Supervision & Control of Qualifications to Section IX

Section IX of ASME BPVC has always required that the welding qualifications shall be done under the full supervision and control of the qualifying organization.

This roughly meant that the welding of the test coupon must be done under the express direction and control of the organization; while functions such as preparation of coupon, lab testing, etc. can be subcontracted as long as the qualifying organization accepts full responsibility for such work.

Till 2019 edition, Section IX never said anything on who could perform this function of ‘supervision & control’. Were any requirements expected from the personnel designated for supervision & control? What exactly were these personnel expected to do as part of this function, besides witnessing of the test coupon welding?

Section IX changed all of this in 2019 edition. The 2019 edition brought in requirements that addressed all of the above questions. This article addresses the requirements expected from the personnel designated for supervision & control of welding qualifications.

Who Can Perform the Function of Supervision & Control?

Section IX requires that the personnel performing the function of supervision & control be designated in the quality program of the organization. This means that anybody who is designated for it in the quality program can perform this function.

In other words, it is not necessary that only the authorized inspector, or only the welding engineer, or only the head of the welding section etc. can perform the function of supervision & control. It can be done by anyone designated for it in the organization’s quality program.

Requirements Expected From the Person(s) Performing Supervision & Control?

Section IX requires that the personnel designated for the supervision & control have a satisfactory level of competence in the following:

  1. Organization’s quality program.
  2. Knowledge about the requirements of Section IX for procedure and performance qualifications.
  3. Scope, Complexity & nature of the activities to which oversight is to be provided.

Section IX also requires that a record – that reflects competence of the personnel in the above mentioned areas – be maintained by the organization. The record can be in the form of documentation related to education qualifications, experience, or training undergone by the personnel.

What Exactly Are The Personnel Designated For Supervision & Control Expected To Do?

Supervision & control is basically Section IX’s way of making the qualifying organization take full responsibility for the procedure and performance qualification. The role played by the person(s) performing this function of supervision & control differs slightly for procedure qualification and performance qualification.

For Procedure Qualification

For procedure qualification, Section IX intends that the essential variables used in the preparation of test coupon be verified and recorded faithfully. The supervising person should control the conduct of the test coupon preparation in the manner intended by the qualifying organization.

This can be possible only when the supervising person is an employee of the organization and is superior to the welder in organizational hierarchy. This is why Section IX prohibits subcontracting the function of supervision & control.

Besides supervising the preparation of the test coupon, the person(s) performing supervisory activities also evaluates the results given by the laboratory to determine acceptance/ rejection of results with respect to Section IX.

The function of lab is only to report the outcome(s) of the test. It is for the qualifying organization to determine whether those results meet the requirements of Section IX. Section IX makes the qualifying organization do this through the person designated for supervision & control.

For Performance Qualification

For performance qualification, the qualifying organization should make an independent and conscious determination that the welders using its’ WPS are capable of achieving the desired quality. The person supervising the preparation of performance qualification test coupon makes this determination.

Besides this, other functions are same as those for procedure qualification, such as conduct of the test coupon (from beginning to end) in the manner intended by the organization, evaluation of the test results, and final acceptance/ rejection of the qualification on the behalf of organization.

How to Implement Supervision & Control

From the above paragraphs, it is clear what is expected. However, how to implement these requirements is a different question. For example, Section IX requires that the person(s) performing supervisory activities have satisfactory level of competence in the knowledge of Section IX.

What is satisfactory level of competence? What educational qualifications is the person expected to have, exactly? And What is the minimum number of years of experience is he expected to possess? What trainings must he have undergone, such that Section IX requirements are satisfied?

These questions are not addressed in Section IX; and how to implement them is left to the wisdom of fabricator and inspector. There can be several ways of meeting these expectations regarding supervision & control. There is no single correct method. As long as the the objectives outlined in the above paragraphs are met, it does not matter how they are met.

White Paper

Section IX committee in 2019 published a white paper intended to provide guidance on how to implement these requirements. The document is still hosted on the ASME website, and can be found here.

