Management - Engineer - Supervisor, weld quality - cost advice
for the MIG and flux cored weld process.
Scroll down to find out how MIG - Flux Cored "Weld Process Control and Best Weld Practice" provided annual cost savings of
5 to 10 million dollars.
For decades in the majority of global weld shops. there has been "lack of management - engineering and supervision ownership and interest" in the establishment
of MIG and Flux Cored Best Weld Practices and Weld Process Controls"
The Bad News in 2015. In the ever increasing, more competitive global weld industry, there is increasing concern for meeting weld productivity goals, and from the costs associated with weld rejects, weld rework weld liability.
The Good News in 2015. With focus on understanding the requirements necessary for MIG - Flux Cored Weld Process Controls - Best Weld Practices, there will be for many weld shops that can cut the umbilical cord between them and their local weld sales rep, extensive potential for extraordinary weld cost savings.
While many in weld management like to point there finger at those on the weld shop floor for their never ending weld shop issues, these managers typically are not aware that It takes much more than "welder skills" to consistently produce optimum MIG - Flux Cored weld quality at the lowest weld costs.
WHILE THE MIG - FCA PROCESS IS EASY TO USE.
ALL IT TAKES IS A FEW POOR WELDS TO GO FROM THIS TO THIS.
1985 or 2015: You may not want to ask those guys in the front office, "MIG - FCAW PROCESS CONTROL QUESTIONS".
The majority of steel and alloy steel applications will be welded with the MIG and flux cored (FCAW) process. If at the weld facilities or projects that use these two important processes, you could get the key weld decision makers such as managers, designers, engineers, QA personnel, and welders in one room, and ask some of the fundamental MIG and flux cored weld process control questions that i have placed below, I believe that you would find that most of the answers are all over the place and most are incorrect.
For any weld shop trying to survive in the global weld market, the bottom line is a lack of MIG or Flux Cored Weld Process Control & Best Weld Practice knowledge especially by managers, engineers, supervisors or technicians is simply unacceptable. This is a scenario that I have been reporting on for decades, it's a global industry situation that existed in 1975, and it's still evident in 2015.
 Ed's fundamental MIG Process Control Weld Questions.
 Ed's fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Questions.
Why would anyone allow inexperienced managers and engineers to build an architectural wonder in an earth quake prone area like the Birds Nest stadium in China, or with many of the building and bridges in North Ridge, California?.
From a Weld engineering and management
these projects were a disgrace.
As we head into 2015, numerous global weld projects and applications are being introduced that from a weld engineering perspective are typically very large in scope, and from an alloy perspective often complex to weld. Engineers (that rarely get management support) are facing an increasing challenge to ensure cost effective, code quality MIG and flux cored welds with two processes that daily account for more than 85% of the global welds produced. For more than five decades, I have been involved with MIG & Flux Cored process improvements and in 2015, I believe it's completely illogical when weld decision makers, engineers, QA p, QA personnel and supervisors do not strive to be Weld Process Control - Best Practice experts.
Note: In many weld shops today, it's common to find complex applications that utilize difficult to weld heat sensitive applications on Austenitic, Duplex, Inconels, Nickel, Titanium alloys and increasing use of High Strength Aluminum grades.
2000: If they have process problems with welds on carbon steels,
god help them with the alloy welds that are made on LNG projects.
In the last four decades, a common denominator that I found evident throughout the global weld shops that utilize the MIG and Flux Cored process, is weld personnel playing around with weld controls and a general lack of Management - Supervision ownership, interest or expertise with MIG - FCA Weld Process Controls and Best Weld Practices. For numerous weld shops, this situation has created dramatic weld quality, weld costs and weld liability concerns.
2015: In this global weld manufacturing environment, today in North America, we have countries like China successfully bidding on pipe line and bridge contracts. China, India, Mexico, Korea, Brazil and Eastern European companies can now use the same weld equipment, processes and consumables as used throughout North America and Europe. To add salt to this wound, many of the companies in the so called third world countries, will get subsidies from their governments. The subsidies combined with their countries low hourly rates creates a weld shop business environment here in North America in which you would think that it's logical that any management, engineers supervisors or technicians involved in weld decisions would have in their job description, "should have Weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice Expertise." The process requirements are essential to consistently produce the highest manual, robot or automated weld quality at the lowest possible weld costs.
Unfortunately as the owners and the construction managers of the oil platform
below found out, their lack of management and engineering weld Process Control & Best Weld Practice Expertise" had grave human and extraordinary cost consequences.
In the last three five decades, I have assisted over 1000 weld shops in 13 countries with their manual and automated weld - cladd issues. I would say that in more than 95% of the weld departments that I visited, the responsible weld decision makers, engineers and supervisors that I met, were not in full control of their weld quality or their weld costs. It was also notable that in the majority of instances, the weld decision makers had a "HANDS OFF" approach to welding, and rarely thought they were accountable for the daily weld issues that were happening on the weld shop floor. In this environment, it should be no surprise to find that like a poorly run ship "the poorly trained crew gets the blame".
When the prime weld decision makers don't take "responsibility and ownership" of the common manual - automated welds they produce, it typically means these individuals will rely on the advice of a weld salesmen.
In the last three decades, there has been extensive electronic bells and whistles introduced to MIG weld equipment thats used for welding steels, and yet for the weld shops, there has been few real world, MIG - Flux Cored weld quality - productivity benefits attained from the sensitive electronic equipment thats prime feature may be poor durability and high equipment repair costs.
Note: See my pulsed MIG equipment and weld issues in the programs at this site).
OWNERSHIP & ACCOUNTABILITY.. When weld equipment is critical to a companies quality - productivity and profits, it's up to all the responsible managers, engineers, supervisors and technicians to be able cut through the prevailing weld supply industry BS, and figure out their "human" requirements to consistently be able produce the highest weld quality at the lowest weld costs.
Of course I recognize that there are many global weld manufacturing facilities that have got it right, however I can simply let you know what my experiences were. And over five decades, I found in the thousand plus companies that I visited, that the weld shops that were in complete control of the MIG and Flux Cored process, were less than 5 percent.
You may not want to ask MIG -Flux Cored weld
process questions at these applications.
Weld Ownership - Responsibility -
The following will tell you something about the common management -
engineering weld process control apathy and lack of process ownership that is common throughout the global weld mfg. & fabrication industry.
It's a sad fact that with the majority of large scale weld projects, you will find that many of the managers and engineers responsible for the welds will work from behind a GLASS WALL that allows them to be visible to those on the weld shop floor, but at the same time isolated from controlling what's happening.
It's a sad fact that
in too many weld shops, that the persons responsible for the weld inspection will spend their days "revealing and documenting weld defects" rather than being trained with the weld process control - best practice requirements that would enable them to assist the welders with reducing the weld defect potential.
WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY
It's a sad fact that in most global ship yards, it would be difficult to find out who was responsible for the welds being made, and in the facilities where qualified hands on weld engineers have been hired, you will frequently find that the apathetic management will have enabled the less qualified weld supervisors to have more weld responsibility and ownership for the weld processes used.
WHAT ARE IMPORTANT QUALIFICATIONS FOR WELD MANAGEMENT & WELD SUPERVISION?
A qualified weld manager is aware of the weld fume and weld dust hazards, and the weld - cutting - grinding - electrical safety requirements necessary for the protection of the weld department personnel..
A qualified weld manager would be an individual that can train the employees on the equipment and the processes and ensure that the training encompasses the Weld Process Controls - Best Weld Practices that are necessary for all the weld personnel to consistently attain the highest weld quality and productivity.
A qualified weld manager would have the ability to teach their employees on the methods that will reduce the formation of weld defects.
The qualified weld manager should be aware how to always attain he highest weld productivity at the lowest possible weld costs.
A qualified weld manager will ensure the equipment in the shop is uniform and that it's the most suitable and durable available.
A qualified weld managers will ensure that the weld equipment is well maintained and calibrated each year.
The qualified weld manager would ensure that no one on the weld shop floor plays around with their weld controls.
The qualified weld manger would not require weld advice from a weld equipment or consumable salesman.
The qualified weld manager would always be aware of the real weld costs and methods to enable the lowest possible weld costs.
The qualified weld manager will have a bright smile and thick skin.
WHY DOES THIS GLOBAL WELD INDUSTRY TYPICALLY TAKE THE "COSTLY ROUTE" OF EMPLOYING INSPECTION PERSONNEL THAT SPEND THEIR DAYS FINDING AND REPORTING WELD DEFECTS AFTER THE WELDS ARE COMPLETE? SURELY IT WOULD BE MORE LOGICAL TO TRAIN INSPECTION PERSONNEL WITH THE WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE KNOWLEDGE THAT WILL HELP THEM ADVISE THE WELD PERSONNEL ON HOW TO USE WELD SETTINGS AND PRACTICES THAT CAN MINIMIZE THE FORMATION OF THOSE WELD DEFECTS.
Every weld mfg. facility should examine the resources and budgets of their QA - Inspection Departments, and then in contrast examine the resources, budgets and training time utilized on placing personnel on the shop that could actually assist in the prevention of the weld defects.
IN THE GLOBAL WELD INDUSTRY, OVER THE LAST FIVE DECADES THERE HAVE BEEN FEW DEMANDS FOR QUALIFIED WELD MANAGERS BUT ALWAYS HIGH DEMANDS FOR QUALIFIED WELD QA MANAGERS:
If you have to ask Lincoln, perhaps you
ask why you have to ask?
IF YOU ARE A QUALIFIED WELD DECISION MAKER, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO ASK A WELD SALESMAN..
FOR GODS SAKE WELD INDUSTRY, CUT THAT BLOODY UMBILICAL CORD:
industries and companies which daily reveal common costly weld issues, a frequent management
crutch approach to solving the weld problems, is to turn to a salesman or product rep for advice. Of course that biased advice often will lead to the purchase of so called
sophisticated, costly MIG pulsed MIG power sources. And lets face it, what's the use of sophisticated weld equipment without costly useless thee part gas mixes and the latest over priced and often unnecessary Metal Cored or Flux Cored weld wires.
THOSE WELD DECISION MAKERS THAT HAVE NOT LEARNT FROM THE WELDING PAST, WILL FREQUENTLY WASTE TIME, ENERGY AND MONEY IN THE THEIR FUTURE WELD ENDEAVOURS.
I have made optimum MIG and flux cored weld quality - productivity for decades, and my welds were typically produced on low cost, durable CV MIG equipment with
simple two component argon - CO2 gas mixes and E70S-3 MIG wires that have not changed since the nineteen sixties. With this in mind
surely management that looks to its bottom line, has a responsibility to recognize that too frequently their
weld issues are simply not an equipment or consumable issue that requires sales advice, but simply a result of the general lack of their own and their weld departments weld best practices - process control expertise.
We know this would not happen in your weld shop.
MOST OF THOSE EMPLOYED IN THE WELD INDUSTRY ARE
SELF TAUGHT OR RECIEVE COMMUNITY COLLEGE - COMPANY TRAINING. UNFORTUNATELY THE WELD REALITY IS WITH THE MIG & FLUX CORED PROCESS, "MOST ARE TAUGHT WRONG."
2001: The global
MIG and flux cored weld industry has for decades been a "Self Taught Industry.". This is an industry
that evolved from two simple weld processes, STICK (SMAW) and TIG (GTAW), processes that could be operated with a single up or down current control. When community colleges and the weld schools such as those typically found in ship yards or other organizations teach the MIG and flux cored process, their training / teaching focus has frequently been the same as what it was in the nineteen sixties, with the focus on teaching SMAW or Oxy Fuel welder skills. The sad reality is most weld training facilities (including Universities that teach engineers) do not teach the Best Weld Practice - Weld Process Controls that for decades have been necessary for for both manual - automated MIG and Flux Cored weld process optimization.
In 2015, as its been for decades, when today's welders, technicians and engineers graduate from their weld related programs, they will usually have to work along side more experienced weld personnel, who daily "play around" with their weld controls.
In contrast to the STICK and TIG process, MIG equipment offers a variety of weld transfer modes such as Short Circuit, Globular, Spray, Pulsed, STT,
RMD and CMT, along with many other variations all designed to increase the price of a MIG power source. Each MIG transfer mode will have an optimum weld parameter range suited to the wire diameter and weld gas selected. Also the MIG equipment can also be utilized for the flux cored process which has different rules for it's wire tytpes, wire diameters and weld positions.
To control and optimize both MIG and flux cored weld quality & productivity requires;
[a] Focus by the weld management - supervision on the process control training programs that simplify the teaching of Weld Process Controls, and on the specific Best Weld practices for the intended process - consumables and applications.
[b] Focus by management / engineers / technicians and supervisors on their own weld process control education requirements that will enable them (without assistance from a salesman) to always ensure the highest manual - automated weld quality - productivity. This is the self teaching training that quickly enables weld decision makers to take full ownership and responsibility for their weld equipment, processes and the daily weld results.
My question is a simple one. Why would any company complain about the welders impact on the weld quality - productivity with the MIG and flux cored weld processes, when that same
company employs engineers, technicians and supervisors who if they were required to weld, would also "play around" with the weld controls.
Surely an experienced management would make sure it provides all it's weld decision makers with the best practices and and process
control expertise necessary to attain consistent, optimum weld quality and productivity from the processes they utilize?
you believe you and your key weld personnel have MIG and flux cored weld process control expertise, take a look
at the following fundamental weld tests, and then ask your self, how well would my weld personnel
do with this test, and would this type of type weld process expertise benefit our organization?
 Fundamental MIG Process Control Weld
 Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Test
 Solutions to all your MIG and flux cored process
control issues are here.
is the only web site in North America that promotes the management and engineering
process ownership message. I encourage managers and engineers to use the resources available
at this site
to implement MIG and flux cored, best weld practices and process controls.
Weld Management - Expertise - Responsibility - Accountability - Ownership.
do many large scale weld projects such as ship yards, construction equip plants have in
auto - truck plants?
The following weld process issues have for decades occurred in the majority of global plants that use MIG and Flux Cored...
 Lack of general weld Best Practice and weld Process Control Expertise:
It's not difficult to find managers, engineers and supervisors who do not fully comprehend or daily struggle with the world's two most widely used weld processes used in their weld shops.
 Lack of Manufacturing Controls for the parts welded:
In most weld shops, you too often will
find parts that have inadequate or excess weld gaps or unacceptable part dimensional tolerances
which are not within the weld design tolerance requirements. Steels and weld edges coated with forming lubricants, mill scale, rust or cutting oxides are a way of life. And in many shops you will find an absence
of appropriate weld Manufacturing Instructions, and also a lack of or either poor job descriptions.
 Inadequate weld Process Control - Best weld Practice Training:
Even with the plants that provide weld training, you will often find weld personnel still "playing around" with their weld controls.
Minimal management weld Cost Knowledge:
In most weld facilities, you don't want
to ask anyone in the front office the real cost per foot of their most common MIG or flux cored welds.
 Inappropriate Weld Inspection Practices:
Most weld quality and inspection programs are developed so the QA resources are directed to find weld defects rather than prevent the costly weld defects.
 Weld Equipment and Consumables Sales Influence:
From the ship yard to that car plant, you will see either the wrong weld equipment or a mindless array of unnecessary, over priced weld equipment and consumables. The reason for the lack of uniform weld equipment - consumables, or the purchase of unnecessary high priced weld equipment and consumables are many. However when weld management and supervision do not understand what it takes to make optimum weld quality and productivity, they turn to their common crutch the "weld sales rep". This is the sales person who typically has never run a weld shop. This is the rep will too often provide biased weld advise to justify his companies overpriced MIG equipment which is loaded with useless electronic bells and whistles. Hey if your organization can be sold useless MIG equipment then your company is a sales man dream account and the next product you will need is that magic three part MIG gas mix or a special metal cored wire. As unfortnately this nonesensence has been going on for decades, the results will be viewed in many global weld weld shops.
WHEN A TECHNICAL INDUSTRY SUCH AS THE WELD INDUSTRY HAS TO RELY ON INEXPERIENCED WELD SALES ADVICE, THE EXECUTIVES IN THAT INDUSTRY ESPECIALLY IN SHIP YARDS AND OTHER LARGE SCALE WELD PROJECTS NEEDS TO FOCUS ON THE PROCESS CONTROL EDUCATION THEY WILL ENABLE THEM TO CUT THE SALES UMBILICAL CORD AND GET CONTROL OF THE PROCESSES AND EQUIPMENT THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO THEIR ORGANIZATION.
WHEN AN INDUSTRY UTILIZES WELD PROCESSES THAT WERE DEVELOPED BEFORE MOST OF THE PEOPLE USING THEM WERE BORN, AND IN GENERAL THIS INDUSTRY CANNOT FULLY CONTROL THOSE WELD PROCESESS, SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE, AND THAT CHANGE HAS TO BE DRIVEN BY MANAGEMENT:
PIPE WELDS AND A MULTI- MILLION DOLLAR
WELD COST REDUCTIONS:
Ed created an annual, one plus million dollar weld cost reduction
for the Imperial Oil, (Alberta CN). pipe shop and pipe line weld contractors.
Part of the Imperial Oil, Cold Lake Alberta Operation.
2010: HOW ED's WELD IMPROVEMENTS, HAVE SAVED IMPERIAL OIL 12 - 15 MILLION DOLLARS IN THE LAST DECDADE:
In 1998, Imperial Oil management in Alberta Canada asked if I would:
A. Evaluate the oil and
natural gas field pipe and shop weld practices
used by their prime pipe contractors in Alberta, Canada.
B. Evaluate the weld methods, processes and consumables that would reduce
field pipeline construction welding costs on their Nat Gas steam and other pipe projects.
C. Promote the use of the
flux-cored-arc or MIG weld process so that the reluctant stick welders and their weld supervision
(who did not want to embrace process change) would fully underhand and accept the two processes in the field and at the fabrication shops.
D. Train and provide the senior stick
pipeline welders, the supervisors and engineers with flux cored process controls and best weld practices.
To attain across the board acceptance
of the flux cored process, I decided that the
best strategy would be to gather all the key weld personnel at a location
in which I could provide both classroom and hands on weld training. The
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), is located in Calgary, Canada. SAIT
kindly provided us with one of the best equipped weld training facilities
in North America. The focus was on the flux cored process and therefore I developed an intensive three-day training session.
