ACRS certification of welded steel sections to AS/NZS 5131 – exploding the myths

With the growing use of structural steels it is understandable that misconceptions might arise about different types of certification, the role of product certification in particular, and comparative acceptability of steel and steelwork certified by different schemes applicable to structural steelwork construction.

ACRS is receiving an increasing number of inquiries about ACRS 2-stage certification system and its role in steel fabrication.

Here Philip Sanders, executive director of ACRS, explodes four dangerous myths recently encountered in the supply of structural steels and structural welded sections misstating ACRS certification to AS/NZS 5131, and which has resulted in unverified and nonconforming steels arriving on construction sites.

Myth 1: “ACRS only certifies steel mills, s o I used other certification for the structural welded sections.”, or “I only use ACRS certified steels in fabricating my welded sections, so I don’t need ACRS Stage 2 certification.”

Fact: ACRS certifies both steel mills and the structural welded sections made from that steel to AS/NZS 5131 and other associated standards, and both certificates are required.

ACRS has issued certification for welded beams since 2012, and other fabricated welded sections (e.g. to AS/NZS 5131) since 2018, as part of a fully integrated, 2-stage system designed to ensure conforming steels are used in the as-built structure.

You cannot do this by only certifying “at mill gate” (What ACRS calls “Stage 1”), as fabrication of welded sections may turn even ACRS Stage 1 certified steels into nonconforming steel.

ACRS “Stage 2” certification of welded sections is therefore essential.

Any break in the ACRS “chain of certification” of Stage 1 and Stage 2 certification means the welded sections cannot claim reliance on ACRS certification, and breaching supply requirements if ACRS certification is specified. (Note: ACRS Stage 2 certification is not required in general steelwork fabrication not involving structural welding.

In that case, ACRS Stage 1 (mill) certification is valid on its own, as there is no change to metallurgical properties.)

Myth 2: “ACRS is not JAS-ANZ accredited to certify to AS/NZS 5131, so I used other certification to AS/NZS 5131.”, or “I’ve been given welded steel sections with other certification that’s equivalent to ACRS”.

Fact: ACRS is JAS-ANZ accredited to AS/NZS 5131. Also, different certification schemes assess to different scopes and levels of rigour. You need to verify any claim of “equivalence” very carefully and specifically accept the differences. So does the engineer and customer.

So, whist this myth looks like a valid technical reason which might seem persuasive at first sight – after all there are different means of certifying steel – the argument is false for two reasons.

Firstly, the ACRS Scheme was accredited by JAS-ANZ to AS/NZS 5131 in January 2018 – the first scheme to be accredited, and AS/NZS 5131 is listed on the relevant ACRS certificates – all of which show the JAS-ANZ logo.

Secondly, providing any “third-party certification” (e.g. to ISO 9001) with supplier test certificates is not product certification, and is not independent verification of steel to any Standard.

Also, whilst other schemes may certify to AS/NZS 5131, none do what ACRS does, nor does ACRS do what these schemes do, because AS/NZS 5131 is a unique standard covering the full range of structural steelwork supply from steel manufacture to delivery and erection.

Just as the ACRS independent, expert, product verification scheme for welded sections does not replace broad-range, fabricator schemes, these in turn do not replace ACRS Stage 1 certification (steel mill) and ACRS Stage 2 certification (welded sections).

ACRS’ consumer-oriented scheme includes in both stages, independent sample selection, testing, reporting, and verification of sites, processes, and products by ACRS’ qualified, technical assessors, and independent review of every report by an expert panel.

Myth 3: “I can’t find ACRS certified steels (or, “ACRS steel is more expensive”). So, I used other steel the supplier said meets AS/ NZS Standards.”

Fact: ACRS certified firms are reported to supply over 70% of structural steels supplied to AS/NZS standards. So, ACRS certified materials are widely available.

ACRS issues 200 certificates, covering almost 300 sites, in 24 countries, and over 80 steel companies.

ACRS certification includes local suppliers including Infrabuild and Bluescope, and premium overseas suppliers such as Nippon Steel, Posco, and Hyundai.

Additionally, ACRS certification does not increase the “cost” of steel supply; quality does. So, whilst you might find cheaper steel, will you accept steel that may be noncompliant?

Myth 4: “My project uses just-in-time procurement. So, even though ACRS certification is in the specification, I have to take whatever steel I can get to keep the project moving.”

Fact: With ready availability of ACRS approved steels, there is no expected delay in supply.

JIT procurement offers many advantages.

However, JIT is not an excuse to ignore the specification.

If the specification issued months ago requires ACRS certification, then looking to source steel only at very short notice is not meeting a reasonable duty of care.

Putting steel procurement on the critical path and locking-in suppliers with a proven capacity to deliver ACRS certified steels is both a realistic option and a reasonable expectation – especially when, as noted above, most steel available locally is ACRS certified, and ACRS certification does not add to the cost of conforming steels.

For more details about ACRS Stage 2 certification of welded sections, contact ACRS at: info@steelcertification.com

“Construction is firmly in that space, as is the automobile industry. We currently don’t design for deconstruction and reuse. Steel is very well positioned in this space because our product doesn’t ever end up in a landfill because waste metal has significant value.

“The change that is going to have to happen in design, in logistics, and how people’s thinking in that we can’t just continue to build buildings and at the end of their life, put them in a hole in the ground.

