A new edition of Section IX is published by ASME every two years. Studying the summary of changes at the front of the Code is an instructive exercise. Some words and phrases are added, some are deleted. Trying to understand the intent behind these changes allows us a glimpse in the minds of the Section IX committee. In this article, I have explained a few of the changes that were introduced in 2019 edition of Section IX. Please note that only the major changes have been addressed.
Also, considering that I am only a code user, and not a code authority of any kind, my insights are mostly limited to the areas to which I am exposed to in my official work. There is a vast area of Section IX to which I have negligible exposure, and therefore, consequently, which I know almost nothing about.
So, the discussion in this article, does not by any means, cover the changes in 2019 edition to any degree of entirety.
Changes in Article I: Welding General Requirements
The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2019 edition, regarding general requirements contained in Article I.
Only The Qualification Requirements of Referencing Code Apply
Before 2019, QG 100 (b) read as follows: “Whenever the referencing Code, standard, or specification imposes requirements different than those given in this Section, the requirements of the referencing Code, standard, or specification shall take precedence over the requirements of this Section.”.
An inquiry was asked in 2018 to ASME, which was replied to in 2019 through the Interpretation IX-19-21. The inquiry asked the following question:
“Background: A PQR was qualified on a 70 mm thick plate without PWHT. This PQR supports a WPS for welding base metal thicknesses from 5 mm to 200 mm without PWHT. The construction code requires PWHT for base material thicknesses over 38 mm.
Question: Does QG-100(b) require that construction code requirements applicable to production welding (such as thickness limitation requirements for preheat and PWHT) be applied to the qualification requirements for the PQR test coupon? “
The inquirer wants to know whether all fabrication related requirements specified in the construction code are applicable to the procedure qualification coupon too. The answer given by the committee to the above question is ‘no’.
In the above example, the inquirer has not violated Section IX in any way. Section IX does not specify the conditions under which a PWHT must be done for a qualification coupon, or need not be done. Section IX also does not specify the conditions under which preheat should be done for a qualification coupon or need not be done.
These things are generally specified by construction code, for production joints.
Section IX in QG-100(b) intends that – only when the construction code specifies some requirements for qualification coupons, only those take precedence over the requirements of Section IX. The requirements specified for production joints are not to be mistaken as being applicable for procedure qualification coupons.
For example, some construction codes require that the heat treatment condition of the production base metal shall be simulated in the procedure qualification coupon too, though Section IX has no such requirement. In this case the requirement of the referencing construction code shall take precedence over those of Section IX. This is the intent of QG 100.
QG-100(b), in 2019 edition, perhaps in response to the inquiry in the above mentioned interpretation, has been revised to indicate that only the qualification requirements imposed by the construction code are applicable for procedure qualification in accordance with Section IX. This means that the requirements specified in construction code regarding the production joints are not to be assumed as being applicable for procedure qualification coupons.
For example, ASME Section III NB requires in Table NB-4622.7(b)-1 that the as-welded joints (ones which will not see a PWHT) having nominal weld thickness more than 16 mm must be welded with a preheat of 200°F (95°C). This is not to be construed to mean that the manufacturer cannot qualify a procedure of 20 mm base metal thickness without preheat.
Another interpretation that is contextual to the above discussion is IX-17-36.
QG-101, QW-101, QW 200.1(b) tell us that all essential and non-essential variables need to be compulsorily addressed on a WPS. This also gets reaffirmed by the interpretation IX-89-03. Leaving a blank for unrelated variables is also not an option. That is, leaving a variable blank is not an acceptable manner of addressing a variable (this was established 40 years ago in the interpretation IX-83-03).
However, this sometimes is not quite necessary. For example, QW 404.23 (applicable for GTAW) says that a change of product form (for e.g. from solid rod to composite, or vice-versa, etc.) is an essential variable. In accordance with QW-101, this variable needs to be addressed on the WPS (and on PQR as well).
However, say a GTAW rods per ASME Section II Part C (in SFA 5.18, 5.28, etc.) are designated as ER70S-2, ER70S-A1, etc. The ‘S’ in the designation implies that the filler is a solid rod (if it were a ‘C’, it would imply that it is a composite rod). In other words, the product form gets conveyed through the filler metal designation itself. It need not have to be separately addressed in the WPS.
