CWI Bill Sowell Speaks on the Welding Industry


I’m Bill Sowell, originally from Leakesville, MS. I attended MS State University and graduated from William Carey University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in counselor education.

My Background

I began working in the oilfield industry until the mid-80s and joined Foster Wheeler Constructors (now Wood) in 1989. I climbed up the ranks as a boilermaker, structural welder and tube and pipe welder before moving into supervision in the mid-90s.

One day, a former project coordinator asked me if I would mind if he shared my contact information with another company, as he thought I would be a good fit for them, which I agreed to. After a few months and some phone conversations, I went in for an interview. That was 3 ½ years ago, and I have been with Southern Field ever since.

My Welding Career

bill sowellI have actually worked around welding during my entire career. On numerous smaller projects before coming to Southern Field, I realized the importance of welding done correctly and took it upon myself to ensure proper and safe welding practices. I also obtained my Certified Welding Inspector certification prior to joining Southern Field.

A CWI or Certified Welding Inspector is an accreditation from the American Welding Society that helps ensure that all welds are performed to a certain standard or code that applies to particular tasks. There are structural codes, pressure vessel codes, pipe codes, bridge codes, railroad codes and more. Southern Field deals primarily with structural code that conforms to AWS D1.1 Standards. This includes visual and non-destructive testing. I have had my CWI for about 4 years now.

The Importance of Welding Certification

By having a CWI on staff, Southern Field is able to cut costs, ensure safety and give our clients confidence that the work we perform at their mills or plants will produce a quality product.

As part of my duties, I am responsible for testing welders for Southern Field so that each person that welds on one our projects is a certified welder to AWS standards. I review welding requirements and procedures for the projects we work on to ensure that we are performing the work as designed. I go to some projects and perform visual examinations for the welding that is being done on that project.

Occasionally, a client may require further testing such as PT (dye penetrant testing) or MT (mag particle testing), both of which are forms of non-destructive testing. I also track and maintain records of welder continuity. Each of these duties assures our clients that work performed by SF is of the best quality and performed to the standards and codes required by our industry.

Adapting to Evolutions in the Industry

In today’s industry, more and more alloys are being developed to provide either corrosion or erosion resistance. Some of these alloys change the welding process in ways that are difficult to adapt to at first. For example, C-277 and some stainless duplex combinations weld differently and have different flow characteristics than low hydrogen carbon metals that most people are accustomed to welding. Before sending welders to a job, we usually obtain some of the new metal and electrodes so they have the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the characteristics of the particular material they will be welding. Again, we do this to ensure our clients are getting a quality weld from SF.

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