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790 Inadequate product testing for shear studs

Report ID: 790

Published: Newsletter 54 - April 2019

Report Overview

A manufacturer provided testing information for a variant product based on a university student Master’s dissertation.

Report Content

Proposed structural strengthening for a project involved welding shear studs to existing steelwork to form a composite connection to new concrete. To avoid welding, an alternative bolted shear stud was investigated. A manufacturer of a commonly used product had a variant product which had been used elsewhere on similar structures.

The variant is not covered by a Euronorm, European Technical Approval Guidelines (ETAGs) or similar. The manufacturer provided information for their principal product and additional testing information for the variant product. On investigation, the testing information was found to be based on a university student Master’s dissertation.

Whilst the reporter's organisation did not review the dissertation in detail, it was felt that reliance on such a source would not be equivalent to the general quality assurance principles of Euronorms or similar. Even as a source of technical information, the reporter would suggest that a dissertation is of interest only. In the absence of peer review and opportunity for comment, or repetition as with a published technical paper, it may not demonstrably be a reliable source of information.


In very many cases, designers place absolute reliance on the origin of design information from suppliers. It is expected that such information has come from a reliable source and been rigorously checked in accordance with proper standards to justify industrial application. A Master’s dissertation however is prepared with the purpose of the student’s learning. The two are not at all the same and, as a default, cannot be used for the same purpose.

If relying on a Master’s dissertation as verification testing, the person doing so has the duty to check that the student’s work in all ways meets the requirements for verification. Quite apart from the diligence of the student and the scope of tests, matters such as the Quality Regime (e.g. to UKAS for the purpose intended) and PI insurance are also important.

Care must also be taken in relying upon documentation and SCOSS has warned of this before. In the SCOSS Alert Anomalous documentation for proprietary products - February 2013, SCOSS said that they had become aware of a number of instances where certification accompanying proprietary products has stated compliance with standards or specified requirements, but the products have been found not to be in accordance with the specification. On several occasions, this has led to premature structural failure of the component at loads well below the intended design capacity.


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