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By Spencer O. Luke By Feature

By Spencer O. Luke



Reviewing Welding Procedures

Here’s a look at some of the mistakes commonly found in Welding Procedure Specifications and how to avoid them

A competent review of welding

procedures is an essential safeguard

that can help ensure production

welding (e.g., by the fabricator,

contractor, subsuppliers, and erector) is

in compliance with the requirements of

the construction code and any

additional requirements imposed by a

contract specification and applicable

industry standards.

Imagine the consequences if any of

the following occurred:

• Grade 91 (9Cr-1Mo-V) piping for

critical steam service was welded

with B3 consumables (2¼Cr-1Mo).

• Austenitic stainless steels for

corrosive service were welded using

plain carbon steel welding


• Piping or vessels for cryogenic

service were welded with a welding

procedure qualified without the

required Charpy impact tests.

with code requirements, does not mean

that is actually the case. In some

instances, nothing could be further

from the truth.

Common Mistakes

Experience after many years and

reviews of thousands of welding

procedures has shown there are a few

common mistakes of which both

writers and reviewers should be made

aware. A large percentage of errors is

due to the writer failing to do the


• Proofread the document

• Do a variable-by-variable code check

• Fail to ask him- or herself if the

procedure makes good welding

common sense.

Most errors seem to be due to a lack

of attention to detail, so here’s a quick

checklist that will help eliminate a lot

A review by independent

organizations or third-party insurers

who have welding experts generally

helps to ensure the documents are

properly qualified, written, and


Using Software to Write Procedures

Writing procedures using available

welding procedure software programs

does help ensure that all the required

variables are properly addressed;

however, the writer may still need to

address any special items such as

mandatory preheat or postweld heat

treatment (PWHT) requirements, and

special contract requirements. The

person qualifying the procedure still

needs to do so using appropriate filler

metals and be knowledgeable enough

• Gas tungsten arc welding occurred

of errors.

to specify appropriate welding

using an argon/oxygen shielding gas

• Check the code.

parameters. Before overriding any item


• Check the contract.

within the software program, the user

• ASME code work took place using

AWS D1.1 welding procedures.

These are just a few examples of

glaring errors found during welding

procedure reviews. The list of errors

(and omissions) goes on and on —

from minor, inconsequential errors and

typographical errors to major critical


Just because a Welding Procedure

Specification (WPS) or Procedure

Qualification Record (PQR) has been

“certified” by the manufacturer or

contractor as being in conformance

• Check for special service


• Proofread.

As with writing any formal

document, it’s advisable to draft the

procedure, walk away from it for a day

or two or even longer when possible,

and then come back to it again and

review it for technical content and

accuracy. Whenever possible, ask

another competent individual to review

the document. Also consider asking an

experienced welder to look at the


must know whether or not it will

violate any code requirement.

It’s not uncommon to find an

electronically produced WPS or PQR

(such as created in MS Word or Excel)

that was apparently created by

modifying another electronic WPS or

PQR. The writer duplicated the

existing WPS or PQR in order to

modify it and generate a new WPS or

PQR; however, the person failed to

update all the necessary fields. One of

the most common errors of this type is

where the filler metal on the new WPS

  • 26 Inspection Trends / July 2013

or PQR was changed without updating

the base material type (or vice versa).

For example, a WPS might incorrectly

indicate an E7018 electrode to weld an

ASME P-No. 8 (stainless steel) base

material. Mechanical test data on PQR

forms are often inappropriately

duplicated from one PQR to another.

This same problem occurs when

multiple references to the welding

consumables are used on a WPS. For

example, a WPS might indicate E7018

on the first page and E8018-B2 on the

second page. Always check for

multiple references to make sure the

consumable classifications are

consistent. Using a WPS or PQR form

that specifies the consumable

classification(s) in only one location on

the form eliminates this type of error.

