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1. Introduction

The terminologies 'Non-Prime' or 'Seconds & Defective' or 'Seconds', 'Secondary', 'Second Grade', 'Second Choice', 'Third Choice' , 'Defectuous' etc. are commonly used in steel trade and industry. Though, generally speaking, these cover product(s) which is/are not prime i.e. not tested as per the relevant standards specification, there is no laid down criteria or definition for classifying a given product or products on the basis of its/their actual characteristics. This leads to problem in actual identification of the product(s) in the trade or at the port. An attempt has, therefore, been made to evolve guideline/ criteria for identification of the non-prime (second & defective) steel products based on their characteristics. By corollary, steel products not complying with these criteria, may be considered as prime material.

2. Definition of non-prime (Second & Defective) steel products

2.1 Non-prime (Second & Defective) steel products may be defined as :-
i. Products of non-standard dimensions.

ii. Downgraded products

 2.1.1 Products of Non-Standard Dimensions

Products of non-standard dimensions means the products set out in Annex-I, provided they do not show the defects or the physico-chemical faults of downgraded products, and that they are sold and delivered in different or heterogeneous formats with no guarantee or indication of quality.

Note: The dimensions must be given on a packing list produced by the importer for customs inspection, to enable the heterogeneity of the shipment to be confirmed. Should one or more non-standard dimension product account for more than 15 tonnes of coils or 5 tonnes of other products individually for each dimension, these dimensions are not to be considered as non-standard.

2.1.2 Downgraded Products

Downgraded products mean iron and steel products having:

  1. Surface defects (Annex II);
  2. Internal faults (Annex III);
  3. Characteristics not conforming to the values specified in the National / International standards specification with regard to :
      1. Chemical analysis i.e. off chemistry,
      2. Mechanical properties i.e. off mechanical properties,
      3. Dimensional tolerances i.e. off size.
      4. Magnetic properties, stacking factor, insulation resistivity etc. in case of electrical steel grades.

    The latter relates to one or more of the following aspects: length, width, thickness, flatness, straightness, section.

    Note - I: It should be noted that the whole quantity covered by the contract is downgraded when 80% of the quantity has one or more of the following defects.

    Note -II: These grounds for downgrading shown under 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 must be declared by the importer(s) together with all the necessary details to allow physical identification of second choice products at the time of customs clearance.


    Products of Non-standard dimensions

    1. Hot - rolled wide Coil / Strips: Flat rolled product in coils with a unit weight of less than four tonnes
    2. Hot-rolled sheet: HR Sheet in mixed, non-homogeneous bundles of varying thickness, width and length.
    3. Cold rolled (coated, non-coated, electrical) Sheet/Strips/Coils:CR Sheets, including electrical sheet and all qualities of coated sheet ( galvanized and electro-galvanized, aluminized, tin-plated, chrome-plated, pre-painted and lead-coated) in mixed non-homogeneous bundles with a unit weight of less than three tonnes, or in coils of less than three tonnes.
    4. Heavy plate: In mixed non-homogeneous bundles or stacks of varying thickness, width and length.
    5. Heavy Angles, Shapes & Section: In ungraded lengths or lengths less than 6m.
    6. Merchant bar, including reinforcing bar: In short, ungraded lengths:
      1. Less than 3 m for all products of solid section ( rounds, square , hexagons, flats),
      2. Less than 6 m for products of section less than 80 mm (U, T and other sections)
    7. Wire rod: In Coils of fewer than 250 kg.


    Main types of Surface Defects

    1. Blister: Small clusters of blisters on the surface or blisters at the edge.
    2. Split ends/ lamination:

      i. Fissure which can sometimes lead to complete detachment. It takes the form of cavity in the central part of the cross-section.

      ii. Fissure at the ends or along the body of rolled products with actual or potential separation of the material.
    3. Scabs: Piece of metal partly attached to the surface of rolled products, often surrounded by a thin oxide layer. The scab is elongated in the rolling direction.
    4. Cracks: Discontinuity, usually of the hairline type :

      i. Longitudinal - parallel to rolling direction,

      ii. Transverse-perpendicular to rolling direction,

      iii. With scale or Y-shaped (forked).
    5. Waviness / Buckling: Lack of flatness consisting of undulation (including waves and buckles) in the surface of a sheet or plate. Troughs and crests on rolled products which may occur along with waviness of edges.
    6. Notched edge/ cracked edge/ edge burr s: Irregular notching on the edges.
    7. Spoilt edge: Damage to the edges of products caused mechanically during handling. The defect takes the form of cuts, bents and dents on the edge, varying in aspect and extent, depending on the cause.
    8. Seams: Parts of material which in rolling having overlapped without the surfaces becoming completely welded.

      The defect takes the form of a flattened metal strip on the edge of the sheet or plate or else a service which forms an acute angle with the surface.

      Seams resemble longitudinal cracks; but whilst in cross- section cracks are perpendicular to the surface, seams have a fairly small angle and sometimes run the whole of the length.
    9. Vocalization/Ovality (irregularity of cross-section): Defect seen in products of round section. The final section is oval.
    10. Beading / Fins: This takes the form of a projection along a generatrix of the bar or two diametrically opposite generatrices.
    11. Straightness and profile: Defects whereby the section or its cross- section departs from the required dimensions and straightness by more than the tolerances specified in international technical standards.
    12. Annealing halo: Discoloration by oxidation seen at the edges of cold-rolled products after annealing operations. The colour varies from straw yellow to dark blue.
    13. Rust: Rusting of surface of rolled, pickled or coated products as a result of extended storage or inadequate oiling.

      Slightly rusted material does not justify any depreciation and is considered as being in accordance with trade practice. Such Rust is not a sufficient reason for downgrading except in the case of severe corrosion.
    14. Scratches: Scratches (single or multiple) of mechanical origin on the surfaces of products that can be felt by hand/ nail.
    15. Marks: Surface defect on products in the form of cavities, cracks, scratches, patches or roll/dent marks. The defect takes the form of marks periodically repeated over the product length.
    16. Coating which does not correspond to the norms: These concerns galvanized, electro-galvanized, aluminized, tinplated, chrome-plated, pre-painted and lead-coated rolled products and products with other coatings.

      The defects cover off-coating (coating less than the minimum prescribed value), poor adherence, rough surface, un-coated / black spot, white rust etc.
    17. Rolled-in scale/ pitting: These appear as marks/pitting on the rolled surface varying in shape, thickness and frequency. Rolled -in scale results from unsatisfactory removal of scale from the rolling stock before or during rolling and processing. There may be also local areas of scale pressed into the surface of the stock during rolling


    Internal defect (physico-chemical faults)

    Physico-chemical faults concern the analytical and structural composition of the steel and/or presence of presence of radioactive elements in the steel.

    These faults are internal defect and make the product unusable in the corresponding commercial quality. In general, these defects- such as inclusions, split ends, piping, off chemistry etc.- cannot be seen with the naked eye. These defects are detected by ultrasonic methods, by mechanical and/ or chemical tests. Presence of radioactive elements, if any, may be detected by radiation meter.

    As in the case of products with the surface defects, the importer must declare products with physico- chemical faults and supply documental evidence. Customs checks on these faults may be carried out with the assistance of a competent verification agency including accredited chemical laboratory.

    NB: The above criteria/ guidelines are only for general understanding of Seconds and Defective products vis.-a-vas. Prime products and not for any legal interpretation