Being quarantined at home because of COVID-19 has a way of changing one’s perspective. It happened to me when my wife and I went to a local grocery for some “essential” shopping, our most exciting day activity during the lockdown.
I picked up a bag of enoki mushrooms grown locally in Victoria and noticed that the bag said “ISO 9001 – Quality Certified. Premium Produce.”
It was the first time I saw a quality seal on mushrooms. Other brands would just have pictures of the product or a photograph of a farmer sharing a bit of his story.
AS/NZS ISO 9001:2015 is a certification that the mushroom company’s quality control systems are compliant with the International Organisation for Standardization. Several Australian companies carry this certification – from multibillion-dollar conglomerates to steel fabrication companies to mushroom growers.
Quality-wise, how are mushrooms and steel similar? They are different in a lot of ways for sure, but can both be subject to the same quality standard? If one is a high-quality mushroom grower, does that mean that they are certified to produce quality metals? Conversely, if one fabricates a 200-tonne gantry frame, does that qualify them to manage an aged-care facility to AS/NZS ISO 9001?
It is easy to say that “quality is quality.” Regardless of product, good quality fabricated steel should be manufactured under the same quality principles as organic, pesticide-free mushrooms.
But what if the batch turns out to be faulty? For mushrooms, this means that the whole batch must be discarded because it can endanger the health of consumers.
What happens if fabricated steel turns out to be defective?
Hyatt Hotels Corporation certainly knows the effects of faulty steel. In July 1981 the suspended walkways of a Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A. gave way under the weight of its load and collapsed, killing 111 people at the hotel lobby and injuring 188. The cause was a seemingly minor adjustment in the steel fasteners.
Surely, we must have learned from our past mistakes. Besides, nothing like that could happen in Australia because we have one of the highest levels of controls globally.
But in January 2019, a road sign in Melbourne failed catastrophically and fell on the highway below. A stiffener plate was omitted during the fabrication. Luckily, the unfortunate car driver escaped with neck and hand injuries only, but it could have been a lot worse.
A few weeks after that incident, a second road sign fell on another Melbourne freeway.
AS/NZS ISO 3834 was established to set the quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials. It is a factory production control system designed to complement, rather than replace, quality management systems such as AS/NZS ISO 9001.
Many business companies across the world are certified to AS/NZS ISO 9001. However, where a fusion welding process is used, such as in steel fabrication, AS/NZS ISO 9001 fails to completely demonstrate the specialist capability required to manufacture or fabricate products to the necessary quality standard.
AS/NZS ISO 3834 covers areas such as design, inspection, testing and planning, and skills appropriateness, all aspects that could affect the quality of fusion welding.
This type of approach is essential, because it is impossible to completely verify a welded joint without destroying it. As such, quality must be built into the welding process, right from the very start. Just like growing flavourful mushrooms.
Weld Australia is not in the mushroom business but they certainly know a lot about the fusion welding process. They are the Authorised Nominated Body in Australia associated with the International Institute of Welding (IIW) who can help with AS/NZS ISO 3834, IIW Weld Engineering qualifications, and a myriad of other facilities for steel fabricators.
AS/NZS ISO 3834 compliments AS/NZS ISO 9001 by covering areas such as design, inspection, skill appropriateness, and other aspects that could affect the quality of fusion welding. AS/NZS ISO 3834 is the more appropriate standard of quality for metallic fusion welding processes.