The FCA weld best practice and process control training was split between the classroom and hands-on pipe welding.
The flux cored weld
training covered the process control - best practice requirements for the consumables used to weld the carbon steel pipe diameters that
varied from 100 to 600 mm (4 to 24 in.)
The training provided the
welders with the hands on, MIG root and flux cored fill best weld practices plus the required techniques and skills . The classroom training placed emphasis on ensuring the participants had the weld process control knowledge necessary to "set optimum MIG - FCA weld parameters"
for any manual or automated, pipe application. Ed on right, used his unique, simple, Weld Clock Method to teach the correct settings. With this method weld personnel do not have to take notes.
The pipe training program was well received by all,
and in less than 16 hours of welding pipes and learning the necessary weld
process controls - best weld practices, I had one hundred percent acceptance from the participants, even tho many of those in the past had been concerned and reluctant to deal with the change from the SMAW process to flux cored and MIG. After completing the training,
I then followed up with visits to the companies pipe shop to provide weld
process support during the SMAW to flux cored transition, and later I bought in automation for the pipe welds.
What was the primary pipe
for Imperial Oil?
The goal of the SMAW to flux cored conversion
was to improve weld quality - productivity, and to generate cost savings when welding the low alloy
Steam pipes. A common pipe application was welding a sixteen-inch (40-cm) diameter pipe, that had a one inch. (25-mm) thick
wall with a 60-degree included angle bevel. The steam pipe was CSA Grade 448, (X65) and it operates at
up to 2,500 psi, at 650 F. The pipe has a specified minimum yield strength of 65,000 psi, with
a UTS of 80,000 psi.
The pipe weld qualification was to ASME B31.3. The required weld tests were performed
to ASME Section IX.
One of the main differences from a traditional pipeline
code is that the bend test subjects the weld to a 20 percent strain, compared
to 12.5 percent strain for many pipeline qualification tests.
These steam pipe used to be welded with E8010G SMAW (stick) electrodes. The SMAW process required
the use of 350F pre-heat to prevent Hydrogen Cracking. I had to select a suitable
flux cored consumable. and I tested many of the available all position E71T-1 and
E81T-1 flux cored wires. The flux cored wire that I found was most suitable for both weld ability and metallurgical results was made by one of the world's best mfg. of flux cored wires, it was an
Alloy Rod product.
The Alloy Rod, E71T wire I selected had the best and easiest weld puddle control especially in the critical
and difficult overhead pipe welding position. The E71T-1 wire was developed for
use with straight CO2. However when I tried this wire with an argon CO2 mix
the weld transfer was optimum and the weld provided a minimum of 90,000 psi
The success of the flux-cored wires
on this project eventually allowed me to change bevel. The bevel was changed from the traditional 60 degree
Vee bevel to a compound bevel which dramatically reduced the required amount of
filler weld metal. The controlled low hydrogen content of the flux-cored wires
also allowed reduction of the 350 F preheat to 200 F. These two changes provided
dramatic cost reductions that are not included in this report.
Imperial Oil management was aware that when with required weld process improvements and weld cost reductions, that all there subcontractor weld shops were simply entrenched in a culture where few like change, and I was selected to be the catalyst that would create that change.
For many decades, pipe - spool shops
and pipelines have made the majority of their welds using the two most costly weld processes, SMAW and Gas Tungsten Arc (TIG). Although the commonly used SMAW electrode arc characteristics
and properties have improved in the last three decades, the SMAW process in
contrast to the Gas Shielded Flux Cored process will require higher skills, provide lower weld fusion potential,
lower weld deposition rates, lower weld deposition efficiency with greater weld consumable costs, (see below).
In 2007 - 2008 Imperial Oil had the following Pipe Weld Process Choices.
When used in most pipe shops, the conventional CV (none pulsed) MIG equipment used with the MIG and flux cored weld transfer modes will rarely be optimized or fully understood.
The major Flux cored wire manufacturers have been frustrated for more more than two decades with the slow pace that their products were accepted throughout the global code pipe and pressure vessel industry. Their frustration was further increased when they saw the same industry get caught up with the electronic modified MIG transfer modes such as pulsed MIG, STT and RMD, manual weld modes that were typically only suited to specific "open root" welds.
PIPE FILL PASS AND WELD PROCESSES AND EQUIPMENT LOGIC:
I believe that while in 2015, the pulsed MIG process can be an acceptable process for "mechanized pipe fill pass welds", however on MANUAL welds, pulsed MIG cannot out perform all position
flux cored wires used with low cost MIG equipment or with adapted CV generators, especially when welding in the 5G position with wall thickness > 7 mm. Also and I hope this shocks many weld shops that paid for that high priced pulsed MIG equipment, the pulsed MIG process cannot outperform regular low cost MIG equipment when its set at the low end of MIG spray transfer settings on " Rotated Steel and Alloy Steel pipe fill joints" .
the pulsed MIG process infatuation in many pipe shops has had more to do with weld process ignorance and weld equipment salesmanship, than it had to do with manual weld quality - performance. I have evaluated pulsed MIG equipment for approx. 30 years. I believe that the common pipe lack of weld fusion defects from the pulsed MIG process are derived from the poor relationship from a process that delivers moderate to high deposition with moderate weld energy, and the simple fact that pulsed MIG spends 50% of it's time at a low back ground current of typically less than 100 amps. You won't hear this critique of the pulsed process from your friendly MIG equipment sales rep, however it's been my message for at least 30 years, if you have used pulsed MIG on steel parts over 6 mm and you did Macros or NDT on each weld produced, you would have been shocked at the amount of weld that indicated lack of weld fusion.
IMPERIAL OIL AND THE PIPE "ROOT PASS." WELD PROCESS - EQUIPMENT LOGIC:
The picture on the right is unfortunately me lying on the cold concrete, earning my Imperial Oil fees and testing the MIG STT and RMD process. I evaluated these two root welding processes in comparison to the regular Short Circuit modes on the Nat Gas, 5G pipe root welds.
The MIG traditional Short Circuit
mode is a practical weld choice for welding a pipe
root pass with many "rotating"
pipe welds that are presented with controlled open root dimensions.
On "rotated" pipe root applications, the traditional MIG short
circuit, and globular modes available from the lowest cost CV MIG equipment are just as effective as the highly touted and I believe over priced Lincoln STT and Miller RMD equipment.
The STT - RMD transfer modes are superior to regular SC when welding 5G especially when welding the 5 to 7 o'clock, Over Head root welds.
Please be aware that pulsed MIG, MIG STT, MIG RMD and
the gas shielded Flux Cored process cannot provide the pipe weld quality that's attained with the TiP TiG process (www.tiptigusa.com). Tip TiG was invented by an Austrian engineer and I and my business partner Tom O'Malley introduced the TiP TiG Process to both North America and Australia in around 2008.
(www.tiptigusa.com. ask for Nick and tell him
Ed sent you) .
CONCERNS WITH PULSED MIG and FLUX CORED ON "NARROW GROOVE" PIPE WELDS:
When using narrow bevel pipe weld
joints, and the pulsed MIG "manual" process, the wise weld
decision maker will remember that this process typically at best only provides "marginal
side wall weld fusion" on those conventional, wide, 60 - 80 degree included angle Vee Groove welds. The pulsed MIG weld quality is enhanced slightly and the rules change when pipe automation is utilized and weld weave, travel and WSO controls can be applied to the pulsed MIG pipe fill pass welds.
For pipe companies that use pulsed MIG on narrow groove welds that are subject to high operating demands, the
narrow groove weld results may require extraordinary and costly weld inspection methods. In order to use a narrow bevel and the automatic MIG modes, the weld
inspection from companies that are aware of the potential pulsed MIG issues, may require shear wave ultrasonic SWU examination. The SWU mode of inspection
will be necessary so that the NDT equipment can "size the weld flaw", and determine if the flaw is
acceptable, this will be based on crack, tip opening displacement, (CTOD) and fracture
mechanic equations. This will also require the regulator to accept alternate
While I have been reporting the pulsed MIG issues for close to three decades, pipeline companies are slowly becoming aware of the pulsed MIG issues and the costs that can be incurred
when complex inspection criteria is required, and also with the cost of the weld repairs that can result from a process that does not provide optimum weld fusion.
Note: TiP TiG is highly successful on narrow VEE and J groove welds. and lack of weld fusion should not be a concern with any alloy pipe.
For the following reason the majority of global manufacturing
facilities that use MIG or
would benefit from my MIG and Flux Cored weld best practices - process control training programs:
A. When setting the two
MIG or flux parameter controls on traditional MIG equipment the welders typically will
end up "playing around with the controls."
B. Using gas shielded flux cored? Ask the engineer managing
the process or the welder using the gas-shielded flux-cored wire what the
"optimum, vertical up" wire feed and voltage range are for that wire. Then see the blank
gaze that will often follow.
C. Using spray for 1G pipe fill passes? Ask the welder or the
engineer what the MIG, 0.035 in.
(1 mm) diameter wire feed rate is for the
start point of spray transfer and which is the best gas mix to utilize. and the blank gaze will return.
D. Using short circuit for that 1G root, ask the welder what the optimum wire feed, amps and voltage range is, or what is the best gas mix and torch position and the answers will be interesting.
With the appropriate weld process
expertise, and a short training period, the above manual weld processes and consumables
can be relatively simple to set and operate, however no matter how good the welders are, both MIG and flux cored processes will cause weld defects .
If you weld pipe in shops consider TiP TiG, this is a weld process that can eliminate pipe weld rework and provide the highest possible metallurgical results.,
Imperial Oil management wanted their pipe weld contractors to
step into the twenty first century.
The majority of pipe welds by Imperial Oil pipe weld contractors were as mentioned made by the SMAW process. After I had finished training these guys with the Semi-Automatic, manual flux cored process, I then encouraged the Imperial Oil responsible engineer - management to consider the utilization of Weld Automation for the flux cored - MIG processes.
Note; This weld process improvement project occurred because the Imperial Oil engineer responsible, took ownership of the weld processes being used at this project, Few engineers have the gumption to step up to the plate like this, especially engineers that work in tho oil and gas industry.
From welding pipes to welding automobiles, there is no machine that can offer the weld automation benefits that are derived from a robot. However any weld automation requires weld process control knowledge, so it should not be a surprise that in the North America
the robot weld production efficiency rarely exceeds
sixty percent, and on many simple weld robot applications as found in highly engineered automotive plants, the robot weld rework generated is typically 10 to 40 %. The purpose of weld automation is lost on any weld project when manual welders are required to repair those automated welds.
With pipe weld automation,
we often find the same welding MIG and flux cored weld process issues that are found in the manual
welding shops. One of the biggest challenges any weld decision maker will have with any automated welds,
is to ensure that the automated weld equipment does not inherit
the common bad weld practices that are found in too many manual weld shops.
To fully optimize the mechanized flux cored or MIG pipe applications, the
A. Be aware of the weld
process controls and best practices fundamentals.
B. With the common wire diameters utilized, be knowledgeable of the
weld parameter ranges for the wires utilized.
C. For the application, be aware of the primary
feature benefits and the disadvantages and defect potential of the different MIG weld transfer modes or the flux cored process.
D. Understand that the primary
method for weld cost control comes from understanding the wire feed and weld
Any global weld management would see dramatic weld rework and weld cost reduction through this process control training. Non-destructive technicians know that the majority of pipe weld defects that
require weld rework and additional costly weld radiographs will occur typically
in the root, and in the first or second fill pass in the grooves. Weld defects are also common in the rapid freeze weld Starts and Stops locations. Most
of the manual weld defects are greatly influenced by the welders using inappropriate
weld settings and poor weld techniques and practices.
It's important for weld decision makers to remember that even when the MIG and flux cored process data and practices are optimized, that these processes will still produce unacceptable weld defects. For example with pulsed MIG process expect lack of fusion and small porosity especially on wall thickness > 8 mm. For the flux cored process you should anticipate trapped weld slag, large porosity content, worm tracks and lack of fusion, (see the pulsed MIG and flux cored sections).
Note: There is only one weld process today that is capable of providing manual - automated welds without weld defects. and that process is at www.tiptigusa.com.
In contrast to manual welds, the automated weld process
will change the weld
process quality & weld productivity potential. The weld rules also change, are you aware of those rules?,
IN CONTRAST TO MANUAL MIG and FLUX CORED, MIG and flux cored weld "automation" allows control
of the wire stick out, the weld speeds and the weld weaves. These are key elements to improving the pipe weld or clad quality. Of course automation can also dramatically increase
the potential weld productivity attained, and sometimes this is a good thing, however remember that increased productivity leads to faster weld speeds which can reduce the weld fusion attained.
There are almost as many options
to mechanize field pipe welds as there are welding processes. We could weld
the field pipe line with one or two robots mounted on a truck that straddles
the pipe. We could use simple track and carriage equipment or purchase the
more durable and sophisticated automated pipe line welding systems. We can use pulsed MIG, flux cored and process like TiP TiG (www.tiptigusa.com) which provides extra ordinary pipe weld and metallurgical benefits.
With the Imperial Oil, steam pipe
line weld projects, in contrast to the manual stick welders, the mechanized weld
carriage using flux-cored wires enabled the following weld benefits:
1. Provide a reduction in weld start
and stops per pipe joint from more than
100 with the manual SMAW process, to 12 with flux cored.
2. Consistent travel speeds and consistent mechanized
weave control that optimizes weld placement, improving weld fusion with any bevel welds.
3. Consistent weld wire stick out which maintains constant weld energy.
4. With the
mechanized units and a portable weld parameter control, the operator
has the ability to change the weld parameters on the fly if necessary
5. The mechanized unit allows
higher wire feed rates which will increase the weld travel rates.
Note... One problem with any MIG transfer on pipe welds is the deposition. The higher the deposition the faster the weld travel rate and sometimes there is simply not enough time for the weld to fuse into the groove side walls...
6. No matter what the weld process utilized, in contrast to inconsistent
manual welders, a mechanized unit will have far superior control of the weld pool and the weld weave
configurations. This is an important consideration with flux cored and its one of the reasons that Pulsed MIG can be successful but manual Pulsed MIG will have lack of weld fusion concerns. With the automated flux cored process, the increased weld deposition and ability to do larger
weld weaves should reduce the number of weld passes. For example, the manual
welders do three - four passes for the SMAW pipe cap pass. A mechanized unit with
flux cored will do the cap in one - two passes with a much shorter weld time.
GOOD WELD MANAGEMENT WOULD ALWAYS PROMOTE THE KIS APPROACH... All weld managers should be aware
of the benefits derived by keeping their welding operations simple, and when possible keeping
unnecessary bells and whistles away from weld equipment and weld automation.
There are too many managers in the pipe industry that will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on automated pipe weld equipment, and spend nothing on the best practices and process control training that could improve the understanding of the process which would lead to optimize both the weld quality - productivity. Weld Best Practices & Weld Process Controls, (BP - PC) will rarely be instigated by workers on the weld shop floor,
or from the welders working on an automated pipe weld system. The BP - PC should be established by the engineers responsible.
2015: It's unfortunate that for five plus decades, most of the global Universities
and Colleges have failed in providing their mechanical or weld
engineer graduates with BP - PC training. Also
it's unfortunate that at most trade schools, weld educators, who typically have a strong SMA (stick) weld
background, frequently place their MIG and flux cored
training with emphasis on incorrect welder skills, rather than on the correct weld practices and process control expertise.
Imperial Oil Pipe Welds
and Gas Shielded Flux Cored Wires:
The common E71T-1 and higher alloy E8T-1 small diameter, gas shielded,
all position, flux-cored wires can provide many unique weld benefits
when used with the traditional Constant Voltage MIG equipment, or with Constant Current Generators
that usually have a CV adapter. Similar to the traditional MIG process, the flux-cored
process requires only two simple weld parameter settings, a volt setting and a variable
wire feed control that regulates the welding current.
Thanks to general lack of focus on the required optimum weld practices and weld process controls, after two decades of use, the flux-cored weld process,
while easy to operate, has inherited "people process issues" that
are international in scope.
In the more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities
I assisted in thirteen countries, more than 80
percent of the weld shops were using:
A. The wrong flux cored wire
diameter. Many weld decision makers will purchase the >1/16 wires for those vertical up welds, while the 0.045 wires in most instances will allow greater weld control with greater current density for improved weld fusion.
Note for weld managers and supervisors. When it comes to optimum weld quality, with weld wires,
bigger is rarely better.
B. The wrong flux cored type. Many of the gas shielded flux cored welds that are made on thick metal applications will be made in the flat and horizontal weld positions. In these weld circumstances, the so called "all position" welds wires such as EX1T-1 are frequently utilized, and the weld reality is they are a poor choice. The all position wire don't have the deoxidizers or the slag that allows the current that should be used on most weldments that are > 7 mm thick, in contrast, the EX0-T1 wires would be better suited.
C. The wrong flux cored shielding gas mix With the gas shielded flux cored wires, you often have a choice of using argon C02 mixes or straight CO2. For large scale applications such as In a ship yard or similar, I would recommend the the E71T-1 Kobelco wires with straight CO2. These weld wires have excellent weld transfer characteristics and enable good weld control with straight CO2. The important attribute of straight CO2 is that it can in contrast to argon - CO2 mixes, provides superior weld fusion which can shut down on the required weld rework. For welding in buildings where fume issues are a concern, with the E71T-1 wires I would be using using argon with 20% CO2?
Note: The reason I do not recommend the widely used argon - 25% CO2 mix is this mix is poorly suited for the attainment of optimum MIG spray welds, see gas section.
D. The wrong flux cored weld parameters. With too many large projects I would find that the welders were using Inappropriate welding
parameters, or they were using on wire feed and volt weld setting for all the very different welds that they did..
E. The wrong flux cored weld practices. If you asked, few welders could tell you whats going on with the weld every time they change the wire stick outs or why they should not use flux cored for an open root. Even fewer will be aware of the influence of fore hand versus back hand techniques on their welds, or the best weld techniques for welding a root with ceramic backing.
Note the solution to MIG and FCA process optimization is here.
Flux Cored Pipe Welds.
