AS/NZS/ISO 3834 – What is it and how can it help you?
Although your business may be certified to ISO 9001 and compliant a business quality management systems, this does not necessarily mean you have adequate control over your welding operations.
Having your management systems up to spec, but not being able to demonstrate consistent based on your work practices, can result in the loss of new contracts or loss of rework.
If your business relies on a management system that includes welding under the guise of a ‘special processes’ noted by 9001, you may very well have a false sense of security. AS/NZS/ISO 3834 is specifically written around welding and the processes that are required to ensure quality targets are met.
As the quality adage goes, ‘control the process and the outcome will take care of its self. ISO3834 provides you with a framework to do exactly that, control the process. It can be of significant benefit to your business by reducing risk in terms of financial and loss of reputation.
AS/NZS/ISO3834 is broken up into three levels of control based on the type of work your company does.
- Part 2 for critical structures such as pressure equipment and high end structural
- Part 3 for normal structure and class 3 pressure equipment
- Part 4 for basic structural.
The levels of controls are higher for more critical structures that have a higher risk.
One of the key parameters of ISO 3834 is to ensure you have competent personnel. It refers directly to ISO 14731, ‘Welding Co-ordination – Tasks and Responsibilities’.
Competence is defined as qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours.
Ensuring you have competent welding management staff is key to providing clients with a degree of assurance you are able to deliver what you say you can and protecting your business from rising costs due to rework.
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BY having an audited ISO3834 welding management system not only can prospective and existing clients have a higher degree of confidence in your companies welding but also the asset you produce for them. This can open the door to greater recognition and increased business opportunities both locally and globally
How does ISO 3834 certification work
The quality of a weld cannot be verified without destructive / mechanical testing of the product, it is critical you prove a process and follow it to ensure the fabrication performs as intended and meets the service conditions it is exposed to.
To ensure quality is built into the fabricated item by using an effective welding management system, there are five steps which have to implement.
- Your company does a self assessment using the criteria in ISO3834 (2,3 or 4) to determine what procedures and forms you currently have, to allow you to fill the gaps, it also highlights the overlap with ISO9001 for things like contract review and supplier management.
- Once the identified gaps are filled, and the management system is used for a period, an internal audit can then be performed to see how the system is performing. Any areas that require attention are highlighted and addressed.. Secondly, the validation and confirmation of certain customer contracts is required, to ensure full compliance to existing client expectations.
- As part of this you need to demonstrate competence of your responsible welding coordinators (RWC) and his/her deputies.
- Once you are satisfied that is the system is functioning an external certification audit can be organised
- The external audit typically conducted by a body like the Australian welding institute to ISO 3834-2, ISO 3834-3, or ISO 3834-4 covering the welding processes and materials you typically use is conducted and it is verified there are no major non conformances the certificate is issued. The certificate is valid for one year, and subject to an annual surveillance audit initially to ensure ongoing compliance. Recertification periods can be extended based on performance and provided there is no chance of the RWC.
It can be really difficult to get your head around what is required to meet the requirements of ISO3834, you can give it go yourself or engage someone that does it as part of their core business,
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Technoweld can design and implement your ISO 3834 system to be certified by the Australian Welding Institute (AWI). The improved operational procedures and the net results in terms of less rework, meeting customers expectations and will increase customer satisfaction and likely lead to an increasing order book and higher profitability