Welding is a key technology for a number of industrial sectors in Romania

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Dorin Dehelean
Executive Director,ASR, Romanian Welding Society

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What is the current welding market scenario in Romania?

With 4,8% annual economic increase in 2016, Romania has one of the highest growth rates in the European Union with forecasts maintaining a positive outlook. Current forecasts estimated an economic growth of 5.5% in 2017 and over 4% in 2018.

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The GDP amounted in 2016to about 188 billion USDby a population of 19.6 million. The annual inflation rate is relatively low (1.8%, September 2017), the unemployment rate being at about 5.0% (September 2017).

The manufacturing industry which is including the welding sector has grown slightly in recent years. There was an increase in 2016 of manufacturing industry by 3.5% compared to 2015. A higher increase for the same period (8.7%) was registered in the metal constructions industry where a large part of the welded structures is located. At the same time, the metallurgical industry is declining.

The volume of investments is relatively low, the total investments in industry in 2015being8,9 billionUSD, of which 45.4% represents the investment in manufacturing industry and 19.8%the investment in constructions.

What according to you is the current market size of welding in Romania? How much do you expect in the coming years?

Welding is a key technology for a number of industrial sectors in Romania. An estimation of the Romanian market size in welding is a difficult task as official statistic do not contain concrete data on this sector. As such, an appreciation can be made indirectly by using indicators, as well as by trying to directly assess the volume of the welding market.

It is usual to relate the size of the welding market to the steel consumption volume. The consumption of crude steel in 2016was 4.34 million tons, the volume of the steel production being of 3.4 million tons. The annual production volume of welded structures can be approximated to 2 million tons.

The most commonly used welding process is MAG welding with a tendency for an increasing use of tubular wires (especially in the naval sector). However, theaverage level of mechanization of the welding production is about 60%, but there are a number of industrial sectors, such as automotive industry or rolling stock production where the level of mechanization exceeds 95%.

The labour productivity index per employee in metal construction increased in the last years, as for example by about 4.2% in 2016 compared to 2015.

For the coming years a clear evolution towards the mechanization, automation and robotization of welding is foreseen and as a result a significant increase of the welding mechanisation level is expected.

What are the major welding projects ongoing in Romania?

The major welding projects in Romaniaare related to the automotive (direct producers and their suppliers), shipbuilding, rolling stock sector, as well as the civil and industrial construction sector.It is also worth mentioning the current interest for the sector of industrial equipment manufacture and the manufacture of pipelines.

An example of a major project which will be realised in the near future is the erection of the new BRUA European gas pipeline which will connect Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria and where welding represents an important part.

What challenges does the welding market in Romania faces?

The volume of new investments is the country being relativelylow,many industrial companies are forced to work for foreign beneficiaries.The relatively low cost of the person’s level of education represents one of Romania’s strengths, especially in terms of language, proficiency and sciences. Romania’s overall tax burden is comparatively low.

At the same time, due to relatively low wage earnings, there is a threat of an influx of qualified staff to European countries with higher wages.

Is the availability of skilled manpower a challenge in Romania? If yes, elaborate. How do you overcome?

As in other European countries, there is currently an acute shortage of welding personnel at all levels, primarily a lack of welders.A qualification in the welding profession can be obtained both in initial vocational education and in continuous adult education.

Unfortunately, the attractiveness of a career in welding is low, which makes very few children heading towards vocation schools and to a career as welder. A similar situation is in continuous training. At the same time, as already mentioned, a large number of people qualified in the field of welding are working abroad.

In order to overcome this situation, many companies cooperate in a dual education system with vocational schools to provide children with a scholarship and practice place in the field of welding. Other companies have created their own welding schools and qualify their execution staff.

However, in some cases, large welding firms, for example, a number of shipyards are required to hire welders from abroad.Regarding thehigher levels of qualification, several universities such as in Bucharest, Brasov, Constanta, Galati or Timisoara offer a B. Sc. specialization in welding engineering.

At the same time, the harmonized system for the qualification of welding personnel at European level (of the European Welding Federation EWF) and international level (of the International Welding Institute, IIW) has been implemented in Romania for about 25 years. More than 900 European and 1200 international welding diplomashave been awarded;the most of the owners of these diplomas acting as welding coordinators in enterprises. A great interest is also shown by the industry for the international qualification of international welding inspectors.

 What is the demand and supply scenario of welding in Romania?

