challenging and hard work, it brings huge job satisfaction knowing that 40+ years of gaining knowledge, experience and competence in the welding industry is all of a sudden, now fully engaged on such technically challenging and demanding work.
The icing on the cake for Weld-Class was the very positive feedback received from the legal team, the client representatives as well as the Lead Expert.
2018 saw the end of a chapter with UKAS and the opening of a new door as a technical expert within the legal fraternity when I was invited to work on several jobs as an “Expert Witness” (EW).
Being seen as an “expert” is perhaps for some, good for the ego, but it is not an easy transition from the title of Technical Expert to Expert Witness as I was going to find out over the next year or two. I had dabbled with this work before on several occasions but none of the work proceeded to Arbitration or to Court and so I had not had any real experience on that side.
The position of an expert witness is difficult and is not a simple one to undertake, as there is a need to be independent and impartial and work within a legal framework. The next few years turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my career as it challenged me on a technical level, whilst opening up the world of engineering which was often flawed or not correct on a technical level. More of this work is highlighted below whilst it is important in keeping confidentiality.
2018 was a year when also weld design courses flourished and the year started with a weld design course for around 12 people who work as designers of metal fabrications. A most enjoyable year on this front as I could see that the training was opening the eyes to most and providing a platform for designers to underpin their design expertise with understanding the rudiments of weld design and in how critical the choices are before attempting to roll out their designs to their own in house fabrication and welding team or indeed to a subcontractor where the manufacturing team have all the required details for a seamless process from design to construction and ultimately product compliance.
2018 also saw the continuation of the training of marine personnel in repair welding techniques which again was another career highlight as working with training management professionals of the client who want to encourage the best training opportunities for their staff is always a win-win.
This was also a busy year for responsible welding coordinator courses which had nw made an impact on the UK and the EU with the continuation of the implementation on EN1090 Execution of steel and aluminium structures. The course provided by yours truly was not a “two-day wonder” type course as many had set up in following the norm.
The WCS Ltd provision was and still is to this day, a course with 2 elements of distance learning which, for those who were responsible and engaged with the work, meant 30 hours of foundation studies before a 16 hours intensive workout in welding coordination with a qualified tutor (C-IWE/C-EWE) before embarking on 60 hours of case studies in order for budding welding coordinators to learn how to apply welding coordination correctly. This was also measured throughout to ensure the welding coordinators employer had some confidence in that their responsible person had competence.
On the professional front I was also involved with the Welding Institute’s Professional Board as a member which along with my long-term efforts with their Membership, Education and Registration Committee filled in the gaps of my spare time on various aspects of voluntary work and also included a couple of presentations for the North London branch of the Welding Institute at their member evenings.
This year also was a year where I said a final farewell to several former work colleagues and family who were taken too early.
I took on an Expert Witness case that involved the oil and gas industry which was related to a nickel alloy (625) as well as austenitic stainless steel (316L). This turned out to be an extensive commitment largely on and off throughout the year which culminated in the settling of the case before Arbitration. I really enjoyed the work which was sometimes extremely hard work and time consuming in thought alone but to get some amazing feedback from the Senior in the legal team on my inputs, was the icing on the cake.
Around the same time, I also accepted another expert role which was related to high temperature steels used commonly in the power sector. These are the P91, P22 and P11 steels which all have their quirks in relation to successful welding. This continued well into 2020 too, but it was then I learnt perhaps my hardest lesson in this field.
I also carried out some other work in ISO 3834 welding quality requirements as I had first been involved and then as a TWI assessor for this standard back in the mid 1990’s when it was EN729.
This project was in between this legal case which saw peaks and troughs and was with a company in Oxfordshire who claimed on their website to be marvellous with their welding engineering….. even thought they had never appointed a welding engineer or were they ever going to. This was a losing battle and we soon moved on in separate directions, but again, like most of the expert witness cases I had been involved with, not having a competent welding engineer/technologist who had the required tacit knowledge and competence, was perhaps the most common failing as for many Fabricators, they just “didn’t know, they didn’t know”.
Similar to the previous year there was also time for weld repair training, weld design training and for some professional volunteer work, which again filled what were limited gaps in the diary.
Although this year was the start of the global pandemic, the year was a busy one for expert witness work where the high temperature steels work came to an end but then started again later on in the year with phase 2. Like all industries, you have people follow the rules and an element of those who do not.
I also took on a refinery case which involved a range of material types and weld quality issues some of which were hard to digest.
I also sat a legal training course designed for expert witnesses at all stages of their career from newbies to seasoned and was probably one of the best training courses I had undertaken.
It reaffirmed that much of what I had done in the past as an expert witness was 100% correct and that I had followed the correct procedures throughout and like all industries, often procedures and protocols are in place but are not followed correctly or at all.
I enjoyed this course so much as it gave me renewed confidence that I was doing the right thing. I also passed what were gruelling assessments which was a big relief so I now hold a qualification in a new field as an expert witness.
This activity filled my year until the autumn when after a gruelling couple of years, I found myself with some time for family with the various lockdown that were seen as well as spend time working on new ventures including the provision of on-line training courses which started with a weld design course with other courses being developed for 2021 when we all hopefully see the end of the pandemic.
Training & development
Although we all saw the CV-19 hit the world, many clients opted for online training courses and in particular on Effective Weld Design where a number of courses ran successfully. I sat an online course myself in how to deliver online training which was helpful but there is nothing like a face-to-face course in my opinion.
Repair welding of marine vessels
In addition, there was the normal activity online of vessel repairs which occurred several times throughout the year and with a new venture occurring in 2022, this should be a busy time ahead with this particular training initiative.
Several Welding Coordination courses were also held during the year both online and face to face. It is still an amazement in how companies struggle to understand the concepts of welding coordination to this day - some ~ 8 years after legislation was implemented.
There were also further design-based courses when a company wanted a special tailored course on welding symbols to EN ISO 2553 requirements for 12 of their design engineers.
Oxy-fuel gas brazing course
A training the trainer’s course was designed and implemented for a customer so that their trainers can teach other personnel within the company. Even though most were experienced at gas brazing they learnt a great deal from the course.
A course is being designed and constructed for a company who deal only with aluminium alloys and is to ensure their supervisory staff have a firm understanding of welding coordination in accordance with EN ISO 14731, ISO 3834 and EN1090 Part 3 requirements
A project on the review of weld repairs on an overseas marine vessel was also investigated which is still ongoing in 2022 as well as various other jobs in various types of steel, as well as aluminium and nickel alloys.