Mining Welder Competency is part of the WQMS Pty Ltd business. WQMS was founded in 2018 by Eddy Constable and Simon Krismer with the objective of using their 30+ years of combined experience to develop a better way for crack and weld repair management in the mining industry. The WQMS Welder Competency system was developed as a core component of the solution package and introduced a whole new concept to industry: welder competency levels that are based on the skill level required for typical crack repair scenarios in mining equipment.
The WQMS Welder Competency system was developed over a period of 12 months and validated via extensive field trials with industry partners, becoming a complete system for training, upskilling and assessing welders to carry out crack repairs. Rather than using conventional welder qualification methods, the assessment test piece was based on fully simulated typical crack repairs (including gouging and preparation) of the 3 most common steel groups used in mining equipment.
Following further development and refinement, in early 2020 the WQMS Welder Competency became the Mining Welder Competency (MWC). MWC acts as the independent authorising body for the management of the Mining Welder Competency program. MWC operates on principles of best practice and benefit for all stakeholders. MWC is committed to delivering solutions to address the core issues and problems in the maintenance welding sector, and bring about much needed change and improvements for the benefit of industry.
The Mining Welder Competency program is now available Australia wide, delivered through local service providers.
Our Mission and Vision
The mission and vision of the MWC is to provide a unified industry welder competency framework that addresses the core needs for maintenance welding in the mining industry and benefits the industry and all stakeholders. The various industry issues that were considered in the development of the MWC are outlined below.
Bridge the Skills Gap
There is a Skills Gap for ability to do effective repairs that will last without re-cracking. This relates to advanced skills such as being able to do single sided open root repairs, but also for general skills and efficiency relating to gouging and preparation and being able to do good capping runs that do not require lots of grinding.
It also relates to understanding of fatigue cracking and the simple steps a welder can take to improve fatigue life or even prevent re-cracking.
The MWC provides a framework for the theory training, coaching, upskilling and assessment of welders so that they are capable of doing effective crack repairs that last with little or no technical guidance or supervision.
Provide a world-class VET package to meet industry needs
Maintenance welding - particularly crack repairs - requires specific knowledge and skills beyond what is required for fabrication welding.
There is no industry relevant nationally accredited VET for welder training and assessment for maintenance welding. This means that there is no industry unified and recognised approach for upskilling and assessing welders who do maintenance work. The result is that training and assessment of welders is highly fragmented and often inadequate.
The MWC provides an industry best practice non-accredited training package specifically for maintenance welding and crack repairs. Our long term goal is to turn this into an accredited VET package - but we need industry support to make this happen.
Provide a simple industry standard for VoC of common welding processes
There is no simple standardised Verification of Competency (VoC) framework for assessing welders on a technical and safety basis for the multiple welding and allied processes required for maintenance welding. Just having a Trade Certificate does not guarantee familiarity or competence with all welding and allied processes typically required for maintenance work. This makes it difficult for sites to demonstrate compliance to WHS requirements. Of particular concern is that a Trade Certificate III welder may not have had prior experience with Carbon Arc Gouging and Oxy-Fuel cutting, which have their own unique hazards and required skills to use safely and effectively.
By completing the MWC, welders receive an assessment report that clearly states their VoC with CAG, MMAW, GMAW/FCAW, and oxy-fuel cutting and heating.
Enable portability of welder records between employers
Welder qualifications are generally not portable between employers. This means that there is a huge cost to industry as well as time spent re-assessing welders whenever they change employment.
The general lack of recognised portable qualifications means that employers can be reluctant to invest in upskilling and training welders due to concern of welders leaving after investing in training or qualifying them.
By being an independent authorising body and providing a customised competency assessment framework, the MWC provides portability of competency records between employers using a simple brokerage system to reimburse the prior employer for the residual value of a welders competency record. This removes barriers to investing in welder training and upskilling, saves industry significant time and costs on reassessments, as well as streamlining the hiring process.
Enable better maintenance welding planning and management
Maintenance personnel and Asset Managers on mine sites generally are not welding experts. Also, attempting to apply fabrication based welding standards for the management of crack repairs is just too complex. It is not possible to have a welding expert scope and supervise every repair. Nor is it necessary. This has lead to a "trust based" system where maintainers are simply expected to "fix" a crack - usually with no technical guidance, supervision or QA.
Attempting to manage a suite of WPS's and welder qualifications - especially for contractors - is just not feasible. Many mines have tried by getting their welders to do a welder qualification (usually to AS2980) in the form of a butt weld in the overhead position. However, the reality is that even if a welder can pass this qualification test, it does not translate into effective repair outcomes. This is because welder qualifications do not take into account the gouging and preparation stage. They are "half qualifications" for maintenance welding. The stark realisation of this fact is what drove us to find a better way.
The MWC makes it easy for asset managers by packaging specific crack repair based skill sets into Competency Levels. This makes it simple to ensure that the welder has the necessary ability, but also makes it simple to determine the required welder competency level for the nature of the repair. No welding expertise required.
On a technical basis, the MWC is designed so that there is no need for managing a complex suite of WPS's for routine crack repairs. The welder must demonstrate their ability to dial in the welding parameters via the competency assessment test piece. Best practices for the various repair scenarios are also instilled into the welder via the theory training and competency assessment. The Repair Scenario Selector makes it easy for asset managers to check what Repair Scenarios the welder has or should take into account. Via the Universal Repair Parameter Sheets, welders and supervisors can easily determine what working temperature and consumable type should be used for the 3 most common steel groups.
How was the Mining Welder Competency developed?
The Mining Welder Competency was developed based on practical and pragmatic experience of weld repairing cracks in mining equipment, combined with a deep understanding of metallurgical theory relating to welding and fatigue cracking.
The MWC was designed in conjunction with the AICARM Framework in order to provide a comprehensive yet simple crack repair management system.
The technical fundamentals of the MWC are the Repair Scenarios and URPS. Through the use of these and the MWC, it is possible to carry out most common crack repairs without the need for formal welding procedures and achieve effective repairs that last.
The assessment coupon was designed incorporate the core Repair Scenarios. It simulates the typical types of cracks that are found in mining equipment, incorporating all steps of the normal repair process. In this way, the welder must demonstrate both their knowledge and skill in a way that is representative of what they will need to do on site and the welders ability to independently dial in the appropriate welding parameters is also assessed