The welding market is growing in the last 5 years with an annual growth index of about 5-6%.There is a rich and varied offer of equipment and material for welding and related processes, assured by few local producers and many distributors of the leading companies in the world.Virtually, all major world producers of welding equipment and materials arepresent in Romania.

One big Romanian company is producing welding material (solid and tubular wires, electrodes, fluxes). The most welding equipment is acquired from abroad but there are alsoRomanian producers of specialised welding equipment.

What about safety in welding?

An increasing attention is being paid nowadays to occupational health and safety issues in all areas, including welding. There are many Romanian standards harmonized at European (EN) and / or international (ISO) level covering health and safety aspects such as SR EN ISO 15011 or 15012 series.

Most of the welding industrial companies have implemented and certified quality management systems (SR EN ISO 3834), as well as environmental management systems (ISO 14000) and occupational health and safety management systems (ISO 18000).

Are you working in collaboration with other countries for the welding segment?

In general, a high number of companies collaborate with institutions in other countries. Collaboration refers to the endowment with equipment and materials for welding and non-destructive examinations, the joint realization of some projects, as well as the contracting and subcontracting of some works.

It is worth mentioning that in Romania almost all national standards are harmonized with European (EN) and international standards (ISO), which effectively supports international collaboration in the field of welding.

There is also a serious involvement of Romanian institutions in the activities of the European Welding Federation EWF and of the International Institute of Welding IIW, especially in those related to the development and implementation of the harmonized qualification and certification system for welding personnel.

Strong cooperation is carried out at the regional level through the South-East European Technology Transfer Network in Welding,SEENET,themain partner being the welding associations from Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. Next year, SEENET is organising the 4th IIW South-East European Welding Congress in Belgrade (Serbia) between 10-12 October 2018, an event bringing together specialists from industry, research and education from the region.

What are the country’s efforts to encourage welding as a career?

There is a concerted program to improve the attractiveness of a welding career, a program supported by the qualification authorities, the welding schools and the industry through the Romanian Welding Society ASR. The program envisages:

– revision of welding training standards and their adaptation to qualification requirements atEuropean and international level

– increasing the number of vocational schools to apply dual education in welding in collaboration with industrial enterprises

– promoting the possibility of qualification by informal means

– cooperationwith higher education institutions for inclusion in M.Sc. programs of the possibility of obtaining the international welding engineerqualification

– promoting modern methodsfor welding training, using of virtual reality and welding simulators

– launching a campaign to promote career in the field of welding through conferences, professional contests, advertising materials (posters, posters, video films),examples of successful stories transmitted on different paths, including through media channels.

What new technical advancements have been introduced into the segment?

Welding firms are interested in ensuring high-quality manufacturing andincreased economic efficiency. This justify their interest for implementing new welding and cutting processes. At the same time, the realization of structures from new materials implies the use of suitable joining techniques.

As a result, two tendencies have been identified in the last years. First of all, it is intended to improve the conditions for the use of classical welding processes (like MAG welding) in terms of quality and productivity by using modern MAG welding techniques (pulse welding, CMT, STT, tandem welding) as well as by robotic welding.

The second trend is the industrial implementation of new welding or cutting processes, such as laser welding, hybrid laser arc welding, friction stir welding, laser or water jet cutting.The monitoring of welding process by special monitoring systems, the use of simulators in the training of welders are other examples of the implementation of new technical advancement in the field.

What are the types of associations working for the benefits of welding segment?

The Romanian Welding Society, ASR, which isacting in Romania for almost 30 years, is a professional organization that brings together over 700 members (individuals, industrial firms and universities), grouped in 16 regional branches.

ASR is a member of the European Welding Federation EWF as well as of the International Institute of Welding IIW and collaborate with various welding associations around the world, such as AWS (USA), DVS (Germany) or WTIA (Australia).

There is alsoa very active player in the welding area, namely ISIM Timisoara, the National Research Institute for Welding and Material Testing. The institute has contributed since more than 45 years to the implementation of many major welding projectsin the industry.

Closing Note.

The Romanian welding industry occupies an important place in the manufacturing industry, making a significant contribution to the creation of added value in the economy.An increase of the size of the welding market is foreseen for the future.Considering this, the Welding Community represented by the Romanian Welding Society has proposed in its recent strategyas main objectives:

  • to support the increase of the level of development of welding in Romania by promoting the use of high efficiency welding processes,
  • to improve the image of welding and increase the attractiveness to a welding career at all skill levels and
  • to extend the implementation the European / international harmonized qualification / certification of welding personnel.

For achieving this, in a global economy the cooperation of all players in the field is needed. ASR is open to such collaboration.

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