Keeping track of welding procedure specifications (WPSs), procedure qualification records (PQRs) and performance qualification records (WPQRs) can become a tedious task. A simple WPS and PQR may not seem like much, but a medium to large contract may require you to qualify 5-10 welding procedures procedures along with 15-20 welders. If this is the case you may end up with more paperwork than you care for. Keeping track of all these documents is very important to meet contract documents requirements, but in the long run it can save you, or cost you, thousands of dollars.
There are three common ways in which our customers store qualification records:
- Forms filled out by hand and stored in a physical file.
- Forms filled out electronically (i.e. MS Excel spreadsheet) and stored either on a computer, external hard drive or company server.
- Forms filled out using dedicated welding software with cloud-based storage and ability to back up in a local (company owned) server.
All three methods have benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a quick look.
This is how it was done 30+ years ago. It works, it is still acceptable and is probably the most common way of keeping track of qualification documents. It is easy to do and does not require computers.
The drawback is the dependency on hard copies. Retrieval of forms can be cumbersome if you have to sift through hundreds of records. Knowing when welder performance qualifications expire becomes a nightmare. Knowing if you have qualified similar procedures in the past which can be used on new contracts is difficult. All this leads to unnecessary requalifications which can cost thousands of dollars.
Microsoft Excel Forms
This is one step above physical forms. You get the benefits of physical forms since you can have printouts which can be stored physically. However, you have the ability to back up these forms and store them on a local computer or company server. These files can now be shared via an enterprise resource planning systems, such as SAP, between different locations.
Although this type of storage provides the ability to back up and share documents it still does not provide an easy method to search for expiration dates or for existing procedures. The extent to which you can search for documents depends on how these were saved on the server or ERP system. This, as with physical forms, leads to additional unnecessary qualifications.
It may appear that having saved files is a foolproof way of avoiding additional costs, but the reality is that most of our customers end up qualifying new welding procedures and retesting their welders’ performance on every new job. This is a way of playing it safe, but they don’t have a grip on how much this is costing them.
With today’s technology using software that is specific to welding procedures and performance qualifications is a no-brainer. There are many powerful software options in the market today. Some have been in existence for over 10 years. The newer ones seem to have better functionality and user friendliness. Many companies offer free trial periods which allows you to get a feel for the software before you spend a dime.
The best options for this type of software should at the bare minimum:
- Alert you when welder performance qualifications are about to expire
- Help you keep track of welders’ work to avoid lapse of qualification period of effectiveness
- Easily search for already qualified welding procedures which can be used, thus avoiding costly requalification.
- Assure that you do not write a WPS that is outside the limits allowed by the corresponding PQR.
- Cloud storage for easy access (with proper credentials) and backup.
- Ability to export to excel or PDF in order to provide copies to welders and compile project books for customers, inspectors, engineers and quality personnel.
- Full traceability to welders, inspectors, tests results, etc.
The drawbacks of this method for documenting and storing qualification records are dictated by the software program you use. It usually comes down to how user friendly the software is and the level of support you get from the developer.
At Welding Answers our software of choice is WeldNote. Many of our readers have asked for recommendations on welding software and this is the one we recommend without hesitation. We will be publishing and article specifically on how we use WeldNote in the near future. For now, if you would like to learn more about this software and how its features can help you with your documentation and storage of WPSs, PQRs and WPQRs click here.
If you have experience with other welding specific software programs we would love to hear all about it. Simply send us an email or post your comment below.