The Role of ASME Certified Welders and Inspectors
In industrial welding, distinguishing between certified and qualified welders is essential, as is the role of inspectors. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) establishes strict certification standards to ensure high proficiency and safety among welders and inspectors. Primary Flow Signal’s adherence to ASME Section IX through its Welder Certification Program exemplifies a commitment to excellence in welding.
The Benefits of Requiring ASME Certified Welders
More than 20 years ago, Primary Flow Signal implemented a Welder Certification Program that is designed to meet the requirements of ASME Section IX and uses Welder Performance Qualification Tests which are intended to determine the ability of welders and welding operators to make sound welds.
It’s important to note that many employers don’t always require welders to be certified. Some only ask that job applicants pass a welder performance qualification before hiring them. In this situation, those who pass the test would be considered “qualified welders,” not “certified welders.” The main difference is that certified welders have written records of their test results and their performance is constantly monitored with periodic examination(s) being part of the performance record for each welder.
All certified welders are qualified in accordance with a qualified Welding Procedure Specification. Prior to taking the test all PFS welders are trained, if required, in the actual welding process that they will be using and they will need to have a working knowledge of the welding equipment, welding consumable and the material to be welded.
Successfully passing one test will allow the welder to work on many types of fabrications but will not allow him to work on all types of fabrication as there are qualification ranges imposed for each test configuration. ASME Essential Variables dictate what can and cannot be welded. Essential variables include but are not limited to material type, consumable type, material thickness and welding position…. etc.
After the welder has completed his test plate or pipe the weld is inspected using the following NDE processes:
- Visual Inspection
- Liquid Penetrant Testing
In some cases, the weld is also destructively tested.
It should also be noted that there must also be continuity of the welder using the qualified welding processes. PFS accomplishes this using a continuity report that details all welds that a welder makes. If a welder does not use the welding process in a 6-month period, then they shall be requalified in that process.
Conclusions on ASME Certified Welders:
The benefits to using a certification system are many but the major benefits are:
- It verifies the skill of an individual to perform in accordance with a qualified welding procedure specification (WPS) to produce a good weld.
- It quickly identifies welders that may not be suitable or require extra training.
- Sets minimum acceptance standards for welders.
- Consistency of welds.
- Pre-planning for welding jobs allow qualified welders to be allocated to particular weld joints that they are qualified to weld.
- Surveillance of qualified welders identifies negative trends in weld quality quickly.
- ASME IX certifications are accepted by most companies and in many counties around the world they are used as a standard of excellence.
- Gives welders a sense of accomplishment and a sense of ownership which in turn gives the welder a sense of pride in their work.
Welding quality is directly related to the performance of the component, the life expectancy of the component and the process or system in which it is used. Welding quality is also tantamount to avoiding a weld failure which could be catastrophic or certainly unfortunate.
The Benefits of Requiring ASME Certified Weld Inspectors
Primary Flow Signal has a Quality Control system that implements a Welding Inspection Program that utilizes many NDE methods. The extent of NDE is usually determined by the code of construction or by the customer.
It should be noted that many projects do not have requirements for using qualified inspectors and many companies use their “best” welders for this role. While this may work in some instances, it is certainly dangerous and it has many flaws, some obvious and some not so obvious.
PFS established a program where all Welding Inspectors are qualified in accordance with ASNT SNT TC-1A and AWS QC1 Certified Welding Inspector.
At a minimum, PFS will visually inspect every completed weld using Certified Welding Inspectors, however, the role of the PFS Certified Welding Inspector does not start when the weld is completed. The role of All PFS welding inspectors start before the welding equipment is even switched on. PFS Welding Inspectors are trained to check the following before welding begins:
- Welder is qualified.
- Correct WPS has been issued.
- Weld joint is acceptable.
- Base material is suitably clean prior to welding.
- Correct welding consumable has been selected per WPS.
- Correct Pre-Heat is being used.
- The WPS variables are being followed by the welder.
PFS Welding Inspectors then audit all welding operations throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that all requirements are being met.
The benefits of using Certified Welding Inspectors:
- ASNT and AWS Welding inspector certification has been widely accepted by the United States and even many of the major industrial countries in the world. More and more multinational companies rely on third-party certification to ensure that welding quality reaches the highest internationally recognized level.
- A mark of accomplishment.
- Certified Proof of Achievement.
- A Competitive Edge.
- Improved quality out of the door.
- Auditable records.
- Welds are inspected to recognized standards.
- On-going education.
- Measurable Quality Assurance.
- Certified Welding Inspectors must meet a minimum education level and have a certain amount of previous experience.
- Certified Welding Inspectors have proven that they can identify costly weld defects and take the necessary actions to ensure the issue has been resolved.
- Properly trained and qualified Welding Inspectors will reduce costly repairs.
Conclusions on ASME Certified Weld Inspectors
Quality welding and highly trained certified welding inspections directly impacts not only the performance of the product but the safety, life expectancy and dependability of the process that the welded component is part of. One element of this, the Certified Welder, is not enough to ensure success – as with any process, an independent set of eyes that are trained to develop an appropriate training process as well as an effective and efficient documented monitoring system as provided by a Certified Welding Inspector, completes the high-quality control that ensures that the customer is provided the best possible quality built and documented product.
RECOMMENDED SPECIFICATION WORDING: “In order to ensure that all welding is performed by ASME certified welders and to ensure that there is an internal audit and training process performed by certified ASME weld inspectors, the manufacturer must hold a valid and current ASME S & U certification; unless otherwise noted, an ASME code stamp is not required – the only requirement is that the manufacturer be ASME certified.”