American Welding Society Forum
I work for a construction Management company that hires welding subcontractors based on architect specs.
If the spec states "Qualify welding processes and welding operators in accordance with the latest edition AWS Standard Qualification Procedure" and also "Provide certificates of welders to be employed in the work showing that they have satisfactorily passed AWS qualification tests for the specific types of welds they will be doing; where certification dates are older than 12 months before start of welding work, certify that affected welder(s) have been continuously employed doing the type(s) of welds since certification."
Would you accept an AWS qualification test NOT bearing the stamp of a CWI? Would you accept a continuity report that is not accompanied by the original test that qualified the welder? What kinds of verification should we be collecting when we compile these submissions for the architect?
To date we seem to just be accepting whatever paperwork the welding contractor makes available to us, which I suspect is not all that we should be asking for.
Thank you in advance for helping me clarify this issue.
Any copies of welder qualification test record submitted should have a signature of the current employer. The record should be reviewed by someone that is competent to review them and understand what information should be listed. Any errors noted is justification to reject the record and the welder. My theory is, if the person testing the welder can't fill out the test record correctly, why should I suspect the test was administered properly or that the coupon was evaluated properly.
As for the continuity record, that is a roll of the dice. There are no code requirements specific to how continuity is to be maintained. I typically sign and date the back of the welder's qualification test record to provide a record of continuity. There are other methods, but you will have to assess them individually and determine if you are comfortable with them. If the signature and dates are all done with the same pen, I would say you have reason to question the validity of the record. By the way, as a point of information, if the welder hasn't welded with the process for which he is qualified for a period of time in excess of 6 months, he is no longer qualified. So, the architect should revise his boiler plate to reflect a 6 month time frame, not 12 months.
I am a firm believer of testing the welder on-site. Many of the welds on a project are fillet welds, so a simple fillet break test will tell the story. If the welder knows what he's doing, the test takes about 15 minutes. Either he passes or fails when the sample is broken and one examines the fracture for signs of slag, porosity, or incomplete fusion. Most will fail because they fail to fuse the root properly. Those are the welders you want to run off and have them learn to weld on someone else's project.
Best regards - Al
Would a test administered under AWS standards always have a CWI's stamp on it?
Do you think having a third party inspector on site who is evaluating a certain % of the welds in place is a sufficient safeguard against deficient work? Obviously this can be contingent on the 3rd party inspector being AWS qualified and doing a good job.
What is your thought on responsibility of the construction manager vs. the welding contractor? The architect provides the specs, we hire the company and collect paperwork which we submit to the architect. Legally is it on the welding contractor to be confident in their welder's qualifications and to keep everything up to date? Do you think it is their responsibility to provide us with employees that fit the spec and catch those fraudulent tests/certs?
Lets say the company is certified with AWS or UA. What is the likelihood that a company would engage in such activity where they would provide welders that are unqualified?
I know that was a lot of questions, I appreciate the time you're taking to help me work through this.
Good morning Morgan,
WELCOME TO THE AWS WELDING FORUM!!
I'm running a little groggy yet this morning but lets see. Al always does a good job but it looks like he missed a couple of your questions.
No, certs don't need a CWI's stamp on them. It is not a problem having it there but what you need to realize is the difference between a witness to the exam, the person comparing weld plate coupons to the standard tested to, and who 'certifies' the welder. The employer signs the space for the 'manufacturer's rep' certfying that all information is correct and that to the best of their ability to know the person named on the form is qualified to do the work.
There is a difference between qualified and certified that is a legal terms issue and has been covered many times here if you would like to use the 'Search' button at the top of the page and do some research.
Continuity is a misused phrase to mandate continuity logs which are not, at least to older editions, a requirement of many codes. But, they are to some and may be soon to even more.
For the most part inspectors don't have the right to challenge welders unless they show obvious inability to do the work correctly. The first week of many jobs can be very revealing. And yes, I challenge welders regularly. They get additional training, pulled totally off the work, or get their certs pulled which is the responsibility of the employer who 'certified' them in the first place.
Often, even when done by a CWI, testing is not done properly. All test must pass VT before going any further. The term 'looked out' is valid as they failed the test on the visual. We don't even cut and bend if the VT is not acceptable. It doesn't take a lawyer to read the text of Clause 4 in D1.1 to see how this is to progress.
The whole process can be a little daunting but not overwhelming. Just takes time and diligence on everyone's part. CWI's and engineers need to be better trained in accomplishing the process of qualification/certification and welder continuity.
