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ED CRAIG. www.weldreality.com.

The world's largest website on MIG - Flux Cored - TIG Welding


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Advanced TIP TIG Welding
TIP TIG Welding is always better quality than TIG and 100 to 500% faster with superior quality than TIG - MIG - FCAW.

 
 
   









Ed Craig. www.weldreality.com




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Scroll down if you want to know how with a little weld process control expertise saved millions on ship yard and pipe line applications.

 

 


With the too common global lack of management interest in the establishment of MIG and FCAW flux cored best practices and weld process controls, there should always be concern for weld failures and exitement about the potential for extraordinary weld cost savings.

 




Welding skills are a small part of attaining optimum quality welds.

2001: YOU MAY NOT WANT TO ASK THE WELD DECISION MAKERS WELD QUESTIONS.

With any global ship or oil platform builder, the flux cored and MIG process will account for the majority of welds. If at these facilities, you could get all the weld managers, engineers, technicians, trainers, QA personnel, and welders together in a classroom, and ask them some fundamental MIG and flux cored questions about best weld practices and weld process controls,the mostly diverse, incorrect answers and lack of process knowlege would be a surprise to anyone with an ounce of engineering common sense. This scenario would have applied in 1972 and it still applies in 2015.

The increasing Importance of improving the process control expertise of the weld management and supervision. With more complex, large scope, code quality weld applications being produced and the ongoing introduction of new typically heat sensitive, complex alloys, there is increasing human and dollar costs associated with welding, and extensive concern for weld rework, weld failure and product liability.

In the "global weld manufacturing environment" today we have countries like China bidding on American contracts using the same weld equipment and processes, with welders paid less than $3/hr. To compete and to be cost effective, the weld management in industrial nations needs to be aware and have ownership of the weld equipment - process and consumable requirements that are necessary to attain consistent, optimum weld quality at the lowest possible weld costs.

In the last three decades, too many managers, engineers and supervisors have taken a "hands off approach to welding", and quite frankly in too many weld shops we have "the crew running the ship syndrom". When the managers and supervisors don't take ownership of their weld equipment, it typically means these individuals will rely on a salesmen and biased equipment reps and other unqualified individuals for weld and manufacturing advice. With the majority of conventional weld equipment advances in the last three decades, there has been more electronic bells and whistles than real world weld quality - productivity benefits, (see pulsed MIG equipment issues at this site). With this scenario, it should be no surprise to find over priced electronic weld equipment and unsuitable weld process, weld transfer modes and consumable selection is the norm. When weld equipment is critical to a companies quality and profits, it's up to managers, engineers and supervisors to figure out the requirements that will allow them to take ownership.

Of course there are many large global weld manufacturing facilities that have got it right, however as someone who has been in more than a 1000 companies in 13 countries, I can only provide you with my experiences, and you will have to take my word that the companies that do it right are a small minority.

The information at this site www.weldreality.com is provided by Ed Craig. The site which started in the 1990s focus is the common global root causes of the unacceptable weld quality, and why weld productivity is rarely optimized. And most important, for managers, engineers, supervisors. technicians and welders, this site provides the resolutions to meet any companies weld quality - productivity needs..

I have improved weld processes in more than 1000 companies in 13 countries, and in this time period when the weld risks have been high and the weld projects complex, I would rarely find decion makers that fully controlled the processes they were responsible for. When it's necessary, management has the responsibility to instigate change. Hopefully this web site will be the catalyst required by executives to putting weld quality - productivity, costs ownership and responsibility on the correct shoulders in their organization.

 

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Weld Responsibility - Accountability - Ownership!






Management recognizing the importance of
WELD PROCESS CONTROLS:

Note from Ed: The following will tell you something about the common management - engineering weld process apathy and lack of ownership that is too often found in the heavy fabrication industry.

Note: Its a fact that with the majority of large scale weld projects, the persons responsible for finding and documenting weld defects often gets more respect and higher pay than the person who could prevent those costly weld defects.







WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY?


Today in most ship yards, you will find that the underqualified weld supervisors have more ownership of the weld processes than the higher qualified weld engineers.

The lack of "qualified weld managers and supervisors in the global weld industry is staggering.

"WHAT IS A QUALIFIED WELD MANAGER?

A qualified weld manager is an individual that fully understands the best practices and process controls necessary to optimize the weld quality - productivity of all the weld - cutting processes - equipment that impacts his companies products. The weld manager should take full responsibility and ownership of the equipment on the weld shop floor. The weld manager will be aware of the process education, skills, practices training that is necessary for the employees to optimize the equipment and consumables utilized.

WHY DOES THE GLOBAL WELD INDUSTRY TYPICALLY TAKE THE COSTLY ROUTE. OF FINDING DEFCTS AFTER THE WELDS ARE COMPLETE, RATHER THAN THE LOGICAL PATH OF INTRODUCING PRACTICES - AND PROCESS CONTROLS THAT WILL MINIMIZE WELD DEFECTS?


Examine the resources and budgets of typical QA departments and then examine the resources, budgets and training spent on personnel that could prevent the weld defects. If you want to know how "few" global companies are looking for qualified Weld Managers, go to the world's largest job site, www.monster.com and in the keyword box type in two words, "Weld Manager", then type in the words "QA Manager".





LEADERS EMPLOYED IN A TECHNICAL INDUSTRY SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO ASK A SLESMAN.

In 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 metal cored or flux cored weld wires.






IN ENGINEERING, THOSE THAT DON'T LEARN FROM THE PAST ARE READY TO WASTE MONEY IN THE FUTURE. Optimum MIG and flux cored welds have been made for decades and developed on low cost, durable CV MIG equipment with simple two component gas mixes and MIG wires that have not changed since the nineteen sixties. With this in mind surely management has a responsibility to recognize that too frequently their weld issues are simply not an equipment or consumable issue, but simply a result of the general lack of their own weld best practices - process control expertise.


A generalization on the MIG and flux cored weld industry.

"THIS IS AN INDUSTRY THATS FREQUENTLY SELF TAUGHT, AND TOO OFTEN TAUGHT WRONG":

2001: The global MIG and flux cored weld industry is in general a "self taught" industry which evolved from two simple manual weld processes, SMAW (Stick) and TIG. When community colleges and weld schools such as those found in ship yards teach MIG and flux cored, their education focus was often as it was in the nineteen sixties, teaching SMAW weld skills, the skills by the way they teach are rarely those required for the MIG and flux cored processes.

When many of today's welders, technicians and engineering students graduate from their weld courses and go for a job, they will join the other weld personnel in the plant and the majority of them "play around with the weld controls"

In contrast to SMAW and TIG, MIG equipment offers all types of weld transfer modes such as short circuit, globular, spray, pulsed, STT, RMD and CMT. Each transfer mode has an optimum weld parameter range suited to the wire diameter and weld gas utilized. Also the MIG equipment is utilized for the flux cored process which has different rules for weld diameters and weld positions. To control MIG and flux cored weld quality - productivity requires;

[a] focus on the denominators that simplify weld process controls,
[b] focus on the optimum best weld practices for the intended process - consumables and application,
[c] the ability to separate sales BS from what's real.
(these are things my training programs provide).


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 have to play around with 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?


If 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 Test

[] Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Test

[] Solutions to all your MIG and flux cored process control issues are here.

This 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.



What do many large scale weld projects like ship yards
have in common with the auto - truck industry plants and robots?



 

[] Lack of weld best practices and weld process control expertise:
It's not difficult to find both managers and engineers who will daily struggle with the
important processes used in the weld shops.


[] Lack of manufacturing controls:
In these two industries you will find too many parts that have excess weld gaps or part dimensional tolerances which are not within the weld design tolerance requirements. Also you will find that most weld shops are weak in providing appropriate manufacturing instructions.

[] Inadequate weld process control training:
Like many ship yards and other large scale weld projects, as it is in the auto - truck plants, you will find the majority of weld personnel have to "play around" with their weld controls.

[] Minimal management weld cost control expertise:
In most weld facilities, you don't want to ask anyone in management or supervision the real cost of the world's most common 1/4 (6 mm) MIG or flux cored fillet weld.

[] Weld quality practices that are backwards:
Most weld quality programs are developed to find weld defects after the welds are complete:
In most weld facilities, you will find extensive QA resources directed to find welding defects and limited manpower and human resources directed at preventing weld defects.

