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See also Consideration of the Qualification Testing of Welders and Welding Procedure Specifications

FAQ 1: How to eliminate Magnetic Arc blow?

Magnetic arc blow can cause poor weld quality or even prevent welding altogether.  Diverse Technologies provide a demagnetisers kit for pipe welders which provides a complete solution to this problem. There are several options for the equipment depending on the application see www.diverse-technologies.net for details.

FAQ 2: My Company has been asked to provide welding procedure and welder qualification documentation for review and we don’t know what is required to be included?


Having carried out similar welding procedure document reviews in the past, it is common to note a sense of urgency especially as the production work becomes increasingly more urgent. Unfortunately, much time is lost at the start of the review due to the need to gather specific facts and the issue of not knowing what is the scope of assessment at the outset of the “start-up” or discovery phase of the project

In order to be able to gather all of the pertinent facts of the project, the review process evolves at a relatively slow pace as the process is an iterative one, with additional questions being asked and subsequent facts being supplied by the fabricator commonly several days after initial contact with the client on basic questions.

Because of this situation, it must be appreciated and understood that any assessment is rather “open ended” in relation to providing a specific timeframe, as largely the full scope of what is actually required, is still uncertain or unknown at the initial fact finding phase.

The issue is also compounded by the fact that the Documentation Assessor will have to initially attempt to predict and satisfy all the details that a client’s own welding authority would require without, at this stage, knowing the full scope of work that the assessment requires. This means, in practice, without a confirmed scope of work, the Documentation Assessor has to effectively decide on a broad scope by covering what is felt to be all the relevant aspects of a review, without knowing exactly what is required by the client. This can, of course, create even further delays, complications, problems or indeed, longer term implications, especially if certain aspects of the assessment, which are inappropriately identified during the assessment and which were not part of the required scope, are now a potentially contentious issues with the client.

This means the review timeframe is unpredictable, as it is completely dependent on the specific scope of assessment given or required by the client and may mean that in some circumstances, the assessment can either be a reasonably quick process if it is limited in scope and/or application.

Conversely, the assessment can be a rather long winded saga if it is effectively, a full “compliance assessment” which would mean additional time is required as the assessment scope is significantly increased as the assessment is now against both the specified technical welding engineering requirements and perhaps specific requirements specified within the Code of Practice. This can include (but is not limited to) Engineering drawings, Quality Requirements, Quality Plans, Method Statements, Material Certification, Material Maps, Heat Treatment Records, Welding Consumable Certification, Welder Qualification /Certification, Repair Procedures and many other technical and quality related aspects or activities.

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.

Commonly, welding documentation assessments can include some or all of the following:

Examples of documentation and Levels of assessments:

Level - Scope of application/assessment

  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.
    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 Codes of Practice.

When such an unknown or poorly scoped assessment recently cost a fabricator approximately £100K in additional testing costs of the product after initial review because of a small flaw in the paperwork, there are clearly problems that need to be addressed.
This additional cost was only because the Fabricator inadvertently used an AWS compliant welding wire instead of EN ISO which was specified in the contract and Code. Therefore knowing the scope and depth of the documentation analysis and what was required from such an assessment of the pre-production documentation assessment was, in this case, critical from the outset.

FAQ 3: What are the main considerations to bear in mind about welder training and qualification testing?

Before you make any financial commitment to any type of welder training or qualifications, do remember to consider the many points listed below.

Once you have had the opportunity to digest the information, please feel free to contact us on the contact details below.

1. There are 4 main standards used in the UK.

BS 4872 - Welder qualifications when welding procedure qualification is not required. This tends to be for easily weldable steels, austenitic stainless steels (Part 1) and aluminium alloys (Part 2) with materials that exhibit no real problems of weldability. (Such materials are unlikely to crack or to suffer any loss of mechanical or metallurgical properties).

2. There is also welder qualification when welding procedure qualification is required which is at this stage BS EN 287 Part 1 for steels. Or BS EN ISO 9606 Part 2 for aluminium. To qualify to the BSEN 287 standard a welding procedure qualification has to be carried out to BS EN ISO 15614. This is to test the requirements of the material welding process and consumable combination for more critical applications.

3. Testing of the welding procedure qualification test piece includes 100% visual, and 100% surface testing using penetrant or magnetic particle inspection and volumetric NDT such as ultrasonic or radiographic testing.

4. Destructive testing that finds weld defects is carried out to both BS 4872 and BSEN 287. However, for the welding procedure qualification testing to BSEN ISO 15614 also includes quantitative tests such as tensile tests, Charpy impact testing, hardness testing as well as qualitative testing such as bends, macro and fracture testing as with the welder qualification. This level of testing therefore demonstrates a much more safety critical approach and obviously sees higher testing costs.

5. There is also the ASME IX which is used and preferred in some industries in the UK which is more or less the American version of 2-4 above.

6. So to work to these standards there is the costs associated with qualifying welding procedure specifications (Or procedures).

7. Do not fall into the trap of working to a welding procedure specification that is technically flawed, qualified to the older but superseded standards BS EN 288 Part 3 or prior to 1992 - BS 4870.

