The United Kingdom is the world’s leader in steel construction both commercially, technically, and in terms of quality. From humble beginnings over 200 years ago, the industry has gone from strength to strength achieving a current global turnover of £3,000 million and providing employment for over 100,000 people.
The industry has made dramatic improvements in technology, productivity and efficiency, helping it to maintain strong exports of steelwork and related products and services. Around 10% of the UK’s annual steelwork production is exported world-wide and UK companies continue to win important orders against overseas competition, with large contracts in Japan, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Africa, South America and Europe.
The steel construction industry operates through an efficient integrated supply chain. There is an extensive choice of steelwork contractors available to specifiers and buyers in terms of size, expertise and capabilities, thus ensuring a competitive tender list. The recent introduction of BCSA membership assessments provides a mechanism to identify assessed companies in terms of the type and value of steelwork contract they can undertake.
The steel construction industry and supply chain are able to call upon members of the BCSA and their inherent qualities of competency and professionalism, all demonstrated by among other things, the BCSA membership assessment requirements, the Register of Qualified Steelwork Contractors for Bridgeworks (RQSC), the Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS), CE Marking, and the Steel Construction Sustainability Charter (SCSC).
The BCSA membership assessment and RQSC for Bridgeworks requirements are more than just registers of companies selected from a tick list. Each company only qualifies for inclusion on the lists after being assessed by specialists who check financial and technical resources as well as track record and employed personnel; the assessments are carried out annually with a physical factory inspection every three years. Clients and their representatives can be confident that quality performance is expected without the need to go through a further time consuming and bureaucratic qualification process, and that best practice is adopted aiming to eliminate defects. Categorisation is by technical competency and maximum size of contract.
The certification scheme (SCCS) offers audit services in Quality Management, Environmental Management, Health and Safety certification assessments and surveillance auditing. An integrated audit reporting template has been introduced, designed to allow SCCS auditors to report a surveillance or re-certification assessment for a single system audit or to integrate the inputs from two or more auditors irrespective of which type of audit is being carried out, for one client at the same time.
The objective of the Sustainability Charter (SCSC) is to develop steel as a sustainable form of construction in terms of economic viability, social progress and environmental responsibility. BCSA has three levels of status in the Charter ie Member, Silver and Gold, the status achieved depends on the number of points scored following audit. BCSA requires Charter Members to formally declare to operate in sustainable ways that work towards: adding value to clients and stakeholders; optimising the eco-efficiency of steel construction life cycle; promoting resource and energy efficiency in steel construction through reuse and multi cycling; operating in a healthy, safe and environmentally sound manner; promoting respect for people and communities associated with steel construction; having high ethical standards; implementing sustainable development by constructive dialogue and enhancing knowledge of sustainability to share with and promote others in the steel construction supply chain also to implement. Benchmarking key performance indicators (KPIs) are being developed by the BCSA, not only to measure the progress of sustainable development in steel construction but to demonstrate genuine commitment.
The new standard for the CE Marking of fabricated structural steelwork has been approved by the European Commission and steelwork contractors are enhancing even further their already robust systems for factory production control, welding quality management and welding co-ordinating responsibilities. CE marking is an audited and tested declaration that a product meets specific public safety requirements and specifications throughout the supply chain, and it will simplify an important part of the procurement/construction process. SCCS will be providing certification of factory production control and welding systems to enable companies to carry out CE Marking
Structural steelwork is an engineered product utilising the most modern CAD/CAM products, ensuring a good and accurate fit. 3D and virtual reality models can greatly assist the professional staff in the quality and planning of the product design. BCSA members promote an early involvement in the design process to clearly define the design criteria and give the most cost and speed efficient quality designs over the whole life of the structure.
BCSA has a genuine commitment to addressing important issues relative to the steel construction industry and forms properly structured working committees to cover and develop solutions for Members and their Clients. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has recognised how BCSA goes about business, and paid a great tribute saying that it is a positive partner to work with, and that many trade associations could be benchmarked against it.
www.SteeConstruction.org provides a searchable database of BCSA members, RQSC bridgeworks members, companies certified under the Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS) and BCSA’s Associate Members who are suppliers of products and services to the sector.
In the UK market, 80% of all non-domestic framed construction is steel. The past 20 years has seen the industry winning 95% of all single storey framed construction and 70% of all multi-storey construction.
Being totally re-usable, steel is the ultimate environmentally friendly product. Today’s steel structures will almost certainly be used for the buildings of tomorrow.