Likewise, QW 406.2 says that maintenance o reduction of preheat before the required PWHT is a non-essential variable. That means that it must be addressed by the welding engineer on the WPS.
However, if a WPS is written for as-welded condition only, this variable becomes redundant. And therefore, it need not be addressed on the WPS. A simple N/A should be enough.
Recognizing this need, that unrelated variables, or variables that are indirectly addressed through other variables, do not have to be specifically addressed on the WPS, Section IX has brought in a revision in QW-101 in the 2019 edition. The following paragraph now appears at the bottom of QW-101:
“When a variable is outside the scope of a WPS (e.g., the variable applies to a P-Number not included on the WPS) or is addressed by another variable (e.g., the AWS Classification specifies the filler metal product form), that variable need not be specifically addressed on the WPS or PQRs that support the WPS.”
Personnel Supervising and Controlling Welding Qualifications Need to Be Qualified Too
QG 106 specifies that the welders that prepare the qualification coupons (procedure as well as performance) must be under the supervision and control of the organization that is responsible for the qualification. So, it is reasonable to expect that the person(s) responsible for this supervision and control must be appropriately qualified too.
Such person must have sufficient knowledge about the requirements of Section IX for the procedure qualifications and performance qualifications.
The 2019 edition of Section IX has brought in requirements under QG-106.1 that require that the personnel that perform supervisory activities be designated by the organization. Further, such personnel must have adequate knowledge – gained through experience or training. There must be available objective evidence, in writing, to show the qualifications, experience or training of these supervisory personnel.
It is worth noting that it is not the intent of Section IX that only the personnel that perform this function of ‘supervision and control’ are authorized to certify the qualification records of the organization. The certification (as required by QG 102 and QG 104) of the qualifications can be performed by anyone (not necessarily among the ones that supervised and controlled the preparation of qualification coupons) permitted by the organization’s quality program.
This understanding has been indicated by the Section IX committee through the Interpretation IX-20-12. This interpretation was issued after the release of 2019 edition.
Another thing worth noting is that Section IX does not define what kind of training is necessary for this purpose. Does he need to be a CWI? How does one certify/determine that the training/knowledge/experience held by an individual is adequate or not? The answer to this is that Section IX does not address this. It is for the inspector/auditor to judge.
Changes in Article II: Procedure Qualifications
The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2019 edition, regarding procedure qualifications.
Footnotes Deleted from The Tables
In 2019 edition it is noticed that many footnotes under various tables have been deleted. It is perhaps the intention that footnote is no place to be for an important piece of information. The important requirements should appear in the main text. Perhaps with this in mind, many notes have been moved from under the tables to main body of the text at appropriate places.
For example, the general note under the table QW 451.3 has been completely deleted. This note used to convey information regarding procedure qualification through production assembly mockup. The entire text of this note has now been shifted to QW-181.1.1 which introduces the concept of production assembly mock-ups for procedure qualification.
Likewise, the text contained in general note under QW 452.5, which contained information about use of production assembly mockup for the purpose of performance qualification, has now been shifted to QW 181.2.1.
In a similar manner, it is well known that QW 453 contained requirements for performance and procedure qualifications for corrosion-resistant and hard-facing overlays for a long time. The committee must have thought that the obscure place in the wilderness under the QW 453 table is no suitable place for such important requirements.
Consequently, the requirements related to performance qualification for overlays have been shifted to QW 381. And the requirements related to procedure qualification for overlays have been shifted to QW 214.
Another important similar shifting is the erstwhile note under QW 451.4. This note conveyed that the supplementary essential variables are applicable to fillet welds too.
[Note: There is a common mistake among welding engineers. People tend to think that supplementary essential variables are not applicable for fillet welds.
They, in fact, are applicable. This has been clarified by the committee through several interpretations (IX-17-56, IX-17-59, IX-80-62, etc.) as well. The main consequence of this is that the qualified range of base metal thickness gets restricted by QW 403.6. This is a significant restriction, considering that if not for this variable – any groove weld would be adequate for supporting fillet welds of all thicknesses (and all diameters and all fillet sizes), as laid down in QW 451.4.]
