Supreme’s Approach to Bolstering Welding Auditing During COVID

October 23, 2020

Written by: Dr. Nairn Barnes- Supreme Steel Welding Engineer-

A recent initiative within Supreme’s Engineering and Quality groups has been to improve the communication between departments and the quality of reporting has been undertaken.

As a part of continued certification to the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB), Supreme’s Welding Engineering Team completes quarterly audits across all of our facilities to ensure that the welding operations are being carried out to the requirements of the codes and standards we fabricate and are certified to. These audits typically require a shop visit by a Welding Engineer and the participation of a  Welding Supervisor to provide guidance around the shop and answers to the audit questions. Since the advent of COVID-19, travel has been restricted, forcing adaptation across the industry and within Supreme. One of these adaptations has been the change from in person audits to virtual audits. While these still met the requirements for certification, the interaction between the Welding Engineering Team and the shops was being diminished and the ability to ensure the adherence to the standards was lessened.

To fill the void created by COVID, we developed a monthly Welding Supervisor report to aid in ensuring the standards and practices for maintaining certification are upheld. Welding Supervisors’ role within the shop environment is to ensure that the welding completed is done to the appropriate standard and level of workmanship and that the welding personnel completing it are certified appropriately. In fulfilling this role, they are essentially completing miniature versions of the quarterly Welding Engineering audits throughout the completion of their regular duties, making the addition of the monthly report a relatively straightforward task. The report developed is completed digitally and with the exception of certain short answer questions, the report is a checklist that is simple to complete.

Having a digital report is beneficial in several ways. Firstly, the lack of physical copies ensures that no reports will be lost and the process is far less wasteful. The digital nature of the report allows for access by the Welding Engineering team at any later point and can be used as a useful reference point/discussion topic during the quarterly audits. The report also has a section for Welding Supervisors to upload pictures of current work being completed in the shop. This allows the Welding Engineering team to view the current projects and get a sense of the work being completed that under normal circumstances would be witnessed in a physical shop visit. As this can be accessed digitally, all Welding Supervisors across the company can view the photos and see the projects being completed by Supreme. This has had the added benefit of creating opportunities for communication in between the various locations, which can be difficult at the best of times, but particularly so in the COVID environment.

Moving forward, this Welding Supervisor report will become a regular part of all Welding Supervisors tasks across the company and improve the reporting and auditing quality as it relates to welding to the required codes and standards and meeting the certification requirements.