Can you inform our readers about CARES and its services?
CARES is the acknowledged pre-eminent provider of assessment and certification services for the manufacture and supply of reinforcing steel products in the international construction sector.
What would you say about the relationship between certification services and the steel industry?
The steel industry – globally – increasingly trusts CARES as the critical source of product assurance and performance. CARES’ reputation as an independent, not-for-profit certification body has been further enhanced in recent years as market uncertainty, the emergence of fake data and the consequences of a number of structural failures and other serious incidents have all caused concern over the provenance and suitability of steel products. By specifying CARES-certified materials in their project, clients’ confidence is reinforced in the quality and reliability of the services CARES provides.
To what extent are you affected by the developments in the steel industry?
CARES works in partnership with its clients in this exciting, constantly evolving industry. Ongoing changes in the sector mean that there is a constant source of dynamic activity and CARES seeks to help all parties in the industry in charting a clear route forward. This applies whether through the early adoption of digitisation to confirm product provenance, or the introduction of product sustainability schemes adapted to meet the requirements of a particular steel market.
In which markets is the CARES certificate required? Which regions stand out?
The expansion of CARES services has continued steadily since its launch in the UK almost forty years ago. CARES certification is the de facto requirement in reinforcing products entering the UK supply chain – and this requirement extends across many markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE and the Middle East in general. In 2017, CARES opened its first overseas office, in Hong Kong, reflecting the growth in demand for CARES services across Southeast Asia, which has also become a very significant market in recent years. CARES is now providing services in more than 40 international markets globally.
What is your view of the commercial protectionism that has spread across the globe? How do these measures transform the market in terms of CARES services?
The issue of borders, tariffs and other forms of international market restrictions are all a matter for individual governments and reflect the changing political priorities in those markets. CARES will always work within the regulatory and legislative structures set up within individual markets and, where there is significant market upheaval – such as the ongoing negotiations following the UK’s Brexit decision – CARES will look to play an active role in helping shape the most suitable arrangements for the industry in these markets going forward.
What kind of advantages has your new mobile application provided to your customers?
With the launch of the CARES Cloud App, clients now have the opportunity to take an “instant snapshot” of the provenance of products entering the supply chain. This is vital given the legitimate concerns that have emerged in some markets, particularly in the context of poor product identification or, in some instances, the deliberate misrepresentation of product sourcing through so-called ‘fake data.’ As well as the assurance provided through product provenance, there is also an opportunity to work with clients in driving forward best practice. Assisting, in other words, specifiers who are seeking certain sustainability characteristics, and need audited assurance that the products they have sourced do indeed meet the robust standards required under the various CARES sustainability schemes.
How was the first quarter of 2020? What are your expectations for the rest of the year?
Each trading year brings its own opportunities – and challenges! Fluctuations in market pricing can have a bearing on the scale of inspection services requested by manufacturers, but many are simply keen to maintain and, where appropriate, improve standards through regular, ongoing inspection. Sudden fluctuations caused, for example, by political gyrations or “trade wars” will flow through, although these are generally smoothed over time. Obviously the current coronavirus Covid-19 crisis is causing serious concern for everyone in the sector and, as with many other international professional services bodies, prudent contingency plans have now been put in place for the rest of the year.
What would you like to say to our readers?
CARES is particularly grateful for the trust and confidence experienced figures in the steel industry place in our services. We do not take this trust for granted and will continue to strive, tirelessly, to maintain a strategy of continuous improvement in the quality, transparency and sustainability of reinforcing steel products for the good of the wider industry. Thank you.