Deposition Rates and Weld Costs.
The gas-shielded flux-cored wires,
specifically those developed in North America by Alloy Rods (ESAB) and later on by Tri
Mark and over seas wire mfgs such as Kobelco, have had the greatest impact on simplifying all position welds on carbon
steels, alloy, and stainless pipe applications. Due to the ease of use and
especially their cost effectiveness, flux-cored wires have painfully wormed their way
into Stick weld entrenched industries such as the ship yards, pipe shops and heavy plate shops.
Weld shops that have poor weld management
will rarely like any weld process change.
An average SMAW weld deposition rate
for a vertical up, pipe fill pass welds
would be 2 to 3 lb./hr, (0.9 to 1.3 kg/hr). With the poor SMAW arc on times the hourly SMAW weld deposition may be around 1 pound per- hr. In contrast for the same weld application,
a conservative and "average" manual weld deposition rate of 6 to 9 lb./hr,
is attainable with either the 0.045 and 0.052 in. (1.2
to 1.4 mm) diameter flux-cored wires. With flux cored, the arc on time is also greater than SMAW, and the average hourly FCA weld deposited is typically 2 - 3 lb/hr
There are specific all position flux-cored consumables
from companies like Alloy Rods, Tri Mark and Kobelco that can produce 9 to 10 lb./hr (4.5 kg/hr) for vertical up welds on components
thicker than 8 mm. Remember weld costs are also influenced by weld duty cycle (arc on time) and it's obvious that in contrast to SMAW, the increased arc on times with flux cored should add another 10 - 20% more weld deposition each hour.
For this pipe project I selected
an Alloy Rod E71T-1 0.052 in. (1.4 mm) diameter flux-core wire for all the
5G pipe fill passes and the cap pass. I selected this wire based on its low weld current
requirements and on its welding capability especially in the overhead positions. As the
Alberta stick welders had minimal flux cored experience the initial flux-cored wire feed selected
(current) was conservative and provided a weld deposition rate 6 - 7 lb./hr (> 2.7 kg/hr). The weld parameters I selected enabled the
welders to weld the multi-weld pass 5G pipe fill pass welds with only one wire feed - volt setting and one a slight adjustment of the weld voltage was required for the pipe cap pass.
Flux Cored Weld Process Influence
Weld Layers and
The two manual pipe welders using
the E8010 SMAW electrodes, welded 110 arc starts in 13 fill passes. The low
weld deposition rate produced short weld lengths and layers of welds with
little depth. In contrast the higher weld deposition flux-cored wires reduced
the number of weld layers by 50 percent.
When welding the fill passes using
a mechanized pipe welding system or a simple carriage and track system that
provides two carriages and torches. The 0.052 in. diameter flux-cored wires,
could starting at 6 o'clock and travelling to 12 o'clock, complete half the
diameter of a 16 in. pipe in a single weld pass. Each weld gun would weld
a total of 6 flux-cored fill passes . This could result for this pipe project
in a total 12 arc starts (six each side) for the fill passes in contrast to
the 110 arc starts required with the two manual welders and SMAW electrodes.
With utilizing flux-cored wires
instead of SMAW electrodes, the pipe contractor could reduce the arc starts
and lack of weld fusion potential at the arc starts by almost 90 percent.
When using flux cored instead of pulsed MIG on pipe projects,
the time saved from the greater flux deposition can make up for the time used to clean the slag between weld FCA passes.
For a given weld Amps, the Flux Cored "Density" (weld enegy), will be greater than MIG. (influencing weld fusion).
Benefits of the unique Flux Cored
"Weld Current Density".
The traditional 3.2, 4, and 4.8
mm SMAW electrodes used for pipe welds use a weld current range of 100 to
180 amps. In contrast the all position, flux-cored wires that are optimum
for pipe welds are 0.045 or 0.052 in. (1.2 or 1.4 mm) diameters. The smaller
flux cored wire diameters typically use an "all postion"weld current range of 160 to 220 A. The flux-cored
weld current range with the smaller electrode diameters creates a higher weld
current density that results in greater arc energy in the weld pool than that
produced by SMAW electrodes.
The high weld energy and resulting
higher weld fluidity of the flux cored weld provides flux cored consumables
with their greatest asset for "manual pipe welds", the potential for superior side
The flux-cored wire is unique in
contrast to the MIG wire in that the FCA process enables higher current density with
fluid welds that produce a fast freeze weld slag. As many of you will be aware, the weld slag generated with an E8010G SMAW electrode
often teneacous in the way it clings to a weld. In contrast a well manufactured
flux-cored wire with the same alloy benefits can produce a weld slag that should peel of while welding.
As a weld manager, engineer or supervisor, how would you respond to this problem on a simple common FCAW application?
Feb 2015 E-Mail.
I hope this finds you well.I'm a weld educator and weld inspector (AWS CWI/CWE) with an independent inspection company located in NY. Welder training and welding document support are my primary functions for a diverse customer base. I've used your GMAW / FCAW videos, books and advice many times for our customers with solid success, and I'm an avid reader of your web site..
I recently had a customer working on a structural steel job AWS D1.1. They were using FCAW-G on typical carbon steels.I developed a pretty standard FCAW-G weld procedure (WPS) that was prequalified to AWS D1.1.The job required fillet welds only, and our goal was to have the welders take a standard T-joint fillet weld test.
The weld shop set up their T-joints, dialed in their power sources, welded them and called me when they were ready to process the test specimens. As you may know, AWS D1.1- Structural Steel Welding-requires a welder fillet weld test to go thru a visual, macro and fracture test. The visual was uneventful and the welds looked good. However when we saw-cut an end of the T-joints to prepare for macro, I could see the sewing needle-sized defect of slag inclusion trapped at the root of the fillet welds - all of them (there were 12 in total).
The code only requires 1 end of the T-joint to be macro-etched, but we saw cut both ends of the 12 samples, just to see if this defects was consistant throuhout the length. It was - 24 ends had the slag inclusion at the root. We fractured all 12 specimens in a press just to watch the slag run out as a training tool for the welding team. Now, I've seen this before.But, I've also seen it done successfully and I personally have used FCAW-G on T-joints and made fillet welds without slag at the root.So, with the customer's permission, I turned the rest of the day into a field-expedient welding school / R and D mission. I got flanked by the shop's lead welder and we made T-joint after T-joint, trying to eliminate the slag at the root.
We couldn't do it.
I've always heard that, when welding with gas shielded FCAW..."Drag the slag." Use the Backhand / pull techniquefor the welds. I've also seem welders use a very gentle (5 degrees) push angle on the gun and even a straight - on "zero" angle on the gun. I've seen them all work successfully in the past.
The single biggest weld tactic I've ever seen be truly successful on FCAW-G regarding slag is this: whether push / pull or zero gun angle - Stay at the leading edge of the weld puddle to stay ahead of slag. Ed, I really felt we were doing that. I, too, was welding, yes i like to lead by example. We welded all afternoon and saw cut many specimens to inspect the roots. Time and again we found slag. We just couldn't make the slag go away.
Here's how we welded:
- Miller Pipe Pro power source
- An E71T-1 FCAW-G wire
- Wire Dia, 0.045
- Gas Argon - 25% CO2
- 1/2" tk. T Joints
- A36 steel
- 2F position
- Weld Parameters Approx. 26.5 V, 210 A (approx. 350 IPM WFS)
Ed there was 1 dynamic that thru me off: inductance. I thought inductance was a tool that helped "wet-out" the puddle a bit better when doing GMAW-S (short circuit/low voltage). On FCAW does it make a difference? Is this a feature on the power source that can be disengaged if you don't want it working as you weld? Will it hinder the FCA weld? What are we doing wrong?.
Your input on this would be greatly appreciated.Thanks.
Kind Regards Jim.
The answer to this costly weld issue is right below your nose. Ccan you figure it out? This would not have happened if this company had used my FCA process control TRAINING resource.
Flux Cored Features and Benefits
Flux-cored-arc welding offers a
number of features and benefits in contrast to the SMAW process.
1. Flux cored provides higher
weld deposition rates. For this pipe project 75 percent less time was required
to complete the 16 in. pipe joint.
2. Flux cored requires less
arc start and stops. On this pipe project, there was a 80-90 percent less
potential for start stop weld defects.
3. Flux cored provides greater
arc energy with improved weld fluidity. This dramatically reduces the potential
for side wall and arc-start weld fusion defects. With flux cored, today the
normal, manual weld reject rate at the field pipe site is 0 to 1 percent.
In contrast with SMAW electrodes the reject rate was 3%.
4. Flux cored produces smooth
weld tie-ins, and reduces weld undercut potential and the need subsequent
5.Flux cored produces thicker
weld layers. Less filler weld passes reduces the weld tie-ins and the potential
for arc-start fusion defects.
6. Flux cored produces longer
weld lengths, reducing weld tie-ins and improving productivity.
7. Flux cored weld slag
is easy to remove reducing the potential for weld slag entrapment
8. Flux cored provides lower
weld hydrogen content and lower potential to absorb hydrogen, this minimizes
potential for hydrogen cracking issues,
9. Flux cored provides faster
weld travel speeds which can result in lower weld heat input. A benefit for
quenched and tempered pipe.
10. Flux cored requires
less welder skill requirements than both the SMAW and MIG processes. With
this process its easier to train welders and you can expect fewer defects
from welders of all skill levels.
11. This pipe project when
using SMAW required preheat of 350 F. In the cold climate of Northern Canada
its difficult and time consuming to attain this preheat temperature on thick
wall pipe. The lower hydrogen potential of the FCAW electrodes reduced the
weld preheat requirement to 200 F.
The Flux Cored groove fill pass features - benefits, in contrast to the MIG processes.
1. With flux cored we can
use one weld procedure, using a narrow wire feed - voltage range, making simpler
2. Flux cored provides a
slag that molds the metal requiring fewer welder skills to control the fluid welds, and the slowing cooling
of the weld can reduce weld porosity potential, (though it increases slag potential).
3. Flux cored provides higher
weld energy and a more penetrating weld than either the pulsed, STT or globular MIG modes.
4. Flux cored weld equipment costs much less than pulsed or STT equipment.
5. Flux cored regular CV MIG equipment is more durable and easier to repair than electronic
MIG power sources.
6. Flux cored is less sensitive
to contaminates or to arc blow.
How Ed has enabled Imperial Oil to save approx. 15 million dollars on its Steam Pipe
With MIG and flux cored welds, the electrode wire costs
are typically only a small portion of the total welding costs. It's interesting to compare consumable costs of the previously used SMAW (stick) process for pipe welds, to the costs associated with the flux-cored process.
The Alberta pipe line contractor provided
the following stick (SMAW) electrode data. The pipe weld crew was typically 10 welders and 10
welder helpers. This crew would weld 16 pipe joints each day. The pipes were carbon steel, 16 in. (40 cm) diameter with one inch, (25 mm) wall pipe.
The pipe weld crew comprised of a "tack and root crew", two welders and two
helpers, who SMAW welded the root and they then SMAW welded one or two hot passes over the root. The
pipe fill passes were then made using E8010-G electrodes using four weld crews. Each fill pass crew included
two pipe welders, one either side of the pipe plus two helpers. Each fill welder would weld 13 fill passes and a cap pass. Each
four-man crew would weld 4 pipe joints per day.
Each E8018G 3/16 (4.8 mm) SMAW electrode
used on the 16 in. pipe averaged a weld length of 5 to 6 in. (12.5 - 15 cm).
For each of the 13 fill passes, each welder welded approximately 24 in. (60
cm) of the 48 in. (120 cm) pipe circumference. Four electrodes per pass were
required. Each welder used 50 to 55 electrodes to complete the pipe fill passes.
The SMAW fill passes per pipe joint
required a total of 110 SMAW electrodes. One of the most common weld defects
found in the SMAW pipe welds was lack of weld fusion that occurs at the arc
starts, (typicaly defect that occurs with SMAW). Given the field conditions, the high quality standards and high number
of arc starts, its a tribute to the Alberta stick welders skills that their weld
repair rate for their pipe welds was less than 3 percent.
The SMAW electrode costs: There are
approximately eight 3/16 x 14 in. (4.8 mm - 350 mm) SMAW electrodes per-pound.
At that time the contractor paid $1.64 per-lb. (Canadian dollar at that time was approx. 65 cents to a US dollar)
for the 3/16, E8010 electrodes. The 110 electrodes used for the fill passes
required approximately 13-14 lbs of electrodes at $1.64 lb. = $23 for the
filler metal fill passes, which contained approximately 4 lb. of actual weld
SMAW - Flux Cored Pipe Weld Process Deposition Efficiency:
If you buy a pound of SMAW electrodes, a good question always is how much of the SMAW electrode ends
up as weld in the pipe joint? The SMAW electrode actual weld efficiency at this pipe project
averaged 35 - 40%. In contrast, the flux-cored wires when used would provide a weld
deposition efficiency of 80 to 85 percent.
For the thirteen fill passes on
the 16 in. pipe weld it took 13-14 lb of SMAW electrodes - 14 lb. x $1.64
= $23. Fourteen pounds of fill pass electrodes that costs $23 for a weld joint were required
for a pipe weld joint that required approx. 4 lb. of actual weld metal.
In contrast to the SMAW process. When the flux cored
process was utilized, 5 lb. of flux-cored filler
was required at
$1.70 lb. 5 x $1.70 = $8.50. In contrast to the $23 required per pipe fill pass costs for the stick electrodes.
To estimate the annual electrode
costs: In a year with 240 working days per year, the total weld joints for
this pipe project which has gone on for more than two decades, could be 3,840. The annual
SMAW electrode costs $23 x 3,840 pipe joints = $88,320 for SMAW electrodes.
The annual flux cored electrode cost $8.50 x 3,840 pipe joints = $32,640.
With MIG or flux cored used for pipe welds, you have
to add in weld gas costs. The all position EX1T-1 flux-cored electrode required a
75% Ar - 25% CO2 gas mix. At this time the average cylinder gas costs was $40. The
argon mix cylinder will contain approximately 300 cu/ft. (approx. 13 cents per cubic
ft.) The pipe welds should use an average flow rate 35 ft cubic feet / hr. The
fill and cap pass require an arc on time of approximately 45 minutes which will use
approx. 27 cubic feet of gas, (27 x 0.13 cents = $3.50 gas cost per-pipe weld joint).
Adding the gas cost to the electrode cost of $8.50 per joint, = $12 per for the total
consumable cost per flux cored joint, versus $23 for the SMAW electrodes per
A regular size cylinder of gas will last for
11 to 12 pipe joints. For this project of 16 pipe joints per day, 2 x $40
cylinders per day times 240 days = $19,200 per year. Add cylinder rent, and
the gas costs would be approximately $22,000. The annual gas cost when added
to the annual flux-cored wire cost of $32,640 would total a weld consumable
cost of $54,640. Note the flux cored total costs in contrast to $88,320 for SMAW. This provides a yearly weld
consumable saving of approximately $34,000.
PIPE WELD CONSUMABLE COSTS: THE FLUX CORED CONSUMABLE + GAS PIPE WELD COSTS WOULD TYPICALLY BE 30 - 40 % LESS THAN THE STICK ELECTRODE COST ..
Imperial Oil Pipe Weld Labor Costs:
To complete the fill pipe groove passes in
the pipe joints, required two welders and two mechanized carriages. The welds were done with 0.052 in. (1.4 mm)
diameter flux-cored wires. Each pipe required six flux cored weld passes for each joint side. For
the six weld passes, an average continuous, (conservative) weld (weave included) travel rate of 8 in/min. (20
cm/min.) was selected. To weld each of the 6 fill passes with the 24 in.
pipe circumference took approximately 3 minutes x 6 passes = 18 minutes
x 2 carriages = 36 minutes of "actual arc-on-time". With the flux cored weld
deposition rate of 6 lb./hr (2.7 kg/hr) (after slag removal), the 36 minutes of arc on time delivered approx. 3.6 lb./hr
(1.6 kg/hr) of actual weld metal deposited.
At the pipe site, a total crew
of 37 completed sixteen pipe joints each day. This natural gas and oil producing
site has many of miles of pipe that are run each year. The fill and cap crew
used 8 SMAW welders and 8 helpers, 16 workers to complete the SMAW fill passes on the
pipe joints. In contrast, with flux cored process and also the reduced preheat requirements, significantly higher FCA weld
deposition rates were attained with also a reduction of grinding between passes. With my process control training with the FCA process, it now only required 3 welder and 3 helpers and those six workers completed the same amount of welds that
16 workers were completing with the SMAW process.
The reader can insert all types
of overhead charges for my weld cost saving reductions. However as an example: If we used a an overhead cost per person at the pipe site as $60/hr, then the
savings with the 10 men reduction would equal to $600/hr. Assuming a minimum of
2,000 hrs./year employment time, and the annual labor savings would be $1.200,000.
In addition to this there are other substantial cost
savings due to "softer" benefits from the following:
1. Lower weld repair costs.
2. Ability to maintain production
schedules if welders are in short supply.
3. Depending on metallurgy
requirements, there is a potential to eliminate or greatly reduce the required
With reduced labor, weld repair
cost reductions and the later cost reductions incurred from the narrow vee-preps which
greatly decreased the amount of weld labor - consumables required, it is not unrealistic to expect that Imperial Oil would attain a weld cost savings that should readily exceed $1,500,000 annually
for a project that will likely continue for decades.
Imperial Oil management used my weld process control expertise and I provided my FCA process training program for the pipe subcontractors. Imperial Oil also used me as their catalyst to create cost effective weld process change with a pipe weld work force that was embedded with the stick weld culture. This project then required that those that change to the flux cored process do so with the ability to optimize the process from both a manual and from a "weld automation" perspective. Imperial Oil paid me a few thousand dollars to provide this service which during the last decade has saved them over fifteen million dollars. As we all know " the working man never gets rich".
Note: You will find my flux cored and MIG, manual and automated weld process control training programs here.
Note: If > 2008 you have a few welders who are using TIG (GTAW) to weld pipe, and you are not aware of the TIP
TiG process, you are increasing you pipe weld costs by at least 200% and will be producing inferior weld quality. .
