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“There is an acute shortage of well trained downhill welders in India.”
During the year 70’s – 80’s, there was a rising demand for Welders. Many Indian Welders started working in Gulf countries for mega infrastructure projects like oil refineries, civil construction, etc. There was a huge scope for welders in abroad, thus I starting my career as a Welder. Working abroad as a Welder was my dream. Inorder to fulfill my dream, I discontinued with a permanent job in Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (RCF). During 1983-84, I started working abroad as a Welder. It was after I started working in abroad, I learned a lot about different welding processes. From this period onwards, my life took a positive turn. I have worked in many American, German, Gulf companies. Today, I hold a total experience of around 40 years into welding, and I still weld. Currently, I am working on small pipeline projects in India.
Initially, I started working with uphill welding. Thereafter, I got an opportunity for downhill welding into an oil refinery project. There is an acute shortage of well trained downhill welders in India. The private institutes have trainings for downhill welding, while the government institutes like ITI have trainings only for uphill welding. India needs to focus more on downhill welding. Infact, the downhill welders get a better package as compared to uphill welders. The downhill welding is welded in a position from up to down. Into one of the oil pipeline of 150 km project, we had a team of 32 welders. The downhill welding is mostly not done by 1 welder. It requires 2 welders since the root is welded first then the second welder welds hot pass and moves further. Thereafter, the other batch acts as fillers, capping, etc. such method is been used to weld a pipe. We have a set targets, ie within 8 hours we weld around 30-40 joints.
There is another type of welding known as PWT Welding. It is similar to downhill welding but, the machine is attached (machine is attached to what ???) which has rods on top of the machine. This type of welding is very quick, as it uses CO2 and Argon gas. I learnt PWT welding in Russia. The PWT welding is very harmful for human health. It can affect the welders lungs. But at the same time it is a well paid process.
The need for skilled welders is high though there are many modernized machines in the market.
In 2003, I travelled to Kazakhstan in Russia for one of the oil refinery pipeline project. The climate in Russia is usually –18oC . Into such a cold climate, I was working on a project using a rod called 8080. For the 8080 rod, only downhill welding is required. Thus, through this project, I learnt downhill welding process.
Thereafter, I worked on downhill with repair for a Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline project. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is a 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) long crude oil pipeline from the Azeri–Chirag–Gunashli oil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The first oil was pumped during May 2006.
Recently, I also completed welding for a drinking water plant project in Muscat. In India, I have worked on many projects, especially the gas pipeline projects. But as compared to other countries, the scopes are less in India. The Government needs to motivate the technical experts from the country including welder’s. They need to be well paid. India has skilled welders but, the scenario enforces them to work internationally leaving behind the untrained welders in India.
Precautions in Welding
I would like to share an experience as I was working for a pipeline project which is been extended towards Mecca Madina in Saudi. Due to the sudden climatic changes, the sand sank along with me and my collogue.. leaving behind my head as I had worn a safety helmet. Luckly, we were rescued by the rescue team. Today, I am alive only because of safety precautions which are must in foreign countries India too needs to give priority to safety. Safe work leads to quality work.
There is an utmost need of skilled welders in India. The Indian market should offer good opportunity for our skilled welders. A last message to all the young crowd – Welding is an exciting career, go for it. It has a wider scope in international markets, and soon will generate great opportunities in India too.