STEEL FABRICATOR CERTIFICATION SCHEME
SCNZ and HERA have prepared the Steel Fabricator Certification scheme (SFC) to provide procurers of locally fabricated structural steel with peace of mind, in the knowledge that certified fabricators have the appropriate quality management systems in place to consistently produce compliant fabricated products. The SFC is the key point of difference for local fabricators in the face of ever-increasing competition from imported pre-fabricated structural steel.
Welding certification, as part of this certification is obtained under the auspices of the world’s leading welding authority, the International Institute of Welding (IIW).
The Steel Fabricator Certification (SFC) scheme was launched at the Steel Agenda conference in Hamilton on September 25th where Eastbridge Ltd was presented with their certification.
The launch of the independent, quality assurance scheme is seen as a significant milestone for the industry and is designed to create an important point of difference for locally fabricated steel compared with imported prefabricated steelwork.
The SFC scheme is designed to provide procurers and specifiers such as engineers, architects and contractors, with certainty of product quality and significantly reduced compliance risk. It ensures participating fabricators have the appropriate personnel and quality management systems in place, and also manufacture product in accordance with the specified quality standard. Developed jointly by SCNZ and HERA, the SFC scheme is based on the European system which is part of the CE-marking regulatory environment and represents international best-practice.
The Steel Fabricator Certification (SFC) scheme is based on four pillars:
New Zealand’s performance-based building regulations for steel construction, centre on the Steel Structures Standard, NZS 3404. This Standard is underpinned by a series of material, welding and related standards, which define the technical requirements for structural steel fabrication.
Based on the European standard for structural steel fabrication, EN 1090-2, the requirements of NZS 3404 have been supplemented by additional Construction Category-based requirements, which are defined in the SFC Code of Practice (COP) document.
Four Construction Categories – CC1-CC4 – are recognised in the SFC framework. These enable specifiers to select a level of quality management appropriate to how safety critical the component will be in the construction. As well as the whole building, the CC-rating may apply to individual elements within the structure. For instance, the seismic load-resisting system for a building may be higher than the gravity portion of the structure.
Weld quality is at the centre of the SFC scheme, and the International Institute of Welding’s Manufacturer Certification Scheme IIW MCS ISO 3834 is a key certification plank. It is an SFC pre-requisite and a natural starting point on the path to certification. It reflects the structural significance of welded connections, particularly those subject to inelastic demand during an earthquake.
Importantly, ISO 3834 only applies to welding operations but, as a matter of course, all associated activities both preceding and following the welding process must be considered because quality is not readily verified after the fact. Appropriate control must be applied to all aspects of the welding operation.
While there are currently no conformity assessment requirements in the latest version of NZS 3404, the SFC COP defines the manufacturing controls needed to ensure that structural steel components meet the necessary technical requirements of the standards. For example, CC3- and CC4-certified companies must comply with ISO 3834 part 2 comprehensive; it’s this fundamental SFC prerequisite that brings the local structural steel product conformity requirements in line with international best practice.
Independent auditing body:
Due to the safety critical nature of structural steel components, international best practice dictates independent assessment of steel fabricator manufacturing control systems. This approach has been adopted for the SFC scheme.
An independent auditing body, HERA Certification Ltd, has been established to audit and certify steel fabrication companies; it will audit both the welding and the fabrication quality management systems.
HERA will issue CC1- and CC2-certified companies with a single SFC certificate, while CC3- and CC4-certified companies will also receive ISO 3834-2 certificates.