The importance of Certification to AS/NZS ISO 3834

AS/NZS ISO 3834 Quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials is a factory production control system, drafted to complement – rather than replace – quality management systems, such as ISO 9001, writes Geoff Crittenden, CEO of Weld Australia.

As a factory production control system, certification to AS/NZS ISO 3834 helps businesses operate more efficiently, improving client satisfaction. It increases the likelihood of global supply chain opportunities and repeat business, bolstering profitability. Certification helps Australian businesses demonstrate their ability to deliver a compliant, quality fusion welded product on time and to budget.

AS/NZS ISO 3834 is the minimum benchmark for welding quality globally.

Until recently, many Australian asset managers were satisfied with simply asking contractors and suppliers to confirm their compliance to the relevant welding factory code: AS/NZS ISO 3834. As such, it was not a necessity for Australian welding companies to become certified.

Unfortunately, the problem with compliance is that there are an enormous number of grey areas, many of which would not be accepted by a qualified Weld Australia auditor. As a result, the quality of welding output often varies dramatically between a Weld Australia verified company and a company that has self-certified compliance.

In addition, AS/NZS ISO 3834 has traditionally been viewed as a quality management system. This meant that many welders and fabricators opted for certification to ISO 9001 Quality management – a more general quality certification. However, as AS/NZS ISO 3834 is
a factory production code, it is considerably different to ISO 9001.

In comparison to a general quality management Standard such as ISO 9001, AS/NZS ISO 3834 specifies the quality assurance principles expected specifically for welded products globally. It provides internationally recognised quality requirements for the welding of metallic materials by fabricators, manufacturers, constructors, and maintainers.

As a result, Australia’s welding and fabricating industry lags a long way behind other developed nations in terms of AS/NZS ISO 3834 certification rates.

However, this situation is undergoing a dramatic, extremely positive change.

Many of the prime contractors involved in the defence shipbuilding and land systems projects – valued at over $150 billion – require AS/ NZS ISO 3834 certification as a minimum requirement for any company wishing to join their global supply chains.

Furthermore, state-owned infrastructure managers (such as Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales and VicRoads in Victoria) will soon require similar levels of certification. The new Austroads Steel Fabrication Specification, which looks set to gain support from most state governments, requires certification to AS/NZS ISO 3834 by an International Institute of Welding (IIW) accredited certifying body which, in Australia, is Weld Australia.

In addition, the 2017 revision of the Australian bridge design standard AS/NZS 5100.6 makes normative references to AS/NZS ISO 3834.2 and 3. This is the first Australian Standard that makes non- optional normative references to these two parts of the Standard.

The certification requirements set out by defence industry prime contractors, state-owned infrastructure managers, and design standards has created a surge in demand for both individual and company welding certification.

As a result, Weld Australia looks set to double the number of Australian companies that are certified to AS/NZS ISO 3834 this year. After years of hard work, with only a modicum of success, we now find ourselves in an industry that is embracing change.

This growing acceptance is extremely encouraging. Weld Australia wants to see every Australian company involved in welding certified to AS/NZS ISO 3834, particularly
as the benefits of certification are so wide-ranging. Certification to AS/NZS ISO 3834 improves client satisfaction, and increases the likelihood of business opportunities, repeat business and growth in profitability. It helps Australian businesses demonstrate their ability to deliver a compliant welded product on time and to budget.

Certification to the standard fosters credibility and international recognition, clarity on technical requirements through a formal review process, and it promotes and increases the technical knowledge of all levels of personnel involved in the welding process (from
trades and inspectors, through to supervisors and management).

I believe the recent uptick in certification rates is absolutely fundamental to the future of welding in Australia.

Until the quality of work produced by Australian welders matches that of welders in Europe and America, Australia will always lag behind and struggle to compete.

Weld Australia’s policy has always been that we welcome competition from overseas fabricators and suppliers, as long as they comply to the same Australian and International Standards as Australian welders and fabrication companies.

After all, it is these Standards that make Australia a safer place to live.