Last week we had a little celebration at our Chapel-en-le-Frith workshop as we received the news that we had once again passed our CE Marking audit. But what exactly is a CE Marking and why does it matter?
Put simply, a CE Marking shows that a product conforms with all of requirements of the harmonised standard for the European Economic Area. The scheme was started back in the 1980s and, crucially for us, in 2014 it became compulsory for all steel or aluminium construction products within the UK to have a CE Marking. In order to do this, they have to comply with harmonised standard BS EN 1090-2:2008+A1:2011: Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures.
The standard is contained in a hefty 214-page document so we won’t go into all of the precise technical details and jargon here. However, what’s important to note is the standard looks at every aspect of a product including weldability, load bearing and fracture toughness. This means you can have real confidence that any CE Marked staircase or balcony is manufactured to the highest standards and will last.
The Assessment Process
The first stage in the CE Marking journey was for us to create a Factory Production Control (FPC) system document. This document lays out in clear English how we ensure our products meet the requirements of the harmonised standard at every stage in the production process including servicing machinery, inspecting of raw materials and how we package our products. It also required us to create a separate welding quality management (WQM) system.
Next we approached the Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS) to assess and certify us. The SCCS are an independent, Notified Body who can carry out assessments under the CE Marking Scheme. They reviewed all of our paperwork and then carried out onsite inspections of our facilities to check we were actually following our FPC procedures properly.
Once all of this was completed to SCCS’s satisfaction we received our CE FPC Certificate, CE WQM Certificate and, last but not least, our Declaration of Performance Certificate. This meant we could now use the CE Marking; however, that wasn’t the end of the process. In order to ensure processes don’t slip over time, manufacturers must also undergo the sinisterly named ‘surveillance’ process. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that we are followed around by shady looking individuals. It simply means that the FPC processes must be audited once a year.
All of this results in a fair amount of paperwork and some late nights but, as anyone who’s worked with us knows, we’re absolutely committed to delivering the best possible products and service to our customers and the extra effort is all worthwhile when we receive the thumbs up from the SCCS.
As you can see, the CE Marking process is no cakewalk. It takes real dedication and commitment to maintaining and upholding best practice in all areas of the design and manufacturing process. That is why all of our aluminium staircases and balconies have CE Markings. Wherever you choose to purchase your metal stairs or balcony, you should ask to see the CE Marking.