[] Weld equipment and consumable selection nonsense:
From the ship yard to the 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 and unnecessary high priced weld equipment and lconsumables is a simple one. When weld management and supervision do not understand what it takes to make optimum weld quality and productivity, they turn to their crutch, his name is "weld sales rep". This is the sales person who typically has never run a weld shop. The rep will too often provide biased 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 will be a special MIG gas mix. This BS has been going on for decades, and the results can be viewed in most 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 HOW THEY CAN 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:




PIPES AND A MULTI- MILLION DOLLAR WELD COST REDUCTION:

Ed created this annual, one million dollar weld cost reduction for Imperial Oil pipe shop and pipe line contractors.

 


 

IMPROVING PIPE WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY OR HOW IMPERIAL OIL SAVED AT LEAST TEN MILLION DOLLARS :

In 1998, Imperial Oil in Canada asked if I would:

A. Evaluate the oil and natural gas field and shop pipeline welding practices used by one of their prime contractors in Alberta, Canada.

B. Evaluate the methods that will reduce field pipeline construction welding costs on a steam pipe project.

C. Promote the use of the flux-cored-arc welding process so that reluctant stick welders and weld supervision accept this process in the field and fabrication shop.

D. Train the senior stick pipeline welders, supervisors and engineers in the use of the flux cored process.

To attain across the board acceptance of the flux cored process, the oil company personnel and I decided that the best strategy would be to gather all the key weld personnel at a location in which both classroom and hands on weld training could be provided. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) located in Calgary, Canada, kindly provided us with one of the best equipped weld training facilities in North American.

For the flux cored introduction and weld process training, I developed an intensive three-day training session. The weld best practice - process control training required both classroom and hands-on pipe welding for the pipe line contractor's key welding personnel.

The flux cored weld training covered the requirements to weld carbon steel pipe diameters that varied from 100 to 600 mm (4 to 24 in.) diameter. The training provided the welders with the required flux cored practices - technique and skills . The training also placed great emphasis on ensuring the participants had the flux cored weld process knowledge necessary to "set optimum weld parameters" for any manual or automated, E71T-1 consumable and pipe application, Ed use his weld clock method to teach the parameters and the weld personnel did not have to take notes.

The flux cored training program was well received, and in less than 16 hours of welding pipes and discussing the necessary weld process controls we had one hundred percent acceptance from participants who before were concerned with a change from the SMAW process. 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.

 

The Primary Pipe Weld Application for Imperial Oil:

The goal of the SMAW to flux cored conversion was to improve weld quality and generate cost savings when welding low alloy steam pipes. A common pipe application was a sixteen-inch (40-cm) diameter pipe, with a 1 inch. (25-mm) thick wall, and a 60-degree bevel for the weld. The steam pipe, CSA Grade 448 (X65), operates at 2,500 psi, at 650 F. The pipe has a specified minimum yield strength of 65,000 psi, with UTS at 80,000 psi. The pipe weld qualification was to ASME B31.3, with required weld tests 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.

The steam pipe used to be welded with E8010G electrodes. The SMAW process required the use of 350 F preheat to prevent hydrogen cracking. In selecting a suitable flux cored consumable I tested many of the available all position E71T-1 / E81T-1 flux cored wires. The flux cored wire I found most suitable was an Alloy Rod product.

The E71T-1, Alloy Rod flux-cored electrode selected had the best 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 tensile strength.

The success of the flux-cored wires on this project eventually prompted a change from the traditional 60 degree bevel to a compound bevel that 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.

Management, Process, and Pipe Welding Considerations


For many decades, pipe spool shops and pipelines have made the majority of their welds with SMAW electrodes or with the gas tungsten arc process. Although the SMAW electrodes, arc characteristics and properties have improved in the last three decades, these electrode in contrast to gas shielded flux cored electrodes provide lower weld fusion potential, lower weld deposition rates and lower weld deposition efficiency.

2007: Pipe Welding and Process Choices.

When used in pipe shops, the MIG equipment with it's MIG and flux cored weld transfer modes are rarely optimized. Flux cored wire manufacturers have been frustrated for decades with the slow pace that their products evolved throughout the code pipe and pressure vessel industry. Their frustration should be increased when they see the same industry get caught up with the electronic modified MIG transfer modes such as STT and RMD, two weld process which are only suited to specific open root welds.

PIPE FILL PASSES, PROCESSES AND EQUIPMENT LOGIC: I believe while the traditional pulsed MIG process is an acceptable process for mechanized 5G - IG fill pass welds, however on theses welds, pulsed MIG cannot out perform all position flux cored wires used with low cost MIG equipment or CV generators especially when welding with 5G with wall thickness > 8 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 which is set at low end MIG spray transfer settings for any rotated steel and alloy steel pipe fill joints.

I believe the pulsed MIG process infatuation has more to do with weld process ignorance and weld equipment marketing and salesmanship than it has to do with weld performance. I have evaluated pulsed MIG equipment for approx. 25 years. I believe that the pulsed MIG issues are derived from the moderate weld energy derived from a process that spends 50% of it's time at a low back ground current of typically less than 100 amps. You won't read this anywhere else but for 25 years, if you have used pulsed MIG on steel parts over 5 mm, this process has always provided a poor ratio of weld energy to the weld mass produced and weld speeds required.

PIPE ROOT PASS PROCESS - EQUIPMENT LOGIC: The picture on the right is Ed testing the MIG STT - RMD and regular short circuit modes on the Imperial Oil natural gas 5G pipe root welds.

The MIG traditional short circuit mode is a practical weld choice for welding a pipe root pass with any "rotating" pipe welds that have controlled open root dimensions. On these pipe root applications, the traditional MIG short circuit, and globular modes are just as effective as the highly touted and oversold Lincoln STT and Miller RMD equipment for the rotated pipe roots. The STT - RMD modes are superior to SC when welding 5G in the 5 to 7 o'clock over head root positions. Please note pulsed MIG - STT - RMD and flux cored cannot provide the pipe weld quality that's attained with the TiP TiG process (www.tiptigusa.com), and TiP TiG can be used for all position pipe open (or closed) root welds and fill passes.

CONCERNS WITH MIG and FLUX CORED NARROW GROOVE PIPE WELDS: When using narrow bevel pipe weld joints, and the pulsed MIG process, the wise weld decision maker will remember that this process typically provides only marginal side wall weld fusion on 60 - 80 degree included angle vee groove welds.

For pipe companies using pulsed MIG, the weld results may require extraordinary, costly weld inspection methods. In order to use a narrow bevel and the automatic MIG modes, the weld inspection from companies aware of the pulsed MIG issues, may require shear wave ultrasonic examination. This mode of inspection is necessary so the NDT equipment can size the flaw, and determine if it is acceptable, based on crack, tip opening displacement, (CTOD) and fracture mechanic equations. This will also require the regulator to accept alternate inspection rules.

Pipeline companies are becoming aware of costs incurred in this complex inspection criteria and also with the cost of the weld repair issues that can result. When using weld processes that provide minimum side wall fusion the necessary field machining of the pipe ends can also obviously cause issues from the pipe roundness deviations.

A visit to most global manufacturing facilities using MIG or flux-cored wires, would likely reveal why MIG - FCA weld best practices - process control training is required:

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 whats 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 wanted their contractors to utilize
more automation on it's pipe welds.

The majority of pipe welds by Imperial Oil pipe weld contractors were as mentioned stick welds. After I had finished training these guys with the semi-automatic flux cored process, Imperial wanted their contractors to consider the utilization of more weld automation.

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 when manual welders are required to repair the automated welds.

With robots or 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 has with automated welds is to ensure that the automated weld equipment does not inherent the bad weld practices found in the manual weld shops.




The prime factor for poor automated weld quality or productivity performance is as usual a "lack of weld process control expertise".

 

To fully optimize mechanized flux cored or MIG applications,
the weld decision-maker needs to:

A. Be aware of the weld process controls and best practices fundamentals.

B. With the common wire diameters, be knowledgeable of the all position
weld parameter ranges for the wires utilized.

C. For the application, be aware of the primary feature benefits and disadvantages of the different MIG weld transfer modes and for the flux cored process.

D. Understand that the primary method for weld cost control comes from understanding the wire feed and weld deposition relationship.

E. Understand the relationship between weld current, wire diameter and part thickness and the weld - clad fusion requirements.

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 then in the first fill pass. Defects are also common in the rapid freeze weld starts and stops. Most manual weld defects are greatly influenced by the welders using inappropriate weld settings and poor weld practices.

It's also important for weld managers and supervisors to remember that when the MIG and flux cored processes are optimized these processes will still produce unacceptable weld defects.
With pulsed MIG expect lack of fusion and small porosity. For flux cored trapped slag. large porosity content with 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
.

