Masaharu Sato, Expert, Qualification & Certification Department , The Japan Welding Engineering Society (JWES)
Could you brief us on the welding market scenario in Japan?
One indicator that shows the trend of the welding industry in Japan is a production of welding consumables transition. The market trend of the arc welding consumables in recent ten years is as follows; the production during 2008 was about 350,000 tonnes in Japan. However, it decreased nearly 2,50,000 tonnes after the financial crisis by Lehman collapse, and its trend has continued still now. But the production of welding consumables is expected to increase a little for the infrastructure maintenance, corresponding to Tokyo Olympics, etc.
How is the demand scenario for welding products in Japan?
About 70% of the welding consumable production was covered by electrode in the first half of 1970’s, when the shipbuilding industry of Japan accounted for 50% of the world share. However, to promote the energy saving and the production efficiency improvement in the welding stage, the manufacturers of Japan greatly converted the welding process from Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) to Gas-Shielded Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) with the Oil Crisis in the latter half of 1970’s.
In addition, the year 1980 was called ‘The first year of Robotization’ in Japan. The welding robot system and the automatic/mechanized welding equipment began to spread to welding stage among various welding manufacturers. This welding process with robot systems, the automation and mechanization in welding became factors wherein the Gas-Shielded Metal Arc Welding process expanded too.
The ratio of the production of covered electrode and the Gas-Shield Arc Welding consumables (welding wires) is reversed in 1985, and the production of the Gas-Shield Metal Arc Welding consumable accounts for 70% during 1990’s.
The above-mentioned trend is the production by the Japanese maker only. It is necessary to take imported welding consumables into consideration to know the domestic demand in Japan. Currently, a large amount of Gas-Shield Metal Arc Welding consumable (welding wire) is being imported by Japan from countries like South Korea , China etc.
According to statistics in 2017, the domestic production of welding consumables was 2,52,000 tonnes, and 33,000 tonnes were exported among those, and 73,000 tonnes were imported. Therefore, the demand of welding consumables in Japan was 292,000 tonnes, and the Gas-Shield Metal Arc Welding consumable was 2,37,000 tonnes among those. Thus, the ratio of welding consumables for Gas-Shielded Metal Arc Welding is about 81% in Japan.
What is your say on the welding market scenario in India as compared to Japan market?
The demand for welding consumables links with the steel consumption (Apparent Steel Use, finished steel products), and is considered about 0.4%-0.5% of the consumption of steel to be a quantity demanded for welding consumables in Japan. If it is assumed that the ratio is the same as Japan, the welding consumable demand is estimated to be about 4,00,000 tonnes in India.
So I think that the demand for welding consumables will increase because India is only one country that is increasing the steel production/steel consumption in Asia.
What new technologies have been introduced in Japan, especially when welding is concern?
In the field arc welding, I am paying attention to the new control technology with welding power sources. I also was developing the welding power sources that applied inverter waveform control technology in 1980’s – 1990’s. Compared with the past, there are somethings to be surprised in advancement of the recent technology in arc stabilization or reducing of spatter in GMAW.
What major challenges do the welding market in Japan faces? What can be the ways to resolve the same?
The personnel training, passing down the welding skill is a big problem in Japan. Personnel who is related to welding has been decreasing in Japan. In each manufacturer, how knowledge and skill that the manufacturers have, are handed down to the next generation becomes big problem.
According to you, which are the best quality welding structures applied into any welding projects of Japan?
As you know, the severe earthquake has occurred many times up to now in Japan. And technological development to make damage a minimum in every case has been done. I think, most of the welding structure in Japan has the best quality.
What type of international standards for welding quality management are been practiced in Japan?
A lot of manufacturers in Japan have certificate of ISO 9001. However, the standard that becomes the core of the quality control of welding is ISO 3834 series. In Japan, the national standard, JIS Z 3400 was developed in 1999. This JIS Z 3400 is harmonized with ISO 3834 series. Because ISO 3834 or JIS Z 3400 is not necessary widespread, even in Japan, I am trying to spread these standards whenever there is a chance.
What is ISO 3834? Please elaborate. How important can the ISO 3834 be for welding industry?
ISO 3834 is not ‘Quality Management Standard’ that replaces ISO 9000 series, but very ‘Useful Tool’ for fulfilling ISO 9001 requirements. ISO 3834 provides guidance for describing the capability of manufacturer to produce welded structures of a specific quality. And the customers might require certification according to ISO 3834. The certifications are often used by manufacturers or specified by owners to provide quality.
Could you brief us on the role of JWES for the upliftment of welding industry in Japan?
The JWES has been playing an important role to promote the coordination activities by the applied ‘Research Divisions’ classified into each industry and the basic ‘Research Committees’. We intend to make every effort to assist the preservation and developments of welding and joining technologies of the manufacturers. The major activities of JWES are;
- To conduct researches/investigation of welding and joining, and to publish their accomplishments;
- To develop standards based on the accomplishments of research/investigation activities;
- To conduct qualification/certification activities from a viewpoint of the quality assurance;
- To contribute internationally through the activities of standardization, education/training, and certification;
- To provide the knowledge, information and education tools.
JWES role towards Welders Skill Development?
Up to now, each manufacturer has promoted welding personnel (especially welders)by themselves in Japan. However, as mentioned above, the number of welding personnel is decreasing because of the declining birthrate and aging. So, the education/training for welders among the manufacturer becomes difficult.
The JWES has opened a new skill training program in 2018. This program is a one-year training curriculum that combines OFF-JT (skill training at training body) with OJT (on the job training). We want to do this program expansion in the future after ascertaining the training effect.
Please share some of the interesting experiences while in the role for JWES?
The JWES advances the development of ‘Common Welder Certification Scheme’ in Asian countries as a core member of Asian Welding Federation (AWF). The certification scheme of welder is based on qualification test according to ISO 9606-1, and this scheme is aimed to qualify the welders by the same rule and procedures in AWF member countries.
Moreover, we have been conducting the activity to introduce the JWES certification program for welding engineers from each Asian countries/area cooperation with local welding societies. The purpose of this activity is to cancel the technology gap and shortage of welding engineers in Asian countries.
Certification in Welding plays a major role. Your say. What types of certifications are mandatory in Japan? Please elaborate.
Not ‘Certification’ but ‘Qualification’ is important. The certificate is only evidence of qualification. The qualification of welding personnel, not only welder but also welding engineer, welding inspection personnel, etc., is necessary in any countries and into any manufacturing segment.
Safety in Welding is highly important. What is JWES’s role towards safety?
We are recognizing that the health and safety in welding is a very important aspect. We have special departmental group related to the welding health and safety. It consists of members from the industry field, the representative from universities, and governmental organization (Institute of occupational safety and health). The major activities of this group are;
- Propulsion the countermeasure on prevention of hazards due to dust;
- Implementation of the seminar on welding safety and health;
- Development of the standards on health and safety in welding, etc.
At present, I am mainly doing the work related to standardization. So, I am getting worried about why do not Indian welding industries apply the Indian national standards on personnel qualification more. Indian industries should think what is necessary to apply these national standards. Because it is the industries themselves that develop and use the national standards related to welding.