AFTER PROVIDING WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICES FOR APPROX. 50 YEARS, I KNOW THAT THE MAJORITY OF GLOBAL WELD APPLICATIONS DO NOT REQUIRE ELECTRONIC BELLS - WHISTLES TO
PRODUCE OPTIMUM MIG - FLUX CORED WELDS:
In the believe it or not column. In the early 1960s, an engineer in
California developed a unique CV MIG power source that provided extra Capacitance and Inductance to the MIG weld wire. This power source could out perform the very sophisticated, electronic pulsed
MIG power sources that are used in 2015. The CV unit features were especially beneficial when cladding alloy applications, making weld castings or doing all position pipe welds.
The 1960's power source that I used to make the above welds in the 1980s, could provide any code quality steels or any alloy steel welds in "ALL POSITIONS" and if necessary the process could weld
both the root and the fill passes with one set of welding parameters. This MIG power source was not produced or understood by Miller - Lincoln - Hobart or ESAB, and unfortunately the bottom line was this MIG equipment was also never fully understood by the USA weld industry. Please remember in the 1980s when I was using the power source to make the welds below, , most weld shops were "playing around" with its MIG weld controls, (as they still do in 2015). This MIG equipment was mostly used by shops that provide weld overlay on heat sensitive alloys. The equipment died a slow death in an industry that few knew it existed and even fewer knew it's weld application potential.
The two welds below were made by Ed and his good friend Zuke. (RIP friend) in the 1980s. The MIG equipment we used was developed and made in the 1960s.
These two difficult MIG applications were
made long before electronics
were used in MIG equipment.
ABOVE ED AND PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE IN THE 1980s.
 On the left. An "untouched" 316 stainless, all position pipe weld. Note the "good weld fluidity" and weld metal control with an alloy that with low parameters was considered sluggish, (examine fluidity - freeze lines). Application passed 100% X-Ray..
 On the right. Who needs castings when you can make a vessel such as a valve body "completely out of MIG weld wire". Half of this vessel was made with a 316 Stainless MIG wire and the other half made out of Hasteloy MIG wire. No water cooling or electronics were used to build this vessel which only took a few hours to make. This vessel passed 100% X rays and passed all metallurgical tests
Imagine here on earth or up in the space station the alloy wonders I could produce in 2015 with a 3D printer hooked up to welding machine, it sends shivers down my spine.
Canadian Frigates and MIG and flux cored weld Issues:
This Eastern Canadian ship yard management and engineers, were not aware that their yard
was in a state of Weld Process Chaos: During
the nineteen nineties, I was invited to provide a weld evaluation for a Canadian Ship Yard. The yard was building Frigates for the Canadian
Navy. At the ship yard, most of the welding practices could only be defined "as beyond chaos."
The weld engineers
and management at the Canadian ship yard had allowed the use of poor weld practices and did not appear to understand the
concepts of process controls or even the fundamentals of the MIG and flux cored weld processes utilized for most of the welds on the Navy Frigates. It was also interesting
for me to find out out that thanks to the management apathy and lack of management Process Ownership, the few weld engineers that were employed in the yard were not allowed to tell
the welders what to do.
The bottom line was the ship yard weld quality and productivity was run by the yard welders, and the majority of these welders lacked an
understanding of the MIG and flux cored processes utilized.
Incorrect weld process choices and weld settings for the Canadian Navy Frigates.
When you weld a 1/4 (6mm) horizontal fillet weld with MIG or flux cored wire you use a "single pass weld" with either a MIG Spray weld, or a flux cored wire using a a high wire feed - volt setting. Both of these weld processes would provide
a typical weld deposition range of approx. 9 to 12 lb/hr. In a ship yard, welding fillets, multipass fillets or groove welds, (good groove welds use fillet wire feed settings), and with a 30% hourly weld duty cycle, any welder who is well managed, would deposit on average 20 to 25 pounds of MIG or flux cored weld wire per shift.
Note. You will find that most ship yards only average 8 to 15 lbs of wire per-eight hr. shift
WHEN IT COMES TO WELD COSTS, HOW GOOD IS THE MIG or FLUX CORED WELD PRODUCTION
EFFICIENCY AT YOUR PROJECT?
An acceptable average MIG and Flux Cored weld wire usage per eight shift day for weld shops welding parts > 4 mm should be 20 pounds / per-shift. A highly effiicient weld shop would be depositing > 24 pounds per-shift. Those shops that weld thinner parts < 4 mm, should be depositing on average between 8 - 10 pounds per shift.
To compete in a global weld market in which the Chinese are now welding bridges for the state of California, management should have the capability to understand both the weld quality requirements and the weld deposition rate potential per welder. In a large weld shop where welders weld and someone else does the fitting on parts > 4 mm, if you multiply the total welder man hours by 3, you will see how many pounds of MIG or flux cored weld wire should be deposited daily. Then call the purchasing manager, ask them to let you know how much wire was purchased and used in the previous year. With this information you will quickly get a grasp of where you are reference the weld you are depositing and your real weld production potential.
Most of the large MIG - flux cored weld projects that I visited in 13 countries were only achieving 40 - 60% of the welds that they should have been daily deposited. To be aware of how to attain the weld production goals and train the weld personnel on how to achieve these weld production goals, please visit my manual MIG - Flux Cored Process Control Programs.
Note: Single pass welds are fine with horizontal fillet welds up to 5/16 (8mm). When the horizontal fillet weld size required is larger than 5/16, the weld shop would have concern for side wall fusion. The solution is to then weld the large fillet using 1/4 (6mm) stringers. Do not allow manual weaves to be used for single pass fillet welds above 5/16 as lack of fusion may occur and excess weld heat (weaker HAZ - distortion ) will be generated.
In the poorly run Canadian ship yard, the two prime weld processes that were daily utilized were on the majority of the welds using INCORRECT weld PARAMETERS & INCORRECT WELL PRACTICES. For example to
make the 1/4, (6.4mm) carbon steel, horizontal fillet welds on the Navy Frigates, the
welders would typically apply TWO WELDS that were carried out with TWO DIFFERENT WELD PROCESSES, MIG and Gas Shielded Flux Cored.
To make a simple horizontal, steel 1/4 fillet weld ON > 6 mm steel parts, the welders would first make a cold, MIG "Short Circuit close to globular weld" that deposited 5 - 7 lb/hr. This cold weld was better suited to welding thin gauge 0.080 (1.8 mm) sheet metal.
This first weld pass had to result in Frigate welds that had extensive lack of weld fusion.
To finish the 1/4 fillet welds, the welders would do something which revealed the complete lack of weld control in this Canadian Navy yard. For the second weld pass on the fillet weld, the welders changed their weld process to gas shielded flux cored. With the flux cored wire they used the same wire feed and voltag as they had used with the MIG wire, (no playing around with these guys they just ued one incorrect setting for any weld).
The flux cored wire feed and volt settings used ensured that the welders were placing a cold flux cored weld over the top of the cold short circuit - glob welds.
SOMEONE FORGOT TO TELL THE CANADIAN NAVY FRIGATE SHIP BUILDING MANAGEMENT, "THAT
WHEN THEI WELDERS USE INCORRECT, COLD WELD PARAMETERS, THEY WILL
END UP WITH A COSTLY WELD DEFECT, AND WE THAT HAVE SOME PRIDE LEFT IN THE WELD PROFESSION, CALL THAT DEFECT "LACK OF WELD FUSION."
The majority of the two fillet pass welds on the Canadian Frigates would reveal extensive lack of weld fusion and weld porosity. Also the cold flux cored welds would result also in extensive lack of fusion and slag entrapment. Each day using inappropriate weld settins and practices, the 200 - 300 ship yard welders would have produced hundreds or thousands of feet of single - multiipass welds on each Navy frigate. It
should come as no surprise to those reading this, that as I walked around the yard and talked to the key weld decision makers and too many welders I did not manage to talk to anyone who knew what MIG Short Circuit, Globular or Spray Transfer was, and even fewer understood the optimum working parameter range and best weld practices required for the E71T-1 flux cored wires..
Note: Many of Canadian Frigate welds under discussion only required visual surface examination, and this is the crutch that enables poor poor weld management to pick up a pay check.
COSTS: THE AVERAGE WELD DEPOSITION RATE AT THE CANADIAN YARD WAS 4 - 7 LB/HR.
The MIG short circuit
- globular parameters that were used with the 0.045 (1.2mm) wires were set at a the SC typical wire feed
rate of 210 to 280 ipm, (average 5 - 7 lb/hr) which typically produced 180 to 230 amps with 19 to 22 volts,
(20 plus volts promotes glob and excess spatter).. Without question, the majority of these welds would result in extensive lack of weld fusion, on
any carbon steel
parts > 4 mm. The flux cored data that also use these settings was better suited to a poor quality "vertical up weld," The average flux cored weld deposition would have been 4 - 6 lb/hr.
Ed's MIG Spray, Single Pass fillet. 045 wire. 450 ipm - 28 volts. 12 lb/hr
COSTS: THE AVERAGE DEPOSITION RATE AT A WELL RUN WELD SHOP THAT WELDS THE SAME PARTS WOULD BE 9 - 12 LB/HR.
Ffor those few mgrs, engineers or supervisors . that have an interest with weld process control and cost info. To make a single pass, horizontal,1/4 fillet with the 0.045 flux cored wire, you would typically set approx. 500 inch/min, (average 9 - 10 lb/hr) with 27 - 28 volts. For the MIG process a wire feed rate of approx. 420 - 450 inch/min, (average 11 - 12 lb/hr).
The more one learns about ship welds,
the less one is inclined to go on a ship.
Its possible that Canada and USA Navy's worst enemy
may be the welds on its ships..
IF MANAGEMENT, ENGINEERS & THEIR SUPERVISION DO NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND "WELD COSTS", THE SUBJECT IS NOT LIKELY LIKELY TO BE PART OF THE DAY TO DAY WELD SHOP CONVERSATION:
To put salt in the Canadian Frigates ship yard management wounds, every weld produced with
the low wire feed (low deposition rate) settings, took each of the 250 - 300 welders approx. 30 to 400% longer than it should have.
Canadian yard simply had no effective weld management and ironically spent over a million dollars annually on "welder training" which resulted in extraordinary poor weld productivity and quality. Not that anyone gives a dam, but the low weld deposition rates and unnecessary weld rework could readilyy result in Canadian tax payers paying > 10 plus MILLION dollars per year on unnecessary weld labor costs.
I delivered my weld report to the yard management. The report provided the required data and practices for the yard to get it's
welds to the quality and productivity that they should have been attaining.
was later informed that my weld report never got as far as the first manager who reviewed
it. The report then disappeared into the nearest garbage container. I was later told by the key weld suppler to the yard that the manager was too embarrassed to present the report to his executive
team, and also he did not want the Canadian Navy Brass to be aware of the weld quality
produced and the unnecessary yard over costs generated by the welds.
ALL WELD DECISION MAKERS SHOULD FOCUS ON THEIR BEST WELD PRACTICES - PROCESS CONROL EXPERTISE.
USING MY SELF TEACHING - TRAINING RESOURCES, IT'S
EASY TO GENERATE MULTI-MILLION
DOLLAR COST SAVINGS WITH ANY LARGE SCALE WELD PROJECTS:
.Each year from 1995 to 2001, an average of 408 tankers break
apart at sea or barely escaped that fate, according to the International
Association of Independent Tanker Owners, known as Intertanko. The leading cause
was collision, but nearly as many suffered structural/technical failures
often a euphemism in industry circles for excessive corrosion or structural problems.
WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE TRAINING:
For those managers that understand the value and cost reduction potential of weld process controls and best weld practices, please note, I provide customized, management - engineer technician, trainer and supervision with
MIG - Flux Cored
Process Control & Best Weld Practice
at my base in Asheville. NC.
The Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville's, North Carolina,\,
Wikipedia Photo by Ken Thomas Rainy.
In the competitive weld industry, weld - fab business survival will be achieved by those companies that employ, managers, supervisors and technicians that have the weld process control and best practice capability. This is essential to consistently attain the daily required MIG and Flux cored weld quality and highest weld productivity at the lowest possible weld costs.
Extensive weld cost savings will be found in any weld departments in which weld personnel have to play around with their MIG and flux cored weld controls.
Extensive weld cost savings are easily produced in weld departments in which weld processes, transfer modes and deposition potential is poorly understood.
Extensive weld cost savings are easily created when weld quality is not consistently optimized, weld defect reduction is poorly understood and weld rework is the norm
Extensive weld cost, equipment and consumable savings are easily produced in weld departments in which the weld decision makers have relied on weld sales reps for weld advice.
Extensive weld cost savings when weld shop front office personnel lack a comprehensive understanding of weld costs.
You may wish to send your key weld decision makers or trainers to my location at Asheville, North Carolina. With my two day customized programs. I will send you back experts in either manual, or robot, MIG - Flux Cored Weld Process Controls and Best Weld Practices.
Dear Ed, I want to let you know that by using your MIG weld process control - best practice methods in one of our plants, we have now dramatically improved our MIG and FCA weld quality - productivity and reduced our labor - filler metal costs by approx. 45%. We intend to utilize your training program in all our plants.
Lawrence Bower CWI/CWE.
Chief Welding Engineer.
NCI Group. Houston TX.
How much do you know about MIG - FCAW Process Controls - Best Weld Practice. Please note that
Universities, Colleges & Training Facilities,
provide the weld industry with the process control - best practice resources they need.
Ed's MIG Weld Process Controls & Best Practice Test.
INTHIS USA SHIP YARD, I PROVIDED WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE TRAINING WHICH REDUCED THEIR OIL TANKER
CONSTRUCTION WELD REPAIR COSTS BY OVER 6 MILLION DOLLARS PER SHIP.
In building a fleet of oil tankers in Philadelphia, PA. the global ship builder, Aker Kvaerner, had budgeted a few hundred thousand dollars per-ship for the projected ship weld repairs.
In 2007, I was requested by the Aker senior management to help the yard with it's extensive weld quality and weld productivity problems. At this time the weld repair costs per-ship was approx. eight million dollars.
The prime manual weld process utilized at the Aker yard, was the Gas Shielded Flux Cored weld process. Most of the approx. 300 welders in the yard would use the E71T-1 (1.2 mm)
flux cored wires for their all position welds, either fillet or Vee Grooves,
typically on 9 to 25mm, steel joints that used
ceramic backing for the open roots.
many ship yards, the Aker management, engineers, supervisors and the QA personnel knew little about the either the flux cored or MIG process. Most of the managers experience was with the SMAW (stick) process, a process in which weld skills is the prime requirement, and minimal weld process control expertise is required.
In the Aker yard, as it is with many large scale weld projects, the flux cored welder training focus was on the "welder's skills", and the skills taught had more to do with the SMAW process then with skills and best practices required for flux cored or MIG.
As with many large scale MIG or flux cored weld applications, in most of the globalship - oil platform yards, you will find that the welder training provided rarely teaches the weld personnel (including the weld decision makers) the required Best Weld Practices and Weld Process Controls, both of which are essential to consistently attain the best possible flux cored and MIG weld quality and productivity.
To work at the Aker yard, the welders had to pass an all position, flux cored
weld test with ceramic backed, vee groove welds, (6 mm root gaps). The welds were to be made in accordance with the ABS requirements and the yards approved weld procedures.
FOR DECADES WE HAVE TOO OFTEN HAD "WELD QUALIFICATION TESTS" WHICH WERE NOT RELEVANT TO THE WELDS BEING MADE ON THE ACTUAL WELD APPLICATIONS.
The Aker, PA. ship yard was run by managers - engineers and supervisors that while comfortable around a box of STICK electrodes, lacked the flux core weld process control - best practice expertise which for decades has been necessary to attain consistent
optimum manual or automated weld quality at the lowest weld costs. Also to add to the weld issues, was the extensive use of ceramic backing for the steel groove welds. Ceramic roots require unique weld rules, settings and practices which again were not taught at the yard.
In the last five decades, there has been a shortage of Weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice Expertise in the front offices that manage large scale weld projects. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure with this situation that there has to be weld cost - quality consequences, and always future weld liability concerns.
WELD DECISION MAKERS CANNOT TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR WELD PROCESSES WITHOUT WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST WELD PRACTICE EXPERTISE.
THE EXTRAORDINARY OVER BUDGET SHIP YARD WELD REWORK COSTS AT THE AKER YARD REQUIRED DRAMATIC CHANGE. I INSISTED THAT ALL
THOSE INVOLVED WITH WELD DECISIONS, INCLUDING THE MANAGERS, ENGINEERS AND SUPERVISORS ATTEND MY WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING PROGRAM.
For the Flux Cored Weld Best Practices - Process
Control Training Program that I was to present, I insisted that all the welders, supervisors, engineers, managers and QA personnel in the yard participate in my unique
Note for the bean counters: This weld process training program requires approx. ten hours, "five hours classroom and five hours hands on".
With my best friend Tom O'Malley assisting, Tom in light blue jkt on right died in Feb. 2015.. RIP TOM and keep your eye on me. In a few weeks, we completd the training for approx. 300 welders and the yards newly eductated weld decision makers.
After the training was complete, the ship yard QA department was given the responsibility to evaluate the weld cost saving results through the weekly reductions with the ship's weld rework.
months after the training, the ship yard
QA department indicated a 50 - 60% reduction
in the required weld rework per-ship. The
ship yard management reported that the reduced weld rework, labour and NDT costs,
would result "at that time" in a weld cost savings of approx. 4 million dollars per-ship. As the weld rework was still decreasing further cost reductions were projected and dont forget I have not discussed the increased weld productivity that was attained from the welders using the correct (higher) wire feed settings.
Ed's MIG and flux cored self teaching or training programs are available at this site
HOW MANY MORE DECADES WILL WE REQUIRE FOR MANAGERS TO REALIZE THAT SMAW HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH MIG OR FLUX CORED AND THESE TWO PROCESSES HAVE UNIQUE REQUIREMENTS?
