Some of you will have read the debate in The Structural Engineer, including some strongly stated views that post-BREXIT The Institution of Structural Engineers should allow its members to vote on what codes to use, and other views that we have to stick with the Eurocodes because BSI wishes to stay a member of CEN.
We believe this could be an opportunity for change, and would value your comments. As an independent body with a broad membership, could SCI be the focal point for a steel sector infrastructure covering all aspects of the supply chain and responsible for producing design standards that are more dynamic and better maintained than the Eurocodes, and the system behind them (CEN and the various member state National Standards Bodies)?
A possible vision would be to create a website (this would be our ‘standard’) that provides commentary on the current (so pre-2020+ revision) primary parts of Eurocode 3. This commentary would be free from the constraints of CEN drafting rules and the need to reach agreement in European committees, so for example could include conflicting complementary information where we felt it appropriate, and could include ‘text book’ material where we felt it useful. Complementary information could be taken from old British Standards, or indeed new Eurocode rules where they represent genuine progress. And ‘we’ would be industry (SCI members) as represented in a number of real and/or virtual sector committees mandated to provide input, including monitoring any relevant changes to loading codes or product standards to which the design rules would need to remain aligned (this is one of the main reasons for using current Eurocodes as a starting point, so future needs for re-alignment could be easily controlled). We already have a very minor precedent in SCI’s Concise Eurocode, which contains principle EN1993 clauses plus commentary, and is about to be updated given the benefit of ten years’ hindsight and in particular what that has brought in terms of experience through our Advisory Desk.
Whether this would be better than continuing to run with the Eurocodes as they evolve certainly depends on where you do business and for what types of clients. And clearly, even with the UK’s pragmatic regulatory system, regulators and insurers would want to feel that the standards were credible and independent in providing the right balance between safety, economy, and ease of use.
Comments would be very welcome to help us develop or ditch these thoughts.
Contact Graham Couchman.