Anyway, this note – which enforced this understanding – has deleted from its place in general note under QW 452.4. However, curiously, it has not reappeared anywhere else in Section IX. Surely, it is not the intent of Section IX that supplementary essential variables are now not applicable to fillet welds.
Note: This anomaly has been corrected in 2021 edition of Section IX. A statement has made appearance under QW 252.2. This statement conveys that supplementary essential variables are applicable to fillet welds too, when toughness requirements are invoked by the referencing code or specification.
Note 2: In the opinion of this author, it is not a wise thing to move around the requirements in this manner. The people in the industry who work with Section IX for a long time are accustomed to the location of requirements. The experts and enthusiasts will still manage to track down the requirements to their new places; however, it is a struggle for the others.
It is best if requirements are made to stay in their places for long periods of time unless it is mandatory, and there is no other way out. In the above case, it would not have hurt anybody if the footnotes had continued to exist in their existing places. Important requirements have now become less visible in the wordy paragraphs of the main text.
Essential Variables for Tube to Tubesheet Welds Tabulated
The essential variables for doing tubes to tube-sheet welds were defined under QW 288 earlier. Now these variables have been made into a table form. Table QW-288.1 is for all processes except explosion welding, while table QW 288.2 is for tube to tube-sheet welds with explosion welding.
It is noted, however, that some of the variables listed in the table QW-288.1 do not match with the descriptions given in the Article IV – Welding Data. See the paragraph titled ‘errors in 2019 edition’ later in this article for details.
Reinforcement In Procedure Qualification Coupon
Reinforcement Should Not Be Taken into Account When Determining Deposited Weld Thickness in a Procedure Qualification Coupon
For performance qualifications, Section IX loudly says in QW-351, as well as under the general note under QW-452.1(a) that the deposited weld metal thickness shall be reckoned by excluding the weld reinforcement available on the coupon.
However, any such stipulation was missing for procedure qualifications. Although it was widely understood that weld reinforcement should not be taken into account, a clear mention of it in Section IX would properly clear the air.
So, in the 2019 edition, a line has been included in QW 202.4, saying that “the thickness, t, of deposited weld metal in QW-451 shall be exclusive of weld reinforcement.” Also, the third paragraph under QW-200.2(b) makes a mention that “…approximate thickness of weld metal deposited, excluding weld reinforcement, shall be recorded…”.
I have written a whole article on this website regarding the matter of reinforcements on welding qualification coupons. This article may be found here.
Change in Position is No Longer Supplementary Essential Variable
Change from any position to vertical upward progression is not a supplementary essential variable any longer
Perhaps the biggest change in the 2019 edition is this. QW-405.2, which was a supplementary essential variable earlier, has been deleted.
This variable held that, for procedure qualifications – “a change from any position to the vertical position uphill progression” is a supplementary essential variable. Further, vertical-uphill progression qualifies for all positions.
This variable had existed for more than 5 decades. Let us see what might have prompted its’ deletion:
It is said that welding in vertical-uphill progression involves higher heat input. This results in slower cooling rate and therefore lesser toughness in the weld metal. Now, increase in heat input is already a supplementary essential variable (at QW-409.1), so perhaps the committee thought that QW-405.2 is redundant. This might have led to its’ deletion.
Whatever the reason might have been behind the deletion of this variable, it has made the life of welding engineers the world over easier.
Dissimilar Thicknesses In Procedure Qualification Coupon
How to Reckon the Qualified Base Metal Thickness When a Procedure Qualification Coupon Is Made Up of Dissimilar Thicknesses?
The QW-202.4 very nicely handles the subject of how to handle the applicability of a PQR for production joints having dissimilar base metal thicknesses. However, what happens when the procedure qualification coupon consists of dissimilar thicknesses?
How do we reckon the qualified base metal thicknesses for such PQRs? This formed the subject of many debates with the inspector in my company.
The Section IX, in its’ 2019 edition, has brought in the following line under QW 202.2(a) that firmly clears up the air once and for all: “When dissimilar thickness test coupons are welded, the “Range of Thickness T of Base Metal, Qualified” in QW-451 shall be determined individually for each base metal in the test coupon.”