It's not unusual
for weld personnel to have many weeks of flux cored hands on training at global ship yards, and then
at the training completion find that when it comes to MIG and flux cored welds, the weld personnel that have under gone weld training will do the following;
PLAY AROUND: Many welders will play around with two simple MIG or flux cored weld controls that have not changed in sixty years, The welders and their supervisors will rarely be able to dial in the optimum flux cored weld settings
Vee groove root, hot pass, fill pass and cap passes. And don't ask that welder to tell you the optimum MIG settings for that common horizontal 1/4 fillet weld.
[b] NOT BE AWARE OF PROCESS CONTROLS AND LIMIT THEIR WELD ADJUSTMENTS: Instead of optimizing the welds through the MIG weld equipment controls, many welders will typically find one weld setting and if they cant find one, the welder may copy the settings of another welder although that welder is doing a very different weld. A welder should be able to make optimum weld parameter changes that suit the conditions they have to deal with. Imagine how annoyed a machine shop supervisor would be, if his lath and milling machine operators used one control setting for every different job they were given.
[c] NOT BE AWARE OF THE BEST WELD PRACTICES? As they have rarely received best practice training, it should be no surprise that most MIG and flux cored welders will not utilize the optimum weld practices - techniques required for either the MIG or flux cored process.
[d] NOT BE AWARE OF THEIR INFLUENCE ON WELD COSTS? Lack of management, engineer, supervisor and welder awareness of the wire feed to weld
deposition relationship and the weld deposition rate potential for the common flux cored or MIG welds certainly makes it difficult to be competitive and to control weld costs.
A BREAK DOWN OF THE WELD COST SAVINGS GENERATED FOR THIS USA SHIP YARD:
the following ship yard weld cost reduction and the weld benefits attained from my unique process
control training program. Many mangers may not be keen on training as in the past the weld training did not improve the weld quality or productivity. (Managers, if you dont provide the right training you don't get the results). Training cost money, and the larger the weld shop the greater the training costs. With this in mind it should be no surprise to find some one in management that may be worried about the production man hours lost for training their employees.
Weld Best Practices - Process Control Training Costs:
The Acker training program I produced, required 300 x 8 man/hrs. = 2400
man hours at an approx. weld labor overhead cost of $30/hr. The base labour training cost for the ship yard training was $72,000. To this add the actual training and material costs was approx. $100,000.
Total training costs for the 300 welders was approx. $172,000.
Shipi Yard Weld Rework Cost Reduction Savings Per-Ship:
The initial weld improvement results revealed an instant savings of four million dollars. With management - engineering and supervision focus on maintaining the skills - process control expertise required, the reduction in weld rework costs will continue and could easily reach 7 million dollars on each oil tanker produced.
Ship Yard Weld Cost Reduction from Increased Weld Productivity:
An unreported weld cost fact from the Aker yard was the changes that I created in the
development of the new weld procedures. My weld procedures generated a dramatic increase in the gas shielded flux cored wire feed rates,
(increasing the weld deposition rates). The new weld procedures increased the daily weld productivity
potential per-man in the range from 25 to 35%. If the managers and supervisors kept their focus on weld deposition potential, it would be easy for the yard to attain a weld labor cost reduction per ship of between four and five million dollars.
Ship Yard Weld Cost Reductions from welding the Correct Size Weld Joints:
If this ship yard manufacturing management, engineers, supervisors and fitters, decided to provide the weld joints in accoradance with the design dimensions and tolerances it would be easy to reduce the weld labor and rework by another 1 to 2 million dollars per-ship.
Ship Yard Management - Ownership - Responsibility - Accountability.
The weld quality - labor cost reduction savings for each oil tanker could if well managed readily achieve "8 to 13 million dollars" per-ship. Larger ships built at this yard would provide increased weld cost savings. The welders have the skills which when combined with the best practices and process control training they recieved has given them the resources they require. To sustain the weld cost savings and weld quality, a commitement is required from the yard management to ensure that they and their engineers and supervisors maintain ownership of the weld processes utilized and be responsible and accountable for the weld quality and productivity attained.
Note I took > 2500 - 3000 hours to develop both the Flux Cored - MIG training programs available at this site. My unique Weld Control Clock Method simplifies the training or self teaching, this is a method I developed over three decades. This program can be used for any gas shielded flux cored alloys or applications. The program is available here
thanks to the Aker Kvaerner management
to be their short term catalyst for welding change.
It could be 1945 or 2015, and we still have the same weld management issues?
the good old STICK (SMAW) weld days which for some projects in 2015, is still unfortunately ongoing, some steel ships broke apart at the welds before the ships left the dry dock.
In the last six decades, the catastrophic structural failures that occur with ships have typically been a result of
low hydrogen cracking,
excessive lack of weld fusion defects,
poor weld parameters and practices,
 base metals have been subject to excess multipass weld heat,
 base metals which should have
had pre-heat and did not receive it,
steels or weld consumables with poor chemistry or other issues,
 lack of best practice and process - consumable expertise with those that weld,
and most important, a general lack of weld controls and lack of process - best practice expertise that prevails with those who are supposed to be responsible for the welds and for the fabrications to be welded.
2015: For three plus decades, the majority of ships and oil platforms have been built from high quality, low carbon
steels and welded with low hydrogen SMAW - MIG and Flux Cored consumables. With the improved steels and weld consumable issues resolved, you would
have thought that structural failures with ships or oil platforms would be a rare event with these highly engineered projects.
face it, welds on low carbon steels, are typically supposed to surpass the strength
and ductility of the base steels and if the welds are applied correctly,
the welds and surrounding base metals are not supposed to fail.
The reality is however different, while many ships and oil platforms have plate and pipe
that will be affected by rust, during unforeseen circumstances or severe weather
while the steel parts impregnated with rust stay intact, the welds and weld heat affected zones will tear apart like a wet paper
2007: Is it possible that the global ship building flux cored, lack of best weld
practices and lack of weld process controls are partially responsible for many of the catastrophic
failures that sink many ships each year?
COMMON SHIP YARD FABRICATION ATTITUDE.
THE USA SHIP YARD HAD HIGHLY QUALIFIED, GERMAN SHIP BUILDING MANAGEMENT, AND A LARGE QA - ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT, YET THEY TURNED A BLIND EYE TO WELD JOINTS PREPARED LIKE THIS, THESE AND THESE GUYS HAD NO MIG OR FLUX CORED WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE.
a weld reality that the QA departments in many ship yards and oil platform yards,
while looking for weld defects the QA department personnel will place minimal focus on the design fit tolerances and the quality standards that are supposed to be applied
to the part fit and weld edge preparations. Its also a fact that pre-heat and inter pass weld temperatures are often not utilized when they could provide good weld / part benefits.
picture on the left is a flux cored weld edge prep (made in 2007) at a major USA ship yard. Yes the gap opening is larger than one inch and that is ice and water surrounding the weld joint. On this joint there was no weld preheat applied and no inter pass weld temperatures applied during the numerous welds. To add to this pathetic weld situation, the mill scale was left on the groove edges and cutting oxides were left on the groove surfaces. Weld joints like this should never be
allowed especially in these industries.
The increased root openings not only dramatically adds to the weld labor costs and increased potential for weld defects, the weld heat from the additional weld passes has a tremendous negative influence on the weld's HAZ (heat affected zones).
2007: WE SHOULD ALL KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION.
DOES A STEEL BACKED, 6 mm ROOT GAP ON SHIPS PLATE, PROVIDE THE SAME HAZ MECHANICAL PROPERTIES, WHEN THAT ROOT GAP IS ALLOWED TO INCREASE IN THE RANGE OF 8 TO 25 mm.?
WITH THE EXTRA WELD PASSES FROM THE OVER SIZED ROOT WELDS, THE RESULTING , INCREASED WELD HEAT AND INCREASED WELD DEFECTS WILL HAVE DRAMATIC NEGATIVE RESULTS FOR BOTH THE WELD AND WELD JOINT INTEGRITY. WITH THIS IN MIND, YOU WOULD EXPECT THE SHIP YARD ENGINEERS TO PROVIDE STRICTER SHIP YARD WELD REQUIREMENTS AND ENSURE THE CORRECT FABRICATION AND WELD CONTROLS ARE APPLIED.
Weld - steel qualification tests for critical ship weld plate joints are typically taken from optimum weld joints with specified max root gap openings. It would be of interest, if the navy and ship building industry, both of which turn a blind eye or enable welds that allow extensive, plus, open root tolerances, would provide the necessary research to find out the following;
what the negative weld heat influence will be from the numerous extra weld passes.
[b] what the negative consequences will be from the combinations of the extra weld defect buildup and extra weld heat would be on the mechanical properties,
[c] what is the real world maximum root gap cut off point before the mechanical properties will be outside those specified by the ship's designers? After this research, I would anticipate a dramatic reduction in the open root tolerances, more focus on inter pass temperature controls and and stricter part fit controls in the fab shops.
The additional HAZ weld heat provides many questions about the mechanical properties being achieved with many weld joints. Every time I see photos of ships that unexpectedly tear apart at sea, and you see that nice clean straight tear where the welds HAZ is located I think about these weld situations.
SUPERSTRUCTURE ON FFG 7 CLASS SHIPS HAS EXPERIENCED "EXTENSIVE CRACKING". THE CAUSE
OF THE CRACKING HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE A COMBINATION OF "HIGH DESIGN STRESS
COUPLED WITH POOR WELD QUALITY"...
|Quick, before it sinks, take a photo of those nice clean catastrophic
right down the weld seams and their HAZs...
It looks like the
structural failure of this ship occurred in the weld seam HAZ locations, areas in which
the welds and base metal should
have been sound, areas that should have be subject to internal NDT.
With ship welds the ship building industry needs more focus on both the weld quality that is being accepted and on the mechanical properties that are being attained in the regular an oversize multi-pass weld's HAZ.
2007: It's a weld reality that in ship yards and on other mega oil and natural gas projects, that many "unacceptable variables" will
daily happen to the weld joints and those variables that daily impact the weld quality - production are typically not considered in
the weld procedures generated, or in the welder qualification tests provided.
When the weld personnel are not supplied with the
process control training necessary to deal with the weld shop variables, the welders will typically play
around with their weld controls and not provide optimum weld settings or weld solutions that will deal with the weld situations.
Weld Quality Standards often has a different meaning for each
company that builds ships, oil platforms or other large construction projects. One thing most QA - Inspection Departments will have in common, is their weld quality focus is typically always on "finding rather than preventing weld defects".
In engineering, it's helpful if can learn and evolve. Have we learnt anything about welding ships in the last six decades?
2007: Note from Ed:
When an unexpected ship loss occurs, engineers, designers
and metallurgists may go back and look at the ship's design, the steel and alloy compositions used, the weld quality data provided, the weld consumables,
the weather or the rust for the causes of
catastrophic, unexplained ship failures. I wonder how many of these personnel will have taken into account
that on too many ships that are built, the weld edge preps, weld quality and weld heat applied are rarely to the design or to ABS weld specifications and it does not help that the internal weld quality evaluation is only applied to typically less than 20% of the ships welds.
IRRESPECTIVE OF THE WELD CODES, COMMON SENSE WOULD ENSURE THAT ENGINEERS CREATE PRE- QUALIFICATION WELD TESTS THAT ALLOW FOR THE REAL WORLD "WORSE CASE WELD SITUATIONS THAT ARE LIKELY TO TAKE PLACE WITH THE INTENDED WELD APPLICATIONS".
Ownership - Accountabilty - Respossibility.
Poor Welds and their Consequences.
A remark that could be overheard in any ship yard engineering manager office. "God dam, that tanker we built 5 yrs looks like it broke apart right along the bloody weld seams we were having issues with,
and lets face it, that was was not much of a storm the tanker was subject to when it happened. O well at least it's at the bottom of the ocean, so no one will ever know about the poor welds that likely caused it.
Many ship yards forget that oversized
weld joints require many more weld passes producing extra weld heat (larger HAZ) and more internal weld defects. An increase in weld defects with a weaker plate HAZ is not a combination any organization should accept.
While the ABS code, Navy or any ship builder will stipulate a maximum root gap allowance in most instances its rarely adhered to. The weld reality is weld and material metallurgical weld qualification tests should always be carried out with the maximum allowable root gaps and those root gap dimensions must have strict min and max tolerances that must be followed.
Unfortunately as the photo on the left indicates this is the real world weld joints that are rarely shown in the engineers office.
When building merchant or naval vessels, the too common poor control of the weld joint will often leave edge preps that have irregular, oxide and scale laden surfaces. The edge preps may also not have the required pre-heat on those cold or wet days. The wet plates or cold plates, lack of pre-heat combined, oxides - scale and frequent lack of inter pass controls with inappropriate weld parameters, techniques and practices, and the usual lack of care of the consumables leads to extensive lack of weld fusion, weld slag inclusions, porosity and lower than required plate / weld mechanical properties..
As only a small portion of a ship's welds are typically subject to NDT, both the navy and merchant navy would do well to put a renewed focus on weld process control training that is directed at weld defect prevention and good weld practices. All managers need to be aware that it's just as easy to produce optimum quality welds as it is to produce poor welds.
The following are a sample of recent news paper or web reports
typical weld and related issues that occurr in ship yards. It's true that with large scale weld fabrications it should be no surprise that they are extensive weld issues. However It seems strange that few managers today seem to want to take opportunity to take ownership and accountability ot the important processes that are impacting their weld quality and costs.
AT LEAST THIS SHIP YARD COULD GET ONE GOOD WELD OUT OF A 100.
When building the USS Nimitz, as reported by the US Navy, only
One weld out of
approximately 100 tested passed the NDT.
the ship's or OIL platform demise from a freak
of nature, or from poor welds?
DESIGNERS ASSUME THAT THE SHIPS OR OIL PLATFORMS THAT THEY DESIGN,
WILL BE BUILT IN ACCORDANCE WITH
THE GOVERNING WELD SPECIFICATIONS PROVIDED,
THE WELD REALITY IS
FEW ARE. THE REASON WHY MANAGEMENT - ENGINEERS GET AWAY WITH POOR WELD CONTROLS AND POOR WELD PRACTICES IS, IT'S DIFFICULT AND TOO COSTLY TO TEST AND CONFIRM THE MAJORITY OF THE WELD INTEGRITY ONCE THE SHIP YARD OR OIL PLATFORM IS ON THE OCEAN FLOOR.
amount or type of weld defects typically found in a ship's construction
in 2015, has hardly changed
from the defects found six decades ago.
the 1940's, poor quality stick (SMAW) welds were the norm. The weld quality was further influenced by electrode issues combined with poor quality steels and poor
weld practices. The end result was > 11 Liberty ships suffered from catastrophic steel - weld - rivet failures.
Seventy years later, in general (there are of course exceptions) in the weld industry we have achieved what.? Today we have a superior flux cored wires for those all position ship plate - pipe welds. We also have the MIG process with different weld transfer modes available and we have easy to use effective automated weld equipment. We are also now welding on far superior quality steels, and the weld results are what?
The bottom line "again" is due to the global lack of weld process control - best practice expertise, too many ship yards allow poor weld practices which when combined with\nd the ineffective (we take no ownership) weld management, ends up with ships and oil
platforms that are riddled with costly weld defects, rarely make the weld budgets and these applications are all at risk for catastrophic failures.
5000 liberty ships built, 1000 catastrophic
failures right down to weld seam.
Decades later,oil platforms heading south.
those looking for the design security attained from "double hull construction" that
is now occurring with many large ships, keep in mind that unless ship yards changes their
approach to their weld best practices and process controls, the double hull ships may simply enable double the amount of bad welds.
HOW RELEVANT IS SHIP
WITHOUT SOUND WELDS?
2006: It was reported on the web that each week one or two global ships sink, many as a result of weakened structures from corrosion.
The photos above had nothing to do with rust. I have never seen anyone question how many ships sink annually as a result of bad weld practices?
The US automotive industry management that achieved in 2015, 60 million vehicle recalls, loves the
highly ineffective Six Sigma (SS) Crutch and this crutch is now being accepted by many other Fortune 500 companies. Ship yards and large weld fab
shops are also showing interest in the SS even after it has failed the US automotive and truck plants. Remember when it comes to welding, MANAGEMENT does not any Japanese or sopisticated manufacturing methods, and they don't need a crutch or a salesman, however they do need Weld Best Practices and Process Control expertise.
the QA manager sits in his office and focuses on the ISO requirements and his never ending, "after the weld fact inspection reports", the lack of
affective weld process control - best practice expertise in his organization organization, simply means greater weld costs and increased weld liability.
MOST QA GLOBAL WELD SYTEMS TYPICALLY FIND RATHER THAN PREVENT WELD DEFECTS. THIS QA METHOD DOES LITTLE TO CONTROL WELD QUALITY, PROVIDE THE LOWEST WELD COSTS OR REDUCE THE WELD PRODUCT LIABILITY POTENTIAL.
If you work in this industry, surly you waould want to be a
with the weld processes and consumables utilized.
A note from Ed. 03/2007:
It's normal for ship
yards to use more than half to a million pounds of flux cored weld wire each year,
however it's rare to find a ship yard that has management and engineers and supervisors who have established Flux Cored manual - automated Best Weld Practices,
and even rarer to find a ship yard that has trained their weld personnel in the Weld Process Control requirements for Flux Cored.
How many ship yard managers and supervisors
are aware of
decades the global shipyard focus has (and still is) been on the welder's "Stick weld
Skills, while the majority of global ship yard welds are now made with MIG equipment. The end result is
the majority of weld personnel in ship yards in 2015 are daily using unsuitable weld techniques and skills that they learnt
with the lower weld energy, lower weld deposition SMA weld process.
flux cored process, the weld personnel also have to deal with the variable and excessive size root gaps and place root welds across none
conductive ceramic backing. The process and applications requires unique considerations and specific weld instructions
for the flux cored, all position, root, fill and cap groove weld passes.
In 2015 as it's been for decades, a visit to any global ship
yard, would reveal that few welders, supervisors, technicians or "engineers" are
aware of the flux cored process and ceramic requirements necessary to attain consistent
weld quality with the highest possible deposition rates.
WHEN ARE TRAINERS GOING TO GET INTERESTED IN PROCESS CONTROLS?
