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Validation of arc welding equipment - revision of BS7570 (May 2001)

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19/3/2011 11:52

Validation of arc welding equipment - revision of BS7570 (May 2001)

Validation of arc welding equipment - revision of BS7570

Geoff Melton, TWI Ltd Originally published in Welding & Metal Fabrication, 2001, Vol. 69, No. 4, May, pp 10-12 by DMG World Media UK Ltd

Eur Ing Geoff Melton is Section Manager - Arc welding at TWI and chairman of BSI committee WEE/6 and CENELEC TC26A

The second edition of BS7570 Validation of arc welding equipment [1] , was published last year and is now being proposed as a draft International Standard. It is therefore opportune to review the basic principles of validation and to discuss the changes in the new edition. The need for validating (or calibrating) arc welding equipment gained momentum in the nineteen eighties [2] . In a number of industry sectors, particularly offshore and power generation a need was identified to have in place a system to ensure that the correct welding parameters were used and documented. Although this requirement is often imposed for manual welding it becomes of increasing importance for mechanised and automated welding. Fabricators required equipment to be validated so that different equipment, maybe in different parts of the country would give reproducible results. At that time, the design of welding power sources was such that they were inaccurate and susceptible to drift. Most equipment was thyristor based and controlled by analogue circuitry. For pulsed welding, many of the important parameters were inadequately calibrated to give reproducible results. Consequently companies and organisations produced in house procedures for bringing their equipment into 'calibration'. But there were no agreed specifications as to what accuracy the equipment should or could be calibrated to. Furthermore, there was a lack of knowledge of the correct principles for calibrating equipment and many so called 'calibrated' power sources simply had their open circuit voltage (no-load voltage) checked against the value on the rating plate! It was with that background that BSI was asked to produce a standard for 'calibrating' welding equipment. The task was passed to WEE/6 the committee responsible for arc welding equipment. The committee set out to produce guidance on how to calibrate equipment and to specify accuracy levels. It soon became apparent that calibration was not the most appropriate word to use and the word 'Validation' was chosen, meaning the operation to verify that the equipment complies with the operating specification. In 1992, BS75770 Code of practice for the validation of arc welding equipment [3] , was published and by 1996 it became the equivalent European Prestandard ENV 50184. This standard addressed the need identified in EN729 Weld Quality Systems [4] to calibrate inspection, measuring and test equipment and is now being used by many countries throughout Europe, particularly Denmark, Sweden, Holland and Belgium. After a few years it became apparent that a revision of BS7570 was required and BSI WEE/6 initiated the drafting, by forming a panel of people with experience of using the original standard. Last year, the revised standard BS7570:2000 was published. This revised standard is reviewed and compared to the original 1992 version, below.

Accuracy of welding equipment

Validation is the procedure of demonstrating that the equipment conforms to the operating specification. Therefore, before validation can be carried out it is necessary to establish the specification, i.e. to what accuracy the equipment is to be validated. This will depend on the design of the equipment, the specification to which it was manufactured or a specification required by the user. Generally, the manufacture does not state values for accuracy, but if the equipment is manufactured to a recognised National, European or International standard, as it should be, a level of accuracy is defined for welding current and arc voltage. However, these are the minimum levels

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