Welding is no longer just a physically demanding trade but a high-level skill that needs cognitive skills like logical thinking, intuitiveness, creativity along with practical skills like manual dexterity, knowledge of materials, tools, methods, and instruments. “Having knowledge only about welding will not help anymore. Today, welders must have knowledge about all the activities before welding, during welding, and after the welding. Because the welding roles and their definitions have changed over the years”, says Mr. Satish Sawant, Head – Inspection and Training, Institute of Welding and Testing Technology (IWTT).
To know about the courses offered at IWTT, their association with Fronius India, how the courses at the institute are aligned to meet the international welding standards, we interacted with Mr. Satish Sawant. Learn more from the excerpts from our conversation. You can also watch the interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.
Q: Could you throw some light on various activities IWTT has been carrying out over the years and about your association with Fronius India?
A: IWTT was started in 2008 with a vision to promote skill development in India and to train welding engineers along with welders. When most institutes were training only welders, we wanted to build an institute that trained engineers, welders, and managers. We also certify organizations that are into welding. There are the latest standards like ISO 3834 Certification, EN 1090 Certification, etc. We are helping organizations to achieve international standards in welding.
I have been associated with Fronius for over 20 years now when Fronius came to India for the first time. They have the best and latest technologies available with them. I had also had the opportunity to visit Fronius, Austria. It was great to see so many people work on Research and Development in welding at Fronius.
Q: Please help us understand more about the training programmes offered at your institute.
A: Our main focus is to create welding inspectors for the industry. One of the courses is Certified Welding Inspector. Another programme is for International Welding Coordinator. Welding coordinators are crucial because in each and every department we need them for the coordination of various welding processes.
We certify the trainees to work at the international level as per the EN ISO standards. Ours is the first institute to have started this in India and we have trained many engineers in India and abroad. We have done similar training in South East Asian countries like Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We also have an institute in South Africa, where we run similar programmes and are creating more of welding coordinators.
A welding coordinating personnel has the responsibility of coordinating the welders, welding supervisors, and to communicate the customer requirement to them, therefore making his/her role very important.
It is important to carry out a feasibility study for new jobs in the industry. In our training programmes, we train them on how to perform a feasibility study for the project related to welding. We also look into roles at all three levels – before welding, during welding, after welding, because a person with knowledge about welding is not enough for the industry. This person should know about the raw material, cutting operations, bending operations, joining, etc.
After joining, we must know the quality of the weld. We have to carry out many non-destructive tests after welding, like visual inspection, dye penetrant test, x-ray, ultrasonic testing, borescope testing, etc. are needed as per the job specification. This is necessary because the definition of a welding inspector’s role has changed.
In India, IIWT is the first such organization, which started the programme for welding coordination. Generally, international programmes like the Welding Engineer programme, International Welding Technologist, etc. But many may not be eligible to apply or many not find it approachable. Therefore, our programme makes these economical, reachable, and also make the training programme available to them in vernacular languages. This will help people understand it better and they will be able to implement it. Our role is to bridge the gap between what is taught in universities and what is required in the industry.
We have several other courses, like one on Welding Metallurgy, a programme for Designers, where welding engineers can become part of the design of the weld. In total, we run 35 programmes from the supervisory level to the engineer’s level.
Similarly, we have courses for welders too. But in these programmes they are not taught the old conventional methods of welding. The programmes we conduct are on the side of Robotics, Automation, etc. Because our idea is to create a smart welder. Old days are gone. Now all the machines are programmable. Now 100 programmes can be stored in a machine. They are connected with the internet and are smart machines. For this, we need smart welders and smart engineers, who can get updated with the technology.
Q: How does the training happen? Is it before they join a job or in-service training?
A: We have a programme for people who are just out of college – PG in Welding Technology. Here they are taught right from what is a base metal, cutting, welding, alongside other skills I have mentioned earlier. Fresh engineers show a keen interest in this course.
However, our major clients for the programme are people who are already working for 20-25 years in the industry. This is because we are conducting the programme that is required for the industries and our programme design and certification are acceptable across the world.
The programmes that we run are for all levels – welders, welding supervisors, welding engineers, welding managers, and design engineers.
Q: How do you ensure that a trained welder keeps up with the quality in work and maintains international standards which are acceptable across the world?
A: Our slogan is scholars and dollars. Scholars should know how to earn dollars, for which they also need to know codes, standards, and specifications which are used worldwide. When we talk about the requirement, they should know the standards that are needed to be able to be accepted.
In India too, we need to build world-class standards. We should be aware of the acceptance level in the international market. At our institute, for all the programmes we are following standards like AWS, API, EN ISO, among others. We design our curriculum according to the updated technology. Our trainers go abroad and get themselves trained. Whatever we learn, we try to pass that on to the trainees and the industry.
Also read: Attracting youth to welding, making it an aspirational career choice – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/attracting-youth-to-welding-making-it-an-aspirational-career-choice/
Q: What is your message to young people who want to pursue welding as a career?
A: India is a developing country and there is a huge potential for welding. There is a lot of scope for young engineers. Most companies do not have welding engineers and welding coordinators. Therefore, there is a good chance for the youngsters to get into this field.
Young engineers must take it as a challenge to change the common perception of welding because it is no longer a difficult job or a job with safety issues. One should not remember welding only when a building collapses. We should not wait for such disasters to happen. Women’s participation is also an important component.
Youngsters must also get an all-around understanding and gain knowledge about welding and other activities around it, as only knowing how to weld will not be enough.