Original Date: 10/07/2002
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Weld Operator Education and Training
The welding engineering staff at General Tool Company created a training and education curricula to enhance the knowledge base, understanding, and skill level of the present manual weld operator staff to improve its quality. The curricula brought forth encouraged constructive dialogue between the engineering staff and weld operators to improve the efficiency of weld operations in excess of 30%.
Welding operators were hired into General Tool Company (GTC) not having the requisite experience to perform effectively in the company, due in part to the declining work force of highly skilled manual welding operators in the United States. Weld operators entering the work force have minimal knowledge of welding. The lack of fundamental knowledge in blueprint reading and procedural specifications related to welding has occasionally led to unnecessary rework and/or scrap, thus reducing the company's productivity, quality, and efficiency.
GTC’s desire is to hire highly skilled welders, but out of necessity has acquired low skilled, yet highly motivated individuals to train as qualified welders. GTC’s definition of a qualified welder is an individual that can produce a radiographic-quality weld, free of unacceptable indications. GTC also desires that the individual understand other aspects related to the job that include:
Producing the correct welded joint as specified by the blueprint (i.e., weld symbols or visual inspection requirements)
Understanding and following standard welding procedural specifications
Recognizing the difference in a quality weldment verses an unacceptable weldment by understanding typical weld defects and causes
To remedy the issue of an unskilled welding work force within the company, GTC created a training and education program to provide core competencies and enhanced knowledge to increase the performance level and understanding of its welding personnel. The welding engineering staff created training modules encompassing General Shop Practices, Standard Weld Symbols for Blueprint Reading, and Visual Inspection.
The General Shop Practices module addresses procedural specifications by defining the weld performance qualification record and the welding procedure specification. This training provides a standardized tool for welding personnel to identify the proper welding techniques, welding parameters, and requisite welding codes necessary to produce quality weldments. The second module instructs the welder in the proper interpretation of standardized welding symbols as defined by the American Welding Society. These symbols are placed on blueprints to instruct the welder as well as the designer to the type of welding process to be utilized, weld joint location, weld joint preparation, weld size/contour, and the weld filler alloy employed. With the knowledge of symbols, PQRs, and WPSs, weld personnel are able to produce the required weldments meeting the design intent of the weld-fabricated assembly. The third module, Visual Inspection, aids welding personnel by identifying important information about conformity to a specification. Different types of weld discontinuities are discussed and identified by sketches and/or photographs. Possible causes of these discontinuities are also discussed.
The training and education modules brought forth by GTC have been implemented since March 2002. As a result of training, the present weld work force with varying years of experience have obtained an enhanced understanding of welding. The entire welding staff has been brought to the same level of knowledge and understanding. This achieved effective communication between the engineering staff and weld operators to promote ideas on making weld joints better for improved quality and productivity. Since the initial training classes, the welders have been more attentive when reading weld symbols and have brought attention to inappropriate weld symbols specified by design engineers.
Important to the business side of the company, the overall efficiency of the welders has increased more than 30%. Efficiency has been defined as the percentage of actual time to complete the weld operation compared to the routed time standards. Figure 2-6 depicts the change in weld operator efficiency over the first five months since the training and education modules have been implemented. The level of efficiency began at 45% and has climbed to 70% during this short period. GTC proposes to use the created training and education modules when hiring new welding operators.
Figure 2-6. Weld Operator Efficiency
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