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, a mechanized weld carriage using flux-cored wires could provide the following weld benefits:

1. A reduction in weld start and stops per pipe joint from more than
100 with SMAW to 12 with flux cored,

2. Consistent mechanized weave control that optimizes weld placement, improving side
wall fusion with any bevel welds.

3. Consistent weld travel speeds that ensure consistent weld fusion.

4. Consistent weld wire stick out which maintains constant weld energy.

5. 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

6. The mechanized unit allows higher wire feed rates which will increase the weld travel rates.

7. In contrast to inconsistent manual welders, a mechanized unit will have far superior control of the weld pool and weave configurations. This is an important consideration with flux cored, as the increased weld deposition and ability to do larger weld weaves can 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 passes at a third of the time.

KIS - KIS - KIS. All weld managers should be aware of the benefits derived by keeping their welding operations simple, keeping unnecessary bells and whistles off the mechanized welding equipment and use a common sense approach to the pipe welding process and procedures selected.

There are too many manager 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 optimize the welds.

Weld best practices - process controls (BP - PC) will rarely be instigated on the weld shop floor or from welders working on a pipe line. BP - PC should be established by the project managers or engineers responsible.

It's unfortunate that most universities and colleges in North America have failed in providing the mechanical or weld engineering graduates with BP - PC training. Also it's unfortunate that at most trade schools, weld educators, who typically have a strong SMA (stick) welding background, frequently place their MIG and flux cored training with emphasis on weld skills rather and very little focus on BP - PC.

 

 

 


The Imperial Oil Pipe Line Welds and Gas Shielded Flux Cored Wires:

The common E71T-1 and higher alloy E8T-1 small diameter, gas shielded, all position, flux-cored electrodes can provide many unique welding benefits when used with traditional constant voltage MIG equipment, or with CC generators that have a CV adapter. Similar to the traditional MIG process, the flux-cored process requires only two weld parameter settings, a volt setting and a variable wire feed control that regulates the welding current.

Thanks to lack of focus on the optimum weld practices and process controls, after two decades of use, the flux-cored welding process, while simple to operate, has inherited "people process issues" that are international in scope. I have been in more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities in thirteen countries and more than 80 percent of the weld shops were using:

A. The wrong flux cored electrode 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 all weld managers and supervisors, when it comes to optimum weld quality, with weld wires bigger is rarely better.

B. The wrong flux cored electrode type. Many welds on made on thick metals and the flux cored welds are made in the flat and horizontal weld positions. In these circumstance the so called all position welds wires such as EX1T-1 are the most frequent utilized weld wires, and are a poor choice. The all position wire don't have the deoxidizers or allow the current that should be used on most weldments that are > 7 mm thick. The EX0-T1 wires would be better suited.

C. The wrong flux cored shielding gas mix You can use argon mixes or CO2. In a ship yard or similar I would be using CO2 with Kobelco wires as these weld wires give a good weld control with CO2 and the CO2 provides superior fusion than argon CO2 mixes. For welding inside buildings, to reduce weld fumes with the E71T-1 wires I would be using using argon with 20% CO2?
Note: If you use 25% CO2. this gas mix is poorly suited for the MIG welds you may want to do.

D. The wrong flux cored weld parameters. With too many large projects you will find the welders are using Inappropriate welding parameters, or they will use on weld settings for every weld they do..

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.

 

 


Flux Cored: Pipe Weld Deposition Rates - Weld Costs.

The gas-shielded flux-cored wires, specifically those developed in North America by Alloy Rods and later on by Tri Mark, 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 two other stick entrenched industries such as ship yards pipe shops and heavy plate shops.

A typical weld deposition rate for a vertical up, pipe fill pass weld with stick electrodes would be 2 to 3 lb./hr, (0.9 to 1.3 kg/hr). In contrast for the same welds a conservative and "average" weld deposition rate of 6 to 8 lb./hr (2.7 to 3.6 kg/hr) is attainable with either the 0.045 and 0.052 in. (1.2 to 1.4 mm) diameter flux-cored wires. 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 on pipe Weld Layers and Arc Starts

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 or STT on automated pipe projects less fill passes and less tie-ins will be required. The time saved will allow the operator to clean the slag between weld passes.

Benefits of 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) diameter. These smaller wire diameters typically use a weld current range of 160 to 220 A. The flux-cored weld current range with the small electrode diameter 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 pipe welds, the potential for superior side wall penetration.

The flux-cored wire is unique in contrast to the MIG processes in that it offers high current density with a fast freeze weld slag. The weld slag generated with the SMAW E8010G electrode is sometimes
tenacious in the way it clings to a weld. In contrast a well manufactured flux-cored wire will produce a weld slag that should peel of while welding.

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 grinding.

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 FCAW fill pass features and benefits in contrast to the MIG processes.

1. With flux cored we can use one weld procedure, a narrow wire feed / voltage range, it can be simpler to operate.

2. Flux cored provides a slag that molds the metal requiring fewer welder skills and slowing the cooling of the weld which reduces weld porosity potential.

3. Flux cored provides higher weld energy and a more penetrating weld than either pulsed, STT or globular.

4. Flux cored weld equipment costs much less than pulsed or STT equipment.

5. Flux cored equipment is more durable and easier to repair than electronic power sources.

6. Flux cored is less sensitive to contaminates or arc blow.



 


Imperial Oil Steam Pipe Line and "Weld Costs":

When welding the electrode costs are typically only a small portion of the total welding costs,
it is interesting to compare consumable costs of the previously used SMAW process to the costs associated with the flux-cored process.

The pipe line contractor provided the following SMAW electrode data. The pipe weld crew of 10 welders and 10 helpers welded 16 pipe joints each day on the 16 in. (40 cm) diameter, one inch wall pipe. The pipe weld crew comprised of a "tack-root crew", two welders and two helpers, who welded the root, they then welded one or two hot passes. The pipe fill passes were made with 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 is lack of weld fusion that occurs at the arc starts. Given the field conditions, the high quality standards and high number of arc starts, it is an a tribute to the stick welders skills that their weld repair rate was less than 3 percent.

The Electrode Costs: There are approximately eight 3/16 x 14 in. (4.8 mm - 350 mm) SMAW electrodes per pound. The contractor paid $1.64/lb. (Canadian dollar at that time equals 65 cents to the 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 filler metal.


SMAW - FLUX CORED Pipe Weld Process Deposition Efficiency:

If you buy a pound of SMAW electrodes, how much electrode ends up as weld in the pipe joint? The electrode efficiency at this pipe project averaged 35 - 40 percent. In contrast, the flux-cored wires provided a weld deposition efficiency of 80 - 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 that required approximately 4 lb. of actual weld metal.

Note: In contrast to the SMAW, with the flux cored process, for each pipe joint we had to purchase 5 lb. of flux-cored filler at $1.70 lb. x 5 = $8.50, versus 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 many years 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 we have to add in weld gas costs. The all position flux-cored electrode will use an 75 Ar-25 CO2 gas mix. A typical North American gas cylinder costs $40. The argon mix cylinder will contain approximately 300 cu/ft. (13 cents per cubic ft.) The pipe welds will use an average flow rate 35 ft cubic feet / hr. The fill and cap pass require an arc on time of approximately 45 minutes, using approximately 27 cubic feet of gas, (27 x 0.13 cents = $3.50 gas cost/joint). Adding the gas cost to the electrode cost of $8.50 per joint = $12 per total consumable cost per flux cored joint versus $23 for the SMAW electrodes per joint

A 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 should 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 in contrast to $88,320 for SMAW. This provides a yearly weld consumable saving of approximately $34,000.

FLUX CORED WIRE - GAS COSTS SHOULD BE 30 - 40% LESS THAN SMAW ELECTRODE COSTS:

Imperial Oil Pipe Weld Labor Costs:

To complete the fill passes in this pipe joint, with two welders and two carriages with 0.052 in. (1.4 mm) diameter flux-cored wires, required six flux cored weld passes for each joint side. For the six weld passes an average continuous and conservative weld travel rate of 8 in/min. (20 cm/min.) would be selected. To weld each of the 6 fill passes (24 in. of the pipe circumference) would take approximately 3 minutes x 6 passes = 18 minutes x 2 carriages = 36 minutes of "actual arc-on-time". With a flux cored weld deposition rate of 6 lb./hr (2.7 kg/hr) (after slag removal), the 36 minutes delivers 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.

With flux cored and the reduced preheat requirement, significantly higher weld deposition rates and a reduction of grinding between passes, this process only required 3 welder and helpers, or 6 workers. With flux cored six workers now complete the same amount of work that 16 workers using SMAW produced.

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 roughly 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:

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 preheat.

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 annualy for a project that will continue for decades.