“The classic example is the BNZ building in Wellington that was built probably 10 years ago. State of the art. The structure is in ten separate pieces and was designed to withstand an earthquake.

“The structure withstood the earthquake, but the internals of the building just completely collapsed. That building, ten years old, is being demolished and ending up in a landfill.

“We cannot continue to do that with the scarce resources that we have.” Both HERA and the Sustainable Steel Council welcome questions and input from the community, members and business partners to develop out both the Aotearoa Transformation Agenda and Plan and SSC Certification offerings – both are now more ready than ever to change the way the steel sector focuses on sustainability.

HOW DO I SPECIFY ACRS CERTIFIED STEELS?

The easiest way to manage and minimise the risk of non-conforming construction steels, is to specify ACRS certified steels.

FOR STRUCTURAL STEELS

“Structural steels shall comply with AS 1074, AS 1442, AS 1579, AS/NZS 1163, AS/NZS 1594, AS/NZS 3678, AS/NZS 3679.1, or AS/NZS 3679.2, as appropriate. Structural bolts shall comply with AS/NZS 1252.

Where applicable, materials shall be fabricated in accordance with the “Fabrication” requirements in Section 14 of AS 4100 or Appendix G of AS 5100.6, or AS/NZS 2327, or NZS 3404, and the requirements of AS/NZS 5131.

Acceptable manufacturers of structural steels, structural bolts, and the fabricators of structural welded sections must hold a valid certificate of approval issued by the Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels Ltd (ACRS), or to such other accredited product certification system as shall be demonstrated by the supplier to be directly equivalent in scope and technical rigour to ACRS and approved as such in writing by the specifier.

Evidence of the supplier’s compliance with this clause must be obtained when contract bids are received.” FOR STEEL REINFORCING MATERIALS “Steel reinforcing and steel prestressing materials for concrete shall comply with AS/NZS 4671 or AS/ NZS 4672, respectively.

Where applicable, materials shall be cut and bent in accordance with the requirements of the “Material and Structural Requirements for Reinforcing Steel” clauses in AS 3600 or AS 5100.5, or the “Reinforcement” clauses of NZS 3109.

Reinforcing couplers shall comply with RMS specification RMS SF2013/184115 Approval of Mechanical Reinforcing Bar Splices, or NZTA SP/M/022 Bridge Manual (technical approval sections), as specified.

Acceptable manufacturers and processors of steel prestressing and steel reinforcing materials, including both manufacture and application of reinforcing couplers, must hold a valid certificate of approval issued by the Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels Ltd (ACRS), or to such other accredited product certification system as shall be demonstrated by the supplier to be directly equivalent in scope and technical rigour to ACRS and approved as such in writing by the specifier.

Evidence of the supplier’s compliance with this clause must be obtained when contract bids are received.”

FOR STEEL REINFORCING MATERIALS

“Steel reinforcing and steel prestressing materials for concrete shall comply with AS/NZS 4671 or AS/ NZS 4672, respectively.

Where applicable, materials shall be cut and bent in accordance with the requirements of the “Material and Structural Requirements for Reinforcing Steel” clauses in AS 3600 or AS 5100.5, or the “Reinforcement” clauses of NZS 3109.

Reinforcing couplers shall comply with RMS specification RMS SF2013/184115 Approval of  Mechanical Reinforcing Bar Splices, or NZTA SP/M/022 Bridge Manual (technical approval sections), as specified.

Acceptable manufacturers and processors of steel prestressing and steel reinforcing materials, including both manufacture and application of reinforcing couplers, must hold a valid certificate of approval issued by the Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels Ltd (ACRS), or to such other accredited product certification system as shall be demonstrated by the supplier to be directly equivalent in scope and technical rigour to ACRS and approved as such in writing by the specifier.

Evidence of the supplier’s compliance with this clause must be obtained when contract bids are received.”

ACRS Structural Steel Chain of Certification

For structural steels, ACRS certifies BOTH the steel mill that manufactures the steel AND the manufacturer or fabricator of any welded structural steel sections. Verification of the outputs of both these supply streams is essential for any structural steels and steelwork claiming to conform with AS/ NZS 5131. ACRS has worked with the ASI to deliver “end-to-end” certification from steel mill to construction site via the ASI’s Steelwork Certification Australia fabricator scheme to provide consumers’ confidence in structural steelwork from the purchase of verified and traceable ACRS certified structural steels, through the supply chain to ACRS certified welded section fabricators and then through supply, delivery and erection of all finished fabricated steel on the project site.

ACRS Reinforcing Steel Chain of Certification

For reinforcing steels, ACRS certifies BOTH the steel mill that manufactures the steel AND the steel reinforcement processor and mesh supplier. Verification of the outputs of both these supply streams is essential for any steel reinforcing materials claiming to conform with the Standards.

Members of the Sustainable Steel Council:

  • Pacific Steel
  • Steel & Tube
  • New Zealand Steel
  • Fletcher Steel
  • Casting Technology New Zealand
  • HERA
  • NZ Metal Roofing Manufacturers
  • Steel Construction New Zealand
  • Stainless NZ.

To find out more and become involved in the development of these initiatives, get in contact today.

Sustainable Steel Council

PO Box 76-134, Manukau City | (09) 262 4841 | nick@sustainablesteel.org.nz | www.sustainablesteel.org.nz

HERA

PO Box 76134, Manukau | (09) 262 2885 | troy.coyle@hera.org.nz | www.hera.org.nz

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