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Product confidence for the steel sector

Posted on by in Technical

Andrew Way from SCI explains the advantages of the range of assessment services offered by SCI for steel sector construction products and building systems.

Purlins from Duggan Profiles and Steel Service Centre being tested at CERAM. The test results are used by SCI to produce SCI Assessed load span tables for the range of purlins

The number of available construction products and building systems for use in the steel construction sector is continually increasing. New products and systems are growing in complexity and are invariably pre-engineered for optimised performance across a range of criteria which relate to both structural and non-structural requirements. Manufacturers and suppliers provide information declaring performance values and capabilities for their products. However, clients and specifiers must have confidence in the products and systems and the information which is provided by their manufacturers and suppliers. This is where third party assessment and certification can be extremely beneficial.

Product manufacturers and system suppliers come to SCI for assessment of their products and the performance of their systems because SCI’s brand, independence and expertise place SCI in a unique position to offer technical assessment services to the sector.

The Range of Assessment Services
The SCI offers a range assessment services which cover all aspects of steel construction. Some of these services involve the SCI working in partnership to build confidence and raise standards within the industry.

There are a range of different assessment and certification services which the SCI either provides directly or in which the SCI is a key technical expertise provider.

SCI Assessed
SCI Assessed is a flexible, wide-ranging and independent verification service provided directly by the SCI. The SCI Assessed logo is awarded to testify that manufacturers’ technical data is accurate and that appropriate procedures (calculations and/or testing depending on the case) have been used to derive the data. The scheme was setup in 2006 to meet demand from the steel construction sector for a third party assessment scheme that was authoritative, responsive, good value and versatile.

U-Roof, a panelised light steel framing roofing system that has been SCI Assessed

The scope of SCI Assessed is wide ranging in both the type of products and systems that it can cover and the nature of the information that is assessed. The flexibility and diversity of the SCI Assessed scheme is a benefit to manufacturers and suppliers as it can be targeted towards a particular aspect or design value for the product.

SCI Assessed can include:

  • Structural technical data e.g. Section properties, Load tables, Design manuals, Design procedures, Software and Web-based information.
  • Non-structural data e.g. Fire performance of products and systems, Thermal performance of building envelopes, Carbon footprints, Acoustic performance.

These can apply to:

  • Construction systems e.g. Light gauge framing systems, Infill panels, Built-up cladding, Composite floors
  • Carbon steel, Stainless steel & Aluminium construction products e.g. Structural members, Composite floor decking, Cladding sheets, Cellular beams, Connections, Purlins, Fasteners & ancillary products.

The SCI Assessed website ( lists the products and information that have achieved SCI Assessed status and the areas of assessment that are covered by the scheme. The flexibility of the scheme is illustrated by the fact that items that have achieved SCI Assessed status to date include fibre reinforced composite slabs, load span tables for purlins, natural frequency software for cellular beams and acoustic performance of composite floors.

SCI Assessed can be utilised as a stepping stone for gaining CE Marking or as a means to verify technical data outside the scope of the CE Mark.

SCI/NHBC Stage 1 System Certification
SCI/NHBC Stage 1 System Certification is a scheme provided directly by SCI for manufacturers and suppliers of light steel framing systems for use in the residential sector. The scheme certifies that, if designed and built in accordance with the relevant (proprietary) light steel frame system manual, the system will comply with Chapter 6.10 ‘Light steel frame walls and floors’ of the NHBC standards

The EOS (Engineered Offsite System) that has achieved SCI/NHBC System Certification. (Image courtesy of Engineered Offsite System)

The scheme was setup by the SCI in collaboration with NHBC who are the standard setting body and leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK. By working with the NHBC the SCI is helping to encourage the use of steel-framed housing, raise the standards of new homes, and to provide consumer protection to new home buyers.

The requirements of Chapter 6.10 of the NHBC Standards cover light steel frame walls and floors. They consider structural design, building physics, durability, sitework, materials and certification. For the SCI/NHBC Stage 1 System Certification the system supplier is required to submit a system manual that details how their system satisfies the NHBC requirements. The system manual will generally include; design philosophy, calculation procedures, sample calculations, component drawings, standard detail drawings and supporting documentation i.e. test reports.

Buildoffsite Registration Scheme
The Buildoffsite Registration scheme was specific-ally developed for off-site construction systems by Lloyds Register EMEA at the request of Buildoffsite members. The scheme focuses on processes but also incorporates product through competency based self-certification, which allows for design variation within controlled bounds. SCI provides specialist technical expertise when steel is the principal material of the building system. Full details of the Buildoffsite Registration Scheme were described in an article in NSC January 2008.

Demand for Assessment and Certification
New legislation, product standards and design standards are increasing the need for third party verification services such as those provided by SCI and other organisations. The implementation of the Eurocodes is creating demand as specifiers look for assurance that performance values quoted by manufacturers have been derived correctly and in accordance with the latest relevant standards.

Third party certification is particularly important when design values have been obtained from testing. Historically, obtaining design values from test results has not necessarily followed formal procedures.  Specifiers can be confident that design data covered by SCI Assessed have been derived using the appropriate procedures as detailed in the latest standards. When published standards do not provide procedures for a particular product and situation SCI uses its technical expertise to develop suitable methods for calculating design values.

Which Assessment Scheme is right for me?
Choosing which assessment scheme to use is often not a straight forward decision. Construction products or small assemblies are normally best covered by the versatile SCI Assessed scheme whereas complete building systems (e.g. light steel framing or modular systems) may be better severed by one of the other schemes. The SCI/NHBC scheme is only appropriate for residential sector developments in the UK.

A summary table is provided below to assist in the selection of an appropriate assessment scheme. Alternatively, the SCI can be contacted by manufacturers and suppliers to discuss their assessment needs and can advise which scheme would be most appropriate for a specific product or system.

SCI Assessed 
•    All sectors of construction
•    For products and product assemblies; technical data and design tools
•    Flexible scope tailored to client needs
•    Technical performance assessment and derivation

•    Residential sector only
•    Applicable in UK
•    Light steel framing systems
•    Walls and floors only
•    Compliance with NHBC Standards Chapter 6.10

•    All sectors of construction
•    Offsite construction building systems
•    Includes factory production assessment
•    Process, risk and competency based
•    International recognition


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