This Imperial Oil project first required a catalyst to create change in a thick skinned welding work force that was embeeded with it stick weld culture. I was that catalyst. This project then required that those that change to the flux cored process do so with the ability to optimize that process from both a manual and weld automation perspective, I provided that flux cored weld best practices - process control training, (you will find my flux cored - MIG training programs will provide the same weld quality - productivity benefits to your organization). Imperial paid me a few thosand dollars to provide a service that I believe has now saved them over ten million dollars, (the working man never gets rich). I am still waiting to recieve a Xmas card from the Imperial Oil corporate management, however I doubt they even are aware of what happened.

Note: In 2012 if you are using TIG to weld pipe and not using TIP TiG you are increasing you pipe weld costs by at least 200%.


YOU DON'T NEED NEEDED BELLS - WHISTLES TO PRODUCE OPTIMUM PIPE WELDS:

In the believe it or not column. In the early 1960s, an engineer in CA developed a MIG power source that could out perform any pulsed or electronic MIG power source used today on pipe lines or for cladding alloy applications. This power source could weld carbon steels, stainless, or any alloy in all positions, the welds would meet any weld code requirements, and if necessary you can weld the root, fill and cap passes with one set of welding parameters. This MIG power source that was not produced by Miller - Lincoln - Hobart or ESAB produced the untouched 5G weld below, was never fully accepted by a USA weld industry that did not undestand this equipment and process potential.

 

 

 

Canadian frigates and MIG and flux cored weld Issues:



This ship yard never knew it 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 b
uilding 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 engineering management at this Canadian ship yard had enabled poor weld practices and did not appear to understand the fundamental MIG and flux cored weld processes utilized to weld the Navy frigates. It was also interesting to note, that thanks to the lack of management process ownership, the few weld engineers 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 vast majority of these welders lacked an understanding of the MIG and flux cored processes utilized.


Incorrect weld process choices and weld settings for the Frigates.

When you weld a 1/4 (6mm) horizontal fillet weld with MIG or flux cored wire you do so with a single pass weld using either a MIG Spray mode weld, or a flux cored wire. Both process should attain
a typical weld deposition range of > 10 - 12 lb/hr. With a 30% weld duty cyle a welder who is managed, should be averaging 20 to 25 pounds of weld wire per shift.


AN EASY WAY TO SEE THE WELD PRODUCTIVITY
PERFORMANCE FACTOR IN ANY LARGE WELD SHOP.

To compete in a global weld market in which the Chinease are welding bridges for the state of California, management have to understand weld deposition rate potential per welder. In a large weld shop where welders weld and someone else does the fitting, if you multiply the total welder man hours by 3, you will see how many pounds of MIG or flux cored weld wire should have been deposited. Then call the purchasing manager, ask them to let you know how much wire was purchased and used. and you will get a grasp of where you are reference weld production potential.

HOW GOOD IS THE MIG OR FLUX CORED WELD PRODUCTION
EFFICIENCYAT YOUR PROJECT?

The average MIG and FCA weld wire usage per eight shift day for weld shops welding parts > 4 mm should be 20 pounds. A highly effiicient weld shop would be depositing > 24 pounds per-shift. Those shops that weld gage < 3 mm, parts should be depositing between 8 - 10 pounds per shift.

Note: Most of the large MIG - flux cored weld projects I visited were only achieving 40 - 60% of the welds that 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 goals
visit my manual MIG - FCA process control programs.


Note: Single pass welds are fine with horizontal fillet welds up to 5/16. When the horizontal fillet weld size required is larger than 5/16, you would have concern for side wall fusion, the solution is to then weld with 1/4 stringers. Do not allow manual weaves to be used for fillet welds above 5/16 as lack of fusion will occur and excess weld heat will be generated.

IN THIS SHIP YARD TWO WELD PROCESSES WITH INCORRECT PARAMETERS WERE BEING
UTILIZED FOR THE MOST COMMON WELD PRODUCED IN A WELD SHOP, THE 1/4 ,HORIZONTAL FILLET

At this ship yard, to make the common 1/4, carbon steel, horizontal fillet welds on the frigates, the ship yard welders would use
two welds that were carried out with two weld processes, MIG and gas shielded flux cored.

SOMEONE DID NOT TELL THE WELDERS IF YOU USE COLD WELD PARAMETERS, YOU
END UP WITH SOMETHING CALLED LACK OF WELD FUSION.


The first horizontal fillet weld pass was made on the 6 - 9 mm steels, with MIG short circuit - globular weld parameters, depositing 5 - 7 lb/hr. The short circuit parameters utilized were better suited to welding 0.080 gauge sheet metals. This first short circuit fillet pass had to result in welds with extensive lack of weld fusion. For the second pass the welders changed their weld process to flux cored. With flux cored they actually made no weld parameter changes. The flux cored settings ensured the welders would put cold flux cored welds over the top of the cold short circuit welds.

The two fillet weld passes were welds that had more lack of fusion than fusion, and the cold flux cored welds had extensive slag entrapment. Each day approx. 200 hundreds would use these poor weld practices while they put down thousands of feet of fillet welds on each frigate.

It may come as no surprise as I walked around the yard to discover that few in the yard knew what MIG short circuit, globular or spray was and even fewer understood the working range of the E71T-1 flux cored wires used


The short circuit and globular parameters were used with the 0.045 (1.2mm) wire, set at a typical wire feed rate of 210 to 280 ipm, 5 - 7 lb/hr with 180 to 240 amps - 19 to 22 volts. Apart from the extensive spatter, without question, the majority of these welds would result in extensive lack of weld fusion, on any carbon steel parts > 4 mm.





To add to the horizontal fillet weld problems generated at the yard, the MIG welds were then followed by a second cold weld pass made with an 0.045 (1.2 mm), gas shielded "all position" E71T-1 flux cored wire. The flux cored wire used the same voltages and wire feed settings used with the short circuit MIG settings, 210 to 280 inch/min. (5 - 7 lb/hr). At these wire feed and volts settings, the fast freeze, E71T-1 flux cored wires used at these low settings had to ensure a massive amount of lack of weld fusion with the horizontal fillet welds.

Note: The flux cored wire feed settings used for the "horizontal" fillet welds, were very low settings. To make a single pass, horizontal,1/4 fillet with the 0.045 flux cored wires, you would typically use a wire feed rate of approx. 500 inch/min, (11 lb/hr) with 27 - 28 volts.

T
he frigate fillet welds under discussion only required visual surface examination, however the majority of the welds in this ship yard would in my book never meet the definition of a sound weld.



 

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 300 welders approx. 50% longer than it should have. This Canadian yard spent over a million dollars annually on welder training which was producing extraordinary poor weld quality and over seven 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 they should have been attaining.

I was later informed that my weld report never got as far as the first manager who reviewed it. The report then disappeared. I was later told by a 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 BEST WELD PRACTICES - PROCESS CONROLS. WITH THESE SELF TEACHING OR TRAINING RESOURCES. WITH PROCESS EXPERTISE, IT'S EASY TO GENERATE
MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR COST SAVINGS AT ANY LARGE SCALE WELD PROJECTS:





I PROVIDED TRAINING THAT WOULD REDUCE THE OIL TANKER WELD REPAIR COSTS BY AT LEAST 8 MILLION DOLLARS PER SHIP

In building a fleet of oil tankers in Philadelphia, Aker Kvaerner, a global ship building company had budgeted a few hundred thousand dollars per ship for its projected weld repairs. In 2007, I was called in to help this yard with it's weld quality and productivity problems. At this time the weld repair costs per oil tanker was over approx eight million dollars. .


The prime manual weld process at the yard was the gas shielded flux cored weld process. Most of the 300 welders in the yard used E71T-1 (1.2 mm) flux cored wires to weld all position, vee groove, 9 to 25mm, steel joints that had ceramic backing for the open roots.


Like many ship yards, the Aker management, engineers and QA personnel knew little about the flux cored and MIG processes, their experience was usually with the SMAW (stick) process, a process in which weld skills is the prime requirement and minimal weld process expertise is requied.

In this yard, as it is with too many large scale weld projects, the flux cored welder training focus was on the "welder's skills, and the skills taught were in reality cast offs from the SMAW process and incorrect for flux cored. The ship yard training provided no best weld practices and process controls, both of which are essential to optimize both flux cored and MIG weld quality and productivity.


To work at the yard, welders had to pass an all position, flux cored weld tests with ceramic backed vee groove welds, (6 mm root gaps) The welds were to be made in accordance with the yards weld procedures.

