Authorized National Body for Company Certification


The American Welding Society is pleased to offer audit-based certification services to companies seeking certification to ISO 3834, Quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials. Acting under the authorization of the International Institute of Welding as an Authorized National Body, AWS will issue certificates to companies whose quality management systems successfully meet the requirements of this significant international standard.

ISO 3834 is increasingly being specified for manufacturing companies. For those companies doing business in Europe for clients subject to EU regulations, ISO 3834 compliance is mandatory for those manufacturing railway vehicles and components, and steel and aluminum structures. By offering certification to this standard, AWS hopes to increase the competitive strengths of American companies.

ISO 3834 is offered at three levels and your company will evaluate which level is appropriate for the controls needed in your fabrication process. As with any quality management system that is applied appropriately, ISO 3834 can assist in the improvement of product quality and productivity processes for your company. For additional information, please contact Jeff Hufsey.


Finding out about ISO 3834

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What is ISO 3834?

Welding is a special process in that the final result may not be able to be verified by testing. The quality of the weld is manufactured into the product, not inspected after the fact. This means that welding normally requires continuous control or that specific procedures be followed, or both. ISO 3834 deals with quality requirements in welding and has been prepared in order to identify those controls and procedures.

One of the significant aspects of ISO 3834 is that it is one of the first standards to place emphasis on the human factor in welding. It identifies, through using ISO 14731 as a reference, essential tasks that require correct decisions based on the qualifications of the individual making those decisions.

ISO 3834 is not a quality system standard intended to take the place of ISO 9001, but a useful, additional tool for use when ISO 9001 is applied by manufacturers, in which case the meeting of its requirements needs to

be recorded in certificates or documentation. However, ISO 3834 can be used independently of ISO 9001. Users seeking certification should be aware that the assessment of requirements in accordance with ISO 3834 requires highly competent welding professionals and the mere fact that an ISO 9001 certified company also performs welding does not certify that company to ISO 3834.

ISO 3834 is intended for the fusion welding of metallic materials, and its application is independent of the products manufactured. However, its principles and many of its detailed requirements are also relevant for other welding and welding-related processes.

One of the aims of ISO 3834 is to define requirements in the field of welding so that contracting parties or regulators do not have to do this themselves. A reference to a particular part of ISO 3834 should be sufficient to demonstrate the capabilities of the manufacturer to control welding activities for the type of work being done.

ISO 3834 does not in itself require external assessment or certification. However, assessments by customers and certification by independent bodies are growing trends in commercial relations and the standard can serve as a basis for these purposes, as well as for the demonstration of performance by those manufacturers implementing it.

What are the components of the ISO 3834 series of standards?

It is strongly recommended that potential users of ISO 3834 purchase those parts of ISO 3834 that are applicable to the level of control desired (ISO 3834-2, 3834-3, or 3834-4). ISO 3834-1 is a good start to understand which level of quality requirements may be appropriate for the welded products of a particular company.

What is ISO 14731 and how does it play a role in an ISO 3834 implementation?

ISO 14731, Welding coordination – Tasks and responsibilities introduces a new term for an existing concept; that certain individuals in a welding manufacturing company make crucial welding decisions and must be qualified to make those decisions. ISO 3834 addresses the human factor in making welding decisions by calling out ISO 14731.

A company seeking certification to ISO 3834 must employ individuals who are qualified to do the tasks outlined in Annex B of ISO 14731 for the level of ISO 3834 that they are seeking. For some companies, a single welding coordinator may be sufficient to cover all of the required tasks. For more complex manufacturing, a team of welding coordinators may be necessary. The audit of the company will check that someone is qualified for each of the tasks in Annex B, even though a single individual may not be qualified to do the entire list of tasks. The most qualified welding coordinator, or the welding coordinator that is empowered to stop the production line if something is not right is designated as the Responsible Welding Coordinator.

For more discussion on welding coordinators, please go here.

What gets certified when we pursue ISO 3834 certification?

Upon the successful completion of the audit process, including the resolution of any nonconformances, the USA ANBCC will issue to the company a certificate indicating compliance to the appropriate level of ISO 3834 under the rules of the IIW Manufacturers Certification Scheme (IIW MCS). Accompanying this certificate will be a schedule that lists the scope of certification, including the welding processes, governing standards, base materials, and welding coordinators that were subject to audit.

Is my company limited to what it can do under ISO 3834?

While your company may be capable of manufacturing a wide variety of products using different welding processes and base materials, the ISO 3834 certification only can be invoked for those processes and materials that were subject to the ISO 3834 audit. That is why it is important to provide both the certificate and schedule when bidding for jobs where ISO 3834 is specified or provides a competitive advantage.

How does ISO 9001 affect ISO 3834 certification?