It's a sad comment in a time when MIG and flux cored weld defects inundate ships
and oil platform construction, that at many global weld yards, weld apprentices
will spend more time practicing with Stick electrodes than they will with MIG
and flux cored consumables. It's also a weld reality that many weld instructors
when providing MIG and flux cored training, will teach the apprentices inappropriate
stick welding practices and techniques. You don't want to ask any weld instructor in a ship yard this fundamental MIG question. " What is the wire feed and current start point of spray transfer with the world's most common 0.045, E70S-6 MIG wire with an argon - 20% CO2 mix?".
MANAGERS, YOU WILL NOT CONTROL WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY
IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND WELD PROCESS CONTROLS.
Try the following fundamental weld process questions.
Process Control Weld Test
Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Test.
Ed's Unique, MIG and Flux Cored Weld
Process Control Training Resources
It looks like there are a bunch of managers and engineers
in the ship yard's front office, that
needs a lesson in ship building.
WHY MANY MANAGERS & ENGINEERS SHOULD NOT BE BUILDING SHIPS. OR WE COULD CALL THIS... "IT'S OK, IT'S ONLY THE TAXPAYERS DOLLARS":
Accountability - Responsibility - Ownership. One new ship that requires 36 million dollars in structural and mechanical repairs, and it's 400 million plus dollars
over budget. Yet it's likely the senior managers and engineers responsible are still on the job.
Norfolk. The new amphibious ship San Antonio failed to complete a series of sea trials
in late March, and faces $36 plus million dollars in repairs during the next three months. The
San Antonio has been plagued by mechanical and structural problems since the Navy
took ownership two years late, in July 2005.
Northrup Grumman Ship Systems in
Pascagoula, Miss, built the ship at
a cost of $1.2 billion, which if anyone cares. is roughly only $400
million over budget.
2015. OSCAR: In 2015 this was the world's largest ship. Oscar holds almost 20.000 containers, it's 1297 feet long, 240 feet high and 194 feet wide. This steel fabrication wonder was built for the very low sum of 140 million dollars. Compare the 140 million dollar ship building costs with the above Navy ship that cost 1.2 billion dollars, a ship that was 400 million dollars over budget, a ship that required 36 million dollars in repairs.
While the Northrup management and Navy allowed 400 million dollars over budget for one Navy ship, the
ship yard management could have built 3 of the world's largest ships.
IT WOULD APPEAR THAT AT LEAST ONE COUNTRY CAN DO IT THE RIGHT.. We all know labor rates are lower in Korea than in North America and that a USA Naval vessel is far more complex than a Container ship, however, if the OSCAR was built in America I believe it would have likely cost approx 400 to 500 million.
When you see what's happening to fabrication - engineering costs here in North America , please remember that it was only a few years ago that the USA had the world's most capable and cost effective ship yards.
Today in North America when we look at our pathetic job demise, we need to go way beyond labor costs as the root cause, and spend a little more effort to examine our engineering and fabrication capability. You would think that engineering - fabrication capability would be important to a country which has an economy held together by Defence Projects.
I would find it interesting to compare the Korean / USA management - engineer - supervisors qualifications and their approach to building large fabrication projects. I already suspect that I know the answers that I what i would find..
At least here you can become smarter than the Koreans
if you learn these Weld Process Control and Best Weld Practice Programs..
With optimum flux cored weld consumables an understanding of the process - best practice requirements and extensive use of a grinder, the gas shielded flux cored process
is perfectly able to produce optimum, all position quality welds on any steel
applications as long as those applications have weld joints that meet the design and code criteria. The bottom line is MIG or flux cored welds on any ship
should be the strongest part of the ship. The reality with too many ocean structures is welds are creating the weakest
IF I MANAGED A SHIP YARD, THE FIRST THING I WOULD FIX WOULD BE THE WELDER TRAINING DEPARTMENT, AND THEN THE NEXT THING I WOULD FIX WOULD BE THE QA DEPARTMENT.
decades, on many mega
weld projects, a typical
QA primary function has been to "Find Fault After the weld completion". With minimal weld decision makers could provide my Weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice Training Program, and demand that their inspection personnel learn the process control - best practice requirements necessary to prevent MIG or flux cored weld defects. The reduction in weld defects, less weld rework and the resulting much lower NDT costs, has to have a big impact on any companies bottom line.
If the guys in the front office don't fully understand MIG & Flux Cored weld costs, who is going to understand the requirements necessary to attain optimum quality welds at the lowest possible cost?.
There are ten individuals comprising of managers, engineers, QA personnel and supervisors having a weld meeting in the ship yard managers office. The meeting was called to discuss the reasons for the increasing the weld costs associated with the daily weld rework in the yard. Most of the welds in this yard are made on fabricated steel components that typically require simple 1/4 (6 mm) flux cored fillet welds. The most widely used FCA weld procedure is passed around the table. The procedure provides information on the weld consumable type and size, the MIG wire feed rate and the volts being utilized. In the weld discussion, there is much finger pointing at the afternoon shift guys on the shop floor. The discussion gets heated and tempers are on the rise. The yard manager who heads the meeting is a pragmatic individual who readily admits he knows little about weld costs. After listening "who's to blame" for 30 minutes , the manager rises and hits the table. He looks around the room and says, "gentlemen there appears to be much confusion here and also very little process control expertise. The wire we use cost $2 lb, I don't care about the bulk gas costs, now is there anyone in this room that could tell me right now, the real cost of one of our 1/4
fillet welds that is one meter in length"?.
The room goes very quite.
You know that if you were in a meeting like this,
instead of the few minutes to provide the correct fillet weld cost answer, it would likely take many hours of more discussion, and then the weld answers provided will be all over the place. The bottom line is most managers are aware that they are better off not asking a question like this.
from Ed, please don't shoot the messenger.
Sometimes I feel that my comments
on this site may be seen by some as a little too critical, however there is a reason
this site is called "weld reality" and I don't just criticize, I provide
highly effective practical weld quality - productivity and cost solutions. To those who are interested in weld best practices
and process controls, or weld cost simplification, click
For those concerned about my weld Manager - Engineer - Supervisor Critique?
As I've mentioned a few times. I believe that many of the managers, supervisors and engineers that make weld decisions, daily work behind a glass wall that makes them visible to weld shop personnel, but minimize their "hands on participation" with the common weld processes, equipment and consumables utilized. I would not be surprised if the glass wall guys that read this stuff would rear up in defensive exasperation
at my "hands off, weld decision maker's comments. If you have thin skin or are sensitive to my criticism you are in the wrong industry and lets face it as you examine your long term capability to pay off your mortgage, you need to always remember that there are numerous North American and global competing weld shops that can offer same weld quality at much lower weld labor costs. So don't get pissed of at me, be the catalyst for change, improve your weld mfg., or go out of business.
While weld costs can always be reduced, weld
LIABILITY CONSEQUENCES should always be a MAJOR CONCERN..
2014. THE VALDEZ PIL SPILL ON LEFT, WILL THIS BE " TRANSCANADA SPILL" ON THE RIGHT?
|Those that make weld decision in weld shops should learn weld process
controls, weld costs and the requirements to minimize defective welds
all the money Ed makes from
his weld consulting, he
has finally made the down payment on his Dream House
Have you ever wondered like I have, how many weld managers, supervisors, engineers and technicians would last
in their jobs, if all the welds that they were responsible for, were given a 100% UT
or radiograph examination?
The weld yard management at this USA
ship yard, allowed welders to produces weld on their USA built oil tankers like this. This went on for at least four years,
and this was his best attempt of that a welder on his weld requalification test.
The weld equipment and consumables purchased in the weld shop is a reflection of the weld managers Weld Process Expertise.
If you could take a moment and walk through a few global weld shops, you may look around the weld shop and watch with amusement as the most experienced weld personnel "play" with their MIG and flux cored weld controls. You might likely want to know
why the weld shop has such a wide variety of MIG equipment or why they have spending 100 - 300% more for the pulsed MIG equipment being used on steel welds. You may also be surprised at iunnecessary supply of weld consumables and want to know why they are using the costly Metal Cored or flux cored wires when they could make the same welds with less costly MIG wires. As you head out of the shop and pass the MIG gas cylinder rack, you might wonder why there are using more than two MIG gas mixes, and why they are wasting money on the purchase of three part gas mixes. At the end of the visit, while chatting with the weld and purchasing managers, you are surprised at how much they are spending on grinding wheels and how much time is being spent on cleaning welds. You are also shocked when they tell you how much they spent last year on weld rework and repairs. The sad reality is that in most weld shops, it's been like this for decades.
When it comes to welding
DOUBLE STANDARDS ARE
OFTEN APPLIED IN THE POORLY RUN WELD SHOP?
I don't know any machine shop manager that would allow his machinists to play around with the controls on a lathe or milling machine, and yet the majority of managers I met that run global weld shops, seem to think that it's OK that their welders daily "play around" with simple, 50 year old MIG equipment controls.
In ship building, the structural welds in the center area of the ship are often considered the "Critical Welds" and therefore these welds are subject to 100% X-Rays. When NDT finds defects in the critical welds, then the NDT area is expanded and typically subject to further NDT. Of course both the NAVY yards and ship builders are aware, that weld defects in the NDT areas can have great weld cost repercussions. With this in mind the critical welds and their joints are often given extra consideration, and the best welders or automation may be used on these costly joints.
In my world, every weld produced on a ship would be a "critical weld." Welders would have the training, equipement and consumables that would have the best potebtial to produce welds with full fusion and with minimal internal defects. Lets face it, this is supposed to be the purpose of the weld. Remember with any weld application, the bottom line is it's just as easy to do a weld the right way, as it is to screw it up.
The point for any facility that MIG - Flux Cored welds, is if the correct Weld Process Control & Best Weld Practice training is provided for all weld decision makers, there would be no such thing as a "critical weld" or a "best welder". Welding is not rocket science, and if the processes are taught correctly, (a rarity), both MIG and flux cored weld skills and process controls can be learnt in a few days.
From my perspective, every weld shop should provide the necessay training, and after that training is provided, then get rid of weld decision makers or welders who cannot meet the daily required weld quality - productivity.
many of the large weld facilities that I visited, I note welders typically will make that
"long length" fillet or vee groove weld manually,
while low cost, easy to set up, automatic weld carriage equipment was gathering dust on a nearby shelf. Controlling the weld speeds, controlled weld weaves and controlling Wire Stick Out are essential requirements to attain "consistent, uniform, optimum weld quality is desired.
In the encouragement for ship yard flux cored or MIG "weld automation",
one of the problems ship yards and other large fab shops have, is that due to the general lack
of weld process control - best practice expertise, the weld supervisors and their welders will often lack the confidence to use the automated carriages. These guys will rarely be aware of the correct weld data or techniques and practices required for the common 3/16 - 1/4 - 5/16 fillets or groove, all position welds that they will be are asked to do.
Ask 10 welders in a yard what
is the MIG or flux cored "wire feed rates weld travel rates, voltage and gun angle settings" to produce the world's most common weld, a 1/4 (6 mm) horizotal or vertical up fillet, and I guarantee you will get glazed looks and always get 10 different answers.
I have assisted ship yards in the USA, and Canada and in Europe. At the yards I worked with Norwegian, Swedish,
Danish, German, Polish Italian. English, Korean, Japanese, Yanks and Canadians
and and don't forget those tenacious, thick skinned, highly intelligent, hairy, canny,
skirt wearing Scots (my relatives) weld personnel. My experiences with all these hard working, great
characters, indicated that the majority "played around" with their weld controls,
and none had ever received MIG or flux cored weld best practice - process control training, or the training required to deal with ceramic backed welds.
From my ship yard and numerous weld shop experiences,
I developed much thicker skin, an increased sense of humour and I also developed the
following flux cored - MIG, Best Practices - Process Control Training Resources.
Ed's "MIG and Flux Cored" Weld Best Practices - Process Control
Each year from 1995 to 2001, an average of 408 tankers broke
apart at sea or barely escaped that fate, according to the International
Association of Independent Tanker Owners, known as Intertanko. The leading cause
was collision, but nearly as many suffered structural / technical failures
often a euphemism in industry circles for excess corrosion and bad welds or poor weld practices..
GOOD WELD MANAGEMENT / SUPERVISION HAS TO HAVE "WELD PROCESS - EQUIPMENT - CONSUMABLE AWARENESS":
An important step for senior ship yard management is is to be aware of the level of weld process control - best practice expertise of the key weld decision makers in the yard. Lets face it, If these guys knew what was needed to optimize weld productivity and to minimize weld defects, then the weld costs and rework costs would likely be a small percentage of what was being attained.
Weld quality - productivity responsibility and accountability should be in the hands of qualified managers, engineers, technicians and supervisors and the job descriptions of these guys should clearly define the required process expertise.
In most ship yards the qualifications of the supervisors can be critical to weld costs generated. In the we manage from behind the glass wall ship yards, supervisors are usually given more responsibility for the welders than the engineers and technicians and lets not forget that QA department that employs personnel to find rather than to prevent weld defects.
Ship yard management also need to be aware that the weld equipment, process
and consumables used in their yard are frequently not optimum or they rarely reach their full weld quality and productivity
potential. The solution to this is found again in the training programs I provide.
Ship yard management also should be aware from the weld quality - productivity results that they daily attain, that the MIG and flux cored welder training programs provided in their training departments is simply not effective. Usually welder training changes are required, and training focus is necessary on teaching all weld personnel best weld practices and weld process controls..
When it comes to hiring. Ship yard management needs to be aware that those stick
(SMAW) welders with 20 plus years experience typically only brings incorrect techniques and inappropriate weld practices to the MIG and flux cored process?
It's ironic and also a myth that there is a global shortage of MIG - Flux cored welders, however it's true that when welders apply for a job at the ship
yard, few will have ever produced all position, flux cored welds on a ceramic backed root gap.
As ceramic backing is rarely utilized in other industries, the message to management is those welder's trying to pass a weld test should first head to a classroom for a few hours of my training program. The training would provide them with the Best Weld Practices for groove welds with ceramic or steel backing. Also they would recieve the FCA - MIG process controls that will be necessary for the weld process, consumables and equipment used in the yards. My program requires approx. 8 - 10 hrs.
IT'S TIME TO STOP WASTING TIME AND MONEY TESTING HARD TO GET WELDERS TO FAIL. IT' WOULD BE FAR MORE LOGICAL AND COST EFFECTIVE TO GIVE THEM THE WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE THAT THEY HAVE ALWAYS REQUIRED.
As it appears difficult these days to hire drug free welders that want to work in a tough job in a harsh enviroment, If I was managing a ship yard, I would not want to waste ship yard's money on testing welders to fail. Before testing welders I would get a bunch of them and give them a one day training on the best weld practice and weld process controls that are necessary for to optimize the process and consumable with the real world variables found in the yard. With this logic, ship yards would have much less issues hiring welders when required and they certainly would be more useful when they turn up for work.
As a matter of interest to the few senior managers that take a time out from dealing with their daily weld shop fires and spend a few hours reading this stuff, please note. Any "none welding person" with the right attitude and provided with the correct skills, best practices and process control weld training, should with "ten days training" be able to meet the all position code weld quality requirements necessary for the majority of MIG and flux cored welds in any ship yard.
MANAGER ENSURES SHIP YARD WELDER TRAINING DEALS WITH THE "YARDS UNIQUE WELD VARIABLES":
Note: The variables with the MIG - FCAW process solutions - practices are available in my training resources.
Bill, for gods sake, is there one manager in that Navy Yard that knows
how to weld steel plates without going 100 million over budget?.
While the ship yard senior management
complain that their "weld - Fabrication Over Cost" per-ship is millions of dollars, they daily sit in their office and allow the ship yards fitters to daily produce unnecessary, oversize weld preps that typically can add 50 to a 100% more weld per-joint, and they take another anti-acid pill while they read about the too frequent excess weld rework costs that eat away at the ship profits.
In ship yards, thanks to the common lack of management - engineering focus on providing weld joints that are in compliance with the actual design, its not uncommon to find weld joints outside the code requirements with groove root weld gaps
8 to 25 mm. These oversize costly welds will be made, and we already know how the welders react to required weld techniques, practices and parameter changes
that are required when welding across the extra size, ceramic, root gaps.
 Ask ten welders a weld question, and get 10 very different answers. How does
the welder react when the weld procedure does not require
preheat, howevere the steel is either wet or cold.
 Ask ten welders a weld question, and get 10 very different answers. How does the welder react when
they have to put in twice as many welds that are specified in the procedure but
there are no inter-pass temp controls or information about applying additional weld passes?
ship and oil platform welders are daily offered unique challenges by fabrication supervisors
who frequently know little about the flux cored or MIG process, supervisors who allow the delivery of weld joints that are simply not acceptable. To make their job
a little more complex, the welders will often have to make the challenging welds
on in 20 mph winds, 50 feet up on a scaffold, at minus 20
FOLLOWING ARE A FEW WELD VARIABLES FOUND ON SHIPS - OIL PLATFORM - CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. THESE
VARIABLES ARE THE REASONS WHY ALL WELD PERSONNEL SHOULD BE TRAINED SO THAY HAVE THE ABILITY TO WALK UP TO THEIR WELD EQUIPMENT, (NO PLAYING AROUND) AND INSTANTLY SELECT THE OPTIMUM WELD
PARAMETERS TO DEAL WITH ANY VARIABLE AND ATTAIN BOTH OPTIMUM WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY.
 narrow, inconsistent root gaps,
variable and excess root gaps,
 a lack of understanding of the unique weld requirements
for ceramic backed
roots with variable gaps,
 poor weld edge preparations,
welding on primer, paint, rust and cutting oxides,
 welding in an inconsistent
daily changing environment,
 difficult weld access,
 extensive difficult, vertical and over head welds,
 receiving weld joints from ship yard fitters who have never
been educated on the cost consequences, the quality liability potential or difficulties
of welding poor weld joints,
 supervisors, managers and engineers making
flux cored and MIG process and equipment weld decisions, when the reality is,
weld knowledge has more to do with the SMAW process
"HYDROGEN WELD CRACK FACTS"..