TOO OFTEN THE WELD QUALIFICATION TESTS ARE IRRELEVANT TO THE WELDS MADE ON THE ACTUAL APPLICATIONS. It's important to emphasize, that like many weld applications, the weld qualification tests and data generated during tests under ideal weld circumstances will have little in common with the real world weld joints typically found in the weld shop or yard.

This ship yard was managed by managers - engineers who simply lacked the awareness of the unique requirements necessary to attain consistent optimum manual or automated flux cored weld quality for vee groove, ceramic backed welds. This lack of process control expertise appears to be common in many ship yards and large scale weld projects and typically as seen at this site it can have dire weld cost consequences.


THE EXTRAORDINARY OVER BUDGET WELD REWORK COSTS WOULD NOT CHANGE TILL ALL
THOSE INVOLVED, (INCLUDING THE FRONT OFFICE) FULLY UNDERSTOOD THE PROCESSES
T
HEY OWNED.

I insisted that all the welders, supervisors, engineers, managers and QA personnel in the yard participate in my unique Flux Cored Weld Best Practices - Process Control Training Program.

Note: This weld process training program requires approx. ten hours, "five hours classroom and five hours hands on".

In a few weeks my training was complete for the 300 welders and the weld decision makers. The ship yard QA department were given the responsibility to evaluate the weld cost saving results through the weekly reductions with the weld rework.

Three months after my flux cored weld process control the training, the ship yard QA department indicated > 50% 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.


Ed's MIG and flux cored self teaching or training programs are available at
this site




For decades as the prime process in ship yards was SMAW, a weld process that requires minimum weld process control expertise, a process in which weld skills are very important.

HOW MANY MORE DECADES WILL WE REQUIRE FOR MANAGERS TO REALIZE THAT SMAW HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH MIG OR FLUX CORED?

The reality is the SMAW process has nothing in common with the flux cored or MIG process. It's not unusual for weld personnel to have many weeks of flux cored hands on training at the ship yards, and then at the training completion find that when it comes to MIG and flux cored welds, the ship yard or weld personnel that have under gone weld training will do the following;


[a] 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 for the 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] LIMITED 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 ables 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] WHAT BEST MIG - FCA BEST WELD PRACTICES? As they have rarely recieved best practce 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] WHOS CONTROLLING THE 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 control weld costs.



A BREAK DOWN OF THE WELD COST SAVINGS GENERATED FOR THIS SHIP YARD:

Examine 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 savings for each oil tanker could readily achieve "10 to 14 million dollars". Larger ships built at the 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 hours to develop the Flux Cored training program available at this site. The weld control clock method I used to simplify the training, was a method I have developed over three decades. This program can be used for any gas shielded flux cored alloys or applications. The program is available in CD Power Point format for $395 plus shipping.

My thanks to the Aker
Kvaerner management for allowing me to be their short term catalyst for welding change
.


When will they ever learn?



In the good old stick (SMAW) weld days which for some projects is ongoing, some steel ships broke apart at the welds before they left the dry dock.

These and the catastrophic structural failures that occurred at sea, were often a result of low hydrogen cracking, poor weld practices, steels with poor chemistry (high impurities) and design ignorance of plate - weld mechanical properties and the influence of cold temperatures.

Since the 1980's the majority of ships have been built from high quality,low carbon steels and welded with low hydrogen SMAW - MIG and flux cored consumables. You would have thought these two important attributes would have resolved the catastrophic ship failure issues that occur in >2008.

Lets 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 bag.

03/ 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?


It's a weld reality that the QA departments in many ship yards / oil platform yards, while looking for weld defects will place minimal focus on the design fit tolerances and quality standards that are supposed to be applied to the part fit and daily weld edge preparations. Its also a fact that interpass weld temperatures are often not utilized with multi-pass welds or if specified ignored during the welds by both weld and QA personnel.


The picture on the left is a flux cored weld edge prep (made in 2007) at a USA ship yard. Yes the gap opening is larger than one inch. Also that is ice and water, and there was no preheat applied and when welding no interpass temperatures applied during the numerous welds. To add to this pathetic weld situation, the cutting oxides on the edge prep surfaces.

It's a weld reality, that many of the vee groove welds made on global ships and oil platforms and large stuctural applications will be made on questionable weld joints with "excess root gaps"
and contaminated wet or cold weld surfaces. Weld joints like this would not be allowed in any other industry.

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 to have a negative influence on the weld's heat affected zones.





2007: DOES A 1/4 (6 mm) OPEN ROOT GAP ON SHIPS PLATE PROVIDE THE SAME HAZ MECHANICAL PROPERTIES AS AN OPEN ROOT OF 1/2 (12 mm)? WITH THE EXTRA WELD PASSES, INCREASED HEAT AND INCREASED WELD DEFECTS, YOU WOULD EXPECT THE ANSWER TO BE NO.

THE NEXT QUESTION WOULD BE. WHY ARE THE EXCESS ROOT GAP OPENING TOLERANCES ALLOWED IN BUILDING SHIPS?

Weld qualification tests for critcal ship weld plate joints are typically taken from optimum weld joints with the minimum root gap openings. It would be of interest, if the navy and ship building industry, both of which enable weld speciifications that allow extensive, plus, open root tolerances, (sometimes as much as a 100%) would provide the necessay research to find out;


[a] 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 interpass 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 unexpectantly tear apart at sea, and you see that nice clean straight tear where the welds HAZ is located I think about these weld situations.





Quick, before it sinks, examine how nice and clean the catastrophic failure tears are, right down the weld seams.


2007: The weld failures on this ship occurred in the locations in which the welds should have been sound, as they would have be subject to NDT. With ship welds we need more focus on the weld quality that is being accepted and on the mechanical properties being attained in the weld's HAZ.




2007: It's a weld reality in ship yards and other mega oil and natural gas projects, that many unacceptable variables will happen to the weld joints and welds and those "variables that impact the welds are typically not considered in the pre-qualification weld procedures generated".

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 with the weld controls and not provide optimum weld settings to deal with the weld situations.


Weld Quality Standards will have a different meaning for each company that builds ships or oil platforms. One thing most QA departments will have in common, is their weld quality focus will be on "finding rather than preventing weld defects".


Have we learnt anything about welding ships in the last six decades?

29/07 Note from Ed Craig:





Designers and metallurgists will typically look to the ship's design, steel - alloy compositions, environment, water temp, weather and the formation of rust for the causes of many catastrophic ship failures. I wonder how many designers will take into account that on any global built ship the NDT that examines the internal weld quality is only applied to a small percentage of the ships welds.

With any ship there is always more bad welds then sound welds and many of the so called sound welds may have quality issues. As for those critical joints in which the internal weld quality is examined, it's common to find the root gaps may be oversize creating the need for more weld passes than those applied during the weld qualification tests. Extra weld passes will put more weld heat into the ships plates possibly increasing grain growth and reducing the mechanical properties.



CODE WELD PRE- QUALIFICATION TESTS SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE ALLOWABLE CODE SPECIFICATION "WORSE CASE WELD SITUATIONS" AND WELD PROCEDURES SHOULD COVER ALL THE POSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WILL OCCUR WITH THE WELD APPLICATIONS:




Oversized weld joints also contain more weld passes producing more internal weld defects. An increase in weld defects with a weaker plate influenced by a larger HAZ is not a combination any organization should accept.

The Navy stipulates a maximum root gap allowance which in many instances is not adhered to. The weld reality is weld and material metallurgical weld qualification tests should always be carried out with the maximum allowable root gaps.

Unfortunately as the photo on the left indicates there is also the real world weld joints that appear in a ship yard.


On every merchant and naval vessel, the common poor control of weld joint dimensions will often lead to over size weld joints. The poor edge preps on these joints leave the vee groove edges with irregular oxide surfaces. Cold plate temperatures, lack of interpass controls by the welders, poor weld parameters and poor weld techniques and lack of care of the consumables used will lead to extensive lack of weld fusion, weld slag inclusions and weld porosity.

As only a small portion of the so called critical ship welds are subject to NDT, both the navy and merchant navy would do well to put a renewed focus on the weld process control training that is focussed on weld defect prevention. 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 on typical weld and related issues that have occured in ship yards. It's true that with large scale weld fabrications it should be no surprise that they are extensive weld issues. It just seems strange that few managers today seem to want to take opportunity to take ownership ot their processes and control of the many variables that can provide dramatic weld cost reductions for their organizations.

 

 

The USS Nimitz. As reported by the Navy, only one weld out of
approximately 100 tested passed the NDT.

 

 

 

Was the ship's demise from a freak of nature or from poor welds?

