Railway Certification on Track

14 December 2015

The recent EN 15085 certification of Transnet Engineering Durban (CL 1 – Critical Components) and VR Laser Services (CL 2 – Non-Critical Components) has set the process of EN 15085 certification firmly on track in South Africa.

EN 15085 is the quality standard that relates specifically to the welding of railway vehicles and components and has the requirements of ISO 3834 as a basis. ISO 3834 mostly has general requirements specified in the standard, whereas EN 15085 builds on ISO 3834 and specifies specific requirements relating to, inter alia, railway vehicle and component welding.SAIW Certification will manage the certification process in South Africain a JV with Germany’s GSI SLV, one of the world’s experts in EN 15085 certification. “As there is no certification body in South Africa we will work with GSI SLV to certify companies who want to take advantage of the major railway projects coming on stream in South Africa,” says Herman Potgieter, SAIW Certification CEO.

He adds that with this JV in place South Africa has all the necessary building blocks to meet the requirements of EN 15085. “We have the appropriate training and certification programmes in place and the fact that two leading companies – Transnet Engineering Durban and VR Laser Services – have already gone through the process must encourage other relevant companies who need this certification.”Potgieter says that the difficulty is that for many of the South Africanc ompanies that have traditionally manufactured components for railway applications, there may be a big jump from their current quality level to that required by the EN 15085. “But I cannot stress enough that if South African manufacturers can’t meet the required standard, it is doubtful that the international original equipment manufacturers will put their name on inferior quality product and will then source these components from suitable overseas suppliers. To make the most of the imminent and massive railway projects, EN 15085 certification is essential,” he says.

Potgieter says that in GSI SLV, SAIW Certification could not have found better partners. Germany is one of the leading welding nations and GSV SLV is one of Germany’s best. “It is interesting that Germany has more companies certified to EN 15085 than to ISO 3834 and that China, who will be central in the railway initiative in South Africa, has also taken the reigns and is following Germany with many Chinese companies being certified,” Potgieter says.

He adds that this is as a result of safety authorities in certain Europeancountries making certification a mandatory requirement and Chinese companies making their best efforts to access the European market and also wanting to break the perception of inferior quality product from China and prove that Chinese companies can produce good quality products.

EN 15085 is not only a standard for European based manufacturers, it is spreading worldwide with companiesin the USA, Canada, India, Korea and Japan opting for certification. It is only a matter of time before this standard will be converted to an international standard similar to EN 729 evolving into ISO 3834 some years ago.

“Of course with the future initiatives relating to railway production in South Africa, EN 15085 will become as important in this country – and hopefully in all of Africa – as it is in Europe and the East. In the meantime I urge all of you who could benefit from certification not to delay,” concluded Potgieter.