STRONGER, HIGHER STRENGTH STEELS ARE IN GREAT DEMAND AND CREATE ON MANY WELD APPLICATIONS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HYDROGEN CRACKING AND BY THE WAY THOSE THINNER STEELS CORODE MUCH MORE QUICKLY:
In contrast to the gas shielded flux cored process in which welders can easily deposit 12 to 15 lb of electrode wire per-shift,
SMAW welders are more likely to be depositing a leisurely three or four pounds of electrode per-shift, and also with the SMAW electrodes
theew should always be concern about the condition of the flux on the outside of the SMAW electrodes.
When welding high strength steels, hydrogen cracking can be a major weld concern. The flux on SMAW electrodes is like a sponge ready to suck up moisture which could then pass into the weld and form hydrogen. The hydrogen trys to escape during the weld solidification and it typically ends its journey in the weakest area of a weld, the heat affted zone. (HAZ), Moisture, contaminates rust and mill scale on the material also can contribute to hydrogen cracks. The cracks typically occur within a few hours or a few days after the welds are made, and therefore they are often called "cold cracks".
Low hydrogen SMAW electrodes such as the common E7018 electrodes have evolved over the decades, yet in 2015 with these electrodes, there is still a major concern for the electrode's fluxes potential to readily absorb moisture, especially once the electrodes were outside their sealed containers. To minimize the opportunity for moisture pick up, the stick electrodes are typically stored in heated ovens, and when used on the job, carried around in portable heated containers.
BOTH MIG WIRES AND GAS SHIELDED FLUX CORED WELD WIRES ARE LOW HYDROGEN CONSUMABLES, HOWEVER OF THE TWO, THE FLUX CORED WIRE STILL HAS A FLUX WHICH CAN ABSORB MOISTURE, HOWEVER AT MUCH LOWER LEVELS THAN STICK ELECTRODES.
contrast to STICK welding,
a primary benefit of a gas shielded flux cored wire, is the wire's flux is protected by an
outer steel or low alloy steel sheath. As mentioned, gas
shielded flux cored wires are manufactured as low hydrogen products, however that definition only applies as long as the weld wire's flux quality is made by companies who give a dam and are are concerned about the quality of the wires they daily produce, and of course as long as the wire is sealed in an airtight container that's always stored in a "controlled environment".
The flux in the FCA wires can be easily and quickly be contaminated with moisture, and in most ship yards or weld shops, dampness, humidity and moisture is usually the norm.
Some flux cored wire sheaths are made with a straight butt seam, however these seams make it easy
for the wire to allow moisture through the seam. Other wires like the the Kobelco wire in the picture
on right, may have a seam that is designed with a little more consideration for keeping the flux trapped, and reducing the chance of moisture
getting to that flux.
2000: ONE SIMPLE BEST WELD PRACTICE THAT I ALWAYS IMPLEMENTED, DATE - TIME AND TAG THE FCAW WIRE SPOOLS.
Due to the general lack of global flux cored best weld practices,
few weld facilities require their welders to Date and Time Tag the new FCAW wire reels utilized. What is normal especially in large weld shops, is once the flux cored wire is removed from it's container, the wires are typically left out in cold, damp or in humid conditions for god knows how long, (it only takes a few hours for moisture to be an issue)..
Note: There are usually major differences in the quality and performance of the flux cored wires from the major different flux cored wire manufacturers.
With flux cored wires you typically will get what you pay for, and if it's made in China or Eastern Europe good luck with your lower price wire. I have tested these wires from global wire mfgs for more than three decades, and I found for example that Lincoln Electric in Cleveland had a long struggle with its gas shieded flux cored wire quality / performance, so you can imagine the struggle wire manufactures have in other countries where product quality has another meaning..
Note: My first choice for quality and the best performing flux cored wires, was either an Alloy Rod or Kobellco products and after testing their products I refused to use either Lincoln or Hobart wires, although I did think the Lincoln L50 MIG wire was a good product.
A FEW OF THE THINGS THAT INFLUENCE THE FORMATION OF HYDROGEN CRACKS:
High strength steels.
 Restrained parts.
 Stress concentrations.
 The use of electrodes or wires that are not suited.
 Weld defects.
 Large root gaps, plate misalignment, anything
that results in excess weld heat and excess stresses.
surface contaminates. (moisture - rust - paint - oxides - millscale - lubricant - markers)
 Lack of control with the required preheat and inter pass temp
 Lack of quality with the wires used.
 Lack of history and protection for the flux cored wires
 Lack of awareness of the potential for moisture
in the weld gas cylinders - or gas pipe utilized.
 Lack of weld process, technique and best practice knowledge
that could help minimize the effects of moisture
BEST PRACTICES & PROCESS
CRACKS ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN.
It's inevitable that on that on that one billion
dollar naval vessel,containing high strength steels, that when that vessel leaves
the docks, its leaving with thousands of serious weld defects and many hydrogen cracks.
add to the quality concerns, the hydrogen cracks may be in the weakened weld's Heat
Affected Zone locations which run either side of welds that often usually contain lack of fusion, slag
inclusions and extensive porosity.
It's easy to minimize the opportunity for hydrogen cracking with gas shielded flux cored and MIG wires..
 Grind the weld prep surfaces to sound metal, and grind at least 18 mm either side of the weld joints.
 Only use weld wires made by reputable wire mfgs. (Avoid wires made outside North America). If the wire you use provides excess porosity or worm tracks, get a different wire from another wire mfg.
 Use cylinders of weld gas that have dip tubes, and ensure the gases are supplied from reputable suppliers who can provide certificates showing moisture content of the cylinders they fill.
 Especilly if costly NDT is applied or the welds can generate safety concerns, start the job of with a "new box" of weld wire thats been stored in a heated container.
 Tag date - time the new wire.
 100F pre-heat close to the weld area.
 Use stringer (not weave_ passes. The weld size - mass would be the size of 1/4 fillet.
 Inform the welder that if they see any weld porosity or worm tracks during the weld, STOP, grind out the defect, check the gas flow, and repalce the wire. (Get a refund for that bad wire).
 Weld energy and cooling time has a big factor on the formation of hydrogen so do not produce small or thin fast freeze welds that are typical with weaves.
 Grind - Grind - Grind between passes, ensure all slags, oxides and
visable defects removed.
 Ensure there are no fans, wind or drafts blowing on welded part.
 Interpass temp min 100F Max 300F.
flux cored and MIG process control training programs deal
with all the
process controls and the weld best practices that should be applied for weld
SOMETHING ALL NAVY AND SHIP YARD WELD PERSONNEL WOULD DO WELL TO REMEMBER.
Please remember when building a Navy vessel,
on those wild ocean days, a failed weld on the ship can have the same consequence
as those elusive weapons of mass
OF FRACTURED STEEL PLATES REMOVED
FROM WELDING SHIPS.
Author : PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV UNIVERSITY PARK
Author(s) : Williams, M. L. ; Meyerson, M. R. ; Kluge, G. L. ; Dale, L. R.
: Samples of fractured plates from 72 ships were examined, and various laboratory
examinations and tests were made on 113 plates selected from these samples. Information
regarding the structural failures involved was obtained from the cooperating agencies,
and the failures were analyzed on the basis of this information combined with
the results of the laboratory investigations. The ship
weld failures usually occurred at low temperatures, and the origin of the fractures
could be traced, invariably, to a point of stress concentration at a geometrical
or metallurgical notch resulting from design details or from welding defects.
Note from Ed: Fifty
six years have passed since the above report. A good question in 2015 is when will ship yards get
control of the fabrication practices and common weld processes they daily utilize?
SUPERSTRUCTURE ON FFG 7 CLASS SHIPS HAS EXPERIENCED "EXTENSIVE CRACKING". THE CAUSE
OF THE CRACKING HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE A COMBINATION OF "HIGH DESIGN STRESS
COUPLED WITH POOR WELD QUALITY"...
FURTHER COST CONSEQUENCES WHEN THOSE GUYS IN THE FRONT OFFICE DON'T HAVE A CLUE..
I had a good laugh in 2005 when I read in the often lacking in reality AWS
Weld Journal about some VP in a ship yard discussing purchasing a CO2 laser for his day to day ship weld applications.
This was a ship yard that I was familiar with. It was a yard in which the management and engineers were unable to get control of the simple to use, two control, MIG and flux cored process.
This was a yard where the managers had a difficult
time getting their weld personnel to feel comfortable with simple Bug-O welds, (mechanized
MIG or flux cored carriage welds). This was a yard in which none of the weld management understood the cost of a common MIG or Flux Cored fillet or groove weld. This was a yard in which the managers and supervisors lacked the ability to provide
edge preps and weld gaps that met the actual design specifications for the welds, and now this is a yard in which the management wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in bringing a laser into the yard.
ANY LARGE WELD SHOP SHOULD BE MANAGED LIKE A WELL RUN SHIP:
The management in large weld shops and especially in ship
yards would do well to compare themselves with the way the Navy runs, (not builds) a ship
or submarine. A good captain or engineer on a vessel typically will have the ability to operate, take apart and assemble most of the prime equipment on their ship. I
am not suggesting that today, that this old fashioned, comprehensive technical expertise
should be part of the job description of this "HANDS OFF" generation
of manufacturing managers. (it should be part of any engineers job description). I am suggesting that in today in 2012,
the global weld industry would benefit from weld managers,
engineers and supervisors who have less reliance on weld salesmen or weld equipment reps, and show more interest, ownership and accountability in
the weld equipment - processes - consumables responsible for building their products.
get manufacturing management and engineers back into the weld equipment process control
loop, an important first step would be for these individuals to show the workers
that when they open their mouths on the subject of welding, they can provide welders
on the shop floor something most don't have "weld process control - best practice knowledge".
Note: If you are looking
for excellent MIG and flux cored weld process control knowledge resource, it's here.
IF MANAGERS, ENGINEERS AND SUPERVISORS LACK THE EXPERTISE TO CONTROL THEIR KEY WELD PROCESSES, THEY WILL TYPICALLY LEAVE IT TO A SALES REP FOR ADVICE OR TO THOSE LOWER PAID
GUYS IN THE WELD
SHOP TO EVALUATE NEW OR DIFFERENT WELD TECHNOLOGY.
2001: THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO IMPLEMENT IN ANY WELL ESTABLISHED GLOBAL WELD SHOP IS "CHANGE":
evolution from the shielded metal arc welding, SMAW, (stick) process, to the Gas Shielded
Flux Cored weld process has for most pressure vessel - pipe shops
and for pipe line contractors been both painful and slow. The flux cored wires that
offered many practical qulaity - cost benefits for all position steel and low alloy steel welds were developed in the last three decades.
The weld reality for those weld shops that for the last three decades were welding their pipes or code projects with the SMAW process, is with qualified weld management, the gas shielded FCAW process evolution for most all position code applications should have taken less than a week.
Note: The slow or lack of global acceptance of the important FCAW products was again simply another reflection of the lack of good weld management that take ownership of their weld process.
Note: When the management and engineers don't provide weld process ownership, the so called weld decision makers will typically leave it to their welders to TEST a new weld wire, power source or gas mix.
1998: THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND OFTEN LEADS TO WHERE?. Some of the greatest resistance to the uses of flux cored wires came from the global pipe weld shops that supply welded parts to the oil and power industries. Thes majority of these weld shops were stuck in the past entrenched in SMAW (stick) process and weld practices. It was also an ironic point, that the companies like Alloy Rods and Tri-Mark that developed the small diamter gas shielded flux cored wires did not know how to present and demonstrate their products to an industry that for decades "played around" with the MIG equipment controls. The bottom line, in 1985 as it is in 2015, we have mostly unqualified sales reps selling and demonstrating the flux cored wires to weld shops that lacked the process control - best practice expertise necessary to optimize the performance of flux cored weld consumables. And lets face it in the weld shops that allow the guys on the shop floor to make weld decisions, when you have welders who don't like change, they typically will be quick to critize products that are not optimized during their demonstration.
When managers and supervisors lack weld process expertise, what motivation will welders have for going outside their comfort zone and want to take on something new that would require a major learning curve change for the shop in which no one was qualified to present the lessons required?
ANYONE WOULD BE HAPPY WITH A PROCESS LIKE SMAW THAT REQUIRED MINIMAL WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE:
As the SMAW equipment provides
a single weld current control, the
STICK welder simply increases or decreases the weld current and therefore needs minimal weld process control expertise. In most instances even the choice
of the electrode is made for the welder. In contrast to the SMAW process,
the MIG equipment that's also used for flux cored welding allows a welder to use
seven distinct modes of weld transfer for MIG - FCA welds..
The reality today in 2012 is that most of the weld shops that use the common MIG and flux cored processes will have focus on the welder's skills rather than on the
welder's weld process control expertise. Every day in these weld shops you will find that the MIG equipment and consumables are rarely used to provide their full weld quality - productivity potential and therefore every day weld costs are more than they need to be. The upside is in most weld shops there is always good potential for dramatic weld cost savings.
WELDERS WILL NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH WIRE FEED PROCESSES UNTIL SOME INDIVIDUAL STEPS UP TO THE PLATE AND TEACHES THEM THE BEST PRACTICES AND PROCESS CONTROLS NECESSARY TO OPTIMIZE THESE TWO PROCESSES. PLEASE NOTE. YOU DO NOT NEED WELD EXPERTISE TO PRESENT MY UNIQUE WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING RESOURCES.
HOW BAD WELDS
of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
company with Skylark (ASR-20), the USS Thresher put to sea on 10 April 1963 for
deep-diving exercises. In addition to her 16 officers and 96 enlisted men, the
submarine carried 17 civilian technicians to observe her performance during the
deep-diving tests. Fifteen minutes after reaching her assigned test depth, the
submarine communicated with Skylark by underwater telephone, appraising the submarine
rescue ship of difficulties. Garbled transmissions indicated that--far below the
surface--things were going wrong. Suddenly, listeners in Skylark heard a noise
"like air rushing into an air tank"--then, silence.
to reestablish contact with Thresher failed, and a search group was formed in
an attempt to locate the submarine. Rescue ship Recovery (ASR-43) subsequently
recovered bits of debris, including gloves and bits of internal insulation. Photographs
taken by bathyscaph Trieste proved that the submarine had broken up, taking all
hands on board to their deaths in 5,500 of water, some 220 miles east of Boston.
Thresher was officially declared lost in April 1963.
a Court of Inquiry was convened and, after studying pictures and other data, they said that the loss of Thresher was in all probability due to
a "casting, piping, or from weld failures" that caused the engine room to be flooded with
water. This water probably caused electrical failures which automatically shutdown
the nuclear reactor, causing an initial power loss and the eventual loss of the
How lack of metallurgical knowledge,
cold water helped destroy the Titanic.
Eight More Ships with Structural - Weld Problems.
the Marine Log Home Page:
classification society RINA, Genoa, says its initial findings on the causes of
the sinking of the Maltese-flag tanker Erika during a major storm in December
point to a small structural failure or leak low down in the hull structure. This
was followed by cracking that eventually led to the collapse of the hull.
says its investigations prove that the calculated residual strength of the vessel
at the time of the casualty should have been sufficient
to withstand normal operation of the vessel in the prevailing weather. The residual strength was within IACS limits.
investigations show that the hull structure initially failed at some point low
in the hull, and that complete failure occurred only after cracks had propagated
from that source.
is continue its investigations to determine the cause of that initial failure
and the results of the subsequent actions of the master, owners and other parties
involved. RINA will focus on several potential causes of the initial failure,
possible poor loading or poor ship handling,
 poor workmanship during weld repairs,
 failure of welds due to poor design and poor weld practices during it's construction.
RINA has appointed Three Quays Marine Service and Studio Tecnico Navale Ansaldo
to conduct further independent investigations covering: design and construction
of the Erika and its seven sister ships. "Eight sister ships of the Erika
class were built, under two different class societies, and have been classed by
five different IACS classification societies at some time in their lives. All of these ships had suffered structural problems. Three of them, other
than the Erika, were serious. No information on this history of problems was available
to RINA," he says.
Note: It appears that in the case of the Prestige and the Erika tankers that the
structural failures occurred a few months after welding
repairs were carried out on the hulls. This would suggest that welding
could be a factor in the structural failures.
IF THE BAD SHIP WELDS DON'T GET YOU IT'S LIKELY THE RUST WILL:
NEW SUPERTANKER PLAGUE
By Richard Martin
it on super-rust, a virulent form of corrosion that has destroyed hundreds of
ships and could sink the oil industry.
December 7, 1999, the oil tanker Erika set sail from Dunkirk, France, bound for
Sicily, carrying 10 million gallons of heavy fuel oil. A few days later, the ship
headed south around the coast of Brittany and cruised directly into a powerful
The Erika battled swells of more than 20 feet as it steamed
across the Bay of Biscay. Soon the ship began to list, and 11-foot cracks appeared
in the deck and hull. The Erika was breaking apart. A helicopter evacuated the
crew just before the vessel split in half and sank in 400 feet of water, spreading
tarlike petroleum across more than 250 miles of the Loire-Atlantic coastline
Europes largest oil spill in two decades.
Built in Japan in
1975, the Erika was typical of todays older tankers. Sailing under the flag
of Malta, it was managed by an Italian operator and chartered by a Bahamian company
headquartered in Switzerland. Its Maltese owner was itself owned by two Liberian
firms. Deemed seaworthy by Registro Italiano Navale one of many organizations,
known as classification societies, responsible for inspecting and certifying commercial
vessels the Erika had passed every inspection over the year prior to its
The final report on the disaster, issued in January 2000
by the French investigative agency Bureau dEnquetes sur les Accidents en
Mer, concluded that severe corrosion had weakened the Erikas hull, causing
the ship to flex in the storm and eventually to fracture.
of oil moving by ship is soaring. And in traditional tankers, accelerated corrosion
is engineered right into the body of the vessel.
Erika was neither the first nor the last tanker to succumb unexpectedly to corrosion.
