Welding is a joining technique that is considered a special process. The result depends on a great many factors. Think of the mastery of welding parameters, the circumstances, the materials, the equipment and the welder him/herself. In addition, the quality of the weld is determined during the welding process. Afterwards, even with the most extensive inspection techniques, the quality of a weld can no longer be changed. A great deal of craftsmanship is therefore involved.
Agreements on good craftsmanship around welding are therefore laid down in international standards. Of course, these standards do not come about just like that. They are the result of intense cooperation between professionals and specialists from various organisations and countries. They meet each other in standards committees. This takes place not only at national level, but also in a European and global context. In these committees, the experts work on a number of best practices, in an open and transparent manner that is aimed at consensus. The result is registered in a formal document: the standard. Recognised institutes such as the NEN (Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut), the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) develop formal standards according to very strict rules. In the United States, the AWS, AISI, ASTM and ASME are very specifically related to welding technology.
Standards therefore offer an answer to a simple question: what is the best way to do this? Standards in welding technology ensure that welded joints are safe, reliable and of high quality in every application.
Four types of standards
Broadly speaking, we can identify four types of standards:
In welding technology, product standards lay down all agreements on the properties of welded structures (pressure vessels, piping, steel construction, aeroplanes, cars, etc.), but also on welding consumables, gases, protective clothing and welding machines.
Process standards refer to the requirements under which constructions must be welded and tested. For example, standards for the qualification of welding procedures or the performance of the welding inspection (visual, non-destructive, destructive).
Service standards also play a role in welding. If manufacturers want to ensure a continuous and minimum quality of their personnel, they call on the standards for the qualification of welders, welding operators and welding coordinators.
The management standards in welding technology help organisations to control their welding processes in the broadest sense. For example, certain standards relate to the control of welding quality. They make an organisation think about the presence of the right knowledge and skills, resources and machines and the checks that are carried out before and after the work is carried out. In this way they lift the organisation to a higher level.
To apply or not to apply
Companies and organisations can often choose whether or not to apply certain standards. If they choose to apply standards, those agreements are often recorded in technical descriptions, specifications and contracts.
Even without these agreements, organisations can voluntarily apply a number of standards. It testifies to good craftsmanship. But the government has also fully understood the usefulness of standards. They use standards to integrate specific technical requirements in regulatory texts. For example, there is a great deal of European legislation on pressure vessels (PED) and steel constructions (CPR). Or the free movement of goods within the European Union thanks to the CE certification. There are also local legislations such as the Dutch gas law, environmental regulations and environmental permits (PGS directives) and the building code. They all have a relationship with welding technology somewhere. As soon as there is a legal framework, parties must comply with it and therefore apply the associated technical standards in full to their products.
Just like books and other publications, standards are also subject to copyright. Therefore, you may not copy, publish or reproduce these documents. National and international institutions sell standards to finance their activities. In this way, the development of new standards or the updating of outdated standards is protected and ensured.
Standards in welding technology are an indisputable added value for any organisation. They are compiled by the top experts in the field. This clustering of knowledge and skills contributes to customer satisfaction, cost savings, export opportunities (CE certification) and sustainability. And finally, they also contribute to the sharing of knowledge and new welding techniques.
An overview of the most current standards in welding technology (EN, ISO and EN ISO) can be found online via this link from The Swedish Welding Commission (www.svets.se).