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IRC-Marking, a comprehensive steel assessment model unveiled

The Conference Hall of the Research Center of Mobarakeh Steel Company (MSC) played host to a two-day conference of steel industry technology chiefs to look into standard- and quality-related challenges in the comprehensive steel assessment model.
The event, which opened on August 11th, brought together the MSC managing director, the deputy director for quality control at the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, the director general of Isfahan Provincial Standard Department as well as a whole host of technology, standard and quality chiefs representing steelmakers across the country.
Products delivered to consumers should have credible, traceable identification
In a speech at the inaugural of the conference, MSC Managing Director Dr. Bahram Sobhani recalled the importance of standards in the steel industry and underscored the need to immediately implement the comprehensive steel assessment model known as IRC-Marking.
He referred to the problems caused by imports of low-quality steel and said that improvement of quality-control processes and mechanisms, particularly through introduction of a comprehensive quality system, is instrumental in securing customer satisfaction.
The MSC chief also underlined the role specialty associations such as the Iranian Steel Producers Association can play in this regard and called for an increase in interactions among specialized and professional bodies.    
He described IRC-Marking that sets standards and implements the comprehensive standard system in the steel sector as an ongoing national project pioneered by Mobarakeh Steel Company in cooperation with the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade – which is in charge of the industry sector – the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and the Customs Administration, which oversees imports, the Iranian Steel Producers Association and major steelmakers across the country. 
“As a first step, all steel products produced in the country will have been identifiable and compatible with standards,” he said, adding, this will prevent the flow to the market of products that lack identification and will consequently stop their distribution and use. “If the instructions of the model are fully complied with, all steel products, whether local or foreign-made, will have to measure up to a singular standard, something which reassures the end-users, on the one hand, and prevents the imports of low-quality steel, on the other,” he said.
Dr. Sobhani went on to say in order to secure such a goal, first IRC-Marking instructions were drawn up. Of course that was just the first step; they should be implemented and supervised in stages in production plants and in ports of entry.
In response to a question as to which institutions will be involved in the implementation and supervision of this standard, the MSC chief said that several executive bodies, including ministries, customs offices, the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and production plants will play an active role in the implementation of the standard system.
He expressed hope implementation of the model will result in full compliance with a singular standard by all steel products on offer across the country as well as in identifiability and traceability of all such products .
Traceability a major advantage of IRC-Marking    
Later, Moslem Bayat, the deputy director for quality control at the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research stressed the importance of IRC-Marking, mapped out the software requirements of implementing the system, and hailed traceability of products as a major advantage of the system.
He said the existing methods cannot satisfy the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research when it comes to product originality, quality and safety, adding all over the world, highly efficient tracing methods are in play granting consumers access to information on the origin of a certain product, its technical specifications and the raw materials used in its production as well as its safety standards and certificates. “Such a system reassures customers as far as the questions of quality and safety are concerned.”
To offer similar assurances to customers at home, we need to draw up and implement a model with tracing capabilities, he said, adding in all developed countries, models similar to IRC-Marking are already operational. “To be able to take advantage of such a system in Iran, we need to secure the support of all agencies and establish a secretariat to register the operations of all suppliers in the production chain, including suppliers of raw materials, producers, transporters, rolling lines and distributors.”
Bayat went on to say that when such a system is operational, all locally-made and imported products are given a special code and consumers can easily access a wide array of information on the products they want to procure, including information on the way they have been produced, safety, quality and the standards applied to their production.
In response to a question as to what impact introduction of such a system will have on exports, he said with such a system in place all the people who visit its website can access information on the origin of the products, production standards and even videos of the production process, and this will boost the confidence of both local and foreign customers and will see export markets thrive.  
IRC-Marking is a necessity
And, Seyed Rasool Khalifeh Soltani, the secretary of the Iranian Steel Producers Association, described IRC-Marking as a necessity and said under the present circumstances, the steel local plants produce meets the domestic needs and 80 percent of the flat and long products steelmakers such as MSC, Khuzestan Steel Company and Esfahan Steel Company produce are top quality, by both regional and global standards, and part of local products can be shipped to foreign markets.
He called for supervision of steel imports and said not all products should be allowed into the country and those which are given the greenlight for imports should be controlled at the point of departure to make sure they meet the standards. “In doing so, we will uphold the principle of customer-centeredness and support for local production.”
Recalling the importance of using quality products in various sectors in the country, he said unfortunately many areas across the nation are quake-prone; that means local products and imports must meet high standards. “Those in charge should assure the customers that the products available on the market meet an acceptable level of production standard; this should be the loftiest goal of an IRC-Marking assessment system.”
After the unveiling of IRC-Marking, project manager Tadayon, who also served as the secretary of the conference, provided explanations on the formulation of the system, its overall framework, requirements and implementation of the model across the steel industry.
It should be noted that on day one of the conference, a training workshop was held with Parviz Darvish, the managing director of the Quality Assessment Department of the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, Abuzar Taherzadeh, an assistant professor in Isfahan University of Technology, Rasool Khalifeh Soltani, the secretary of the Iranian Steel Producers Association, Farzad Arzani, the managing director of Hormozgan Steel Company, and Manuchehr Nikfar, MSC deputy director in charge of the Technology Department, answering the questions of participants.
During the unveiling ceremony, an IRC-Marking manual featuring detailed information about the implementation and operations of the system was handed out to participants which drew a very warm welcome.
In the afternoon of day one, a training workshop on the formulation of standard-related strategies of the steel industry was held during which measures to develop standards and quality strategies took center stage. On the second day of the conference, a course was organized to familiarize participants with the requirements, implementation and operations of IRC-Marking.
During the course of the conference, the deputy director of the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research tasked the Iranian Steel Producers Association with formulating and supervising the implementation of steel industry standards. The association was also asked to set the technical infrastructure to implement the new system. In light of the fact that formulation of slab and ingot production standards is regarded as a prerequisite for the implementation of IRC-Marking, relevant units were asked to finalize the implementation of these standards as soon as possible. 

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