What can NPCA Certified Plants expect in the 10th Edition of the Quality Control Manual?
By Phillip Cutler, P.E.
The NPCA Quality Assurance Committee, which met in June during Committee Week in Indianapolis, has once again set a course toward timely changes and improvements to the requirements in the NPCA Quality Control Manual for Precast and Prestressed Plants, and to propel the NPCA Certification Program forward by voting to raise the bar on quality.
The Committee members made a number of editorial changes. For example, they corrected an error in language under the prestressed requirement of Section 1.1.3, and amended the last paragraph of Section 4.1.5 under “Machine Made or Dry-Cast Products” to read, “If nonconforming product is discovered, the plant shall immediately correct all nonconformances.”
Also, the Committee made a number of minor changes to add flexibility in some of the requirements for next year. A good example of this type of change will appear in the first paragraph of Section 1.1.1, which now states that for prestressed plants, “A licensed Professional or Structural Engineer must be on staff or under contract to perform and review design calculations, provide guidance for stress sequences and provide repair guidance.”
The Committee members voted unanimously to add notations for all applicable AASHTO and CSA standards that apply alongside the existing ASTM standards. They noted that an increasing number of certified plants face these specifications regularly in contract language and/or documents, and while the NPCA program provides for this contingency when a plant faces more stringent specifications, it is not always interpreted as a more stringent set of standard documents. So, to accommodate all instances and eliminate the ambiguity, the Committee added the flexibility to the program that will recognize the companion standards documents. This change will also expand the manual’s appendix.
Major change effective January 2013
Primary and backup Quality Control personnel of certified plants will be required to hold a current certificate for PQS next year. The language under Section 1.1.3, “QC Personnel Training,” will be modified to read “Plant QC inspectors and assigned backup inspectors shall hold current certificates of completion for NPCA PQS and ACI Concrete Field Testing Technician – Grade 1.” This change in language stipulates that recertification for both PQS and ACI Concrete Field Technician – Grade 1 will occur every five years. Applicable PQS courses meeting the five-year renewal will be noted in the commentary of this section.
Plant QC personnel with expired PQS certificates will have until January 2013 to take the PQS – Refresher course, which is now available online via NPCA’s website at precast.org.
Under Critical Section 4.3.3 “Positioning of Reinforcement,” the Committee felt that clarification was necessary to assist plants in adapting the requirements to their operations. The section was rewritten as follows: “Verification of the reinforcing steel for conformance with the design shall be performed and documented on a minimum of one (1) reinforcing steel cage or 3% of each production run daily, whichever is greater, chosen on a random basis by QC personnel for each product category produced in the plant. At least one cage shall be checked when a shift change occurs during the course of a production run. These reinforcing steel checks shall be maintained in the plant records for a minimum of three (3) years.”
In addition, the Committee decided to modify all of the reinforcing steel checks throughout the manual from a frequency of “3 pieces or 3%” to “1 piece or 3%, whichever is greater.” This change was proposed to streamline all inspection criteria for certified plants.
The “Plant Terms and Conditions” language was also modified such that any actions, probations, appeals and issues with inspections begin from the date of the inspection within the given calendar year of the program. More specifically, Section 6.2 will read “45 calendar days from the date of inspection.” This change was also implemented to streamline member understanding and certification program management processes.
There were a number of changes proposed in other chapters and sections of the manual that will eventually be realized in program requirements. However, most of these will be to clarify existing language or to provide new guidance on emerging technologies in precast concrete production.
For more information, contact me at [email protected] or (317) 571-9500, or toll-free at (800) 366-7731.
Phillip Cutler, P.E., is NPCA’s director of Technical Services.