A new standard helps buyers manage material quality risks
Wouldn’t it be good to take away the guess work with a ready to use ‘blueprint’ specification for a fit-for-purpose tubular steel security fence system.
Think about it: A fence that lasts half as long costs twice as much!
It is not hard for a customer to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new perimeter security fence but then have the value of that investment seriously compromised due to a failure in one or two aspects of the fencing. For example, a customer might save say 15 per cent on the purchase price opting for a cheaper supplier but if the fence only lasts half as long then in fact the fence is a lot more expensive. Similarly, a light weight set of hinges are fitted to the gates. The cost of the hinges might make up only 1 per cent of the value of the job but were the hinges to fail it will have a critical impact on the value (functionality and safety) of the fence system.
Easy to follow proforma specification
Unfortunately, there is no Australian Standard that addresses the material quality and manufacturing processes of powder coated tubular steel fencing, consisting of a pre-fabricated (welded) panel that connects to a post with a series of brackets and self-drilling tek screws. As a consequence suppliers in the market can offer fencing materials that vary greatly in terms of the steel tube profile size and strength; the wall thickness (gauge) of the tube; the strength, the design and method of fabrication and type of weld; the corrosion resistance; and the metal pretreatment process used to clean the product and the powder coating regime. These aspects dramatically impact the purchase price of the fencing materials but also the whole-of-life (true) cost of the product, including the safety of the product in service. In the absence of an Australian Standard we have developed this pro-forma specification to assist specifiers and buyers manage the material quality risks.
This proforma specification sets out recommended minimum standards for the raw materials and processes used to manufacture powder coated tubular steel security fencing. The specification has been developed to assist purchasers obtain value for money and manage the material quality risks. More specifically, to receive a product that is fit for purpose, safe, compliant, has an extended service life and is aesthetically pleasing. Ensuring that suppliers comply with this specification will result in the supply of fencing that is fit for purpose and works as a system not just an assembly of components parts. There is an Australian Standard for the manufacture of steel tube and for powder coating processes and these are incorporated here.
Increase the value for money & reduce risk and whole of life cost
Using the proforma specification will:
- Reduce material quality risks through establishing a combination of performance and technical criteria.
- Reduce whole-of-life cost by way ofa longer service life and requiring less maintenance.
- Increase peace of mind that the fence will deliver key outcomes.
- Save time in the design, tender, construction and asset support phase by drawing on a comprehensive, easy to use proforma specification.
- Maximise the security value of the fence by eliminating ‘weak’ points and deliver intended outcomes.
- Maximise the safety of the fence to users and members of the public.
- Match the budget and application with the right product options.
- Ensure compliance of the fence with regulations and standards.
- Lift the value and aesthetics of the property.
Making an apples for apples comparison
One of the main benefits of this specification is that it provides buyer with a benchmark or baseline against which the products of different manufacturers can be objectively assessed and compared. Most purchasers of fencing have little prior experience of buying a fence and don’t have the time to get to the bottom of the quality variables involved in fencing. This specification does the “dog work” for you and removes the guess work. Use of this specification lets the supplier know that the buyer is well informed, resulting in greater accountability around exactly what product is being offered.
The elements addressed in the Specification
The specification sets out recommended minimum standards for materials and manufacturing processes and includes:
• The design of the fence, including the gap between the horizontal rails, between the uprights (pickets) and the posts.
• The steel sections used, including the quality of steel, size and shape of the tubular steel picket, the wall thickness (gauge of the steel) and the grade (strength) of the tube.
• The design of the gates, including the size and gauge of the steel stiles and rails, the locking mechanisms and the hinge arrangement.
• The zinc coating on the tubular steel.
• The metal pre-treatment and powder coating processes and materials used.