There have been reports that quality system registrars have been issuing ISO 3834 compliance certificates solely on the basis of the company meeting ISO 9001 requirements. This is a disservice to those companies expecting a detailed welding-oriented audit of their manufacturing systems. In practice, ISO 9001 and ISO 3834 are two different standards and the audits for each should be detailed for the requirements of each respective standard. As different standards, companies can choose one over the other, or both if required. End-users seeking companies that must demonstrate compliance to ISO 3834 should not accept compliance to ISO 9001 as evidence of meeting ISO 3834.

For those companies that implement both ISO 9001 and ISO 3834, readers are advised to consult ISO 3834-1 clause 6 to see ISO 9001 QMS requirements that should be addressed to support ISO 3834.


The IIW Manufacturing Certification System (IIW MCS)

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What is the IIW MCS?

From International Authorisation Board (IAB) Website: In 2007, EWF and IIW agreed on transferring the EWF Companies Certification System according to ISO 3834 to IIW. IAB will be the structure within IIW that will update the EWF system documentation (Guidelines and Rules) and will implement these as an IIW Certification System.

The International System for the Manufacturers Certification is aimed to comply with ISO 3834, based on the European System, existing since 1998.

ISO 3834 can boost the manufacturing company’s ability to sell its products in both domestic and overseas markets.

Compliance with ISO 3834 provides a “one-stop-shop” to achieve global recognition of the company’s capability.

Entitled “Quality Requirements for Welding”, the standard provides details of how to control the various welding-related operations to achieve the desired quality consistently.

A key feature of the standard is the requirement to ensure that people with welding responsibilities are competent to discharge those responsibilities. This is achieved by incorporation of another standard: ISO 14731 “Welding Co-ordination – Tasks and responsibilities” that can be accomplished through the IIW Qualification System.

In order to administer this system and to develop it, the IIW has established the IAB – International Authorisation Board. This IIW Working Unit aimed at the effective integration of the EWF and IIW systems and its implementation in all IIW countries, publishes Guidelines and Rules for certification and develops and manages the Quality Assurance procedures controlling the system.

An organisation recognised by the national IIW member is appointed as (ANBCC) Authorised National Body for Companies Certification in each country. Representatives from these ANBCCs form the Operational Management within the IAB, and appoint IIW Assessors to ensure conformity of each ANBCC to the agreed Rules.

The IAB developed two documents to support manufacturers of welded products willing to implement a manufacture process management scheme according to ISO 3834. To consult these documents please go to Guidance Documents for ISO 3834.

What are the benefits of going with the IIW MCS?

From Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA): Benefits of Choosing the IIW MCS ISO 3834 Program

Does the IIW MCS interpret the ISO 3834 standards differently?

The IIW Manufacturers Certification Scheme (MCS) employs a uniform system of assessment of its Authorized National Bodies for Company Certification (ANBCCs) in order to achieve the uniform assessment of candidate companies. Therefore, it is important that all of the ISO 3834 standards be interpreted in much the same fashion regardless of the country of delivery.

To manage the IIW MCS, a number of documents have been published and the one dealing with interpretations of the requirements of the various levels of ISO 3834 can be downloaded here.

Download:  IAB-337

How does AWS play a role in the IIW MCS?

The American Welding Society is a member society in the International Institute of Welding. In 2007, the IIW adopted the company certification program then in use by the European Welding Federation (EWF). To manage the program the IIW delegated responsibility to the International Authorization Board (IAB), then already managing the education and training programs of the IIW.

The resulting IIW Manufacturers Certification Scheme (IIW MCS) is organized with each member country designating a body that will be audited and authorized to deliver ISO 3834 certifications. In the USA, AWS is the Authorized National Body for Company Certification (ANBCC). In order to maintain its authorization in the IIW MCS, AWS is required to undergo periodic audits to ensure that all of the rules set by the IIW MCS are followed.

What about others who offer ISO 3834 certification?

There are absolutely no rules or prohibitions on anyone offering to certify companies to ISO 3834 (or any other standard). Anyone seeking certification for their company must do the appropriate due diligence in order to assure both the credibility and competency of the certifying body.


ISO 3834 and Your Company

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What are the benefits of using ISO 3834?

From Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA): Benefits of Implementing Compliance to ISO 3834:2005

Suppliers/Manufacturers:

Asset Owners:

Where is ISO 3834 being used?

Several EN (European) product standards require the implementation of ISO 3834 as a means of controlling the welding process. Product standards where compliance with ISO 3834 is required include EN 1090 (Steel structures), EN 12732 (steel gas piping), EN 12952 (water tube boilers), EN 13445 (unfired pressure vessels) and EN 15085 (railway products).

Companies seeking to export products into the European Union should study all the regulatory, contractural, and code requirements that may be applicable to their respective products. Company certification to ISO 3834 alone will not be sufficient to meet all the applicable requirements.

