After defining the right type of welding consumables required for your product or project it is time to procure the welding consumables. As easy as this may seem, there are some technical and commercial items to consider. In most cases the welding specialists are not involved in the final procurement activities. However, it cannot be stressed enough that welding specialists do have the task to inform the procurement department clearly. This means that the welding specialist must have an eye for both technical and commercial requirements.
The technical and commercial requirements
In the world of welding, there are five main topics from a technical and commercial perspective which are important to consider and should at least be mentioned to the procurement department.
- Technical – The standard or code, manufacturer and batch requirements
- Technical – Certificate and storage conditions for welding consumable
- Technical – Dimensions, weight and packaging of the welding consumable
- Commercial – What is the availability on the market, local and/or global?
- Commercial – What is the minimum quantity to buy from the suppliers?
In none of the five bullets the words price or costs are mentioned, it doesn’t mean that we can neglect the costs of the consumables. In fact, the price is in most cases the reason to buy a product. Since this is a technological article we have chosen to leave the real commercial deals with the departments authorized to do so.
The standard or code, manufacturer and batch requirements
Via specific welding consumable testing, manufacturers can ensure that their products comply with requirements of standards or codes, e.g. AWS, ISO or SAF, and certifying bodies, e.g. Lloyds, DNV or TÜV. All welding consumables are manufactured in batches and therefore each batch should have a unique batch number.
In most cases manufacturers print the type of consumable, standard or code, approvals by certifying bodies and batch number on the packaging of welding consumables.
Depending on the requirements for the welded products or project this information can be vital for procurement of welding consumables. For example, when the project specification demands a manufacturer with single batch requirements, obviously this is important information for the procurement department..
Certificate and storage conditions for welding consumables
All welding consumables may come with a certificate showing mechanical and chemical properties and have specific storage conditions which are stated by the manufacturers. Due to the costs for the certificates these are not always standard supplied by the manufacturers. It should be clearly mentioned if the certificate should be a type 2.1, 2.2, 3.1 or 3.2. Which of course depends on product or project requirements.
The storage conditions are generally focused on the temperature and humidity of the storage areas. This is to reduce the risk of hydrogen pick-up by welding consumables which may lead to possible cold cracking. Some ballpark figures for storage of covered electrodes:
- Temperatures between 5 – 15°C and a maximum relative humidity (RH) of 60%
- Temperatures between 15 – 25°C and a maximum RH of 50%
- Temperature above 25°C and a maximum RH of 40%.
Understanding the applicable requirements for certificates and storage conditions are vital information for procurement.
Dimensions, weight and packaging
It may sound obvious that we need to procure the correct dimensions, weight and packaging, but this does often go wrong. Manufacturers sell the same welding consumables in a variety of diameters, various weights on plastic spools, wire baskets or drums. Electrodes are sold in tins, cans, vacuum packs and accounted per piece or by weight. Flux is sold per bucket or sealed bags of 25kg up to big bags of 1000kg. So you see that there is a lot of information to deal with. You must be able to provide all the necessary details to the procurement department.
Availability on the market
When you are working with large quantities and high consumption of welding consumables it is important to understand the stock levels of local trade agents and where the consumable is manufactured. It could be that stock levels of your local supplier(s) are not sufficient to supply on time. Or even worse that due to economic sanctions or low resources in earth metals a product may no longer be supplied to the country you work in. This is really something to consider prior to procurement for large projects and/or very specific welding consumables.
Minimum buying quantity from suppliers
Minimum buying quantities are vital to know, particularly when you have a small project with low margins or when reduction of waste materials is high on the agenda. You can buy directly from the manufacturers, but this often leads to procurement of larger quantities such as a minimum of one full pallet of welding consumables. The local trade agents often supply in smaller quantities. Be aware that this could lead to trouble if your project has a single batch requirement and they can no longer supply from the same batch when you run out. The procurement routes, i.e. direct via manufacturer or via a local supplier should be agreed with the procurement department.
Read the article about making the right choice in welding consumables.