(Above) Courtesy Structural Challenge.
Alarmingly, a recent Australian Industry Group (AiG) survey reported that 95% of respondents surveyed in the steel product sector reported non-conforming product in their supply chain.
While our Standards suite in general, and AS/NZS 5131 in particular, provide a technically sound foundation, and the National Structural Steelwork Specification (NSSS) provides a robust implementation of AS/NZS 5131 in project process, the checking and auditing of deliverables is vitally important to achieve the quality and risk-minimised outcomes our community expects and our regulatory system requires.
Unfortunately, it is not straightforward to properly check the deliverables from the steel fabrication or erection process. Documentation requirements are substantial (as would be expected) and many processes such as welding are considered ‘special processes’, meaning the outputs cannot be readily checked without destroying the component. Hence, the inputs must be controlled and managed to ensure fit-for-purpose outcomes.
The ASI developed the National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme (NSSCS) to help manage and control the fabrication and erection process, hence ensuring fit-for-purpose deliverables. Industry association-led compliance schemes are commonplace in the UK, US, Canada and Europe. In Europe there is, in addition, a legislated mandatory construction products regulation.
New Zealand has joined Australia in developing an industry-led compliance scheme based on AS/NZS 5131.
The ASI NSSCS is an independent third-party quality compliance and certification system for supply, fabrication and erection of structural steelwork in Australia. The technical basis for the NSSCS is founded on AS/NZS 5131 Structural steelwork – Fabrication and erection and is applicable to structures designed to AS 4100 (structural steelwork), AS 5100.6 (bridges) and supporting Australian Standards, including those for welding, bolting and corrosion protection.
The NSSCS comprises four supporting pillars:
AS/NZS 5131 as the technical foundation
Risk assessment and engineer selection of the Construction Category for the particular project
Conformity assessment to the requirements of AS/NZS 5131
Auditing and certification of fabricators to one of the Construction Categories through the separate body Steelwork Compliance Australia (SCA).
Engineer designs the structure and creates the specification, ideally using the NSSS as template
Specification calls up AS/NZS 5131, Construction Category and project-specific selections.
For fabricators and erectors:
Undertake a web-based audit with Steelwork Compliance Australia (SCA) to establish current level of conformity
If needed, work with ASI and accredited trainers to fill any gaps
Obtain SCA certification via an audit
Maintain certification with annual audits.
Client/builder selects fabricator, who works to requirements in AS/NZS 5131
Best outcomes with a fabricator independently certified by Steelwork Compliance Australia (SCA) under the NSSCS
For building certifiers:
Requires engineer to provide confirmation of review against full requirements of Australian Standards
Independently audits and approves basis of documentation from engineer
Confirms fabricator certified under NSSCS, or
Performs detailed review of supply chain documentation.
Links to UK and USA compliance schemes:
SCCS Certification Services (UK)
AISC Certification (USA)
National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme: A guide for clients, builders and prime contractors (PDF)