SFC scheme proves a game changer

SFC scheme proves a game changer
Structural steel has around 50 per cent market share in multi-storey buildings in New Zealand.

Structural steel is rapidly becoming the material of choice for many builders around New Zealand, says Steel Construction New Zealand (SCNZ) manager Darren O’Riley.
“Steel’s proven ability to withstand seismic loading with little or no structural damage has led to the material becoming the preferred solution for buildings throughout New Zealand,” says Darren.
“Conservative estimates are that structural steel has around 50% market share in multistorey buildings nationwide and more than 80% in Christ-church,” he says. The industry has responded to the increase in demand by investing heavily in research, technology and people.
As a result of this innovation, the capacity of local structural steel fabrication has increased from 20,000 to 120,000 tonnes over the past 20 years.
Darren says that a recent survey conducted shows that there is presently 34% of spare capacity in the local industry and that the estimated delivery performance against agreed programme sits at 96.51%.
The Steel Fabrication Certifi cation (SFC) scheme has also proven a game changer and has had fast uptake from industry.
The industry-led quality assurance scheme, which was introduced in 2014, aims to reduce risk for specifiers by ensuring that participating structural steel fabricators have the appropriate personnel and quality management systems in place to manufacture product to the specified quality standard.
The qualification will become mandatory for SCNZ fabricator members from 2020, existing members have until then to meet the SFC requirement and new SCNZ members will have to qualify for SFC prior to being inducted into SCNZ.
Fabricator members will first have to qualify then ensure they maintain the qualification.
They are audited by an independent third party, HERA Certifi cation, which has been established to ensure steel fabricators have both the welding and the fabrication quality management systems in place to consistently produce fully compliant steelwork.
Darren says that approximately 30 fabricators, ranging from small to large operators and representing more than 80% of the sector’s annual output, are already SFC qualified and that number continues to grow.
He says that the certification has already gained traction with clients that are increasingly requesting SFC on their projects. It’s an important factor that distinguishes New Zealand structural steel contractors from offshore producers and suppliers, he says.
Darren says that the current boom in construction activity has seen an increased amount of imported fabricated structural steel sections entering New Zealand however there have been cases where it has not been easy to prove the steelwork meets the required specification, leading to expensive and time-consuming testing to demonstrate compliance. The upshot has been costly project delays.
Darren expects the trend for New Zealand fabricated structural steel sections to grow around the country. “In New Zealand the construction industry is served well by local structural steel contractors.
“Our industry is taking the lead internationally on raising standards and is committed to providing compliant product of the highest quality for building and infrastructure projects.
New Zealand’s ability to satisfy demand combined with the SFC scheme, means that procurers and specifiers, such a s engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and building contractors, can now have certainty of product delivery, quality and enjoy significantly reduced compliance risk.”
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