Staffordshire based Specialist Rebar Supplies Ltd. manufacture a diverse range of reinforcing steel products for the Precast concrete industry including cut and bent reinforcement, standard and special fabric (mesh) and prefabricated cages. The company required certification to the CARES scheme, which is widely accepted as a prerequisite for the supply of steel products to the reinforced concrete industry. CARES Product Certification is based on the application of three essential elements: The manufacturers’ management system as defined by BS EN ISO 9001. The full requirements of the relevant product standards. The control of the manufacturers process in order that product of a consistent level of compliance will result. I was asked to assist in reviewing the current SRS management systems and manufacturing processes, against the stringent CARES requirements, and to work with the SRS team to address any areas for improvement required for a successful certification assessment.
CARES is an independent certification body, established in 1983 to provide confidence to the users, purchasers and specifiers of constructional steels through a regime of regulation, testing and inspection. It operates for the benefit of the construction industry offering certification schemes for companies that produce materials, components or offer services, primarily to the reinforced concrete industry.
The underlying framework for CARES certification of a manufacturer is the ISO9001:2015 Quality Management Systems requirements, so a standard gap analysis was a natural starting point for our project. Further to the 9001 requirements, CARES also stipulates additional very specific, process control and testing regimes for successful certification which also had to be first assessed and action plans compiled to address any gaps. These include the verification of the capability of processes and also the competency of key personnel involved in the manufacturing of the product, both of which are validated as part of the certification process, and backed up by a programme of ongoing independent product testing.
This was a fascinating project, and I was very pleased to help the company right the way through to a successful CARES audit with not a single systems nonconformity.