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RE: Imported Steel News Story by Reuter

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In Australia because BHP basically held a monopoly on steel, most of our
national specifications and codes reflect what BHP supplied, and most
imported steels no matter where they come from do not comply. There has
generally been an assumption that steel when specified would be Australian
steel: that can no longer be the case. Now that BHP-Billiton has
concentrated on mining, the spin-off company Bluescope Steel, has introduced
a branding programme.

Basically Bluescope assists with the promotion of companies who use
Bluescope steel. The coil strip has Bluescope printed on it at regular
intervals and additional specification information. For house framing they
have also introduced strip with a blue tinge. Cold-formed structural
sections like c-sections have the manufacturers name on them as well as the
Bluescope name. So on site it is possible to check if the reputable products
are present. Which is fine with respect to branded products, it doesn't help
much with generic materials which may be just as good: and government
contracts generally avoid brand names. Government however traditionally has
professionals managing contracts and demanding tests as considered
necessary. The main problem area is residential small builders and
owner/builders(DIY's) they buy what ever is available from the local
hardware store. The Bluescope campaign is thus also publicly advertising to
look for the Bluescope logo at suppliers. That is it is promoting that
people buy sheds, carports, verandahs, trailers made from Bluescope steel.

It maybe lacking in independence. But it does set the scene for importers:
Bluescope has the tradition and reputation and is trusted, what is the
importers reputation? Further more there is public awareness, so increased
pressure to get it right on large projects.

It doesn't stop backyard manufacturers, but their share of the market is
reduced somewhat. It is also not just a matter of Chinese steel. In the UK
their cold-formed sections typically have a yield strength of 280 MPa, a few
years back they introduced 390 MPa: here in Australia our sections typically
have a strength of 450 MPa, some 500 MPa and a few 550 MPa depending on
thickness. So substituting British steel from say Singapore or Hong Kong, to
make c-section girts and purlins and pass them off as substitutes for the
traditional Australian product: is just as much a problem as Chinese steel.
The ASI has also indicated that UK and US steels lack the ductility and
toughness of Australian steels, and we shouldn't use Australian structural
codes to design, when using such steels.

As the Castrol advert goes: Oils ain't Oils!

As Christopher Wright indicated should have a proper material specification.
Building and construction here at least seems to rely on the
cross-referencing of the structural codes. Steel to AS4100 steel structures
code however doesn't specify the steel: it lists several material
specifications. A universal beam is not entirely universal: UK sections have
a different web thickness to Australian sections, as well as a different
grade of steel. Europe has its own programme to identify steel products to
the EuroCodes.

So we need less ambiguous specifications of structural sections used, and
the materials required.

Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
South Australia

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