Monday, 14 September 2015

Tracebility in the #building industry, and #retail hardware

{Previously posted in LinkedIn group I created: Pre-Engineered manufactured structural Building products, and have since shut down. It having a membership of 30 people. Most of these people also in my group Pre-Engineered Manufactured Building Systems Group which has over 2000 members.}

In recent years in Australia, there have been problems in quality of materials supplied to industry as there as been increase in supply of imported materials: quality of steel sections and bolts among the major issues.

Part of the problem is poor specifications by engineers and other designers, assuming only one source of material (eg. BHP). Another is lack of actual control on provision of certificates. However that is the high end of the industry.

At the small builder end DIY end of the industry, it is always a problem. One is the amount of construction carried out without approval and assessed afterwards to avoid demolition. The other is that engineering just supplying evidence-of-suitability for the proposal to gain development approval. There after no engineering supervision or input of any kind to the project. So reliant on developers, owners, builders and more specifically suppliers to provide the correct material.

Purchase orders, invoices, cart-notes and receipts are typically no real evidence that materials supplied meet the engineering specifications. Or if building constructed in first place, evidence of of the critical quality characteristics of the materials which have gone into the building works.

I suggest that there is need for some universal coding system to common specification requirements that can simplify and allow cross-referencing between purchase orders, cart-notes and invoices. So that can trace accountability for defective materials entering into a construction project. In particular holding the retailers accountable, for not understanding anything about the materials they supply.

For less common materials where coding not suitable, then some standards in place and code of practice for presentation of purchase orders, cart-notes, invoices bet set in in place so that is some documentary evidence, at least of what was intended and contended to have been supplied to the building works.

For example specify requirements for a verandah post saying using Duragal SHS at fy=450MPa, but builders and DIY's find ready fabricated posts at local hardware store for which there are no technical specifications. So have to drop down to using the lowest strength tubes available: say fy=250 or fy=350MPa . If allow for maybe imported then say around 180, or 200 MPa to allow for greater uncertainty.

A certain amount of control needs to be in place regarding what the hardware retailers supply.


  1. Australian Certification Authority for Reinforcing Steel (ACRS)
  2. Then One Steels Build with Standards Site:
  3. There is also the Australian Building Codes Board Product Certification CodeMark Scheme:

All very nice but would be a lot better if had more wide spread usage.

Then what about Australian Standards, where is the equivalent of the British standards kitemark. Why haven't suppliers been getting their products independently certified as compliant with Australian Standards in the first place?

Australian standards seems to have focused on the QA standards and 5 ticks for quality assured businesses. Seems easier to be QA accredited than actually supply product to the standards. Though I believe the accreditation was modified a few years back, and dependent on proving compliance with national product standards where they exist. But QA accredited is not proof of the product. The products require the product compliance standards, not the 5 ticks for QA.

The systems appear to be there, but not being used. So what is the obstacle?