MOST DESIGNERS ASSUME THAT THE SHIPS OR OIL PLATFORMS THEY DESIGN, ARE BUILT TO THE WELDING SPECIFICATIONS THEY PROVIDE. THE WELD REALITY IS FEW ARE, AND IT'S DIFFICULT TO TEST WELDS ONCE THE SHIP IS ON THE OCEAN FLOOR.

 

 

In six decades, have we learnt anything about welding ships?



The amount or type of weld defects found in ship construction
in 2012, has hardly changed in the last six decades.


In the 1940's bad SMAW (stick) welds, weld consumable issues, poor steels and poor weld practices were responsible for numerous Liberty ship catastrophic failures.

Sixty plus years later, we have achieved what? We have a superior flux cored, TIP TIG and MIG processes and we use superior steels, yet due to good weld practices, ships and oil platforms are still at risk for catastrophic failures.



 

For those looking for the structural security attained from the double hull construction that will occur when building large ships in the next decade, keep in mind that unless ship yards change their approach to weld best practices and process controls, the double hull ships may simply enable double the amount of bad welds.

SHIP DESIGN CAN BE IRRELEVANT WITHOUT SOUND WELDS:



2006: Each week one or two global ships sink, many as a result of weakened
structures from corrosion. How many
sink as a result of bad weld practices?

 

The infamous and highly ineffective Six Sigma Crutch is heading to some to ship yards and large weld fab shops, even after it has failed with the majority of manual and robot MIG and flux cored weld applications found in the the big three automotive and truck plants. As you will read at this site, these are the plants in which engineers are also in abundance, and lack of weld best practices and process expertise is rare.




While the QA manger focuses on the ISO paper work, and the inspection reports, the lack of weld best practices and process control expertise in his ship yard, leaves many of the ships welds in a precarious situation

 

Be a professional with the processes and consumables utilized.

 


A note from Ed Craig. 03/2007:


A ship yard may use 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 who have established Best Weld Practices and implemented effective Flux Cored Weld Process Control Training for it weld personnel.

How many ship yard managers and supervisors are aware of the following?

For decades the global shipyard focus has been on the welder's "stick welding skills while the majority of global ship yard welders that weld with the flux cored - MIG process, lack weld best practices - process control and consumable expertise.

Too many weld personnel in ship yards will daily use the unsuitable techniques and skills they learnt with the lower weld energy, lower weld deposition stick welding process
.

With the flux cored process, the variable size root gaps and the placement of weld across none conductive ceramic backing requires unique weld considerations and specific instructions for the all position, root, fill and cap weld passes. A visit to any global ship yard, would reveal that few welders, supervisors or "engineers" are aware of the flux cored process and ceramic requirements necessary for consistent weld optimisation.

2008: 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 ship 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 dont 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 and argon - 20% CO2"..




YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS IF YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE PROCESS.




Try the following fundamental weld process questions
.

[] Fundamental MIG Process Control Weld Test

[] Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Test.



Visit Ed's Unique, MIG and Flux Cored Weld
Process Control Training Resources

 

NORFOLK - The new amphibious ship San Antonio failed to complete a series of sea trials in late March, and faces $36 million 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, roughly $400 million over budget.



<1960: 5000 liberty ships built, 1000 catastrophic failures right down te weld seam.


> 2000: Forty years later, with superior steels and superior weld processes, many ships without explanation, and in calm waters get torn apart like a wet paper bag.

 



With optimum flux cored weld consumables 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 structures welds are creating the weakest link.


For decades, on many mega weld projects, the typical QA / CWI primary function has been to find fault after the weld completion. Possibly managers could encourage and train these guys to learn how to prevent weld defects, it sure would help the bottom line.



If you don't understand weld costs, you will not likely understand the requirements to attain optimum quality welds.


There are ten individuals, managers, engineers and supervisors having a weld meeting in the ship yard managers office. The discussion is on the increasing weld costs associated with the weld rework on fabricated components that require simple 1/4 flux cored fillet welds. You have provide these guys with the consumable information and the wire feed, amps and volts being utilized. The subject is heated and tempers are on the rise. As a pragmatic individual and the subject is "weld costs", you look around the room and say, "gentlemen there appears to be much confusion here, is there one of us in this room that can tell us the real cost of a 1/4 fillet weld one meter in length"?.

You might want to do this early in the day, because instead of the few minutes, for most it will take many hours and then the answers will be all over the place. Then again, if you like your job you would be better off not asking this question.

Note from Ed, please don't shoot the messanger.

Sometimes I feel that my comments on this site may be seen by some as 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 solutions. To those who are interested in weld best practices and process controls or weld cost simplification, click here.



In concern of the future weld liability weld consequences from welds that might fail

For those weld shop managers and engineers that are rearing up in defensive exasperation at my hands off manager - engineer comments and the criticism of the lack of global lack of process control expertise, please remember that too many of you will this year have to deal with excess weld budget costs, derived from poor weld production efficiency, over budget NDT costs, and extra weld rework costs.

The typical common weld issues will of course lead to tight production schedules which make the weld situation worse as the weld shops now have to drive production before quality. And lets not forget, the lack of process ownership ensures all involved will continue to work too many hours and loose too much sleep.





WELD LIABILITY CONSEQUENCES ARE MANY.
.


Of course human life is always the first concern,
however there are many other consequences from failed welds.





Every person who makes a weld decision, should learn weld process controls and understand the requirements to
| prevent
defective welds

 



With all the money Ed makes from weld consulting, he has made

a down payment on his dream "house boat".



I wonder how many ship yard or oil platform managers, supervisors and engineers would last in their jobs, if every weld they were responsible for, was given a 100% UT or radiograph examination?









This ship yard welder was welding USA oil tankers for three years,
and this was his best attempt at a welder requalification test.


|


The weld equipment and consuambles purchased are always a reflection of the weld managers expertise.

PURCHASE OF RIDICULOUS WELD EQUIPMENT
AND LACK OF FUNDAMENTAL BEST WELD
PRACTICES AND PROCESS EXPERTISE..


Take a moment look around your weld shop. Watch as the weld personnel "play with their MIG and flux cored weld controls". Evaluate why you are using a wide variety of unnecessary weld consumables and weld equipment. Go to your gas cylinder rack and ask your self whay there are more than two gas mixes. Chat with the purchasing mgr and find out how much was spent last year on grinding wheels and other equipment used for cleaning welds. And last, find out how much was paid last year for service, repair and maintenance costs" associated with the electronically sensitive welding equipment and weld guns purchased.





SHOULD THERE BE DOUBLE STANDARDS APPLIED TO WELDS AND
SHOULD THE SO CALLED CRITICAL SHIP WELDS BE MANUAL OR AUTOMATIC?

In my world every weld produced on a ship or used to fabricate a work bench should be considered critical, after all, whats the purpose of a weld? and why would you not ensure every weld produced is optimum. Also why would any manager allow double standards for welds:

In the ship yard, the structural welds in the center area of the ships are considered critical and subject to internal NDT weld evaluation. When NDT finds defects in these welds, then more weld area is subject to the NDT. This has great weld cost repercussions for the ship builder so these welds are given extra consideration and often the best welders are used on these joints. The point is in any facility that welds, if the correct training is provided there should be no best welders. Welding is not rocket science and there is only one standard that can be applied to all welds. If after the proper training is provided, you get rid of the welders who cannot meet that standard.

In many of the weld facilities that I visit, I note manual welders typically will make long fillet or vee groove welds, when low cost, easy to set up, automatic weld carriage equipment is on a shelf gathering dust. Controlling weld speed, weld weaves and wire stickout is essential if you want to attain consistent, optimum, uniform weld quality.

In the encouragement for flux cored or MIG weld automation, one of the problems ship and oil platform companies have, is that due to lack of weld process expertise, especially with the supervisors who should be providing the automation weld training, many welders do not know the correct data to dial in for the common 3/16 - 1/4 - 5/16 fillet welds. Ask 10 welders in a yard what is the MIG or flux cored "wire feed and weld travel rate settings" are for a 1/4 (6 mm) fillet weld and I guarantee you will 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 Scottish weld personnel. My experiences with 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 training in dealing with ceramic backed welds.

From my ship yard experiences, i developed thicker skin, an increased sense of humour and also developed the following flux cored, CD. Best Practices - Process Control Training Resources. This program is applicable to all position, open root, steel and ceramic backed, pipe and plate, fillets and vee groove welds.

For Ed's "MIG and Flux Cored" Weld Best Practices - Process Control Training resources.

 

 

WELD MANAGEMENT STARTS WITH "PROCESS - EQUIPMENT AWARENESS":


The first step for ship yard management is be aware of the level of weld process control expertise and reponsibility of the key weld decision makers in the yard. Lets face it, If these guys knew what was needed to minimize weld defects and optimize weld productivity, then the weld and rework costs would not be out of control.

