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August 28, 2020

A Buyers Guide to Working with ABS Certified Vendors

Marine and offshore industries often require ABS certified parts. Learn how to minimize costs and production delays while ensuring that you obtain properly certified products.

Manufacturing companies that work in the marine and offshore industries or supply products for marine applications often require the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) certification. Understanding key processes that require certification and collaborating with your suppliers can help you minimize costs and production delays while ensuring that you obtain properly certified products.

Why Is ABS Certification Important?

The American Bureau of Shipping was chartered in 1862 to certify ship captains. Since then, it has developed and set safety and quality standards for ships and offshore structures. 

Globally, ABS Standards ensure that the materials, parts and components, and construction of vessels and marine equipment meet established safety standards. ABS works with the marine industry worldwide as they develop new technologies for constructing marine vessels and offshore structures, revising and updating its certifications to meet the changing industry needs.

ABS Certification Rules & Guides

The ABS-established Rules and Guides for certification provide standards for the design, construction and periodic survey of marine vessels and offshore structures to promote their safe design and assembly. Materials, parts and components used in the manufacture of naval ships and structures must meet the craft's set standards or requirements.

The Rules specify requirements to meet the needs of a particular component. It’s typical for forgings to use Steel Vessel Rules Part 2 Chapter 3 part 7 (which was moved to Publication No. 1 Marine Vessel Rules MVR in 2020). Within this section, you will find ABS Grade 2 and other commonly used ABS grades for forgings.

If you are building offshore components, you may need to reference MODU (Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit) rules, which switched to MOU in 2020. This is located in Publication No. 3 of the Rules.

The end use of the component determines the Rules required and any requirements for survey during manufacturing:

  1. Individual components used in the construction of the vessel or structure may need certification based on the Rules
  2. Some of those components must be surveyed as they are being constructed or fabricated to verify that the process meets ABS standards.

How to Determine ABS Requirements to Minimize Risk and Cost

ABS certification costs time and money. Surveyors visit on-site to verify your processes meet the standards during manufacturing, construction or fabrication. This can be expensive. By understanding the Rule requirements for your product, you can identify the supply-chain stages where inspection and certification should occur. In doing so, you'll save your company time and money and minimize your products' risk not being certified. 
Through following a few guidelines, you can better prepare to meet certification standards unique to your component or part while saving time and money.

What is the intent of the certification?
Suppose your component is intended for a classed vessel. In that case, ABS Rules must apply to receive this type of certification (possibly working only to ABS Rules, or in conjunction with an industry-standard such as ASTM, or customer proprietary specifications that have been reviewed and approved as an appropriate design for the application).

If the certificate is for verification purposes only, it is very important for your supply chain to understand this. ABS Rules do not apply in this case, and it must be discussed to what end ABS must be involved. For example, what operations are to be inspected? In this case, the ABS Rules do not apply to govern what requires survey, and therefore the designer must flow down this information.

Identify the application that will use your component
Are you manufacturing a component for a jacking system (or the complete system), for torque-transmitting parts or for a structural element, for example? The application helps determine the appropriate section of the Rules or Type Approval Tier for your piece.

Know the end-use of the part
The end use of the part determines which ABS Rules are required. If your piece is a reduction gear, the testing requirements will be different from those of standard gear.

Obtain an ABS-approved drawing or Design Approval Document
These drawings or documents show that ABS has approved the design and provide an approval number for reference. This also helps determine what year of the Rules the vessel was designed to, so we know which edition is required for appropriate compliance. These drawings also include critical flow-down requirements that are very important to your forge, heat treat and testing vendors.

Partner with your suppliers
The most critical way to ensure your component gets accurately certified is to flow down your ABS requirements to your suppliers and your entire supply chain. Throughout the supply chain, providing precise requirements ensures that your component is manufactured under the Rules without delays or added costs.
Often, by the time companies submit the purchase order to raw material vendors, the ABS Rule requirements are missing. This problem can easily be avoided if the requirements flow down the supply chain during quoting.
An ideal request for quote and purchase order packet includes all the drawing and specification requirements and ABS Rules that apply. Your supplier can work with you to see that the Rule requirements are enforced during the manufacturing process, eliminating time-consuming errors and reducing inspection costs.

Use an approved ABS Supplier
Using ABS-certified suppliers can further minimize the cost and lead-time of inspections. For example, if you need a forging where final heat treatment, testing and inspection will occur at another level within the supply chain, and the forging facility is an ABS-approved supplier, ABS certification may not require a forge-level inspection. This is why working with experienced, approved suppliers will save time and money; they can help you determine when an inspector must present during operations and help you meet all requirements.

The Scot Forge Advantage

At Scot Forge, we are uniquely qualified to provide you with ABS-certified products and materials. We are one of the few U.S. companies that have been audited by the American Bureau of Shipping and approved as a worldwide ABS forging supplier for ABS and Non-ABS grades up to 80,000 lbs. at Scot Forge and 270,000 lbs. at our joint venture, NAF. 

Our technically trained sales staff has extensive experience quoting ABS-certified products. We partner with you to see that your part meets all the requirements to gain certification while minimizing time and costs. 

Scot Forge custom manufacturers open die forgings and seamless rolled rings with the capability to forge parts up to 100,000 lbs. and roll rings up to 252" in diameter. From gearbox repair to broken rudder stock, we can assist you with your marine part, get you out of the dry dock and back in commission!  Contact us to speak with an expert at Scot Forge to learn more.