Each year from 1995 to 2001, an average of 408 tankers broke
apart at sea or barely escaped that fate, according to the International
Association of Independent Tanker Owners, known as Intertanko. The leading cause
was collision, but nearly as many suffered structural / technical failures
often a euphemism in industry circles for excessive corrosion and bad welds
Ships have been corroding since the late 18th century, when
wooden hulls were first covered with copper to protect against worms. Mariners
have recognized the threat to steel tankers in particular since the 1950s, and
classification societies have established a regime of inspections and maintenance
to keep corrosion at bay. But the system has failed. Ships that cost hundreds
of millions of dollars to build are falling apart on the open sea, endangering
the lives of crew members and spilling millions of gallons of oil each year.
instance, the Nakhodka went down two years before the Erika sank. This 27-year-old
tanker broke apart off the coast of Japan, spilling 1.3 million gallons of crude
and killing one sailor. The Japanese Ministry of Transport found that portions
of the ships hull had rusted 20 to 50 percent. In December 2000, the Castor,
carrying 8.7 million gallons of unleaded gasoline across the Mediterranean, developed
cracks in its deck and had to be drained of its cargo in a risky ship-to-ship
Preliminary findings in the Castor case rocked the industry.
According to the American Bureau of Shipping, the classification society that
certified the vessel, the Castor had fallen prey to hyper-accelerated corrosion
swiftly dubbed super-rust in the trade press. The ABS downgraded
its assessment to excessive corrosion in its final report, issued
this past October. Nonetheless, that document noted that the vessels steel
had disintegrated at rates of up to 0.71 millimeter a year more than seven
times the nominal rate expected by the bureau. (The ABS declined numerous
requests for an interview. David Olson, the Colorado School of Mines professor
who served as the independent metallurgist for the Castor report,
also refused to comment.)
Super-rust was initially explained as an
unprecedented phenomenon, a highly evolved form of corrosion neither foreseeable
nor preventable. The truth is less mysterious: Hyper-accelerated corrosion is
the inevitable result when unforgiving chemistry meets the harsh economics and
tangled industry politics of transporting fossil fuels.
steel from the moment the metal encounters moisture. To keep that from happening,
ship owners paint steel surfaces with corrosion-resistant coatings. The coatings
break down with age; conventional maintenance protocols dictate that tankers be
recoated periodically. If all this is done properly,
any ship should carry cargo for 30 years or so and then retire to the scrap yard
But first-class ship maintenance has become
increasingly rare in recent decades. Since the 1970s when the Erika, Nakhodka,
and Castor were built profit margins in the tanker business have fallen
steadily. Today, tankers change hands two or three times before theyre taken
out of service. Temporary owners of second or third hand ships tend
to be less interested in maintaining their vessels than maximizing the return
on their investments. Whats more, the classification societies lack the
authority to enforce rigorous standards. These nongovernmental agencies depend
for revenue on their clients: shipbuilders, owners, and operators, who can and
often do shop their business to competing societies. For instance, the Erikas
owners switched to Registro Italiano Navale after the French agency Bureau Veritas,
which had certified the ship for the previous five years, refused to overlook
its deterioration. The Erika went down just 18 months later.
far, super-rust has destroyed only old ships at the end of their useful lives,
allowing many in the industry to maintain that the problem is contained. This
complacency has become increasingly dangerous in the face of evidence that the
latest generation of tankers is even more vulnerable than its predecessors. Ever
since the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989 the worst spill in US history,
dumping 11 million gallons of crude into Alaskas Prince William Sound
shipbuilders have focused on constructing tankers that would be impervious to
grounding and collision. The solution has been
to wrap a second hull around the first; the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandates
that, by 2015, all tankers operating in the US have double hulls. This innovation
has prevented dozens of spills, but it has inadvertently propelled corrosion to
Tales of double hulls rusting far more
rapidly than expected began to circulate in the early 90s, not long after
the first such vessels entered the water. The 5-year-old Mobil tanker Eagle, for
example, spent almost three months dry-docked in Singapore in 1998, reportedly
having her cargo tanks treated for corrosion. According to Seatrends, a leading
trade magazine, the Eagle had leaked oil into the space between its inner and
outer hulls. (Contacted earlier this year, an ExxonMobil spokesperson repeated
the companys assertion that the ship docked in Singapore for routine
maintenance and that no leakage had occurred.)
Fearful of government
regulation, the shipping world has attempted, as Seatrends editor Ian Middleton
put it in a 1999 editorial, to keep a lid on such incidents. But inspections
keep turning up severe corrosion in new tankers. A 2000 Intertanko report concluded
that excessive rust is afflicting double hulls within two years of launch. Without
a serious shift in industry practice, it wont be long before the first double
hull goes the way of the Erika.
Rust arises from an intricate subatomic
dance in which waters oxygen and hydrogen atoms snatch electrons from atoms
of iron. Because saltwater conducts electricity better than freshwater, the iron
in steel oxidizes more quickly in seawater up to 0.10 millimeter per year,
as foreseen in classification-society manuals. Given enough time, this process
can eat through even the thickest hull.
The way corrosion attacks
the interior of a tanker, however, is more insidious. It can be seen most vividly
in the cargo tanks, which line up along the ships backbone beneath the deck,
and in the ballast tanks that cushion the cargo tanks along their outer edges.
In these areas, steel deteriorates at five, ten, even thirty times the nominal
In the ballast tanks, which are normally filled with seawater
when the cargo tanks are empty, water conducts electrons between plates on either
side, and between separate areas of a single plate that is, the tanks become
huge, if weak, batteries. The increased electrical activity hastens the metals
degradation. To combat the problem, shipbuilders have traditionally installed
bars of reactive metal like zinc or aluminum inside the tanks. The added metal
becomes a sacrificial anode, which corrodes in place of the ships
steel. Known as cathodic protection, this method has become less popular as paint
manufacturers have developed rust-resistant coatings over the past 20 years or
so. In the absence of cathodic protection, however, corrosion sets in when coatings
break down. Shoddy repairs can also play a role. In the
Castor, corroded plates discovered during inspections were replaced with new plates
of uncoated steel, turning the uncoated metal into a sacrificial anode. Thus,
the patches rusted even faster than the original metal had.
processes that drive ballast-tank corrosion hasten the familiar action of oxidation.
What happens in cargo tanks, on the other hand, involves more ruinous chemical
and biological forces.
At the top of the cargo tanks, the vapor space
between the oils surface and the underside of the deck traps highly acidic
gases products of the reaction between petroleum, oxygen, and water
that condense against the metal. The deck flexes at sea, causing degraded steel
to flake off the ceilings of the tanks, exposing more bare steel for the acid
to attack. Examining this area isnt easy. Scaffolding must be constructed
inside empty, unlit tanks, and even then inspectors can view only small portions
At the bottoms of the tanks, in the water that
settles under the oil, corrosive bacteria thrive. Consuming hydrocarbons, microbes
like Desulfovibrio desulferican produce acids that dissolve the tanks floors
and lower sides at rates as high as 2 millimeters per year. Some microorganisms
even feed on the coatings that protect the tanks from rust. Essentially, a tanker
is a gigantic floating petri dish for a peculiarly vicious sort of steel-eating
sludge the ultimate metallivore.
in aging single-hull vessels can be blamed on an industry in denial. In
double hulls, accelerated corrosion is engineered right into the ships themselves.
The extra layer of steel gives rust many more square feet of surface area to attack,
much of it hidden in cramped, inaccessible crawl spaces. Whats more, these
crawl spaces form an insulating layer that keeps the internal temperature much
higher than it would be in a single-hull tanker. Corrosion rates tend to double
with each 20-degree Fahrenheit increase.
the same time, manufacturing efficiencies have reduced the thickness of hulls
and decks. Guided by software modeling, designers put plenty of steel where its
needed for strength, while reducing it in the rest of the structure. The
advent of high-tensile steel stronger than conventional steel but no more
rustproof has allowed naval architects to further pare down the metal structure.
developments have led many shipbuilders to trade corrosion-resistance for lower
cost. Every ounce of steel saved in the construction of a new ship translates
into greater profits for the builder and reduced fuel bills for the owner. Between
1970 and 1990, the amount of steel used to construct a tanker declined by almost
one-fifth, according to Tankers Full of Trouble, a 1994 book by Eric Nalder based
on his Pulitzer Prize-winning Seattle Times series. Modern
tanker walls are only 14 to 16 millimetres thick, compared with 25 millimeters
a generation ago. Assuming a microbial corrosion rate of 1.5 millimeters a year,
rusted-out pits would reach halfway through those hulls in five years.
without a spill, the consequences of an internal breach leaking oil into a double
hull could be catastrophic. Asked what might result, shipbuilding consultant Rong
Huang gives a one-word answer: Explosion.
All ships look old unless
theyre freshly painted. At the Avondale Shipyard, upriver from New Orleans,
the only unblemished metal surfaces are rails that support rolling dockside cranes
and the gleaming blue sides of the state-of-the-art tanker Polar Resolution. Every
other steel surface in the yard is dusted with flash rust, a ruddy patina that
appears almost as soon as the steel is exposed to air. This superficial oxidation
is sandblasted away before the metal is painted and coated. Some surfaces, however,
never get coated at all. These unprotected areas invite the risk of destruction
Contracted by Polar Tankers, a division of Phillips
Petroleum, the Polar Resolution is one of four $230 million ships designed for
the iceberg and reef-strewn run from Valdez, Alaska, to Puget Sound. The 895-foot
vessel has not only a two-layer hull but duplicate engine rooms, navigation systems,
and propellers. Its 12 cargo tanks hold 42 million gallons of oil. When its sister
ship, Polar Endeavor, set sail last spring, Professional Mariner magazine named
it Ship of the Year.
A series of ladders and stairways descends steeply
to the floor of the Polar Resolutions empty cargo tank number five. The
walls rise 100 feet to the main deck. A band of light streams from the hatch high
above. From the inside, the tank is like a vast steel cathedral, a shrine to mans
thirst for oil.
The tank floor is covered with epoxy.
But overhead, the vapor space is uncoated contrary to classification-society
This expanse of bare metal is a stark emblem
of the industrys failure to face up to the hazard of corrosion. With each
disaster or near-disaster, authorities have launched an investigation. When corrosion
has been implicated, the result has been a litany of recommendations that hardly
varies from year to year: Coat the vulnerable surfaces of the ballast and cargo
tanks, inspect them frequently, and remove substandard tankers from service. But
these guidelines are honored mostly in the breach. According to the ABS report
on the Castor, the ships last inspections failed to adequately represent
the condition of the vessels structure. In other words, the investigators
missed the damage.
Supertankers are the
biggest moving structures ever built, yet the system for constructing, inspecting,
and certifying them is a relic of the 19th century.
time, the classification societies were adjuncts to the marine insurance business.
Today, they call themselves the self-regulating arm of the shipping world; the
avowed mission of the ABS, for instance, is to serve the public interest
as well as the needs of our clients by promoting the security of life, property,
and the natural environment. In practice, the societies serve the shipowners.
The leading organizations, which include the ABS, Lloyds Register in London,
and Det Norske Veritas of Norway, are staffed by conscientious experts, but they work within a system where no one is answerable for the condition of
the ships. There is no FAA for tankers.
the tanker industry is overrun with so many holding companies, limited-liability
partnerships, and owners-of-record that even determining who bears ultimate responsibility
for a ship can be difficult. Authorities investigating the Erika found the owners
capital structure so opaque that it was nearly impossible to figure out who controlled
the company. Following the inquiry, Paul Slater, chair of shipping conglomerate
First International Group and a member of Intertankos Communications Committee,
declared the current inspection system monstrously outdated.
Most American tax payers are rarely aware of where their taxes go, and goverment weld - bld rework costs can be extraordinary.
to the program office the LPD 17 Amphibious Transport Dock, which was delivered
to the Navy in July 2005, experienced numerous quality problems
of varying degrees that significantly impacted the ships mission. These problems contributed to a delay of 3 years in the delivery of the ship and a cost increase of $846 million.
In June 2007,
the Secretary of the Navy sent a letter to the Chairman of the Board of Northrop
Grumman expressing his concerns for the contractors ability to construct
and deliver ships that conform to the quality standards maintained by the Navy
and that adhere to the cost and schedule commitments agreed upon. Northrop Grummans
Chairman acknowledged that the company was aware of the problems and is working
on improving its processes.
LPD 17 encountered a problem with the isolators on titanium piping. The isolators
are used to separate different types of metals to keep them from corroding. The
problem was discovered in 2006, about a year after the launch of the first ship.
According to DOD program officials, the titanium piping is used throughout the
ship because it is lighter than the traditional copper-nickel piping and has a
longer service life. However, it has not been used much in naval surface ships
or by the American shipbuilding industry, and therefore required new manufacturing
and installation processes. According to the program office, these processes were
being developed as Northrop Grumman Ship Systems was building the ship. In addition,
designs for the piping hangers, which hold the piping in place, as well as tests
of the isolators were subsequently delayed. When the titanium piping on the ship
was changed, the hanger design had to be modified as well. The final hanger design
was not completed until about 90 percent of the titanium piping was already on
the ship, which resulted in additional rework and schedule delays.
from Ed. Welding Titanium would have been been an easy task if both the Navy and Northrup management and engineers knew what they were doing, and they had selected tth TIP TIG process instead of the regular GTAW process.
ship alsp encountered problems with faulty welds on P-1 piping
systems, a designation used in high-temperature, high-pressure, and other
critical systems. This class of piping is used primarily in hydraulic applications
in engineering and machinery spaces. P-1 piping systems require more extensive
weld documentation than other pipes as they are part of critical systems and could
cause significant damage to the ship and crew if they failed. Welds of this nature
must be documented to ensure they were completed by qualified personnel and inspected
for structural integrity. Further investigation revealed that weld inspection
documentation was incomplete. As a result, increased rework levels were necessary
to correct deficiencies and to re-inspect all the welds. Failure to complete this
work would have increased the risk of weld failure and potentially presented a
hazard to the ship and crew. According to the program office, a contributing factor
was turnover in production personnel and their lack of knowledge on how to complete
the proper documentation.
Note from Ed. If the workers and are not doing their job, they are not qualified to do the job, therefore it's time to hire qualified managers, engineers, supervisors and trainers who can rectify these situations.
THE FOLLOWING IS A REASON YOU CANNOT APPLY DOUBLE
TO SHIP OR OIL PLATFORM WELDS:
AS THIS NEXT ARTICLE INDICATES. EVERY WELD SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRITICAL
.These welds caused the death of 123 people.
Authors KITUNAI, Yoshio
(Japan Crane Association)
KOBAYASHI, Hideo (Yokohama National University)
March 27th, 1980, the semi-submersible platform Alexander
Kielland suddenly capsized during a storm in the North Sea, because one of its
five vertical columns supporting the platform was broken off. 123
workers among the 212 people on board were killed in the accident.
investigation showed that a fatigue crack had propagated
from the double fillet weld near the
hydrophone mounted to the tubular bracing D6. As a result, the five other tubular
bracings connecting to the vertical column D broke off due to overload, and the
column D became separated from the platform. Consequently, the platform became
unbalanced and capsized. After the accident, the offshore design rules were revised
and some countermeasures were added to maintain a reserve of buoyancy and stability
for a platform under a storm.
Cause (1) Fracture features
circular hole was introduced to the underside of the D6 bracing, and a pipe, which
is called a hydrophone, was mounted into the circular hole by welding. The hydrophone
was 325 mm in diameter with a 26 mm wall thickness. The hydrophone was welded
using a double fillet weld with a weld throat thickness of 6 mm. A drain of the
bracing D6 had to be installed at a location 270 mm away from the hydrophone.
a result of examination of the welds of the D6 bracing, some cracks related to
lamellar tearing were found in the heat affected zone (HAZ) of the weld around
the hydrophone. Traces of paint coinciding with the paint used on the platform
were recognized on the fracture surface of the fillet weld around the hydrophone
in the bracing D6.
The paint traces show that the cracks
were already formed before the D6 bracing was painted. Examination of the
fracture surface also showed that the fatigue cracks propagated from two initiation
sites near the fillet weld of the hydrophone to the direction circumferential
to the D6 bracing. Moreover, the fatigue fracture surface occupied more than 60%
of the circumference of the D6 bracing (Fig. 7), and beach marks were formed on
the fracture surface, which was about 60 to 100 mm away from the hydrophone. Striations
with spacing of 0.25E-3 to 1.0 E-3 mm were observed in patches on the fracture
surface of the D6 bracing.
(2) Characteristics of the welds of the hydrophone. Considering
of the importance of the strength of the D6 bracing, welding of the drain into
the bracing was carried out carefully according to the design rules. In the case
of the installation of the hydrophone, however, a circular hole was made on the
D6 bracing by gas cutting, and the surface of the hole was
not treated by some process, such as a grinding. After cutting, a pipe,
which was made by cold bending and welding using a plate with 20 mm thickness,
was mounted into the hole of the bracing, and the pipe was attached by welded
around the hole by double fillet welding with a throat thickness of 6 mm.
the hydrophone was installed by welding, the weld defects, such as incomplete penetration,
slag inclusion, and root cracks, were introduced in the welds, because of the
poor gas cutting and welding practices. Moreover, lamellar
tearing related to inclusions in the material used was found near the HAZ of the
hydrophone. The stress concentration factor, Kt, of the fillet weld of the hydrophone
was in the range of 2.5 to 3.0, which is higher than the average value of Kt of
1.6 for a fillet weld performed under normal conditions.
Chemical composition and mechanical properties of materials
The chemical composition
of the materials was found to be within the specified limits. A comparison of
the mechanical properties between the specification and the test results for the
fractured materials is shown in Table 2. The yield strength of the D6 bracing
in the longitudinal direction is slightly lower than the specified minimum values. In case of the hydrophone, the
Charpy impact energy is lower than the required value of 39 J at -40 C. Moreover,
the reduction of area of the hydrophone for the through-thickness direction is
markedly reduced because of the large amount of weld inclusions.
(1) Although the D6 bracing was
one of primary components of the platform, little attention was given to the installation
of the hydrophone into the bracing. Hence, a crack with
a length of about 70 mm was introduced in the fillet weld around the hydrophone,
before the D6 bracing was painted.
(2) Fatigue cracks propagated
from two initiation sites near the fillet weld of the hydrophone in the direction
circumferential to the D6 bracing at the early stage of the life of the platform.
The five other bracings connected to the column D broke off due to overload, and
the column D was separated from the platform. Consequently, the platform became
unbalanced and capsized
(4) Inspection of the D6 bracing had not been carried
This is a partial report found on the web and it enpahasizes that all welds should be considered critical.
Date August 10, 2001. Revised Nov 2001.
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