Guidance relevant to the application of ISO 3834 to several EN product standards can be downloaded here.

Download: IAB-338

Is ISO 3834 mandatory in the USA?

There are no requirements in the major American construction codes for a company to use ISO 3834, either in a conformance or compliance mode. However, several construction specifications, including that of a major oil company, have been noted to require compliance to ISO 3834.

My company does not use the standards called out in ISO 3834, what are our options?

When ISO 3834 first was introduced, the standard called out exclusively ISO/CEN standards. This hindered the uptake of the standard in those areas of the world where other equivalent standards were in use. There was some confusion as to whether these other standards could be used and still be considered in compliance with ISO 3834. To clear this up, in 2005, the ISO TC 44/SC 10 committee which authored ISO 3834 issued a Technical Corrigendum that allowed for the use of both national standards or standards that are existing requirements to company processes.

During the preparation for the ISO 3834 audit, the company has an obligation to prepare a statement indicating which standards it uses that are technically equivalent to those specified in ISO 3834. The USA ANBCC considers the term “technically equivalent” to mean that the covered activity is governed by a national standard, not that the conditions required by that national standard are scientifically equal to those in the relevant ISO standard. A sample form for listing technically equivalent standards used in lieu of those specified in ISO 3834 can be downloaded here.

Where can I go to find other companies certified to ISO 3834 under the IIW MCS?

A searchable database of companies certified to ISO 3834 under auspices of the IIW MCS program can be found here:

      Link: http://www.ewf.be/certified.aspx


Levels of ISO 3834 Certification and the Role of Welding Coordinators

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What are the levels of manufacturing covered by ISO 3834?

There are three levels of ISO 3834. ISO 3834-2 covers comprehensive operations, ISO 3834-3 covers standard operations, and ISO 3834-4 covers elementary operations. It is important to note that the level of ISO 3834 must be appropriate for the products manufactured and it is not a case of “gold, silver, and bronze” medals to be awarded. However, manufacturers certified at a higher level of manufacturing are also considered to be compliant at all lower levels as well (if they match up to the processes and base materials audited).

How do I choose which level is appropriate for my company?

The level selected will depend on the nature of the product being manufactured, the conditions under which it is to be used and the range of products manufactured. In ISO 3834-1, it is stated that the standard can be applied in a variety of industrial situations. The following criteria are identified as being those applying in the selection of the most suitable level:

  1. the extent and significance of safety critical products;
  2. the complexity of manufacture;
  3. the range of products manufactured;
  4. the range of different materials used;
  5. the extent to which metallurgical problems can occur;
  6. the extent to which fabrication imperfections (e.g. misalignment, distortion, weld imperfections) affect product performance.

Product standards that require compliance with ISO 3834 emphasize two critical areas in the choice of the level of quality requirements: the safety-critical nature of the products and the significance of dynamic loading in the product service environment.

What is a welding coordinator? How does ISO 14731 impact the certification process?

As discussed here, ISO 3834 is unique in that it addresses the human factor in welding operations. A company seeking certification under ISO 3834 must demonstrate that its welding coordinator or team of coordinators perform all of the tasks covered in Annex B of ISO 14731 and that they can show how they are qualified. A useful way to do this to do a matrix of Annex B tasks and list the welding coordinators who are assigned those activities.

During the audit, the ANBCC auditor will interview some or all of the listed welding coordinators and especially the Responsible Welding Coordinator for the company. Typically, a completed project by the company will serve as the basis for the interview with the auditor discussing decisions made during that project.

An interesting article on welding coordinators can be found here.

How does the level of ISO 3834 compliance affect my welding coordinators?

Experience has shown that the qualification level of welding coordinators is tied to the complexity of manufacturing as indicated by the appropriate ISO 3834 level. For comprehensive manufacturing, where design is done inhouse, exotic materials are used, service conditions are severe, dynamic loading is present, and severe metallurgical consequences are likely, a qualified welding engineer is probably required. For standard and elementary levels, other qualifications may be satisfactory.


The Process of Certification to ISO 3834

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What is the value of certification versus conformance?

The common usage of these terms includes the concept of compliance versus conformance. Compliance is the situation where a company has been assessed by a third party for strict adherence to the requirements of the standard. The documentation of this compliance is the act of certification. The value of this certification is based on the credibility of the third party doing the assessment and the independence and objectivity of that third party.

Conformance is generally regarded as the voluntary adherence to the principles and intent of the standard, but verified by the company itself. It may involve compromises in what the standard requires as well as interpretations of the standard that the company itself originates.

If adherence to the standard is a required condition for securing a bid for work, it is not surprising that customers will want some independent verification by a third party that the company meets that requirement.

On the other hand, if the company is desirous of using the standard to improve its quality and productivity, then the conformance route is often the most economical first step.