Here are a few key takeaways from this paper:

Who Is Competent to Perform Supervision & Control? Define It In Policy

As per guidance available in this paper, a person having one or more of the following can be considered competent for performing supervisory activities for welding qualifications:

  • Holds certification as a CSWIP or Senior CSWIP welding inspector.
  • Holds a AWS-CWI certification with endorsements in ASME Section VIII and Section IX or ASME B31.1/B31.3 and Section IX.
  • Holds a AWS-CWI certification where open-book code (Part C) covered ASME Section VIII & IX or ASME B31.1/B31.3/Section IX.
  • Holds a national or international certification that includes training in Section IX and welding processes.
  • Completed a commercially available training course that covered welding processes and Section IX. This training may have been offered by ASME, National Board, AIA, or commercial or private organization.
  • Prepared WPSs for at least two different welding processes, supervised welding of qualification test coupons, completed supporting PQRs, and had the PQRs reviewed by the customer or authorized inspector.

An organization can adopt one or more of the above criteria, in any combination, or other versions of these, as a requirement expected from the personnel performing supervisory activities (for welding qualifications) in that organization.

These criteria should be made part of the relevant quality program, so that it gets uniformly followed as a policy over time.

It is not necessary that an organization adopt only these criteria. An organization is free to adopt any other criteria as long as the objective is met. The idea is to ensure that the person(s) designated for supervision & control should be competent enough, and criteria for this competence should be clearly defined.

An organization can have different criteria for person(s) identified for procedure & performance qualifications. A procedure qualification is a greater affair, and involves more complexity. A performance qualification is, in comparison, a relatively simpler affair.

Therefore, the requirements expected from the person(s) identified for performance qualification can be relaxed a little. For example, it may be enough if the person has a AWS welder performance qualifier endorsement (WPQ1).

Designate The Personnel

Besides establishing the requirements expected from supervisory personnel, an organization shall also designate them for this function. This can be done by stating on the company letter head that –

‘The following persons are designated by ABC Corp. with responsibility for supervision, control, evaluation, and acceptance of qualification testing:’, followed by a list of relevant personnel. The paper should be signed by the relevant authority.

Same set of people or different people can be identified for procedure & performance qualifications, based on their competence. Accordingly, it should be made clear on the paper when designating them.

This paper is to help auditors, inspectors, production shops, etc. identify the personnel designated for supervision & control.

Maintain Objective Evidence of Competence

When auditor/inspector asks for it, objective evidence must be produced to demonstrate the competence of the personnel performing the function of supervision & control. This can be done by producing all relevant certification certificates, or education degrees, or experience certificates etc.

A much easier method would be to list down the person’s qualifications on a document and have it certified by a responsible authority in the organization. This serves as a credible evidence. The original certificates may be produced only if asked further.

Some companies choose to use the same document for designating the personnel and for indicating the supporting qualifications possessed by them. This is totally alright.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Is it Necessary that the person(s) performing the function of supervision & control be same as those responsible for certification of PQR/ WPQR?

Answer 1: No, this is not necessary. Interpretations IX-20-11 (qs 2) and IX-20-12 (qs 1 & 2) establish this.

Question 2: Can the function of supervision & control be subcontracted?

Answer 2: No, Section IX does not permit this. Interpretations IX-19-31 (qs 1), IX-20-08 (qs 4), and IX-21-04 (qs 2) establish this.

Question 3: Is it necessary that the person designated for supervision & control be present on the site during welding of the test coupon?

Answer 3: Yes, this is necessary. Interpretation IX-19-31 (qs 2) establishes this.

Question 4: Can the person designated for supervision & control be the welder himself, who is making the test coupon?

Answer 4: Yes, provided he is designated properly by the organization, and there is evidence to demontrate his competence. Interpretation IX-20-08 (qs 2) establishes this.

Question 5: Do the qualifications of individuals identified for supervision & control per QG-106 expire?

Answer 5: No. Interpretation IX-20-24 establishes this.

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