How three leadership techniques can improve quality
February 14, 2002
Do you doubt the merits of daily record keeping to improve welding reliability, standardize welding procedures, avoid excessive costs, and increase productivity? Read on. You won't any longer.
It is the welding manager's responsibility to allocate the resources required to achieve cost-effectiveness in welding processes. It also is the manager's responsibility to maintain equipment and consistently meet throughput requirements with a level of quality that conforms to the required standards.
The welding leader must be actively involved with all welding operations. Managers must generate questions from shop floor employees and listen to new ideas before they can make improvements. Productivity of the average operation can be improved 25 to 45 percent with little or no capital investment.
Written daily schedules from project managers for welders, materials, quality, and shipping personnel can increase the effectiveness of welding processes. Leaders manage welding operations by setting daily goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely.
Successful welding managers have standardized welding procedures that specify all of the applicable essential variables referenced in the contract documents. Leaders and welders must share common production goals with managers in other departments.
Managers must be aware of the nonwelding duties performed by their welders and minimize these activities. Welders are instinctively creative and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Welders often work on tasks outside their job description and do not always maximize their arc-on time.
Managers obtain specific values for welding procedure variables from the procedure qualification record, which confirms the correctness of the welding procedure specification. Tables list essential variables for each welding code. Changes beyond the limitations of the procedure qualification record's essential variables require requalification of the welding procedure.
Welding codes, standards, or specifications specify the types of procedures and qualifications required for welding. Standard industry terms for this welding documentation are:
1. Welding procedure specification (WPS), which describes the process; base materials; and range of process parameters, consumables, and techniques.
2. Procedure qualification record (PQR), which records the actual welding process, base material, process variables, consumables, and optimal conditions.
3. Welder qualification test report (WQTR), which records the actual proficiency of a welder to achieve the required results in the PQR.
As projects change, welders constantly must be aware of their task to reduce their work effort, motion, and time delays. Leaders strive to improve productivity at the workstation.
Welding requires equipment that operates consistently within a predetermined set of welding parameters. Equipment must be maintained routinely, and its performance must be checked.
A good chance exists that terminals have deteriorated or dirt has collected on controls and the machine is not operating at its maximum capability, especially since many welding power supply components are not mobile. Over extended periods of time, thermal expansion and contraction can degrade power supplies.
Welders need supervision to help them minimize rejects, scrap, and rework, the major causes of excessive welding costs. Warranty costs must be recorded and monitored.
Sometimes welding supervisors are responsible for too many welders. This means that welders lose welding time while they wait for their supervisor to check a weld or make a decision about their work. Helpers can be assigned to wait for repairs at the tool crib or maintenance shop. They can drive lift trucks to get needed material or consumables. These time killers waste welders' time. In today's market, companies cannot hire enough welders to meet production schedules.
Managers must record past equipment accomplishments and failures and review data from warranty claims. Welders, designers, salespeople, and the estimating department need to know about warranty experiences or changes in shop operations to predict future results. Continuous improvements are required to ensure success with existing and new welded products.
Managers should keep daily records of welding operations to improve welding reliability and increase productivity.
A close examination of established welding procedures often reveals inconsistencies between welders and equipment that can be changed to make procedures easier to follow on the shop floor.
Increased productivity can result from optimizing existing gains, without making additional capital investment, simply by knowing what adjustments to make in personnel use, equipment, and methods. Examples of gains include improved quality resulting from paying attention to details; reduced costs resulting from more efficient methods or using different welding processes; increased throughput as evidenced by more acceptable parts produced per shift; and safety awareness, which means fewer lost-time accidents, yielding more time on the job for experienced workers and less time wasted dealing with accidents.