8. You may wish to consider a dual qualification to ASMEIX and EN ISO 15614/EN287 requirements. This costs a little more but will save you money in the longer term but be careful as not all Examining bodies will agree to this.

9. Make sure you chose a welding process(es) that is suitable for the industry sector you wish to work in. For example, the offshore industry does not use much (if any) MIG/MAG welding, but they use a lot of TIG root runs and MMA fill and cap. Flux core is also used widely in the Shipbuilding and steel frame building industry along with MMA welding for site work. Some industries may use a great deal of submerged arc welding. Choose the welding process carefully as normally only one qualification certificate from one welding process is all that is permitted.

10. Also select a material type and thickness which will give you the best range of qualification. For example, completing a test in S235 structural steel grade only approves this grade of steel. Complete a test in S460ML fine grained thermo mechanical steel will qualify for most structural ferritic steels with less strength and notch toughness requirements in a given thickness range that is dependent on the original test piece thickness.

11. Stainless steel and aluminium also have a separate material grouping system and thickness range that is not qualified by welding ferritic steel.

12. You also need to consider the type of joint to be welded. Butt welds welded from one side often approve butt welds from both sides and fillet welds.

13. The welding position is also important. Positional welding qualifies gravity assisted welding but not the converse for welder qualifications.

14. If the welder welds pipe, pipe forms (Including square/rectangular hollow sections) approves plate but not the converse. (At least in positional welding).

15. If qualification testing is new to you, think about looking initially at BS 4872 requirements first as this is “Class 2” and will get the welder over the pain and stress of completing a weld TEST to the higher standard! The acceptance levels for weld defects are lower too.

16. Consider the use a Notified Body (Accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) – Such organisation as Minton Treharne and Davies (who Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd have an association with) and other notified bodies include insurance companies such as Lloyds Register, TUV, Royal Sun Alliance etc.

17. If you do not use a Notified Body you may find the qualification is treated null and void and then extra costs are then involved.

18. Make sure you are provided with all of the documentation which could include: The Welding Procedure Specification(s), Welding Procedure Qualification Record(s), the Welder Qualification Test Certificate(s). (All with the UKAS logo included).
Material Certification, Consumable Certification, NDT reports, DT reports, and copies of the qualifications of the NDT personnel is also required for many industries or contracts.

19.Think about the cost implication as doing a weld test (coding) as it is only valid for 6 months and it has to be signed off by a responsible person (The employer) every six months. If the welder(s) qualify and find no work within 6 months it is technically null and void.

20. Make sure you get this previous part correct as you may spend a great deal of money and find that an employer/client may ask for you to retest the welders anyway.

21. Do remember to not aim to high. Many welders aim for a “6G pipe weld” (ASME) or an HLO45 (BS EN ISO) which is a test pipe axis is in the fixed 45º. How many welds are actually found in this position in the field? The consequence is that qualified welders to this position cannot complete to the required standard pipe welds axis in the horizontal position or vertical position, especially if the training course only concentrates on fixed 45º welds.

22. Experience cannot be taught and while many welders have a perception that it is within their capability often they fail the test standards requirements as they do not fully understand the requirements of the standard (Repeatedly in many cases) so don’t waste money on a test(s) that is not possible at that time.

23. There is a “window of opportunity” with welding qualifications. Test too early and the welder may fail the test. Spend too much time delaying the test and the welder may miss their peak and may fail also.

24. There may also be further requirements for the training of welders in visual inspection to enhance their skills and knowledge and we provide a short course on visual inspection of welds with either an internal exam at the end or by a formal examination to the internationally recognised PCN requirements (P.C.N. = Personal Certification in Non destructive testing which is operated by the British Institute of NDT).

25. There may also be a requirement to have qualified welding inspection personnel on the job.
We are also approved to run this type of training and exams again, to PCN welding inspector requirements.

26. If your company is involved in steel structures to BS EN 1090, there may also be additional requirements for the training of welding coordination personnel to ISO 3834 requirements. Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd is probably the only independent Approved Training Body of the International Institute of Welding’s “International Welding Specialist” training scheme.

27. When testing welders or welding procedures, make sure you use a reputable organisation that has experienced personnel in conducting the welding test.

28. If you are self sponsored or a SME (Small - Medium Enterprise), have a chat with your local Job Centre as there is often funding available for welding related training and qualification such as European Social Funding.

29. If you are uncertain, have further questions or need further information please do not hesitate to give me a call as it is important to us that you achieve the correct information before you potentially start this very time consuming and costly journey.

30. Last point is please note we accept no liability for any information provided as we do not know the specific details of your request, needs or existing contract or company position, but we will be pleased to provide you with our unbiased advice should you wish to get in contact.

FAQ 4: Welding Inspection Training and Qualifications - Which is the best PCN or CSWIP?

Mark Cozens has been involved in welding inspection training and exams for over 25 years which started in 1987, when Mark was asked to review and reshape the original welding inspector training courses for the Welding Institutes’ CSWIP (Known at the time as Certification Scheme for Welding Inspection Personnel) programme which has thought to have been around for over 40 years.

