High quality, specialty welding is essential for the building and maintenance of heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, as well as industrial and architectural structures. Educated, skilled welders are needed to complete projects so the appropriate quality standards are strictly enforced and maintained. Quality standards have been created locally and nationally to ensure quality welding, but nothing takes the place of hiring an experienced company with a respected reputation. Quality standards in the metal fabrication and specialty welding industry affect a wide array of business including restaurants, hotels, manufacturing plants, food plants, commercial offices and more.
Certified welding is an extremely specialized field. This interview with Brian Harkins, a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) and 10-hour/30-hour OSHA trainer, helps explain the importance of quality welding standards. Mr. Harkins is Shop Superintendent at R.F. Knox Company, Inc. in Symrna, Georgia, and oversees all metal fabrication, welding certifications, welding procedures and the R.F. Knox Company welding program. Mr. Harkins also currently attends the National Labor College in Maryland and will graduate in 2009 with his B.A. in Labor Education.
Q. What are the quality standards of certified welding and how do you meet them?
A. The beauty and integrity in the welds of architectural fabrication are very important. Architectural projects often require that the weld be ground smooth and hidden. Industrial projects require good, penetrating welds that maintain their integrity over the long term. The heat of the weld is also an important consideration since heat can cause metal to distort and buckle.
Our expert metal fabricators and skilled welders have to know when, where and what type of weld to implement so distortion is minimal. Smooth, clean welds also minimize the risk of bacterial contamination for customers who work in the food or hospitality industries. Industrial welding requires durability and strength, as well as safety and cleanliness. At R.F. Knox Company, Inc. we employ educated, experienced skilled welders who utilize state of the art technology and can ensure every weld is finished with perfect precision.
Q. How are quality welding standards related to welding safety standards?
A. Quality welding standards run hand in hand with welding safety standards. For example, if we provide the customer with poor quality welds on an exhaust system this can potentially lead to exhaust system leaks, which can be very hazardous. We carefully test our welds on all pipes that carry hazardous material and condensation to ensure it meets both quality and safety standards. This eliminates the possibility of leaks that may jeopardize the safety of employees and public. I also visually inspect structural welds for any discontinuities that may create the risk of failure and to avoid any problems in the future.
Q. What kind of companies are most in need of high quality, sheet metal welding and architectural specialty welding?
A. Industrial food plants, restaurants, hotels and commercial offices are just a few of our clients. The hospitality, commercial real estate and manufacturing industries are in need of a variety of architectural and metal welding services. Commercial and food businesses also require exceptional quality welding in order to meet their own safety and quality standards.
We fabricate and install blowpipe systems, lab exhaust systems, wind tunnels and more based on the needs of the client. We provide many customized architectural and specialty services in order to provide our customers with architectural systems and features that will perform well and achieve their goals.
Q. When a company is in need of commercial, architectural or certified welding how can they identify skilled welders who are up to date an the latest quality standards? What are the most important things they should look for?
A. On request we certify welders for a specific job at R.F Knox Company, Inc. This way we ensure they are qualified for the job they are about to complete. We also have certified welders that maintain their certifications, so you can ask for their credentials, however you must remember that their particular certification may not apply to your application.
When it comes to welding there are certain details to watch out for to make sure a certified welder knows the business. If you see “shotty” welds, which are welds that don’t have a uniform appearance or are bulky and pitted, you may want to question the quality of the work. Welds should flow evenly over the metal and appear to not have any cracks or holes.
If possible, you should also take a look at the underside, opposite the side welded and see if any weld is coming through. If you can see the weld this means good, strong, penetrating welds have been completed. On architectural applications, where the weld has been ground smooth, watch out for gouges in the metal from grinding. Welds should be ground smooth and flush with the base metal. Only trained, skilled welders know the tricks for this type of specialty welding and grinding.