With engineered imports reaching an all time high in Australia, maintaining adherence to contracted Australian Standards in the design of bulk handling systems is now more challenging and carries potential for hidden liabilities according to independent engineering firm, Soto Consulting Engineers.
Managing Director Mr Frank Soto believes not enough attention is yet paid to this matter, especially considering outsourcing from international suppliers is growing every year.
“There are many pros and cons which genuinely should be addressed by the engineering and manufacturing communities just to stay ahead of a potential minefield in contractual issues and litigation drama,” said Mr Soto.
“Because we are importing more and more engineering, any component or substance in question may be created to specifications habitual to another country but ultimately may not be done to the relevant Australian Standard.”
“There are European standards, American standards and many others – everybody does things just that little bit differently.
“There are even subtle differences in specifications within States of a single country.
“But ultimately, if you are not using the material specified by the relevant Australian Standard you could become stuck in a breach of contract issue.”
One of the more recurring problems appears to be when an overseas fabricator might find and use cheap steel from within its own economy only to compromise a contractual arrangement here in Australia.
Reputable fabricators must keep the bill of receipt associated with that and every product and show traceability throughout.
Basically, because the highly specific engineering expectations of Australian Standards can’t often be matched by overseas Standards, it has never been more important for Australian engineering companies and fabricators to be able to disclose from where every single component originates.
“The general rule with steel, for instance, is that if you are not supplied with documentation the default 140 grade steel title is applied – an Australian Standards token load – which basically ranks the component as very, very ordinary,” said Mr Soto.
“Apart from providing a safeguard against inferior and unsafe components, this method is also a deterrent against illegal dumping and re-badging of substandard material.
“But the issue doesn’t point only to steel; it applies to any component or material including cement, fasteners, adhesives, coatings, fire retardants, etc.
“If any indication was needed as to the importance of this issue, many of the bigger companies have personnel based in overseas manufacturing plants purely to oversee that quality Standards are being met.