Photo: UNDP/S. Omerbašić

Trainings for welders, chemical and mechanical examinations of materials, radiographic testing of welded joints – this is a brief description of duties performed by the Welding Institute in Tuzla. This institution is the only body in Bosnia and Herzegovina accredited by the International Institute of Welding, which means that their certificates are recognised throughout the world.

In addition to providing training services, the Welding Institute also provides expertise to all companies that are constructing demanding structures. It disposes of a state-of-art laboratory, equipped with numerous devices. The lab inventory was considerably improved by a donation provided by MEG project, which is financed and supported by the Swiss Government and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

''We obtained state-of-art equipment for metallographic examinations in the framework of the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance Project (MEG). The stereo zoom microscope and the metallographic microscope enabled us to conduct tests for all domestic companies, which will improve the quality and speed of all processes'', explained a mechanical engineer from the Welding Institute, Namik Džibrić.

They are using the devices, among other things, for testing the facility at the Thermal Power Plant Tuzla. ''We will test all welding works there'', says Džibrić.

Since high-quality welders are always in demand in the market, the most frequent clients of the institute are all the persons that would like to attend additional training, re-training or obtain welder certificates.

''Once a person completes the training and obtains a certificate, he/she is also accredited by the German Welding Institute. Our parent company from Germany also owns a stake in our institute and we comply with their work procedures and methods'', says Džibrić.

The path to the international welding certificate   

By acquiring an international welding certificate, a person can choose in which country they would like to work. According to the Welding Institute in Tuzla, persons from this region mostly go to Germany. However, the path to obtaining such a certificate and acquiring the knowledge needed to manage the whole welding process is not easy. Four trainers, who have spent their whole work life in production, emphasize that the conditions during the training resemble those that await the trainees at construction sites and that the trainees go through all phases – from rough preparation works to fine welding works.

Trainings take place in a state-of-art workshop with 22 work stations and a separate room for grinding. Their usual clients are persons who wish to retrain and search for a job abroad, since this is one of bottleneck occupations in Western Europe.

''Many persons do not know what to expect and we provide them with a clear vision of the path to take and of their future profession'', say representatives of the Welding Institute. First, there is a theoretical part of the training, followed by practical training. ''A person can become a welder after 50 to 200 hours of training, depending on their motivation and talent'', adds Džibrić.

According to Muharem, one of the trainers with decades-old experience, who explains how a final product is obtained in compliance with European standards, being a welder does not only mean performing welding works. The largest part of the work consists of preparatory work, and the act of welding itself is simple.

Muharem explains the challenges of the welding profession: ''The head of a construction site says, weld this, and the conditions are never ideal. Welders frequently have to be resourceful''.

''After the theoretical training, we take them to a booth, where they adjust the settings of the machine and weld samples in front of them.''

As the training progresses, the samples are put on the wall and then in a vertical position, so that a welder does not see the sample, which is out of sight. After this, they go over to welding pipes. The trainees have to learn here how to work with all welding positions that may occur at a construction site and be prepared for any difficulties during the training.

Laboratory testing of all samples  

The trainees show whether they are truly ready for work in the field by taking a final exam after their training. ''We make x-rays of samples, just like dentists do'', says a mechanical engineer, Namik Džibrić, and opens the door of a state-of-art laboratory for us. A trainee obtains the test results only once the samples return from the lab, since the process of analysis at the lab requires time.

''The work results are obvious. Black colour on an x-ray shows impurities, and if everything is white, it means that the job was done properly.''

He also shows us an example how welding should not be done, a sample that contains a blatant mistake – the welding wire has not been removed. The black dots on an x-ray are remaining pores that indicate that the position of the welding gun was wrong during the welding process.

''Why is this dangerous – pores remaining on a bridge may, in combination with weathering and load, cause the bridge to break'', explains Džibrić.

Individual trainings cost between 1500 KM and 4000 KM, depending on the specialisation and the number of training hours. The procedure and the selected material determine the price. An individual licence costs 580 KM.

Since its establishment in 2005, the Welding Institute in Tuzla has successfully trained more than 3000 candidates in all welding procedures. Over the past ten years, the Welding Institute has also been successfully organising international specialisation courses for more than 100 welding engineers and technologists from the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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