P4711 Welding Committee update on change over from NZS 4711 1984 and NZS 4703 1985 to AS NZS 2980 20

Issue 26 – April 2011

Renewal approvals for testing authorities under NZS 4711:1984 Qualification tests for metal-arc welders and NZS 4703:1985 Welder qualification tests for stainless steel pipe for the dairy industry for the year ending 31 March 2011 were completed late last year. By now testing authorities should be well under way with the change over to AS/NZS 2980:2007 Qualification of welders for fusion welding of steels and their application for accreditation as an examining body.

The following information has been provided by the P4711 Welding Committee and is intended as a general update to provide some guidance on:

  • the changeover process;
  • recent industry feedback; and
  • what will happen with the withdrawal of NZS 4711 and NZS 4703.

Background

From 1 April 2011, new or renewal welder qualifications to NZS 4711 and NZS 4703 will not be available and Standards New Zealand will no longer manage the testing authority renewals. Standards New Zealand is to withdraw NZS 4711 and NZS 4703 and both Standards will be superseded by AS/NZS 2980.

The withdrawal of the two Standards is a formal process requiring:

  • formal notification for the withdrawal of the Standards,
  • invitation for public comment,
  • consideration of public comment feedback by the welding committee,
  • Standards Council approval, and
  • official notification by Standards New Zealand advising when NZS 4711 and NZS 4703 have been withdrawn and superseded by AS/NZS 2908:2007.

The official notification will also advise that the responsibility for competency assessment will be transferred to International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ).

The transfer to IANZ of the competency assessment process fits in well with their core business and the P4711 welding committee has every confidence they will undertake that task well.IANZ's management will also provide the welding industry with greater acceptance and international recognition than applied under the previous regime under NZS 4711 and NZS 4703.

IANZ

In February 2011 IANZ released a document (supplementary criteria for accreditation) to give more guidance on the changeover process and procedures. There are a couple of key differences to what has been previously communicated:

  • The person supervising the test can be appointed (not necessarily employed by) the examining body
  • Suitable qualifications for examiners are set out in AS/NZS 1554.1 clause 7.2 and 7.4. Note that the latest revision of this Standard is about to be released and there has been some updating in section 7.

Recent feedback on AS/NZS 2980:2007

There has been some confusion about how the welder qualification functions are addressed under AS/NZS 2980. There have been comments that 'AS/NZS 2980 is an unregulated code'; this is not quite correct.

While AS/NZS 2980 does not require those issuing the qualification to have Standards New Zealand approval, it does provide control of the testing. Clause 1.6 states 'In New Zealand, persons issuing reports on destructive and/or non-destructive tests in accordance with AS 2205 (all parts), AS 2207 or AS 2177 shall be an authorised signatory of an organisation accredited by International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) to conduct the assessment of these tests in accordance with this Standard'.

Recent feedback on NZS 4703

Some concerns were recently raised on the removal of NZS 4703 for the New Zealand dairy industry. Particular concern focussed on the removal of the branch weld test. It is important to note that the withdrawal of NZS 4703 will not affect the standard required for stainless steel welder qualification. Another development for this industry is the soon-to–be-published revision of AS/NZS 1554 Part 6; this should be a reassurance for the dairy industry that a lot of effort is being put into keeping the welding Standards relevant and up-to-date.

AS/NZS 2980 Appendix F provides the same technical standard of welding qualification as NZS 4703. This is because AS/NZS 2980 Appendix F is taken from NZS 4703 to ensure the same welding standard is achieved.

There are two key differences between the two Standards:

  • The branch test, mandatory in NZS 4703, is covered by the tube butt weld test in AS/NZS 2980. The reason for ceasing the mandatory application of the pipe branch test from NZS 4703 is that the attachment process is now carried out in New Zealand by using a transition piece thus requiring ordinary circumferential welds.
  • The tube diameter(s) are not set at 75 and 100 mm.

The Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA), a New Zealand member of the joint AS/NZS committee revising AS/NZS 2980 back in 2007, was aware that NZS 4703 was likely to be withdrawn, and was conscious of the need to provide something of a similar scope to NZS 4703 in AS/NZS 2980, hence Appendix F.

The changes as explained above will provide an acceptable level of competency to those involved with the welding of equipment intended for use with materials for human consumption. Further information is available from the New Zealand Welding Centre at HERA – email welding@hera.org.nz.

Proposed future changes/amendments to AS/NZS 2980

The New Zealand participating members of the joint AS/NZS 2980 committee are:

  • NZ Heavy Research Association (HERA)
  • NZ Non-Destructive Testing Association

There are several options available when it comes to revising/amending a joint AS/NZS Standard. For example, a proposal can be submitted to Standards Australia for consideration and prioritisation for upcoming work, or in some cases it is possible for an industry supported New Zealand-only revision/amendment to be undertaken depending on the circumstances.

However in the first instance, proposals should be submitted to Standards New Zealand for consideration. Once the proposal has been reviewed the appropriate action will be progressed.

