Going back to my first job as a welding engineer, I remember after my first training weeks, where I had learned how the company operated, what was the workflow – receive pipe, put pipe into workshop, cut, assemble into spool, weld, inspect, NDT, quality paperwork and ship it.
Then came the day of my first welding engineer experience
My boss (QA/QC Manager) told me: “It’s time you started doing some real welding engineering”. To which I was obviously excited, as I wanted to show them what I was capable of, and he followed up with: “There’s this project coming up, and I’m gonna need you to tell me what we have qualified” and he gave me the project’s specification, as well as a list of pipe sizes. The requirements were:
- Welding of Carbon Steel (A333 Gr. 6), Stainless Steel Piping (A312 316L) and low alloy steel (A335 P11)
- Welding qualification according to ISO 15614-1 and EN 287-1
- SMAW / 111 process not allowed for root pass
- GMAW / 131 / 135 shall not be used
- FCAW and MCAW not acceptable for root pass of single sided weld
- SMAW / 111 process had to be performed with E7018
- Wire should be ER70S-6 for gas welding processes
- Minimum Preheat for P11 shall be 170ºC (338ºF)
- Toughness values shall be performed at -45.6ºC (-50ºF) for Carbon Steel, and -196ºC (-320.8ºF) for Stainless Steel
- Hardness values should be below 225 HV10
- PWHT shall be made on all steels with thickness above 19mm (static service) and above 5mm (fatigue service)
- 30 different pipe sizes
So essentially I had to separate it into 3 different categories: Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel and Low-alloy Steel. And to sum it up, I had to look up PQR that were not made with GMAW, and that were made with GTAW on the root pass (as that was our last option after having removed SMAW, FCAW and MCAW for root pass).
All the SMAW PQR had to use the E7018, and the GTAW part had to be performed with ER70S-6. The toughness values applied only to the Carbon and Stainless steel, so no P11 searches for that, and all these would have to have a hardness test completed. Also, for P11 and for Carbon Steels, the PWHT had to be performed on some specific pipes.
All that was left was the actual search through our list of 400 PQR, and 800 Welder Certificates
Which took me about 4 to 5 days work. Granted, I was inexperienced as a welding engineer, but even if I wasn’t, there were too many variables to search for, and some mistakes occurred. I kept checking thicknesses and diameters, but then sometimes I didn’t verify the impact temperature requirements. All in all, it was a bit of a pain.
I devised a system where I would create a grid with all the piping diameters and schedules, and input each PQR / Welder Certificate / WPS that I found to be viable in each square of this grid, that we could, then, provide to our clients, along with our documents, and would serve as a summary for our qualifications for the job.
So, how did this process improve?
Back when I was working for this company, at the very first day of my job, my boss told me: I’m quite open to new ideas, and if you have one that you think would be good for the company, don’t hesitate and come talk to me about it. After I had to go through the pain of this process, I started devising a system that would automatically do these searches for me. I contacted my brother Pedro (and also my current business partner, who is a software engineer), and we got to work as a software + welding engineer team.
I pitched our idea to my boss back then and he was very receptive to our idea (I would find later that using the correct welding procedures was an issue which had bit him in the ass in the past, one of the reasons why he was so receptive). He hired my brother as an independent contractor for providing a consulting service, and we started coding the next day, with full permission to use some of my work hours to specify how the software should be done.
We developed a system in which you select the different pipes or plates that are going to be welded, and you set the base material, positions, preheat and/or postweld heat treatment temperatures (and other variables as well) and, by clicking on a button, compares all these parameters with your PQR, Welder Certificates and WPS, and the result was a grid that put all the documents and matched them with a pipe, which they use to this day, it was like having an assistant welding engineer!
When I went back there and saw that they were still using the tool I’ve created with my brother made me really proud of myself, but then I also figured that this could be something that other people could use, and so, we created a new system on WeldNote.
It is essentially the same principle, but improved, rather than displaying all the results in a grid, they are displayed in a table like this:
We’ve named it QMatrix, and it tells you all the PQR you have qualified for a specific weld to be performed. And rather than doing this in a couple of days, you can do it in 20 to 30 minutes with WeldNote.
This has turned out to be a major time saver for some of our clients welding engineers and welding coordinators. It makes the searching so trivial that they just do not hesitate in doing plenty of searches, just like it happened when I was working at that piping company.
A lot of companies do not give the attention they should on this, and end up spending money on unnecessary qualifications. If you would like to try out our system, just contact us at our web-site (request a demo or talk to us through the web-chat), or feel free to contact me on linkedin, twitter or facebook.
Writing Compliant WPS (and why it’s important)
3 reasons why you have to search for your PQR, WPS and Welder Certificates
Welding Positions (ASME, ISO and AWS)
How to write a Welding Procedure Specification (ISO 15614-1)
CEO at WeldNote