Avoid rather than Repair them.

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Preventing Welding Failures in Production

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Welding-production-failures are most disturbing events.

The regular course of industrial welding activities is compromised.

To prevent welding failures in production, the following are needed:

Adequate expertise,
attention to detailed planning
and implementation of quality requirements.

Failures produce manifold consequences.

Among these:

  • Loss of material and money,
  • loss of productive time,
  • production of scrap,
  • need for repair,
  • supply delay,
  • loss of customer confidence,

These are some of the immediate effects of any serious disorder to production plans.

  • Regular workers are suddenly thrown out of their work.
  • New productive activities have to be made up for them in a hurry.
  • Other people must investigate the Welding-production-failures.
  • correct production must be resumed in the shortest time.

In a different page on Service Failures, we examined the occurrence of weldments failures in service. There

  • the core reason for the accident has to be determined.
  • responsibilities must be ascertained and
  • ways to avoid such events in the future must be found.

Here Welding-production-failures are avoidable defective conditions.

They should be addressed with a different approach.

Adequate preparation is missing if:

  • a test piece fails to stand up to mechanical requirements, or
  • a workpiece fails to meet nondestructive inspection demands.

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Notwithstanding the pressure from production management, no shortcuts are generally possible.

A thorough investigation of production failures should be called for.

Preferably it should be conducted by persons with knowledge and experience of the processes involved.

The task of whoever is in charge of investigating Welding-production-failures is to describe them fully.

All operations stages should checked step by step, to isolate those introducing non conforming results.

A review of the most common Welding Defects may be useful at this stage.

Further information on this topic may be found in the online links listed in our Mid December 2007 Bulletin, available by clicking on
Resource No.40.

Additional nondestructive examinations may be required

  • to further characterize the discrepancies from requirements and
  • to look for production failures origins.

Among these, all unacceptable discontinuities described in engineering documents must be investigated, by looking in depth at the causes generating them.

In particular cracking, a frequent occurrence of Welding-production-failures, may have many origins.

Those should all be addressed by a complete metallurgical examination that uses all needed suitable means.

See in this context Weld Cracking and Stress Corrosion Cracking.

Also Hydrogen Embrittlement might be involved.

In the past, a short note on Welding Failures Investigations, intending specifically Welding-production-failures, was published (2) in Issue 66 of Practical Welding Letter for February 2009.
Click on PWL#066 to see it.

Efforts should be made to collect information relevant to Welding-production-failures.

Suspicious signs should be identified, that might help in finding out if any obvious causes contributed to the mishap.

A thorough analysis may hint at what went wrong and suggest how to overcome the hindrances.

Beware of changes.

If until some time before, there were no hints of difficulties, and manufacturing went on normally without Production-failures, then look for anything, including negligible details, that may have since changed.

Sometimes, in the quest for small savings in materials or time, unjustified short cuts are initiated by somebody.

These persons may have large experience in other sectors, not necessarily in the Welding-production-failures environment.

Any apparent minor change should be questioned: about

  • suppliers,
  • materials,
  • consumables,
  • equipment,
  • routine maintenance,
  • tools,
  • fixtures,
  • workers,
  • helpers,
  • spares,
  • parameters,
  • location in the shop,
  • time of the day,
  • weather,
  • temperature and
  • many other details not included in this partial list.

Don't overlook anything at this stage.

If you find a difference, don't dismiss it as unimportant.

Be especially suspicious with material changes, even if nominally the new ones (possibly cheaper) should be exactly the same as those used before.

Then check the equipment working condition.

Maintenance people should look for worn out or partially damaged items that must be replaced to avoid production failures.

If measuring instruments were not calibrated recently, they should be calibrated now, otherwise there is no way to know if the applied parameters are correct.

Welding Procedure Specifications should be checked or established if missing, to have all details written and fixed.

No essential preparation steps or checks should be skipped, because quality and Welding-production-failures depend on them.

New production, never attempted before, should be preceded by process development and implemented while collecting all data and results to validate equipment and parameters.

When investigating Welding-production-failures, documents recording previous experience could be instrumental in finding what went wrong.

For this reason, if not for other Quality Assurance obligations, they should be initiated and collected regularly.

In particular:

  • receiving inspection certificates and test reports,
  • heat treatment logs,
  • equipment regular maintenance records,
  • welding documents like WPS (Welding Procedure Specifications) and PQR (Process Qualification Records),
  • welders' certifications, and
  • testing and inspection reports
may be most important in helping investigating production failures.

In conclusion one must remember that in production, the successful performance is limited to a narrow window for each one of a great number of determining factors.

Any small deviation from what was determined to be the best practice, may shatter the good results.

However difficult, it is much easier to keep constantly all parameters correct, than being compelled to look for whatever caused production failures.

Or to check if anybody, willfully or negligently, missed essential steps of the process, possibly in the vain hope of sparing toil or of gaining time.

No doubt that correcting unscheduled production failures is a most urgent task.

Good practice however should strive to optimize production as a continuous effort.

Seek the relevant article on Process Optimization (2) in Issue 102 of Practical Welding Letter for February 2012.
Click on PWL#102 to see it.

An article on Where to look at first? was published (7) in Issue 119 of Practical Welding Letter for July 2013.
Click on PWL#119 to see it.

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Welding Defect Failures


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