Weld quality responsibility should be in the hands of managers, engineers, technicians and supervisors. Typically the weak link in this chain are the weld or fabrication supervisors. The irony is the supervisors are given more responsibilty for the welders than the engineers and technicians get. Notice that QA persons who find weld defects after the welds are complete are not included.

IF AN ENGINEER IN A SHIP YARD THINKS A WELDER IS NOT CAPABLE OF PRODUCING THE WELD QUALITY DESIRED, HIS OPINION ON THAT WELDER WILL HAVE LESS MEANINING THAN WHAT THE LESS QUALIFIED SUPERVISOR'S OPINION MIGHT BE.


The second step for ship yard management is the managers have to be aware that the weld equipment, process and consumables used in their yard rarely reach their full weld quality and productivity potential.
The soution to this is in the training programs provided. Yard management have to be aware that the MIG and flux cored welder training programs provided for weld personnel are obviously not effective, therefore training changes are required and training focus is necessary on teaching all weld personnel best weld practices and weld process controls

The ship yard management needs to be aware that the stick (SMAW) weldesr with 20 years experience typically only brings incorrect techniques and bad weld practices to the MIG and flux cored process? There is a global shortage of welders. If the weld management was aware that when new welders walk into their yard, few will have seen a ceramic backed root gap. If something like ceramic backing is unique or rarely utilized in other industries, that means welder's need to undersatnd the best practices and process controls necessary for welding on none conductive ceramics.

As its difficult to hire drug free welders, I dont want to waste ship yard money on testing welders to fail. Before testing welders I would give them a one day training on the best practice and process controls necessary for the process and consumable used in the weld test. I would also provide the welders with the optimum weld settings. With this logic ship yards would have less issues hiring welders?



As a matter of interest to the few managers that read 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.


MANAGEMENT ENSURES SHIP YARD WELDER TRAINING DEALS WITH THE YARD WELD VARIABLES:


[] While the ship yard management complains that their weld over cost per-ship is one to ten million dollars, they allow the ship yards fitters to produce oversize weld preps that typically add 30 to a 100% more weld.


[] In ship yards, thanks to lack of management / engineering focus on providing weld joints that are in compliance with the design, its not uncommon to find weld joints outside the code requirements with variable root weld gaps from 8 to 25 mm. These welds will be made. How will the welders react to the techniques and parameter changes required when welding across the extra size ceramic root gap.

[] How does the welder react when the weld procedure does not requ
ire preheat but the steel is either wet or cold.

[] 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 interpass temp controls or information about additional weld passes?

The 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 deliver weld joints that are simply not acceptable. To make their job a little more complex, ship yard welders often have to make the challenging welds on the poor oversized edge preps in 20 mph winds, 50 feet up on a scaffold, at minus 20 degrees.



THE FOLLOWING ARE A FEW WELD VARIABLES FOUND ON SHIPS AND OIL PLATFORM PROJECTS. THESE VARIABLES ARE THE REASONS WHY WELDERS REQUIRE THE ABILITY TO WALK UP TO THEIR WELD EQUIPMENT AND INSTANTLY SELECT OPTIMUM WELD PARAMETERS FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE ABOUT TO IMPACT THEIR WELD QUALITY OR PRODUCTIVITY POTENTIAL.


[] narrow, inconsistent root gaps,
[] variable and excess root gaps,
[] a lack of understanding of the unique weld requirements
necessary 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,
[] recieving 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 welding decisions, when the reality is, their
weld knowledge never got past a E7018 stick electrode.

 



PREVENTING HYDROGEN CRACKS:
What about those ships being built with the higher strength and low alloy steels? My gut instinct tells me that if a ship yard cannot control the weld issues that occur with the common low carbon steels, that ship yard will not provide any better controls on the higher strength or low alloy steels.

In the good old days when welders deposited a leisurely three or four pounds of stick electrode a shift, they would be concerned about the sponge like flux on the stick electrodes and it's attraction for The stick electrodes would be protected (sometimes) in a heated storage oven or electric portable heater.


Most welders on large projects typically only produce 50 - 60%
of the weld they should be producing.



Today MIG and flux cored welders on large projects should be depositing a minimum of 20 - 23 pounds of weld wire a shift, (few do). The reality is during the construction of many ships and oil platforms, that due to the lack of supervision - management focus on attaining weld deposition rates, most welders will typically deposit only 10 to 15 pound of flux cored weld per shift.

Due to lack of logical flux cored weld best practices, few weld facilities ask the welders to date and time tag new wire reels utilized. Whats normal is the flux cored wires are left out in cold, damp or humid conditions for god knows who knows how long.

In contrast to stick welding, which has the flux on the surface of the electrode, a primary benefit of the flux cored wire is the wire's flux is protected by an outer steel sheath. Some wire sheaths have a straight butt seam and it's easy for them to allow moisture through the seam, other wires like the one in the picture have seams that are designed with a little more consideration for keeping moisture away from the flux. With flux cored wires you get what you pay for.


Gas shielded flux cored wires are supposed to be low hydrogen products, however that definition only applies as long as the weld wire is sealed in it's container. The flux in these wires or the wire surface can readily be be contaminated with moisture, and show me a ship yard where moisture is not an issue.


Ed's flux cored, process control training program available on a CD also
deals with the weld practices necessary for all weld defect prevention.

 



WHAT IT TAKES TO GET HYDROGEN CRACKS STARTED:

[] High strength steels.

[] Large root gaps, plate misalignment, anything that results in excess weld heat and excess stresses.

[] Lack of control on the steel surface contaminates.

[] Lack of control with preheat and interpass temp controls.

[] Lack of history and protection for the flux cored weld consumables used.

[] Lack of awareness of the potential for moisture in the welding gases utilized

[] Lack of process and weld technique knowledge that could help minimize the effects of moisture

[] Lack of concern for the quality of the weld gases used. Many cylinders and pipes supplying MIG and flux cored weld gas mixes, will contain moisture.




WITHOUT BEST WELD PRACTICES AND PROCESS CONTROLS, THE 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, it will leave with hydrogen cracks.

To add misery to misery, the cracks will typically be in the weakened weld's heat affected zones, along side welds that are bound to contain lack of fusion, slag inclusions and extensive porosity.



Please remember when building a ship, or an oil plat form, a failed weld can have the same consequence as those weapons of mass destruction.





INVESTIGATION OF FRACTURED STEEL PLATES REMOVED FROM WELDING SHIPS.

Corporate Author : PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV UNIVERSITY PARK

Personal Author(s) : Williams, M. L. ; Meyerson, M. R. ; Kluge, G. L. ; Dale, L. R.

Abstract : 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 analysed 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 me: Fifty six years have passed since the above reports. When will ship yards get control of the common welding processes they utilize?

 

 



THE 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".





I had a good laugh in 2005 when I read in the AWS magazine about some VP in a ship yard looking at purchasing a CO2 laser for ship welding applications.

This was a yard I was familer with. It was a yard in which the management and engineers were unable to get control of the simple to use, two control, MIG - 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 weld. This was a yard in which the managers and supervisors lacked the ability to provide edge preps and weld gaps that meet the design specifications for flux cored weld, and now this is a yard in which the management wants to to bring a laser into their yard.



IN MY WORLD, A SHIP YARD WOULD BE RUN LIKE A NAVY SHIP:

Ship yard management would do well to compare themselves with the way the navy runs a ship and submarine. A captain or engineer on these vessels typically has the ability to operate or take apart most things on the ship. I am not suggesting that today that this comprehensive, technical expertise should be part of this generation's manufacturing managers job description, (it should however be part of an engineers job description). I am suggesting that in 2012 the global weld industry would benefit from a compromise in which managers and engineers have less reliance on salesmen or weld equipment rep and show more ownership interest in the equipment responsible for building their products.


To 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 knowledge"
.

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 ABILITY TO CONTROL
THEIR WELD PROCESSES, THEY WILL TYPICALLY LEAVE IT THE THOSE LOWER PAID
GUYS IN THE WELD SHOP TO EVALUATE NEW OR DIFFERENT WELD TECHNOLOGY.




2001: The evolution from the shielded metal arc welding (stick) process, to the gas shielded flux cored welding process has for many pressure vessel shops, pipe shops and pipe line contractors been painful and slow. The flux cored wires that offered many practical benefits for all position welds were developed > twenty five ago. The weld reality for those industries that weld pipe lines or and code projects with the SMAW process, is the gas shielded flux cored weld process evolution for most all position code application should have taken a few weeks.

Note: When the management and engineers don't provide weld process ownership, the so called weld decision makers will leave it to their welders to test new weld wires or gas mixes.

