One of the most important things in selling steel is being able to demonstrate that the physical and chemical characteristics meet the requirements of the claimed steel grade. A steel plate by itself is of little more use than scrap metal because there is no audit trail that establishes the characteristics of the plate. Even with PMI (Positive Material Identification) and additional tests the plate would still not be acceptable for many uses as their is no paper trail. So a steel plate is always sold with a mill certificate (in many cases according to EN 10204). There are clear requirements for what should go on the certificate but every so often someone tries to produce a fake mill certificate to sell steel plates fraudulently.
Fake Steel MTCs
A fake mill certificate is normally fairly easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. One of our customers today sent us an email asking:
We have received ANCOFER WALDRAM 60mm A-36 plate with the material test certificate. We want to check if the provided certificated are genuine or fake. For this purpose attached is the Scanned copy of the certificate; it is requested to please verify if the provided certificate is genuine or not.
They were obviously suspicious – and rightly so, because they had been sent a fake mill certificate. Fortunately they realized this in time and didn’t purchase the plates. Here’s the fake mill certificate with some of the issues that will help you identify it.
- Ancofer Waldram is not a steel mill. We are a stockholder. So our logo etc will not appear on the MTC. On our certificates Ancofer Waldram will usually be mentioned as the buyer. We buy plates from the mill and keep them in stock until you require them
- All plates we sell will have a certificate to EN 10204. The type of certificate will be clearly stated
- Because it is a certificate to EN10204 the certificate will also mention that the steel was produced to an approved quality system, – EN 9001
- If the certificate is to 3.1 or 3.2 it will have the test departments stamp,
- and if it was to 3.2 it would have a mark from a classification society such as Lloyds Register, DNV, TUV etc. This certificate is to 3.1 and so this is not shown.
- The mill will show their logo
- And there will be a manufacturer’s mark
EN10168 and Detecting a Fake Mill Certificate
However that is just the superficial level as there is actually a large amount of information that has to be included in a mill certificate by EN 10168. EN10168 divides up the mill certificate into 5 parts
- A – Commercial Transaction and parties involved
- B – Description of Products
- C – Inspection
- D – Other Tests
- Z – Validation
Each of these is broken up in a number of sub-parts. Here is a part of another real certificate from Dillinger Hutte which shows how it’s certificate complies with all the requirements of EN 10168.
So as you can see the fake mill certificate is really obviously fake. There are some other aspects that are worth pointing out – whilst it would be very cool to produce a 96 tonne plate most plates in stock are 20 metric tonnes or less – simply because it is so difficult to transport and process very large plates.
Consequences of Fake Mill Certificates
The biggest problem is that if you buy steel with a fake steel mill certificate your customer may be able to reject all your work and refuse to pay you. That is because you will not have met his quality standards.
The steel may be of a different grade to the certificate and may be unusable for the purpose intended and of course you are paying for something that it is not. Imagine paying for HIC plate when you only get S355J2+N!!!!
From a quality perspective you also don’t have a proper audit trail of the material that you have used and that can cause you to fail your quality audit, suppliers audits and produce goods of significantly lower quality that will lose you business.
So some top tips on how to avoid a fake Mill Certificate
- Do a google search on the name of the supposed steel mill. Is it a mill or a stockholder? If it is a stockholder or other company it is almost certainly fake – as in this case
- See if you have bought any steel from that mill before – compare the certificates
- Ask your local stockholder if it is valid – they see a lot of certificates and will be able to compare
- Check with the mill – here you will be able to check the plate and heat numbers directly. Based on these it will be clear whether the certificate is fake or not.
- Check to see whether the certificate is clearly in compliance with EN10168 and EN10204. It should say that it is compliant with a number of standards and will normally show how it is. Even if the plate is produced in China or India and according to local standards it should still be clear exactly what it is that you are buying and how it complies
Do you have any good examples of a fake mill certificate that you can share?