New paths in welding technology

Christian Greifelt has been with Deutsche Plasser since July 2019 and is the welding coordinator responsible for our maintenance workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen and our Munich workshop. In addition, he also works in the Quality Management & Compliance department and is responsible for the quality management in the Leverkusen workshop. We spoke to him to find out more about his impressions during his first year at Deutsche Plasser and his plans for the future.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. You have been Deutsche Plasser’s welding expert for over a year now and are also in charge of quality management in Leverkusen-Opladen. Before we go into more detail, could you introduce yourself to our readers.

With pleasure. I trained as a draughtsman, then did a degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on design at the University of Bochum in parallel to my employment. After that, I completed further training as a welding engineer at SLV Duisburg. In addition to that, I also have the visual inspection certificate for welds and am a qualified examiner for welder and operator exams.

My first job was with an engineering consultancy where I worked in 3D design. After that, I moved to a crane manufacturer and worked as project manager for crane construction and load handling devices. There, I soon took over the responsibility for welding coordination. And since July 2019, I have been with Deutsche Plasser in Leverkusen-Opladen.

What attracted you to Deutsche Plasser in particular? Why did you want to work there?

I like the fact that the machines are not mass produced but that they are highly customised to the customers’ requirements. Accordingly, there is a wide range of engineering disciplines, covering almost all aspects of mechanical engineering on one machine. The actual trigger for me was a visit to the maintenance workshop during the “Night of Technology” in March 2019. From then on, I knew that I wanted to work there.

What does your job entail?

My main job is the welding technology within my scope of responsibility. This also includes the observance and documentation of all the welding technology requirements defined in the applicable standards. There is a crossover to quality management and my partial involvement in that department, including the responsibility to implement measures and define processes in order to be able to meet all the relevant specifications without any problems. Furthermore, I work closely with the works management to implement QM tools in the factory.

Back to welding technology. You are responsible for non-destructive testing at Deutsche Plasser. What does that mean and how does this test procedure work?

I am responsible for the non-destructive testing of the welds produced by us. Depending on the component classification, either a visual inspection or extended testing will be carried out, for example, a magnetic particle test or a dye penetrant test. The visual inspection is here the most important test procedure. The welds will also have to be accepted before they are no longer accessible, this is the so-called “acceptance of concealed welds”.

This is basically an examination of the weld, its correct execution and size. Depending on the inspection effort, 100 mm of the presumably worst weld is subjected to a closer visual inspection. In addition, a time period has to elapse between welding and testing because due to the process conditions, cracks may only occur after several hours.

One extended test procedure we use is the magnetic particle testing, as I mentioned before. This is a surface test procedure that can detect cracks in the surface.

There are other areas where non-destructive testing is used, aren’t there?

Yes, a much bigger area is the non-destructive testing within periodic inspections, overhauls or after accidents. This is not within my scope of responsibility. There, tests are carried out on wheels and wheelsets, buffing and draw gear or bogie and vehicle body frames, to name but a few.

This work is done by an external provider who has the relevant qualifications for the railway sector. The external testing coordinator has already been appointed. This is a person that looks after our maintenance workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen and our head office in Munich to ensure consistency in the supervision of processes.

Are there any plans for this role to be covered internally in future?

Yes, we are hoping to carry out this work internally as soon as possible. We closely cooperate with our external service provider. They support us and provide us with the opportunity to benefit from their practical experience. We will continue using this partner even after we have taken on the testing coordination internally. Since external supervision is required by law, we will continue to cooperate with our partner.

What are the timescales for creating this role internally?

We want to do this straight away; we have already scheduled the first training sessions. At the moment, many training providers do not offer the full capacity of places because they have to adhere to the social distancing rules due to Covid-19. Some training courses have been cancelled or postponed. Our aim at Leverkusen is to have eight staff qualified to carry out visual inspections and three staff who are qualified to carry out magnetic particle and dye penetrant testing. We would like to achieve this within the next two years.

Could you just clarify why these testing procedures are so important?

These inspections and tests provide important information about the condition and quality of components. With the use of acceptability criteria, a part can be evaluated as to whether it meets the required specification, whether it can be re-machined or needs to be scrapped. Non-destructive testing does not affect the usability of the tested components.

When the ECM directive comes into force, we will require a certified testing workshop. Although the legal provisions have not changed in principle, their implementation will now be enforced more stringently.

Training is an important issue in general. For welding, there are specific requirements to be met by the staff, aren’t there?

That is correct. A welder has to demonstrate his capabilities every three years in an examination. I am qualified to conduct these examinations. In addition, confirmation is required every six months that a welder has actively performed welding operations. This, too, is my area of responsibility.


Thank you very much for your time!