Steel welded mesh (or more popularly known as BRC in the local and Singapore markets) is widely used as reinforcement of concrete, particularly in flat structures such as slabs and shear walls. It is also very widely used in many parts of the world because of its low cost and technical advantages. In Malaysia, its usage is estimated at about 18% of total reinforcement steel consumption, whereas it is as high as 55% in advanced countries.
In local specifications, mesh is mainly available in four (4) main categories, namely A-series, B-series, C-series, and D-series, each denoting some standard combination of wire diameter and wire spacing in both longitudinal and cross directions as shown in MS145:2014. Of late, the term Purpose-made Fabric (PMF) is often mentioned, though it is not something completely new in local mesh applications and has been available since the 80s. PMF simply means mesh of a special configuration of wire diameter
and wire spacing not listed as standard mesh in MS145:2014 or in manufacturers’ product catalogues.
As its name implies, PMF is made to suit, as close as possible to the steel area designed for cost-saving purposes. Picking the standard mesh types from manufacturers’ catalogues may sometimes provide excessive steel areas, making it less costeffective. With the prior certification of PMF, consulting engineers are now more receptive to the use of PMF in their effort to save costs for their clients.
Since the implementation of product quality control under Akta 520 in 2005, wire mesh was listed as one of the top 3 construction materials with the most complaints about quality compliance, which was intentionally produced for commercial gain.
Thus, systematic steps have been taken by the Certification Bodies and subsequently certified by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) through the requirements of Perakuan Permatuhan Standard (PPS).
From January 2021, it is mandatory that PMF be included in manufacturers’ Product Certification License (PCL) before they can supply PMF. Up to this moment, less than 50% of the manufacturers have successfully obtained PCL and PPS for PMF. All other manufacturers are either during their applications or remain standard mesh suppliers.
Whether it is standard mesh or PMF types, the construction industry is strongly advised to only use mesh from certified manufacturers to avoid any quality non-compliance issues. There should not be any concern over the availability of PMF due to the availability of sub-standard mesh as, since Akta 520 came into
effect, many measures have been put in place for compliance checks. Some of these are wire roll marks, standard product tags, PCL and PPS, etc. The whole supply chain, especially distributors, contractors, and consultants, is also advised to play their part to ensure only quality mesh is used in their projects. This can
be achieved through the selection of reputable manufacturers, proper documentation, and random quality checks, in addition to those mentioned above.
Of all the quality non-compliances, it is important to note that out-of-mass tolerance is the most common as it means commercial gain for the manufacturers. When this happens, contractors usually end up paying more in terms of RM/Mt and may be faced with non-compliance issues with the authorities.