Beware of Outdated or Incomplete Forms

Using incorrect forms leads to

errors. For example, if a form for the

shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)

process is used for the gas metal arc

welding (GMAW) process, the writer

can easily fail to address shielding gas

since there isn’t a data field for that


Errors occur when outdated or

incomplete forms, without data fields

for all the required code variables,

are used. It is much easier to identify

any missing information when proper

up-to-date forms with all the necessary

fields are used.

Always use the latest code edition

to qualify a welding procedure unless

there is a specific reason to use an

earlier edition. Often the code edition

year listed on PQRs is a much earlier

edition than was current at the time of

qualification. Laboratories performing

testing should also be requested to use

and identify the latest code edition on

the report forms.

All the pages of a WPS should

have the same identification number

and the same revision level, and all

pages of a PQR should have the

same identification number. When

WPSs are revised, the revision level

should be increased. When PQRs are

corrected or amended, a notation and

recertification signature should be

added in order to document the

correction or amendment.

Particular attention should be

made to the contractor’s document

control procedures. The same errors

identified and corrected on one

contract sometimes resurface on

submittals for a later contract.

The Review Process

Review of procedures is

complicated when insufficient

information is provided with the

submittal. It’s not uncommon to be

asked to review a stack of procedures

without being provided much other

information. It is time consuming for

the reviewer to track down contract

specifications, materials of

construction, identify any special

service requirements or applicable

industry standards, etc. For

professional submittals, the submitter

should consider at least developing a

cover page that briefly describes the

contract, materials of construction, any

special requirements, and the

assignment of the WPSs.

While the review process should

ultimately result in procedures that have

been accepted, the shop or field CWI

should verify the procedures are

implemented properly; for example,

verifying that the WPS is used only

within its qualified limits. Occasionally a

contractor will try to sneak through a

WPS to weld on base materials the WPS

is not qualified for, maybe with the

thinking that the WPS is “close enough.”

Fabrication codes generally require

contractors or fabricators responsible

for welding also to be responsible for

qualifying their own welding

procedures. In the end, the contractor

or fabricator is also technically

responsible for the content and

accuracy of the welding documents.

For reviewers who are not employed

any consequences from oversights in

review of the welding procedures.

While a reviewer might not always

check every variable in a welding

procedure, the reviewer and especially

the writer should be aware of possible

consequences of any oversights. An

authorized inspector, for example,

might decide that welds produced with

a noncompliant WPS needs to be cut

out rather than accept the welds as a


Verifying that welding procedures

are properly qualified, meet contract

requirements, and are properly

implemented is serious business. In

extreme instances, noncompliance can

potentially result in loss of life, or

rework costs and delays totaling

hundreds of thousands if not millions

of dollars.

Commonly, errors are attributed to

the submitter or writer of the

procedures failing to pay attention to

the details of the contract or the

particular service requirements. The

writer, submitter, and reviewer should

always have a basic checklist in mind

regarding how welding procedures are

written and qualified for the industry

they serve. That checklist would vary

from industry to industry.

A mental checklist might include,

for example, contract specification

special requirements, specific code

restrictions, NACE service, cryogenic

service, seismic service, etc. Specific

code restrictions might include, for

example, mandatory preheat or PWHT

requirements found in ASME B31.1.

Writing and reviewing a welding

procedure based on the base code

welding requirements is usually a

straightforward task. Making sure

requirements of all associated relevant

standards are addressed can require

much more diligence.

When writing a procedure, it is

always advisable to use the appropriate

code tables and references like a

checklist in order to verify that all the

necessary code variables have been

addressed in the WPS and PQR.

by the contractor or fabricator, the

review comments should be worded so

How to Review Procedures

to avoid giving final “approval” of the

welding documents, in which case the

reviewer might be held responsible for

Following is a suggested

methodology for reviewing procedures:

Inspection Trends / Summer 2013


  • 1. Use a common sense approach

to identify errors.

This step is a high-level review and

can commonly be done even without a

full variable check between the WPS

and PQR. For example, are filler

metals appropriate for the base

materials being welded, are shielding

gases or fluxes appropriate for the

welding consumables being used, do

welding parameters appear to be

correct, is the electrical current and

polarity correct, is this a material that

requires preheat, is the information

believable (for example, GMAW

process using ER70S-6 with argon gas

shielding recorded on both a PQR and

WPS), is it accurate, etc.