This clears up a long standing confusion over this matter. Based on the insights gained over a period of time through personal involvement in episodes concerning this matter, I have written an article on this website that addresses this subject. This article may be found here.
Changes in Article III: Performance Qualifications
The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2019 edition, regarding performance qualifications.
Essential Variables for Tube to Tubesheet Welds Defined
Before the 2019 edition, the welder qualification for tube to tubesheet welds did not have any separate essential variables. Only the requirements of QW 193.2 were applicable. Additionally, a few liberties (such as – qualification can be done through a regular groove weld too if QW 193 is not invoked by the referencing code or specification) were given under QW-303.5.
In the 2019 edition, a new paragraph QW-387 has been added. QW-387 is dedicated to the subject of welder (or welding operator) performance qualification for tubes to tubesheet welds. Some essential variables have been defined in the Table QW-388. QW 303.5 has been deleted, and the requirements therein have been merged with QW-388.
A notable difference between the requirements for procedure qualification (as laid in QW-202.6) and those of performance qualification (as laid in QW-387) is that while a procedure can be qualified through fillet welds too (provided referencing section does not invoke QW-193), but no such option is given for performance qualifications. Surely, if a fillet weld is good enough for procedure qualification, it must be good enough for performance qualification too!
Note: This anomaly has been corrected in the 2021 edition of Section IX. QW-387.1 (c )(3) has been introduced. This clause now permits the option of fillet welds for performance qualifications too.
Contents of Range Qualified Column of WPQR
Only the Thickness and Diameter Are Required to be Addressed in the Range Qualified Column of WPQR
The QW 301.4 requires that a WPQR form, under ‘range qualified’ column, only needs to address the thickness and diameter (per QW 452). Per QG-104 however, it is required to address range qualified for all variables on a WPQR form (and not just thickness and diameter). Clearly, there is an inconsistency here. This was before 2019 edition.
In the 2019 edition, this conflict has been removed. QG 104 has been revised to say that only the ranges of variables qualified as required by QW 301.4 need to be addressed. This clears up conflict, though; the logic here is not quite understandable.
When one first comes across QW-301.4, one thinks that this must be a mistake. Why would Section IX give a whole format at QW-484, showing ‘range qualified’ column for all variables, and then not require the user to address all variables, and insisting in QW-301.4 that it is enough to only address thickness and diameter (per-QW 452)?
It does not make much sense. Why would the committee insist that deletion of backing, change in F-No, change in P-No., change in position, etc. need not be addressed in the ‘range qualified’ column? Especially after providing suitable space for it on the WPQR form!
Surely the committee or the editorial team would have committed an oversight here.
This notion (that the committee committed an oversight) is dispelled once we come across the Interpretation IX-89-30. The question asked and the reply given clearly establishes that the Section IX really mandates only the thickness and diameter to be addressed in the ‘range qualified’ column. Addressing the rest of the variables is at the option of the manufacturer.
It is curious though, the committee’s intent on this.
Anyway, be that as it may, in my opinion – it is best to address all variables under the ‘range qualified’ column. It gives a more complete picture. It makes it easier to understand and comprehend for people that are not experts in Section IX. There is no harm in addressing all variables, is there?
Starting Date of a Welder’s Continuity
For a long time, there was confusion as to what is the starting date of a welder’s continuity. QW-322 says that a welder’s qualification remains valid for six months. But when does that date begin? From the date of completion of welding? From the date of declaration of result? Or from the date of certification by the welding engineer?
Till 2019 edition, Section IX was silent on the issue. In my shop, we followed the KTA rules that say that the date of validity is the date of declaration of results.
For many people it wasn’t a matter of much concern. Most welder qualifications in the companies across the world are done through the volumetric NDE method. UT or RT are not time-consuming activities. So the date of completion of welding and the date of declaration of results are not far apart. However, it becomes a matter of concern when the qualification is done through the mechanical testing method.
Mechanical testing takes time, as it involves specimen preparation, and actual testing in an appropriate lab. In some situations, the date of completion of welding and the date of declaration of results can be apart by several weeks. In such cases, there may be a difference of opinion between the manufacturer and the inspector.
