Reinforcing Steels

CARES is the only certification body that is UKAS, SAC and HKAS 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 45 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 certified 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.

The requirements for the Construction Products and Associated Services certification scheme are contained in the Scheme Manual and Assessment Schedules.

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)
  • On-site processing
  • Mechanical coupling
  • Purchase and supply (e.g. Trading)
  • Tack welding
  • 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 certified 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, 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 Certified Fabricator

The CARES certified 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 a certified 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 certified steel on site

All CARES certified material is labelled and supplied with the necessary electronic or paper documentation to enable the products to be traced. Additionally, all CARES certified 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 into 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 certified 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, QR code 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 certified companies 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 a certified company that casts doubt on the effectiveness of the CARES scheme should be referred to CARES.

CARES understands the product, process and supply chain. Only CARES offers industry experts with hands on industry experience, that is why steel reinforcement users specify CARES.

CE Marking of Reinforcing Steel

The European Regulation (UE) No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and the Council of 9 March 2011, laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products, and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC, abbreviated as Construction Products Regulation (CPR), will apply entirely as from 1st July 2013. This regulation exclusively concerns construction products covered by a European harmonised technical specification, (harmonised European Standard [hEN] or European Assessment Document [EAD).

Whilst both Reinforcing Steel and Prestressing Steel are intended, eventually, to be covered by a harmonized European standard, at the time being no such document exists and therefore no type of reinforcing steels (common steels, galvanised steels, corrosion resistant steels, steel fabric or lattice girders) or pre-stressing steel (bar, wire or strand) will be covered by such a harmonised technical specification, as required by the CPR, as of the 1st July 2013.

As introduced by the CPR, the obligation of manufacturers for the responsible placing of a construction product on the market of the European Union is to provide a Declaration of Performance (DoP) and to affix CE marking to the product. As no harmonized standard or EAD is currently in place for either reinforcing or prestressing steels, this requirement does not apply at this time.

CARES undertakes to inform both its approved firms and potential users of these materials manufactured by its approved firms, by website announcement, of any significant move toward the finalisation of such standards, or of a change to the above.

The above is explained in CARES' letter.

There are many differences between CARES certification and that of CE Marking. The table describes five of the most important differences that relate to Reinforcing Steel. There is as yet no harmonised European product standard for reinforcing steel. This is in progress and is to be termed EN10080. This analysis is based on the most recent documented standard (prEN10080) as placed before the relevant BSI committee. It is recognised that requirements may change in the future.

Why choose CARES?

CARES Strength CE Marking Provision

Reinforcement from a CARES certified supplier is marked in such a way as to identify the steel’s strength, ductility and manufacturer. Consequently specifiers and users of steel from CARES Approved sources can assure themselves that the correct reinforcement has been supplied to site by a quick visual inspection and without the need for further testing. In addition reinforcement from a number of CARES certified suppliers can be mixed on site with confidence.

CE Marking requires product information relating to strength and ductility. The generic strength and ductility should be rolled onto the bar itself as described in the product standard. Interpretation of this information will require access to the manufacturer’s website. There is therefore no obvious indication of strength and ductility. This presents a risk to safety in use.

CARES certification provides full traceability from the molten steel to the construction site by addressing all of the following activities: steelmaking; casting; rolling; delivery to processor; processing (e.g. cutting and bending); and delivery to the construction site.

CE Marking is only concerned with the product as it comes from the steel mill.

The CARES scheme requires that the reinforcing bar/coil manufacturer issues a works test certificate for each batch, and that there is strict traceability to production conditions for each cast of steel.

CE Marking requires only a declaration of performance (DOP) by the manufacturer, with no test results to cast. Hence, the actual test results may be unknown to the user. The European standard for reinforcing steel does not require traceability to production conditions for each cast of steel.

For each company in the supply chain i.e. that CARES certifies, CARES certification addresses three distinct areas: compliance with the product standard, management system complying with ISO 9001, and also process control. CARES considers that process control is very important.

CE Marking does not require the assessment of process control, as practiced by CARES. Furthermore, the European standard requires the existence of only Factory Production Control (FPC) rather than compliance with ISO 9001.

CARES certification requires the analysis of three different sets of test results: As Witnessed, As Independently Tested and As Produced. This process provides an independent check of the accuracy of the manufacturer’s test methods as well as the consistency of the production.

CE marking requires initial type testing and surveillance testing by the manufacturer under supervision, but no statistical analysis of test results, such as practiced by CARES. There is no mandatory requirement for independent testing.

CARES scheme for Cutting and Bending

There are NO plans to create a European standard for cut and cut and bent reinforcement. This means that the compliance of processed rebar as covered by CARES remains unhindered by CE Marking. Please note that the cutter and bender of reinforcing steel is termed a Fabricator.

The independent verification of this vital service by CARES is described in the Table below:

Strengths of CARES Scheme covering Fabricators

Provides a system by which a Fabricator must operate in order to be CARES approved. This includes:
• Receipt, In-process and Final inspection of reinforcement
• Stock control
• Understanding customer requirements
• Cutting and cutting and bending according to customer requirements and BS 8666
• Control of non-conforming steel
• Direct deliveries
• Sub-contracting
• Control of measuring devices
• Purchasing and processing of steel from approved Suppliers
• Full Traceability for each cast of steel and each Supplier
• Record keeping and retention
• Handling of Complaints – both against the Fabricator and its Supplier
• Fabricating by competent people

All of this is conducted in an environment in which the Fabricator must improve its performance. The above points are audited twice-yearly by CARES auditors that are fully conversant with the product and industry. Approval is maintained if auditor reports are satisfactory.