Repair rates in structural steel fabrication

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Inspection is an integral part of the quality control system in welded fabrication. In New Zealand’s steel construction, the specified type and level of inspection are based on a risk-based approach of the structural steelwork fabrication and erection standard AS/NZS 5131 [1]. This approach translates into a fit for-purpose assessment that ensures that the fabrication and erection of steel structures are based on a rational risk assessment, recognizing the importance of the structure, what maintenance and inspection measures will be in place, the consequences of failure, and the complexity of the fabrication and erection. The inspection requirements have been developed from international best practice and provide an effective means to achieve fit for-purpose steel structures. While inspection is an important step in the quality control system of welded fabrication, it also adds a significant cost factor. Recognizing the need for risk mitigation in a seismic environment, the New Zealand steel construction industry established the Steel Fabrication Certification Scheme (SFC) that requires fabricators to comply with AS/NZS 5131 including AS/NZS ISO 3834.2 [2]. However, the current inspection requirements do not consider a fabricator’s quality management effort and track record. The objective of this study was to examine the rate of weld repairs (also referred to as the non-compliance rate or defect rate) in recent structural steel projects and to establish key parameters influencing the weld quality levels. The study is based on data from 37 completed structural steelwork projects provided by eight New Zealand steel fabricators. It was made available in the form of third party inspection reports for all welds that were inspected in individual projects. Further information was made available on the project details. The projects covered in this report include various levels of size and complexity. This paper summarizes the results of the study and makes recommendations for further research work to optimize inspection requirements based on the defect data analysis with the aim of optimizing inspection efforts.

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The authors wish to thank to all New Zealand fabricators who supported this project by supplying project information and NDT data.

Funding information

This project was made possible thanks to funding from the Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA).

Author information

Correspondence to Michail Karpenko.

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Recommended for publication by Commission XVIII - Quality Management in Welding and Allied Processes

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Karpenko, M., Heinzel, H., Broderson, T. et al. Repair rates in structural steel fabrication. Weld World (2020) doi:10.1007/s40194-019-00822-0

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  • Structural steel
  • Welding Inspection
  • Repair
  • Defect
  • Quality
  • Welding