Introduction to ISO 3834
ISO 3834 is an international standard that ensures that quality is built-in to welding processes, so that manufacturers of metalwork don’t have to rely on inspection and testing to know that the finished article is fit for purpose. ISO 3834 has been written to complement ISO 9001, the internationally recognised quality management standard, rather than to replace it, and was written around the structure of the version released in 2000.
ISO 3834 has been adopted as a compulsory supporting standard for the Factory Production Control and CE marking of structural metalwork, EN 1090-1, which uses the principle of Execution Classes 1 to 4. Execution Class is based on the idea that the higher the level of risk, the more comprehensive Factory Production Control needs to be and Execution Class increases with increased risk. ISO 3834 comes in 5 parts, which also address the level of risk but, contrary to Execution Class, part numbers increase as risk reduces:
- ISO 3034-1 is a guide to the selection of the quality requirements that are needed at different levels of risk
- ISO 3834-2 defines comprehensive quality requirements for Execution Classes 3 and 4
- ISO 3834-3 defines standard quality requirements for Execution Class 2
- ISO 3834-4 defines basic quality requirements for Execution Class 1
- ISO 3834-5 lays out the documentation needed to conform to the standard
Who does ISO 3834 apply to?
The standard applies to anyone that fabricates structural metalwork by welding if it is going to be offered for sale within the UK and European Trading Block. However, as ISO 3834 is an internationally recognised standard for the quality control of welding processes, companies that don’t fabricate structural metalwork can chose to become certified to demonstrate best workshop practise to their clients.
How do I comply?
Certification Bodies vary in their approach to EN 1090-1. Some verify that the welding quality management system is in place as part of EN 1090-1 and issue a single certificate, while others certify the welding quality management system and EN 1090-1 separately and issue two certificates.
However, Highways England has updated the National Highways Sector Scheme 20 document (NHSS 20), which sets out the additional measures they require for quality management systems to ISO 9001:2015 for the production of steelwork for transportation infrastructure such as bridges. Fabrication companies working in this sector will need separate certification to the ISO 3834 quality management standard by 1st September 2020.
An organisation may decide that it has the skills, experience and free-time to implement welding quality management in-house. Depending on the existing level of experience of putting management systems in place, an organisation should budget for up to 40 person-days to get ISO 3834 ready for certification. As an alternative the organisation may decide to appoint a consultant to cover gaps that it has identified in skills and experience or time availability. An experienced consultant will be able to short-cut much of the planning process, which leads rapid implementation and a major reduction in the time commitment from the organisation’s own people.
ISO 3834 isn’t highly prescriptive and can be designed to be very light-weight and easy to maintain. Most well-run manufacturers of structural metalwork will already have many of the elements needed to conform to ISO 3834 and a skilled consultant can take what an organisation already does and demonstrate how it meets the standard, rather than having to write completely new processes from scratch. This avoids the need for employees to learn new ways of working and cuts down the time needed for implementation.
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