Operating  procedures for the Common Welder Certification Scheme (CWCS), which has been under development since the Asian Welding Federation (AWF) was established, were finalized at the 11th AWF Task Force Meeting held November 21 at Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Bangna, a suburb of Bangkok, Thailand. The CWCS agreement marks the culmination of four years of debate and deliberation between all AWF member countries on the rules and detailed operating procedures for the scheme.

The establishment of a common certification scheme for welders has been a common goal since the conception and founding of the AWF and is an integral part of the federation’s aim of providing knowledge, skills, and qualifications to people of Asia, as well as supporting the economic development of the countries of Asia.

In its work up to now, the task force has engaged in extended discussions about the CWCS, taking into account the various circumstances and views of each member country. The new agreement encompasses Rules A0001 (Rules on the Implementation of AWF Guidelines Concerning the Examination and Certification of Welders in Fusion Welding), which define the requirements of an Authorized Testing Centre (ATC). In addition, all operational procedures, OP01 to OP02, were approved (with the exception of OP02).

Under this new agreement, AWF auditors, working under the newly established CWCS rules and operational procedures, will audit and approve an ACB in each country. Each approved ACB will then, in turn, audit the ATCs in that country. Once an ATC is approved, it can then proceed to conduct skills testing of welders in that country. This set of procedures, which has now been approved, is currently being prepared for implementation.

The Task Force Meeting itself began with a message by AWF Secretary General Dr. Ang Chee Pheng of the Singapore Welding Society and self-introductions by the attending member representative: 8 from Japan, 2 from China, 21 from Indonesia, 1 from Mongolia, 7 from Malaysia, 2 from Myanmar, 3 from Philippines, 3 from Singapore, and 5 from the host country, Thailand. In all, 52 representatives from nine different countries attended the event.

Once underway, the proceeding undertook the work of approving the formulated CWCS rules and detailed operating procedures, which were followed by presentations on CWCS activity plans in each country. In Japan, for example, the Japan Welding Engineering Society (JWES) has already started working to establish and implement the CWCS within two years. This year it conducted its first test trial at nine JWES examination centers in order to compare and identify any differences between ISO 9606 and Japan’s national JIS welding skill qualifications, as well as to collect data for implementing ISO 9606 testing. A second test trial will be conducted within the current financial year. Through these trials, detailed operating procedures for skills testing will be formulated. It was also reported that, as an AWF member, Japan will report to the JWES Board that it will introduce ISO 9606.

In addition, at the standardization task force meeting, JWES Welding Consumable Division director Naoshi Suzuki (a representative of Kobe Steel, Ltd.) gave presentations entitled “Establishing Common Welding Standards for AWF Members by the Adoption of ISO Standards” and “Summary of 2012 Welding Materials Survey”. Furthermore, the group agreed to work under the name “AWF Task Force on Standardization” for the purpose of providing a forum for sharing information on welding-related standards, as well as for putting together Asian views for proposals to the ISO.

In terms of concrete objectives, in order to address the challenge of introducing ISO provisions into the domestic standards of each country, the meeting identified the need to fully comprehend the details of ISO standards. As a result, it was decided that the next standardization task force meeting would begin work on examining specific examples of the ISO 2560:2009 (covered electrodes for arc welding) standards, and that individual countries would make presentations regarding their current national welding-related standards.

The 18th AWF General Assembly was held on the day following the Task Force Meeting. The gathering kicked off with an address by Suchin Katavut, President of the Thai Welding Society, representing the host country, who remarked on the CWCS agreement, saying, “It is necessary to proceed smoothly with realizing the CWCS in order to fulfill the AWF’s aim of working step-by-step towards enabling Asian countries to help each other by sharing information and other resources.”

Following the inaugural remarks, AWF President Achdiat Armawinata, President of the Indonesian Welding Society (IWS), spoke a few words of thanks to all the attendees representing their respective AWF member countries, after which assembly work proceeded with reports in the task force meeting, on the management of the AWF website, and on progress towards producing a glossary of welding terminology in English.

Opinions were heard from various countries regarding the prospect of developing a relationship between the American Welding Society (AWS) and the AWF. In addition, there was an open discussion on the differences between the AWF’s CWCS and the International Welding Engineer (IWE) certification of the International Institute of Welding (IIW).

On November 23, the 4th Auditor’s Seminar was held. A total of 29 participants representing seven different countries joined this event, including 1 from China, 18 from Indonesia, 4 from Japan, 2 from Malaysia, 2 from Philippines, 1 from Singapore, and 1 from Thailand. Heng Keng Wah (Singapore Welding Society) gave a lecture covering CWCS-related procedures and operating procedures, including those related to auditing ATCs and authorizing ACB auditors, and those related to the authorization of assessors, NDT testers, and machine testers.

The ACB auditor and assessor examinations were conducted after the lecture. Once the results of the examination are finalized, implementation of the CWCS will begin.