Mark Cozens set up and run both the CSWIP 3.1 “ordinary” welding inspector and 3.2 Senior Welding Inspector programme from 1989 until he left TWI in 2002. Mark also instigated the CSWIP 3.0 Visual Welding Inspector which replaced the “Assistant Welding Inspector” grade in the early 1990’s as well as during his time at TWI, was also working with the BGAS scheme and more recently the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing’s PCN scheme, so Mark has vast and inside information on the various schemes including PCN, CSWIP-BGAS, AWS and other schemes and programmes.

The following provides a summary of Mark’s own words on the different welding inspection schemes and criteria.

Which is best? Depends on what you are looking for but it should be based on fact ,not fiction!!

We should move away from the question of “Which scheme is best?” to perhaps thinking more about…….

“Which scheme is best for the employer with regard to competence?”
“Which scheme is most relevant to my job function?”
Which scheme is most geared to the industry I wish to work in?”
Which scheme meets and satisfies an adequate scope of work?”
“Do I meet the entry pre-requisites to actually sit the training, exams and gain the qualification of that scheme?”

Whatever each scheme may argue about their scheme being better, welding inspection is welding inspection and globally, there is little difference in the technology that is behind it. The qualifications are in my view secondary what is more important to think about is…

How good in the quality of the training course?
How competent is the trainer in delivering the training course?
How is the training course syllabus presented?
How many candidates are there potentially on each course?
How much will it cost?
How will it pay back in job opportunities?

So what are the differences between the schemes? Mainly this is related to entry criteria, syllabus bias, examination scope and renewal procedures.

Below is a summary of each scheme:

Existing experience requirements

PCN and CSWIP are almost identical in relation to the welding inspector syllabus they provide for the 3 levels of welding inspector. What is very different is the entry requirement - especially to the PCN Level 2 Welding Inspector and the CSWIP 3:1 Welding Inspector which effectively requires “welding inspection” experience of 12 months and 36 months respectively.

There has been a great deal of negativity against the PCN scheme due to the different experience requirements which in my view are unfounded and potentially flawed with any scheme as this begs the further question of

“How do I gain the experience without the qualification?”

And / or

“How do I gain the qualification without the experience?

PCN have allegedly argued that the reduced the experience requirements are due to alleged issues with candidates CV’s not being clear on their specific experience and scope and therefore candidates are not eligible with a 36 month pre-requisite.

The industry perspective……Welding Inspectors or Quality Inspectors?

My own personal view is that 25 years ago we did see dedicated welding inspectors working in a number of industries who were seen as “policing the job” with their Codes in hand along with many poor relations noted between Quality and Production functions within an organisation because of this activity.
We also saw in the early 1990’s both an Oil and Gas initiative called CRINE (Cost Reduction In the New Era) which changed the concept of policing type inspection overnight, to that of a Quality audit type function and the subsequent decimation of dedicated welding inspectors in many industries.

We also saw Quality Systems such as BS5750 and ISO 9000 take a prominence in welding and fabrication and the introduction of multi skilled “Quality Inspectors or Auditors” which has been the trend to date. However this also means that any scheme is now open to abuse as the “Poacher- Gamekeeper” factor applies due to the fact that the Employer signs a statement or declaration that the employee meets the required pre experience and scope of a dedicated welding inspector without that perhaps being the case of their multi-tasking “quality inspector”.

Exam content

Until recently, the exam scopes were also very similar but CSWIP have now adopted an almost multiple-choice methodology for both theory and practical exam parts. PCN have to date not followed such a trend and require narrative details to be included in both written exams and the practical identification of individual imperfections.

There are also claims that CSWIP no longer include bend and fracture assessments at 3:1 grade but only macro. All 3 types are still included in the PCN Level 2 exam.


The cost of each scheme is very different as both schemes apply different charges.

To Weld-Class-Solutions Ltd to gain course approval for PCN was £300.00 for the CSWIP it was £3000.00. The cost of the exam levy for PCN is currently £54.00. It is unknown for CSWIP as it is hidden in the costs. CSWIP also charge a royalty based on each course member and again this is unknown.

The current costs for a Level 2 PCN are under £1000.00 and over £1400.00 for the CSWIP equivalent.

The PCN scheme is operated by a network of PCN Approved “Authorised Training Organisations” and “Authorised Qualification Bodies” which means there is a competitive marketplace so the prices and quality are key between the various PCN operators.

CSWIP, on the other hand, is currently only provided by TWI Ltd (The Welding Institute) and therefore the prices and quality are fixed at the rate that TWI Ltd sets it at.


Having provided both schemes in both training and examinations content I will stand by the fact that both schemes are about welding inspection. The quality of the scheme is largely dependent on its operation which includes the pre assessment of candidates and where they fit in level wise.

Also crucial is the competence of the personnel involved in the process of the training course design and delivery, the exam invigilation and examination marking and the perception of industry and most importantly the actual competencies of the individual but definitely not on what “badge” someone achieves at the end of the assessment process.

So make a choice based on fact and I will be pleased to provide anyone with my long history experience of the changes and perceptions of industries, employers and employees.