Some of the greatest resistance to the uses of flux cored wires came from the global pipe weld shops that supply the oil industry. These weld shops like ship yards were entrenched in SMAW (stick) weld practices, and the unqualified reps who were selling the flux cored wires lacked the process expertise necessary to optimize the flux cored weld performance and therefore could not convince the stick pipe welders to accept the superior flux cored process.

The majority of welders will lack the best practices and process control expertise necessary for weld consumable evaluation, and therefore the new consumable weld test results will often be poor. Also what motivation will welders have for going outside their comfort zones and recommending something new that would require major learning curve changes for the shop?

HAPPY WITH A PROCESS THAT REQUIRES MINIMAL 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 KILL.

History of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Related Resources:

 

In 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.

Efforts 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.

Subsequently, 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 weld failures that flooded the engine room with water. This water probably caused electrical failures that automatically shutdown the nuclear reactor, causing an initial power loss and the eventual loss of the boat.

 

How lack of metallurgical expertise
and cold water helped destroy the Titanic.

True Titanic Facts

 


Eight More Ships with Structural - Weld Problems.

From Marine Log Home Page:

Italian 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.

RINA 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.

Initial 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.

RINA 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, including:

[] 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.


Side 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 WELDS DONT GET YOU, MAYBE THE RUST WILL:

 

 

THE NEW SUPERTANKER PLAGUE
By Richard Martin

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blame it on super-rust, a virulent form of corrosion that has destroyed hundreds of ships and could sink the oil industry.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


On 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 storm.

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 — Europe’s largest oil spill in two decades.

Built in Japan in 1975, the Erika was typical of today’s 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 sinking.

The final report on the disaster, issued in January 2000 by the French investigative agency Bureau d’Enquetes sur les Accidents en Mer, concluded that severe corrosion had weakened the Erika’s hull, causing the ship to flex in the storm and eventually to fracture.

The volume of oil moving by ship is soaring. And in traditional tankers, accelerated corrosion is engineered right into the body of the vessel.

The 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.

For 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 ship’s 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 maneuver.

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 vessel’s 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.

Rust attacks 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 without incident.

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 they’re 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. What’s 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 Erika’s 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.

So 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 Alaska’s 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 unheard-of levels.

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 company’s 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 won’t be long before the first double hull goes the way of the Erika.

Rust arises from an intricate subatomic dance in which water’s 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 ship’s 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 rate.

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 metal’s 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 ship’s 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.

The 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 oil’s 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 isn’t easy. Scaffolding must be constructed inside empty, unlit tanks, and even then inspectors can view only small portions up-close.

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.

Super-rust 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. What’s 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.


At the same time, manufacturing efficiencies have reduced the thickness of hulls and decks. Guided by software modeling, designers put plenty of steel where it’s 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.

These 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.

Even 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.”






Polar Resolution.

All ships look old unless they’re 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 from within.

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 Resolution’s 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 man’s thirst for oil.

The tank floor is covered with epoxy. But overhead, the vapor space is uncoated — contrary to classification-society recommendations.

This expanse of bare metal is a stark emblem of the industry’s 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 ship’s last inspections “failed to adequately represent the condition of the vessel’s 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.

At one 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, Lloyd’s 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.

What’s more, 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 owner’s 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 Intertanko’s Communications Committee, declared the current inspection system “monstrously outdated.”


Some weld rework costs can be extraordinary.


According 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 ship’s 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 contractor’s 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 Grumman’s Chairman acknowledged that the company was aware of the problems and is working on improving its processes.

The 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.

(Note from Ed. Welding Titanium. They should have used TIP TIG which was available at this time.


The 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 people are not doing their job, not qualified to do the job, it's time to hire qualified managers who can rectify these situations.





THE FOLLOWING IS A REASON YOU CANNOT APPLY DOUBLE STANDARDS TO SHIP OR OIL PLATFORM WELDS:




AS THIS NEXT ARTICLE INDICATES. EVERY WELD SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRITICAL WELD:

 


 

Authors KITUNAI, Yoshio (Japan Crane Association)
KOBAYASHI, Hideo (Yokohama National University)


On 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.

The investigation showed that a fatigue crack had propagated from the double fi
llet 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
A 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.

As 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.

When 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.


(3) 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.

(3) 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 out.


This is a partial report found on the web and it enpahasizes that all welds should be considered critical.

D
ate August 10, 2001. Revised Nov 2001.

 

Please never let the Self Shielded flux cored
process get into your facility.

L.A Buildings, Earthquakes and welds that should not have failed

This story has it all. Lincoln Electric and their incredible defence of their unsuitable self shielded flux cored weld consumables. Politicians and corporate management and the common lack of accountability The selection by inexperienced California engineers of questionable weld consumables for the majority of the construction projects. Cleveland voters sending donations to California politicians. USA Tax payers stuck with the welding related bills. Lobbyist, Lincoln and FEMA connections. A generous grant of millions to a company that did not ask for it. The possibility of future buildings designed to with stand an earth quake waiting to collapse and let's not forget, the deaths that occurred and the casualties that will occur in the next L.A earthquake.

If this was a movie I would call it;

"The Fox who was asked to guard the Lincoln Hen House"

Note: The self shielded flux cored wire consumables recommended by Lincoln and the Chrysler corporate weld engineer, have cost the Auto / Truck Industries millions each year on unnecessary weld rework, rejects and robot down time..

For auto / truck Self Shielded flux cored wire problems, click here.

 

 

The Beijing Olympic Birds Nest.

WILL IT BE A BIRDS NEST OR A SPIDERS
WEB FOR CHINEASE SPECATORS?

 

Written by Ed Craig.
Posted www.weldreality.com.
Aug. 2. 2008.


Which has more value, great design or sound welds? The five hundred million dollars, Beijing Olympic stadium, is wrapped with a unique high strength steel box cocoon that weighs approx. 45,000 tons. At the end of July, two weeks before the 91000 seat stadium was ready to host the 2008 Olympics, I watched a Discovery Channel program about the stadium construction. The steel bird's nest design is without question a wonder to behold, however having a slight interest in fabrication and welding you know where my focus was and I could see the welds were a mess.. Click here for the rest of this story.


 

Conclusion from Ed.

WELD SHOPS WILL NOT CHANGE WHEN MANAGED BY MANAGERS OR
ENGINEERS WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN WELD PROCESS OWNERSHIP.


Of course there are a few ship and oil platform yards and large scale weld projects that will be using best weld practices and in full control of the weld processes utilized, however in the majority of large scale, steel construction facilities, lack of management - engineering process ownership and weld design apathy is like a cancer that for decades has been spreading throughout this important global industry.

Living with poor weld practices, lack of process controls and manufacturing standards in which design tolerances have no meaning is so common that many managers would do well to place a large sign in front of their ivory towers that states. "


"Please dont come into this office with the idea
that myself and fellow managers and engineers should actually take ownership of the weld equipment and processes in this organization, that's not the way we do it, and I don't see the need to change our our hands off status quo".


THE Good News: Because things are so bad in many global weld shops, there is a remarkable opportuinty for dramatic weld quality - productivity improvements. For management that can get there head out of the sand, this means that there is a great opportunity to provide extensive weld labor, equipment and consumable costs savings.

For those that want change, an important tool that can enable the weld results you desire is my Best MIG and Flux Cored Weld Practices and Weld Process Controls, Self Teaching and Training resources.





If you are teaching your self, or providing weld process control training for others, the following resources are the key to attaining MIG and flux cored weld process optimisation.

Item.1. The Book: "A Management & Engineers Guide To MIG Weld Quality, Productivity & Costs"

Item 2.
A unique robot MIG training or self teaching resource.
"Optimum Robot MIG Welds from Weld Process Controls".


Item 3.
A unique MIG training or self teaching resource.
" Manual MIG Weld Process Optimisation from Weld Process Controls".

Item. 4. A unique flux cored training or self teaching resource.
"Optimum Manual and Automated Flux Cored Plate and Pipe welds.

Item 5a."Proceso de Soldadura MIG Manual" (MIG Made Simple. Self teaching in Spanish)

Item 6a. The Self Teaching MIG Book/ Video. (MIG Made Simple in English).

Note: Items 2-3-4 are the most comprehensive process control, self teaching and training programs ever developed..

Visit Ed's MIG / flux cored process control books and CD training resources.





Have you visited Ed's Bad Weld Sections?





www.weldreality.com is the world's largest web site
on MIG - TIG - FCAW process controls..




TiP TiG the world's most important weld process for
pipe and alloy welds can be viewed at
www.tiptigusa.com