Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete

CARES is the only certification body in the UK that is UKAS accredited to perform Product Certification for reinforcing steel and associated products. It does this with several certification schemes covering steel and steel products for use primarily in concrete construction, the main one being its Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete scheme. This scheme covers the entire supply chain for reinforcing steels, including areas such as welding and the application of mechanical couplers, thereby ensuring that reinforcement is correctly produced, processed and delivered to site.

Certification to the CARES schemes is open to all who can demonstrate to CARES that it may manufacture and process steel which will consistently comply with product standards, irrespective of geographical location. CARES certificates steel manufacturers and processors in over 40 countries around the world.

The central point of the scheme is that the responsibility for compliance with any given standard is placed with the manufacturer or processor. This means that, at a reinforcement fabricator, any steel from a CARES approved manufacturer can be used within any given ‘bar mark’, with no further testing required. This provides an often overlooked benefit to the construction industry;that of the efficient use of reinforcing steel and the maximisation of steel utilisation, leading to reduced wastage as well reduced cost whilst maintaining product integrity.

The requirements for the Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete certification scheme are contained in the Scheme Manual and Assessment Schedules. Check the contents and status (PDF).

The product areas covered by the CARES certification scheme cover all key areas of manufacture and processing and are:

•Carbon steel bars and coils.
•Processing and supply of bar, coil and fabric.
•Cold worked wire.
•Welded fabric.
•Feedstock materials (e.g. billet or wire rod)
•Tack welding.
•On-site processing.
•Mechanical coupling.
•Purchase and supply (e.g. Trading)
•Structural welding.

The technical requirements for each of the above are defined in a Quality and Operations Assessment Schedule, copies of which can be obtained by contacting CARES.

The comprehensive nature of the CARES scheme for Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete ensures that reinforcing steel supplied to the construction industry consistently satisfies the requirements of the product standard and is fully traceable from initial production to final use. A contractor receiving reinforcing steel from a CARES approved processor or stockist can use the material with full confidence that it complies with the requirements of the product standards, without the need for any further product testing or verification.

All steel reinforcement and its manufacture is covered by this CARES scheme and this steel is comprehensively tested against the requirements of the relevant product standard before approval is granted. Both manufacturers and processors are then subject to frequent audits thereafter, including testing as appropriate. The test data for each manufacturer's products are subject to long-term statistical analysis by CARES to ensure continued product compliance.

The importance of the CARES Approved Fabricator

The CARES approved fabricator or stockist is the link between the steel producer and the construction site. CARES approval of a reinforcement fabricator ensures that:

•All reinforcing steel is from an approved source.
•Reinforcement is correctly processed and handled. This may include welding and coupling.
•Cut and bent bar and/or fabric complies with the relevant standard and conforms to the bending schedule.
•Full product traceability.

Identifying CARES approved steel on site

All CARES approved material is labelled and supplied with the necessary electronic or paper documentation to enable the products to be traced. Additionally, all CARES approved reinforcement can by identified by the CARES bar mark rolled into the bar. The system comprises the CARES mark and a series of dots rolled in to the bar, as shown on the CARES website.

Product Test Certificates

Although it is not usually necessary to request a "manufacturer's statement of product test results" from a CARES approved fabricator, if the need does arise, then the following information should be checked:

•the cast number and cast analysis
•the carbon equivalent value
•the results of tensile and rebend tests
•the CARES bar mark
•the CARES logo and certificate of approval number
•the address of the producing works
•the amount delivered and consignment number
•the date of supply
•the name and address of the customer
•statement of compliance to the customer's order requirement.

Monitoring CARES scheme performance

CARES requires approved firms to take appropriate action in response to customer complaints and to submit records of complaints and remedial actions to CARES at regular intervals. The effectiveness of remedial actions is verified by CARES during the periodic surveillances. If necessary, further action may be taken by CARES to resolve non-commercial issues.

The unsatisfactory performance of an approved firm that casts doubt on the effectiveness of the CARES scheme should be referred to CARES.

CARES - The choice of the informed user of steel reinforcement.