A Closer Look at Welding Fabrication and Document Version Control

If you’re like most welding design fabricators, you know that the documents you work off of have passed through multiple eyes and revisions before they got to you. You also know that the blueprints you start with on any given project aren’t always the ones you end with.

Plans and personnel change, and due to this, document version control can be a nightmare, even for the most astute of planners.

In this blog, we’ll overview some of the risks and inefficiencies that occur with legacy document management systems (whether manually or digitally) and what you can do to ensure your welding PDFs are always up-to-date on the latest revision with ease.

Related Content: Integrating Design & Fabrication Systems with a Task Management System



Document Version Control and Welding Procedures

Let’s take a look at this familiar scenario:

  • You’ve designed your pressure vessel, pipe spool, etc., and created a document, solid model, and CAD drawings that the shop and field access via PDFs.
  • You’ve listed out all materials and welds needed for the build.
  • You’ve found the proper welders with the relevant certifications to get the job done and verified they won’t expire before they can complete the needed welds.
  • You’ve verified your materials, consumables, and all equipment is available and not already allocated for other projects.
  • You’ve assigned welding procedures to each weld and provided specific clarification guidance where those procedures are more broad than appropriate.
  • You’ve extrapolated all the ancillary tasks besides welding, like joint preparation, fit-up, tack welding, pre- and post-weld heat treatment, inspections/hold points, NACE/painting, shipping and field assembly, and you’ve aligned all that to a schedule across all your craftworkers.


Now, the fabrication process is underway…

Sometime later you receive an alert that you need to revise your original blueprints. You complete the revision and update the blueprints:

  • But, do you really know who is currently working off the original documents versus the updated ones?
  • Has the change you made (digitally or on paper) already been implemented in carbon steel, necessitating a costly grind-out?
  • Do you know how many weldments, vessels, and spools are in which stage of production and which version of the blueprints a given welder is working from?
  • Did the original welder you had assigned for the job not have the proper credentials to build the updated vessel design and now you have a liability problem that could also get your stamp pulled?

Depending on how far along the production process is, a lack of management and control means mistakes are inevitable, and that can mean losing upwards of millions of dollars in project updates and revisions! Even further, it’s one of the glaring, unfortunate realities that commonly occur without proper documentation management. This is just one of the significant vulnerabilities your workflows will have without integrated digitization.

Related Content: Welding Fabrication Digitization: AI, Logistics, and the Blockchain


Email and PDFs are Not Full Document Digitization

Is there a way to avoid this nightmare? Is digitization the best way forward in terms of document version control? Those answers all depend on how you are digitizing.

Some companies have “digitized” their welding fabrication documentation only to still have trouble with version control. If your welders are simply going to their computer, opening up their email, and printing out a PDF of the most recent blueprint and aligned WPS, there is still a big potential for version control issues.

What happens if a design change has occurred since that PDF was printed? What happens if the original welder is no longer available or responsible for the job and the new welder doesn’t know where the old welder was at in the process?



Document Version Control and the Cloud

In order to digitize correctly, then, your documents should be hosted on a public/private cloud so that whoever is looking at your blueprints, general arrangement drawings, and welding procedures is always looking at the most up-to-date and accurate information signed off on by your PEs, CWIs, and AIs in real-time.

Doing so will give all your craftworkers, supervisors, and engineers a look at a living document that updates in real-time as you make the needed revisions with updates cascading across the corporation to whatever device they are utilizing. A digitized document/drawing management system becomes a welcomed single source of truth across your company, your subsidiaries, and your vendors.

When you integrate documentation management through digitization, you remove confusion and can be certain that only the most current drawings and documents are being used. This means no more shuffling of papers and worrying about human errors.

Related Content: Welding Project ERP and Document Digitization



Take Back Control of Your Welding Documentation

Here at CEI, we’ve talked to project managers and welders alike about the struggles of maintaining version control throughout the entire pressure equipment and piping design and fabrication process. We listen to the needs of our customers and design software solutions that work for the entirety of their business.

If you’re looking to implement document version control the right way -- through the cloud -- then you’ll absolutely want to check out our ProWrite software. Additionally, the best digitization efforts come when all your software is integrated: from your HRIS software over to your project managers to your welders on the floor. With our new Fabrication Manager software, you can do just that.

Ready to get started? Schedule a call and experience a demo of what CEI’s software solutions can do for you.


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