  • 2. Perform a detailed check.

This step is a detailed check of all

welding variables required by the code

as well as requirements from other

applicable standards.

Examples of additional

requirements include NACE hardness

limitations, Charpy toughness,

mandatory fabrication code preheat or

PWHT, as well as special filler metal


Examples of Common Errors

Following are some

omissions/errors commonly identified

during reviews.

For the GMAW process:

• Failure to indicate the arc transfer

mode (globular, short arc, spray).

• Where the transfer mode is indicated,

parameters such as amps, volts, and

wire feed speed will not produce the

indicated arc transfer.

Welding Positions:

• Failure to indicate uphill or downhill

progression on the WPS or PQR.

• Interchanging qualification testing

terminology on the PQR and WPS,

e.g., using 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 6G on a

WPS instead of F, H, V, OH.

Procedure Qualification Tensile


• Failure to perform tensile testing in

which the specimen(s) represents the

full thickness of the PQR test coupon

(reference ASME IX, QW-151.1).

  • 28 Inspection Trends / July 2013

1. Use a common sense approach to identify errors. This step is a high-level review and

Table 1 — How to Specify Filler Metal Types

ASME P-No. 8 Base Metal Type

AWS Filler Metal Classification













304 E/ER308 304L E/ER308L 304H E/ER16-8-2 316 E/ER316 316L E/ER316L 316H E/ER16-8-2 Adoption/use of standard AWS

Adoption/use of standard AWS

• Utilizing the wrong code edition

WPSs for work under ASME Section

when specifying PWHT parameters.

IX requirements (ASME IX, Article

• For procedures qualified for Charpy


impact testing, specifying welding

• Failure of the contractor to perform

parameters that far exceed the

and document a demonstration test

allowable heat input range. Unless a

required by ASME IX, Article V.

welder has been trained to calculate


300 Series Stainless Steel:

and control heat input, a heat input

• Failure to utilize a filler metal as

limitation stated on the WPS may

corrosion resistant or as creep resistant

likely be exceeded during production

as the base material. For example, Type

welding without the appropriate


is commonly specified for welding

welding parameters listed on the WPS.

Type 316 base materials. While 308

satisfies ASME Section IX

qualification requirements, Type 308

fillers in many environments will not

be as corrosion resistant as Type 316

base materials. Note that contractor

procedures commonly indicate

austenitic filler metals such as ER3xx,

F-No. 6, A-No. 8 for welding ASME P-

• Failure to list the applicable code or

testing standards on the PQR.

AWS D1.1 Qualifications:

• Failure to perform or document the

required visual examination or

radiography examinations on the PQR

test coupon.

• Failure to identify the specific weld

joint details on qualified WPSs.

No. 8 base materials. For the reviewer,

it’s not clear what base material type


will be welded nor the specific filler

metal AWS Classification that will be


• While this may be correct from an

ASME Section IX perspective, a

preferred, unambiguous way to specify

the filler is also by AWS classification

vs. actual base material type. For

While writing and reviewing WPSs

and PQRs may seem confusing and to

require too many steps at first, keep in

mind that many common errors can be

found simply by making a checklist,

proofreading your work, and using

some common sense.

1. Use a common sense approach to identify errors. This step is a high-level review and

example, commonly assigned filler

metals on a WPS could be listed as in

Table 1.

• For welding of stainless steels and

high-alloy materials, project

specifications typically require purging

during welding of single-pass,

complete-joint-penetration welds.

Welding procedures are commonly

submitted, however, without amended

requirements for purging.


• Failure to address mandatory code

preheat requirements; e.g. ASME

B31.1 mandates minimum preheat for

some P-No. base materials.

SPENCER O. LUKE, P. E., ( is an engineer, Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan. He is also an AWS CWI. One of his daily duties is to review welding procedures from companies around the world.