Section IX, in the 2019 edition, has removed the possibility of this difference of opinion. QW-300.1 now clearly says that a welder’s “qualification continuity begins from the date welding of the test piece(s) was completed…”. This clears up the matter for good.
Small Diameter Restrictions for Set-On and Set-in Nozzles
If two pipes of same diameter are being joined by a groove-weld, it is a straight forward matter to apply QW-452.3. However, the matter is not so straight-forward when two pipes of different diameter are joined.
For example, when a nozzle or a branch pipe is joined on to a shell or run-piping or head. In such joints, should the small diameter restrictions of QW-452.3 be applied keeping the nozzle in mind? Or the shell in mind?
This matter was not clear in the Section IX before 2019. In the 2019 edition, a revision was brought in QW-403.16.
This paragraph tells us that when the groove weld is made with a set-on nozzle, the small diameter restrictions should be applied keeping the nozzle O.D. in mind. And, when the groove weld is made with a set-in nozzle, the small diameter restrictions should be applied keeping the shell O.D. in mind. This clears up the matter.
Appendix K Added
Section IX is referred to by many other codes, standards, specifications, contract documents, etc. Appendix K has been added to include the wording that may be used by other codes or specifications when invoking Section IX.
Further, the optional requirements in the Section IX such as the QW 193 for tube to tube-sheet welds, supplementary essential variables becomes activated only when invoked by a referencing code, standard, specification, or a contract document, etc. This appendix includes the recommended wording that can be used in these referencing documents, such that the intent is conveyed in a “clear, concise, and accurate manner.”
Errors in QW 2019 edition
QW 402.20 has been deleted in the 2019 edition. However, it continues to be referred in QW 265 for flash welding. This deletion has probably been done erroneously.
Note: The QW 402.20 has been restored in the 2021 edition. The content and the wording is same as that in 2017 edition.
Another case of what appears to be a mistake is introduction in QW 288.1 of decrease in cladding thickness. Decrease in cladding thickness is an essential variable for cladding (when chemistry is specified as a requirement). But for tube to tubesheet joints, there was no such variable, at least before 2019.
In the 2019 edition too, QW 403.33 has been listed, and ‘’< cladding thickness’’ has been mentioned under the brief of variables in the table QW 288.1. However, the QW 403.33 under article IV has nothing to do with cladding thickness. This mention of cladding thickness has probably been done erroneously.
Note: This error has been corrected too, in the 2021 edition. “< cladding thickness” has been deleted from Table QW 288.1 in the 2021 edition.
Another error is as follows. The table QW-288.1 refers to QW 402.31, which pertains to decrease in ligament size. However, the QW 402.31 under article IV does not pertain to ligament size. In fact, it pertains to joint configuration. The ligament size is in fact addressed in QW 402.30 in article IV. The QW 402.30 should be renamed as QW 402.31 to correct this error.
Likewise, QW 402.32 (change in joint configuration) has been mentioned in the table QW-288.1. But there is no QW 402.32 in article IV. Joint configuration is in fact addressed in QW 402.31. So, the QW 402.31 in article IV should be renamed as QW 402.32 in order to correct this error.
Similarly, in the table QW-288.1, the QW 403.32 is mentioned as a variable regarding change of tube thickness. However, in article IV, this matter is addressed in QW 403.31. The QW 403.31 therefore should be renamed as QW 403.32.
Similarly, there is inconsistency between the variables given at QW 403.33 and QW 403.34 in the table and the ones defined under article IV.
Note: All the above mentioned errors have been corrected in the 2021 edition of Section IX.
So, this was all I had to offer on the subject of changes in the 2019 edition of Section IX.
Before I close the discussion – I must acknowledge, with gratitude, the insights I gained from the writings of Mr. Walter Sperko of sperkoengineering.com. Mr. Sperko has been a part of the Section IX committee in the past, and is a leading light for Section IX enthusiasts like me. The analysis offered by him is thoroughly instructive about the going-ons that occur behind the scenes in the makings of new editions of Section IX.
Please do share your thoughts in the comments section below.