Weld Quality Management Systems (WQMS)

Weld Quality Management Systems (WQMS)2021-10-19T15:07:22+01:00
Welding is an integral part of the manufacturing process of steel fabrications and is identified as a special process that requires special control measures to be implemented to ensure weld quality.

This means that you cannot make a complete verification of the welded joint without destroying it and that it requires Specialist management, personnel and procedures.

To ensure the proper quality of your welded product and to optimize your manufacturing cost, the whole welding process must be controlled from the very start.

Weld Quality Management Systems (WQMS)

Increasingly it is becoming more common for client companies, insurers and specification writers to require fabricators to comply with or be certified to standards such as ISO3834. Additionally, some EN standards, an example of which is EN1090, require the fabricator to be compliant with ISO3834.


ISO3834 is concerned with the quality management of welding operations and consists of 6 parts. It is possible to be certified to (or be compliant with) Parts 2, 3 and 4, which are Comprehensive, Specific and Basic respectively.

ISO Quality Manual

Many large fabricators will already address control of welding in quite some detail in their ISO9000 Quality Manual, but for many smaller companies their Quality Manual may not be sufficiently detailed, or they may not have any QA system installed at all.

No Quality System then WQMS

For these companies, a WQMS can detail how welding is controlled by management, from the tender stage through production planning to final dispatch of a welded product.

The level of complexity required for the WQMS depends on:

  • the size of the company,
  • the materials to be welded,
  • product range
  • industry sector.

For smaller companies with a limited product range, it is often sufficient for them to comply with ISO3834 without the need to gain certification to ISO9000 and the WQMS can be a ‘stand alone’ document that focuses on control of welding and related operations.

For companies that already have ISO9000 certification but who require additional focus on control of welding, the WQMS can either be incorporated into the existing ISO9000 QA manual, or it can be written as an Annex to this, although in this case care must be taken to ensure that duplication or even contradiction between the ISO9000 manual and the ISO3834 Annex is avoided.

Guiding You Through WQMS

Tech Inspections produce a bespoke WQMS designed to address the requirements of any part of ISO 3834 and can guide the company through the process of gaining certification from the appropriately accredited body.

Questions and Answers on compliance with, or certification to, ISO 3834

What is the difference between compliance and Certification, and which should I go for?

Compliance means that your WQMS has been written and implemented in accordance with ISO3834 but has not been independently audited by an Accredited Body. As the manufacturer, you simply state that you comply with the requirements.

Certification means that you have been audited by an independent body, which then certifies that your WQMS system complies with ISO3834.

Whether compliance is sufficient or whether you need certification depends on your client’s requirements, industry sector, standards worked to etc. If you do need an independent certification then you also need to determine whether it needs to be done by an Accredited Body. This is usually an organisation that has itself been accredited by the National accreditation body, which in the UK is UKAS. Certification from a non accredited organisation may be acceptable in some situations but if your certificate is endorsed by UKAS it should (in theory) be acceptable throughout the world.

Do I need a Responsible Welding Coordinator (RWC) and do they need to be qualified?

Two questions and the answers are Yes and No.

ISO3834 specifies the need for an RWC for Parts 2 and 3, and calls up ISO14731, which addresses requirements for training and qualification of RWCs. Annex A gives a recommendation that the qualification of European Welding Engineer, Technologist and Specialist ‘may be considered to satisfy the requirements’ (for Comprehensive, Specific and Basic levels respectively), but this is not a mandatory requirement. Document EA-6/02 gives guidelines on auditing for ISO3834 and Para 3.2.2.(c) allows assessment of competency of a candidate RWC by means of a professional interview, in which the candidates technical knowledge is assessed against the requirements of the standard and the level of complexity of product that the company manufactures.

So it is possible to be a Comprehensive level RWC without the exemplar qualifications, but you need to demonstrate that your technical knowledge is equivalent to someone with the EWE Diploma, at least in your area of operation. The interview route should not be regarded as an easy option, but can be a cost effective route to getting an RWC where the product range is relatively simple or, if working to EN1090, it is only a requirement to meet Exc 2. Call Dominic Moran on 0800 9993834 who will happily talk through which route is most appropriate for you.

How do you become a Responsible Welding Coordinator?

The conventional and least contentious route is to complete the European Welding Engineer / Technologist Diploma, but this is costly, takes a long time and may be unnecessarily complex, depending on your product range.

There are a number of organisations offering non accredited courses of varying lengths and complexity which aim to provide a level of competence. These are generally aimed at meeting the requirements of EN1090 Exc 2.

Important: You should carefully assess what is on offer before committing to a course to ensure it meets your company’s needs.
Some client organisations are also reluctant to accept someone as RWC solely on the basis of a short course with no other supporting qualification.
As an expert in RWC matters call Dominic Moran on 0800 9993834 who will happily talk through the option that would best suit you.