He Is In Control, Have a Great Day, Brent
Thank you for the welcome Brent!
I am trying to figure out what exactly my company is responsible for doing in this whole process.
We don't hire the individual welders, we find a certified contractor and they must provide the welders to meet the certs that the architect gives to us. We collect the qualification documents that the welders and contractors provide to us and we pass them along to the architect. Upper management wants to know whether we are legally responsible for verifying that these welders are qualified and if so, how can we do that. They're also wondering if we're collecting the right paperwork.
As a general rule the people collecting the paperwork are construction savvy but not necessarily familiar with welding at all; as we are managers not tradesmen. This leads to some difficulty figuring out how we can improve our process and make it simple for people who are not, and never will be welders.
Daunting but not overwhelming might be a matter of opinion on this one!
You mentioned that there may a third-party inspector onsite, would it be possible to have this person help you evaluate the documentation to make sure it meets code requirements? If this person is knowledgeable and willing to walk you through the process, you could learn a lot. Just a suggestion...
The third party inspector is often hired once the project starts, while the welding contractor themselves are often procured in early preconstruction so that we can create an accurate estimate of the cost of the project (labor included). We collect all of the submissions (certs and tests) in early precon, well before we've ever gotten around to hiring a 3rd party inspector, so they wouldn't be able to review the submissions until construction start when they arrive onsite to inspect welds. This would be late in the process and cost money to the project if they were to catch a bad welder onsite that late in the game.
I appreciate the response!
I would do a couple of things if I had this requirement and I am sure there is probably some more detailed "specifications referenced somewhere (hopefully).
1 Establish what specific "Standard" is being referenced.
2 Verify that the applicable standard does not have a more restrictive time limit (6 Mos vs 12 Mos)
3 Review the joints to be used in production to establish the ranges of qualification needed for both procedures and welders.
4 Review all documentation provided (Welder Qualification Records and WPS's to be used in production) for content based upon whatever the applicable code or standard is regardless of WHO has stamped it or blessed it.
5 Review the "Manufacturer or Contractor" signature block to assure that the part responsible for the welding is also the one who qualified the welder and procedure.
Just an opinion though. Some great information already provided but figured I would throw something out there.
Have a great Day
The Owner's Engineer is responsible to review and accept or reject the contractor's WPSs and to determine if previous welder qualification is satisfactory. If the Engineer questions the welder's previous qualifications, the contractor is responsible to have their welders (employees) requalified.
All of this sounds good, but the system only functions properly when the various parties understand their responsibilities and understand the requirements.
It is usually desirable to employ CWIs and/or SCWI to work with the Engineer to ensure the requirements of the project specifications and codes are met. The CWI and SCWI have certain job responsibilities each is capable of performing. AWS B5.1 provides a table that delineates what job functions the Welding Inspector* and Senior Welding Inspector* should be capable of performing. (*Once the inspector is certified by AWS they are certified as either a CWI or SCWI.)
The inspection firm that employs the CWI and SCWI should be retained by either the Owner or the Engineer since it is the Owners interest and well being the inspectors are protecting. In a factory setting, the construction management team would represent production. Their primary interest is ensuring the project stays on schedule and on budget. As in a factory setting it is best that QC (inspection) reports directly to upper management, i.e., the Owner. There is a perceived conflict of interest when the QC (the inspectors) report to production (construction managers). After all, their interests do not always mesh.
The welding documentation collected by the construction management team should be passed on to the Engineer for evaluation. The Engineer often delegates the review to a CWI or SCWI. Some building codes require field welds to be inspected by CWIs or SCWI, in other cases it is not mandatory that the welds be inspected by CWIs. Under the auspices of AWS D1.1, the contractor is responsible for QC functions. All welds are to be inspected. The third party inspector (TPI) is usually tasked to fulfill the QA functions, that is, they are tasked with ensuring the contractor is performing the necessary QC functions. The extent of the TPI involvement is usually dictated by the Engineer or the building code. The contractor is always responsible for QC functions and it is the contractor's responsibility to meet the requirements of the contract and the code.
The roll of the TPI can change from one project to another. There are no set rules other than those stipulated by the building codes and those required by the Engineer (that represents the Owner). The TPI typically submits the inspection reports to the construction manager, the fabricator, the building official, the Engineer, and the Owner.
What does this have to do with your question? The correct response is dependent on what the Engineer wants the TPI to do. Every job is different.
Best regards - Al
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