A leading manufacturer of rough terrain vehicles was concerned about the full traceability of its welded fabrications, in line with the New Machinery Directive.
The problem lay in the areas of welder performance tests and welding procedure qualification tests. Before the new directive took force in 2009 the manufacturer adopted in-house practices for welder performance tests. Welding activities including manual, mechanised and robotic welding were controlled by in-house written procedures, which in some cases were not applied consistently across different divisions and different fabrication locations within the manufacturer's group. To resolve such issues, the firm has written a new company standard for their welding and fabrication activities, and sought TWI's advice on the selection and implementation of international welding standards.
The client was recommended to use three particular standards for welder performance tests, welding procedure qualification tests and a third for qualifying welding operators engaged in robotic welding.
The client invited TWI to its premises to carry out a preliminary assessment of the quality of welded products, as well as of the suitability and implementation of the company's welding quality system including:
- Welding practice
- Welder and welding operator performance and welding procedure qualification
- Validation of automated welding machines
The company has a long history in producing high quality rough terrain goods for an international market and, as would be expected, the general standard of welding products produced was judged of good quality. However TWI was able to inform its client that since welding is one of its key manufacturing processes, it would be strategically important for the company to be able to demonstrate to third parties that a robust welding quality system is in place.
In meeting the requirements of traceability of their products against currently recognised practices in steel fabrication, TWI recommended the following:
- The client should produce a general quality plan for welding in line with a recognised international standard, with BS EN ISO 3834 part3 identified as the most suitable.
- It should have named personnel or individuals that have defined responsibility for Welding Co-ordination that meet the requirements of BS EN ISO 14731.
- The quality plan for welding should ensure that welding procedures used on products can be demonstrated to be underwritten by a systematic approach to weld procedure qualification.
- The quality plan should specify that only qualified welding personnel carry out welding on the client's products.
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