News and Updates
Message from Andrew Wheeler - Acting Executive Director, ACRS28-Jul-2021
As Acting Executive Director of ACRS I would like to introduce myself, and to update you on ACRS observations and insights on current markets.
I am a structural engineer who has worked in various sectors of the Australian building industry and internationally for the last 30 years.
As a research Academic/Director in a university research centre, I was involved in research into concrete, steel and composite structures.
As a consulting engineer and senior project manager I have been involved in the delivery of public infrastructure and run a small engineering consultancy firm with a focus on complex structures, product development and implementation of quality systems.
My involvement with ACRS commenced in 2014, appointed to the board as the Engineers Australia representative. During this period, I have sat on numerous committees, including the Executive Committee and the Audit Assessment Committee and have a good understanding of the operational aspects of ACRS.
I worked closely with Philip Sanders on various committees over the last seven years and appreciated his commitment, the systems and technical rigour he introduced and the legacy that was developed within ACRS during his tenure. I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best as he takes on new challenges.
I look forward to working with and leading the ACRS team as we move forward in an ever-evolving environment. ACRS will continue to have a strong focus on demonstrated and verified quality, exhibiting technical rigour in audits, jealously guarding our independence, and establishing a sustainable future in steel.
Effects of COVID 19
As 2021 rolls on, the consequences of the pandemic continue to have a significant impact with both international and local restrictions effecting the way we operate. In both Australia and New Zealand, the construction/building sectors have been considered key areas in keeping the economies moving forward.
This has resulted in an unprecedented number of infrastructure projects, with substantial expenditure that is placing significant strains on the supply of materials across the board. This has been particularly noticeable in the supply of structural and reinforcing steel.
Consequently, specifiers, purchasers and suppliers of steel need to be vigilant in ensuring specified quality is monitored and maintained, and for this reason traceability of products is now more critically relevant as the key to minimising the risk of inferior products being supplemented.
While this period has been challenging, ACRS has not stepped back from its ethos of ensuring that all steel being supplied to the market is manufactured, and processed, to meet the specified standards.
Where possible and between lockdowns, our expert auditors have continued to conduct the scheduled annual audits onsite. In the cases where travel has not been possible, the annual audits have been conducted remotely and the independent testing continued. These remote audits have been supplemented with interim audits to ensure we have confidence in the manufacturer/processors quality systems.
While the utilisation of current technology greatly assists this process, these remote audits are less efficient, and consume more of the certified clients and ACRS resources, than we would like. I would like to commend the continued professionalism and diligence of all our auditors and of the manufacturers and processors we certify.We look forward to moving back to the onsite audits as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.
In times of demand for higher quantities of products coupled with restrictions on movements, we need to be vigilant in ensuring the quality of all products being supplied, be it reinforcing, hot rolled or fabricated steel (including various components), are to the necessary specifications and that the source of the materials can be traced to manufacturer.
With market conditions as they are, many steel consumers, be they specifiers, engineers or government bodies, are placing increased emphasis on ACRS’ expertise, as an independent leader of steel certification for the Australian and New Zealand markets.
ACRS is taking a proactive approach, not only by the use of additional interim audits that provide confidence in the manufacturer, but also utilising the ACRS Traceability Scheme to trace the product through the market from mill to site., Auditors are providing additional supplementary independent testing to limit the likelihood of product substitution and to maintain consumer confidence.
The continued growth and uptake of our ACRS Traceability Scheme is encouraging and proof it gives confidence to purchasers that the material meets the required specifications.
ACRS would encourage all steel users, when specifying or purchasing steel products, to ask for full traceability of the product through ACRS certified sites, thus minimising any risk of being supplied with a sub-standard product and potential costly and legal ramifications due to the supply of non-conforming product.
The launch of our new service, the Sustainable Construction Steel (SCS) Scheme is a partnership with CARES UK, which was introduced in March this year.
The SCS scheme is already in demand, being the topic of a number of enquiries from a range of stakeholders in the industry. These include designers, specifiers, end users and local suppliers, all keen on being able to specify and procure independently verified sustainable steels.
The SCS scheme enables an independent comparison of steel manufacturers/processors against a fixed set of guidelines, thus establishing a level playing field. The scheme looks at and measures against set targets that contribute to Environmental, Economic and Social aspects. To ensure transparency the measures are also reported annually to demonstrate continued improvement.
This scheme has been operating internationally for over ten years, and is recognised by numerous green bodies internationally.ACRS is working with a wide cross section of impacted and relevantdomestic organisations to develop a benefit and value understanding across the Australian/New Zealand Region. What we have seen is a significant demand for the sustainability credentials of steel to be ranked independently, to a common benchmark, and we consider that the SCS scheme provides such a tool.
Please keep well and safe.If you have any questions regarding steel certification please don’t hesitate in contacting me.
Acting Executive Director, ACRS