During my 45 years in this industry, I’ve fielded a ton of questions from fabricators and inspectors alike. What I’ve noticed is that no matter whether they’ve come from folks working for an established, iconic firm or a budding startup, one theme remains constant: We all face challenges navigating an ever-growing complex welding industry to run and grow a successful business. One recent conversation made me realize that ETMS should compile a repository of such questions so that our industry can benefit as a whole from our firm’s cognitive knowledge. Hence, our new monthly “Ask Generous Dave” column was born.
I thought the first question should be one that spans our profession. We selected a composite question that is without a doubt one of the most common we’ve received. Going forward, I invite you to send me your own questions pertinent to your business success. Please email me at GenerousDave@etmsllc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
– “Generous” Dave Diaz
Topic: Prequal WPS
Q: Dear Generous Dave. As a small fabrication shop, profit margins are critical to our survival. What can we do to improve margins on the jobs we win so we not only survive but grow?
– From just about every mom & pop shop owner I’ve had the pleasure to meet
A: What we too often see are smaller shops excited about winning a bid only to learn that they have several more unaccounted for hurdles to clear to become compliant for the job. These hurdles cost time and money, both of which eat into your profits significantly. We’ve definitely seen an increase over the past few years of accountability being placed on fabs by manufacturers, owners and engineers to be in compliance, especially for AWS D1.1. So, I’d say a solid strategy for code compliance is paramount if you’re to be more competitive.
One of the best ways to avoid the post-bid compliance scramble is to develop a Prequalified WPS for the job. Unfortunately, small shops often bid on jobs and find themselves having to qualify a PQR. This requires them to weld a coupon book of the procedures and send to a metallurgical lab for Non-destructive Testing. This can cost somewhere between $1,500 and $5,000, plus having to wait sometimes up to two or three weeks for the NDT results—and I’ve seen even longer! Not to mention, we’ve seen good quality shops unfortunately lose jobs they had won because they weren’t adequately prepared to respond in a timely manner to procedural questions from the third-party CWI assigned to the project.
Now, what if you had a Prequalified WPS for your procedure? Let’s say you’re welding a 3/8 plate with SMAW and you’re within the confines of what the Prequal is dictating. The only thing you’d really have to establish is the qualification of the personnel that will be welding that procedure. Prequals let you leapfrog some of the onerous processes that often wipe out margins for small mom and pops. Prequals also make it easier for a CWI to qualify your welders in-house, saving even more time and money. You’re basically up and running on day one.
We understand that most small shops simply can’t afford to create procedures from scratch for each and every job you bid on. You just don’t have the same working capital as the bigger shops to do that. You could hire personnel who could develop prequalified procedures along with their other duties. However, that presents time and allocation challenges of their own and often proves not to be the most cost-effective investment for smaller firms.
What solutions might be more within your shop’s reach you now may be asking?
For more than 30 years, ETMS has worked with shops like yours to develop custom Prequal WPS’s as well as train their personnel to develop them. What we’ve learned from those experiences is that having a full set of Prequals for procedures in SMAW, GMAW and FCAW would save our clients significant time and money. To this end, ETMS recently developed the “Welder’s Cookbook,” a turnkey Prequalified Welding Procedure Specification (WPS) package offering based on the American Welding Society’s (AWS) D1.1 2020 Structure Steel Construction Code Book.
ETMS’s “Welder’s Cookbook” is a revolutionary product that levels the playing field for mom and pops looking to compete with bigger shops. We encourage you to compare the one-time investment in the “Welder’s Cookbook” versus on-going custom development of Prequals for the jobs you anticipate bidding on and winning in the coming year. We’re confident our “Welder’s Cookbook” will provide you with a return so far beyond your initial investment that you’ll want to continue doing business with ETMS for years to come. If you have any further questions about the Prequal WPS development process, please do give us a call. Or if you have a question for me that can better help your business succeed, please send me an email at GenerousDave@etmsllc.com.
Yours in Quality First,
“Generous” Dave Diaz