The Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) continues to highlight the importance and value of International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certification, specifically ISO 3834 certification for organisations in the welding industry.
SAIW qualifications and certifications manager Herman Potgieter points out that ISO certification ensures the quality of production, standardisation and continuous improvement but, most importantly, the competitiveness of a company.
“While the most well-known standard is ISO 9001, which outlines the requirements of quality standards, ISO 3834 sets the standards for welding quality and it is complementary to ISO 9001.
“ISO 3834 identifies all factors that could affect welding quality. It does not specify quality standards for the finished product only but also for every stage of the work in progress,” notes Potgieter.
ISO 3834 prescribes that welding services and component suppliers have to ensure a systematic approach to welding by continuously improving and applying process management in the manufacture, repair and maintenance of components.
“By doing so, organisations can increase customer satisfaction and competitiveness, ensure greater reliability and ensure a longer equipment life span, as well as improved health and safety standards,” he says.
ISO 3834 also assists employees in understanding job requirements, gaining professional recognition and delivering according to customer requirements, adds Potgieter.
“As standards against which employees can measure their work are set, it is possible to benchmark, set quality targets and continuously improve production and the quality of workmanship,” he adds.
Further, when incorporated with ISO 14731, which provides standards for welding coordination tasks and responsibilities, ISO 3834 makes employers aware of the minimum requirements for employees who are responsible for welding coordination and inspection.
Other benefits of ISO 3834 include fewer reworks, more efficient technologies, an enhanced organisational reputation, a proficient workforce, increased project management efficiencies and international recognition as a provider of high-quality products and services, states Potgieter.
He notes that the increased quality of goods and services will decrease the incidence of waste and rejections, positively affecting production and maintenance costs.
“It also results in a reduction of third- party auditing costs, as procurement managers will generally accept ISO 3834 certification,” he says.
Fabrication companies, construction companies, manufacturers, mining companies and welding workshops should all obtain and maintain ISO 3834 certification, suggests Potgieter.
“In fact, welding permeates most industries and the consequences of low- quality welding are, in many cases, life threatening. It is therefore of paramount importance that companies involved in welding be ISO-certified,” he asserts.
Different Certification Levels
ISO 3834 certification comprises three levels of quality requirements and certi- fication is carried out accordingly.
The first level comprises comprehensive quality requirements, where the welding technology, materials and con- tractual requirements are technically demanding and vary from contract to contract.
This usually includes large steel fabrication projects involving pressure vessels, boilers and rotating equipment, says Potgieter.
The second level comprises standard quality requirements, where the welding technology and materials are technically demanding but the variety and range of the products are limited. This includes fabricators involved in the specialist manufacture of stadiums, shopping centres and steel support structures, he says.
The third level comprises elementary quality requirements, where the technology and materials are relatively simple. Typically, this includes steel safes, gates, household furniture and vehicle exhausts, explains Potgieter.
The SAIW’s Certification division is authorised by the International Institute of Welding (IIW) to operate its Manufac- turer Certification Scheme in South Africa.
“The scheme is primarily aimed at improving the quality of welded products produced by fabricators so that sound welds are produced on a con- sistent basis,” says SAIW technical services manager Sean Blake.
In addition, the scheme also assists local fabricators in becoming more competitive in the local and global markets.
“It is of huge value to prove the competence level of an organisation to customers. “Companies certified through SAIW Certification have verification that the company is compliant with the ISO 3834 standard, as certified by the highest welding authority in South Africa and supported by the global welding authority, the IIW,” says Potgieter.
Blake adds that the SAIW has, over the years, certified in excess of 40 com- panies.
“It is good to know that so many local companies can be globally competitive,” he concludes.