For piping and vessels X-Ray is king except where it won't work, like on nozzles. That's where ultrasound would work. What do you have against TIG welders? The most critical welds on the most exotic materials are done with TIG and a good TIG welder has to be able to weld equally well with both hands, sometimes even with a mirror in tight spaces. You can't compare automatic processes to manual processes. Sub-arc has always been accepted for large critical welds. It can still get messed up but not too often with a good operator.
MIG isn't a vague term but is often used to describe any type of wire feed welding. I didn't say MIG isn't a qualified procedure. A lot of shops, inspectors, procedures and/or customers don't allow MIG on vessels except for root passes which are done in short circuit transfer. Really picky jobs call for TIG root passes even if the vessel is 10 ft. or more in diameter. I've welded checker plate on skids that didn't allow 7024 and had to be done with 7018. This is just to hold checker plate on which is stitch welded every 6" on the bottom of the skid. It wouldn't come off in a tornado. I worked in several shops that had ASME S, U, U2 and UM stamps for pressure vessels as well as other qualifications for pressure piping. Flux-core(dual shield) is being allowed more but there are still some customers/procedures that don't allow it. I'm in Alberta which is recognized world wide for it's welding standards. The AWS forum even has a section on Alberta.
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