CARES, the UK-based certification authority for reinforcing steel products and systems, will be at The Big 5 expo in Dubai, UAE, next month (November) to highlight the benefits of using its product certification services and deal with any concerns clients in the sector may have.
Its product certification schemes have been developed to meet the needs of users of steel products for the reinforcement of concrete. The authority has acquired extensive experience in designing and operating certification schemes to meet the needs of the industry.
Its certification covers all stages in the supply chain from the processing of raw materials, the manufacture of steel and construction products through to the product installation or delivery to the customer.
Cares always aims to maintain the highest standards of certification and service, and in doing so it treats the issue of complaints and their resolution very seriously. It handles concerns and complaints from all over the world. “In fact one of the most recent complaints was from Abu Dhabi, UAE,” says a spokesman for Cares.
One recent concern from Europe was regarding the quality of imported reinforcing steel from China: “There has been panic spread about the compliance of reinforcing steel to BS 4449, manufactured in China, and imported into the UK. To date, despite much investigation by Cares, no evidence has been found to indicate that the physical product placed on the market did not comply with the product standard, BS 4449 2005,” says the spokesman.
Cares operates by granting certification to individual steel mills at specific locations. As a consequence, the certificates that it issues to steel mills are product standard specific, size specific and location specific. “It is, therefore, unreasonable and unrealistic to denigrate all reinforcing steel manufactured in a specific country,” he says
However, in the event a steel mill fails to comply with the requirements of the Cares Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete Scheme, the body then has a number of sanctions at its disposal in seeking to secure compliance with its scheme. It must also ensure a proportionate response to any infringement. In any investigation, the confidentiality that exists between Cares and the approved firm will also be preserved.
Explaining the certification process, the spokesman says: “The Cares product certification scheme for steel for the reinforcement of concrete utilises staff and auditors who are experts in the areas of reinforcing steel, including the product, processing and the supply chain. It audits manufacturers, processors and traders of the product.”
Furthermore, companies of this type are audited twice in every 12-month period against a particular set of criteria that are created by a set of committees designed for this purpose. These requirements are amended from time to time, and the turnaround time can be very short. Such committees include construction clients, designers, manufacturers, processors and contractors, and, hence, are balanced in terms of sector representation.
The spokesman says Cares certification cannot guarantee the compliance of every piece of rebar that comes out of a manufacturer’s factory, but rather, it vastly reduces the risk of a non-compliance happening. “The manufacturer retains all product liability, leaving Cares with the responsibility for the correct application of its scheme,” he adds.
But as an accredited body, Cares must react to investigate and correct any complaints that it receives from any area. This includes complaints against its approved firms from other parties and complaints against itself from various sources, including from its approved firms. It has received relatively few complaints since its operation began in 1984.
“Recently, there have been two separate complaints from, both a Cares-approved firm and its trade association. These complaints have both been in regard to the height of the longitudinal rib on reinforcing steel imported into the UK from China,” says the spokesman.
“The trade association has insinuated that there could also be the same concerns for steel imported from Turkey,” he says, adding “Cares has taken both complaints very seriously. In the first complaint, received from a Cares-approved firm, Cares concluded that the steel was perfectly satisfactory.”
However, as a result of its investigation, Cares wrote to the chairman of the BSI reinforcing steel committee regarding the repeatability of the test related to the measurement of the longitudinal rib. The investigation into the second complaint is ongoing.
“In order to reassure itself that it is not acting in a commercially unjust and irregular fashion, Cares is now consulting with other certification bodies throughout Europe regarding how they would have acted in a similar situation. Whilst still in the midst of this exercise, correspondence received to date from other certification bodies has indicated that Cares has acted in a responsible and professional way, and that other certification bodies would have acted similarly to Cares,” the spokesman concludes.