What are the steps necessary towards certification and how long does it take?

There are specific rules that the IIW requires that AWS must follow in its role as an IIW ANBCC. The rules are contained in document IAB-340 which can be downloaded here:

Download file IAB-340

In general, the steps in a successful certification process involve the following actions:

  1. Company studies the ISO 3834 standard, determines which level that it will seek, the governing standard(s) to which it will be assessed, the processes and base materials to be included in the scope of certification, and the qualifications of those who will be listed as welding coordinators.
  2. Company submits an application, a copy of its quality system documentation, and a completed Statement of Understanding. The purpose of the Statement of Understanding is to clearly set out the responsibilities of each party during the audit sequence. It is not financially binding on the company until a quote is delivered later in the application process.

         Download file: FORM 002 Company Application
         Download file: FORM 015 Statement of Understanding

  3. AWS appoints a Lead Auditor (and additional auditors if the audit is expected to be large). All members of the Audit Team must have independence from the company being audited. The Lead Auditor reviews the documentation submitted by the company and a quote for the cost of the audit is developed to be presented to the company.
  4. The company is presented with a written Audit Plan and the composition of the Audit Team. The company will be requested to approve the Audit Team.
  5. A determination is made by both the Lead Auditor and the applicant company as to whether a preliminary visit is necessary by the Lead Auditor. The need for a preliminary visit will be determined by the completeness of the documentation submitted by the company and any existing quality system certifications that the company may possess. For companies with experience in quality systems assessments, the preliminary visit can be waived.
  6. The Lead Auditor will conduct a document review of the information provided by the applicant company. The Lead Auditor will also review the appropriateness of the ISO 3834 level chosen by the company, the competency of the welding coordinators, and any corrective actions necessary as a result of the document review.
  7. The onsite audit will be scheduled as per agreement between the Lead Auditor (and Audit Team if needed) and the applicant company. Any nonconformances noted during the audit will need to be resolved between the company and the Lead Auditor.
  8. The Lead Auditor will submit a Final Report with a recommendation for certification. The ANBCC will issue, on behalf of the IIW, a certificate of compliance accompanied by a schedule which identifies the scope of certification (governing standard, welding processes, base materials, and welding coordinators covered in the audit).

Do I need a quality manual?

To be technically correct, there are no requirements in ISO 3834 to have a Quality Manual as is commonly used in quality management systems. However, there are a number of documents that are required and it is useful to compile them in some sort of organized fashion. This facilitates the use of the documentation within the company, assists in document control, and can be the basis for a document review. For these reasons, the USA ANBCC is expecting to see a Quality Manual at the time of application.

For a list of required documentation, readers are directed to consult Annex A of ISO 3834-6.

Does AWS offer services to assist my company in achieving certification?

There is a strict prohibition on anyone officially associated with AWS or the ANBCC in consulting or assisting a company that is seeking certification by AWS or the ANBCC. General information can be disseminated without any problem, but suggesting corrective actions or prescribing what should be done is prohibited.

Will I be able to review the audit checklists ahead of time?

There are three separate assessments that are conducted during the IIW audit. The assessments and checklists for both can be downloaded below:

The company’s quality documentation is reviewed for completeness. Download the document review checklist here.

The onsite audit is conducted in accordance with a checklist. Download the onsite audit checklist here.

The qualifications of the responsible welding coordinator and others on the welding coordinator team are reviewed by the Lead Auditor during the onsite audit. Download the welding coordinator checklist here.

What does initial certification cost?

The cost of certification is dependent upon the size and duration of the audit. During the application process, a quote will be developed based on the number of auditors and how many days it will take to complete the onsite audit. The cost of the audit is solely based on the standard auditor/day rate plus any direct expenses of the auditor(s). Please contact AWS to determine what the current auditor/day rate is.

What is my company required to do to maintain certification?

IIW MCS certification under ISO 3834 is good for a five year period. However, for ISO 3834-2 and ISO 3834-3 levels, an annual surveillance audit is required to maintain certification.


Additional Reading

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The following documents do not reflect the official policies or positions of either the American Welding Society or the International Institute of Welding. They are provided here for informational purposes only.

Downloads

ISO Focus article

ISO 3834 as implemented in New Zealand (PowerPoint)

Compliance through Competence – (pdf) Chris Eady, TWI

Improving the quality and effectiveness of welding by utilizing the standard ISO 3834 – Guideline for company implementation – (pdf) IIW SC-QUAL-145r4-10

Categorising the Requirements for Technical Knowledge of Responsible Welding Coordinators in ISO 14731 – (pdf) David Shackleton and Chris Eady IIW SC-QUAL-152-10

So you want to be a Responsible Welding Coordinator – (pdf) Chris Eady, TWI