Please direct any proposals outlining a clear description of the proposed revision/amendment, including relevant research-based evidence explaining why the change is necessary, and send it to:

The Chief Executive
Standards New Zealand
Private Bag 2439
Wellington 6140

Other recent feedback – questions and answers

There has been recent feedback requesting further clarification on various issues surrounding the changeover and some related to perceived disparities between the Standards and the new accreditation process. Included below are some of the questions and the welding committee's response (answers).

Question: Will NZS 4711 run concurrently with AS/NZS 2980 or will it be withdrawn on 31 March 2011?

Answer: The testing authority certifications expired 31 March 2011. Standards New Zealand will discontinue the administration of the testing authorities and the certifying officers as at 31 March 2011.

At this time Standards New Zealand will also have commenced the formal process to withdraw NZS 4711 and NZS 4703. Both Standards will run concurrently with AS/NZS 2980, however welder qualifications to NZS 4711 and NZS 4703 will only remain valid until their expiry date.

The welding committee recommends that welding authorities switch to AS/NZS 2980 if they haven't done so already. There is no reason why testing authorities cannot be operating under AS/NZS 2980. Effectively welding organisations could have switched to AS/NZS 2980 when it was revised in 2007.

Question: AS/NZS 2980 allows any organisation without restriction to be an examining body and only in certain cases does the body need to be external and independent. IANZ in a recent letter requires organisations that are currently accredited to conform to NZS ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. This is vastly different to the requirements set down in AS/NZS 2980.

Why have Standards Australia, Standards New Zealand, and IANZ got such different views on the requirements for an examining body?

Answer: This is more a process-based issue about IANZ's procedures rather than an operational issue in AS/NZS 2980. Standards are living documents and improvements and changes are an ongoing process and possible at the next revision.

The revision process provides for industry feedback and public comment. New Zealand specific requirements can be included. This includes the recommendation that IANZ accreditation be required for examining bodies.

New Zealand has to accept that international Standards are here to stay, and to accept their principles, such as the need to follow a welding procedure, and pipe/tube butt test qualifying a branch connection.

Question: Why are current NZS 4711 certifying authorities expected to use higher standards of IANZ accreditation while their own previous customers can appoint themselves as examining bodies without any requirements from IANZ at all?

Answer: It must be remembered that welding quality management does not rely on welder qualification alone; compliance with welding standards such as AS/NZS 1554 are equally part of the system.

Industry organisations such as HERA are available to assist in the transition process if required. HERA advises that it will be talking further to the dairy and transport industries on welding quality management including welder qualification.

Bear in mind the following key points:

  • The overall responsibility for issuing welder qualification to AS/NZS 2980 will be that of an 'examining body' whose functions are described in the Standard. It is recommended that examining bodies are appropriately IANZ accredited.
  • AS/NZS 2980 states that persons issuing reports on destructive and/or non-destructive tests in accordance with AS 2205:2003 (all parts) Methods of destructive testing of welds in metal; AS 2207:2007 Non-destructive testing – Ultrasonic testing of fusion welded joints in carbon and low alloy steel; and AS 2177:2006 Non-destructive testing – Radiography of welding butt joints in steel shall be an authorised signatory of an organisation accredited by IANZ to conduct the assessment of these tests in accordance with AS/NZS 2980.
  • Technicians undertaking ultrasonic or radiographic assessments need to have appropriate certification at NDT level 2 or higher to meet the requirements of ISO 9712:2005 Non-destructive testing – Qualification and certification of personnel or the Certification Board for Inspection Personnel (CBIP).
  • Organisations that already have IANZ accreditation and signatories to perform the above tests should not experience any significant additional costs to carry out such tests. These organisations will have to apply to IANZ for a change of scope before 1 April 2011.
  • AS/NZS 2980 requires the appointment of a person to carry out the examiner duties to verify that the compliance of the welder qualification test is to AS/NZS 2980. Persons who perform this role will need to be appointed by an examining body; however they will not necessarily be employed by that body.
  • Suitable qualifications for examiners are set out in AS/NZS 1554.1 clause 7.2 and 7.4. Note that the latest revision of this Standard is about to be released and there has been some updating in section 7.
  • The branch test, mandatory in NZS 4703, is covered by the tube butt weld test in AS/NZS 2980. The reason for ceasing the application of the pipe test from NZS 4703 is that the attachment process is carried out in New Zealand by using a transition piece requiring ordinary circumferential (butt) welds.

Summary

In summary, a welder examining body is to be IANZ accredited to ISO/IEC 17020 for welder qualification process verification.

  • The examining body will appoint the examiner whose function will be parallel to the NZS 4711 test supervisor.
  • Persons issuing reports on destructive and/or non-destructive tests must be IANZ accredited for that work. The identification of the organisation performing the mechanical testing and radiography is to be included on the certificate shown in Appendix C (normative appendix) of AS/NZS 2980.
  • Assistance with development of welding procedure specifications (WPS) may be available from industry organisations.
  • As per the intent of AS/NZS 2980, welder qualification to AS/NZS 2980 does not apply to pressure equipment.

If you require further information about IANZ procedures and processes, please contact IANZ directly at info@ianz.govt.nz

If you require further information about the withdrawal of NZS 4711 and NZS 4703, please contact Standards New Zealand at enquiries@standards.co.nz.

Published in engineering.