By Chris Frederick
Drive down any U.S. highway, and NPCA Certified Plant markings are plain to see, identifying the precast concrete products that NPCA Certified precast facilities produce on a daily basis.
Companies that do not certify through NPCA are missing out on opportunities that other producers – including many competitors – enjoy.
For those facilities, it is never too late to join hundreds of precast businesses by showing that you adhere to the highest industry standards.
So, what’s next? NPCA’s Plant Certification program makes it easy.
Many of the requirements likely are things you already do daily. NPCA certification is not designed to reconstruct your plans, personnel and processes. Here are some easy steps to get started.
STEP 1: DOWNLOAD THE QC MANUAL
The first step is simple. Download the latest NPCA Quality Control Manual for Precast Concrete Plants, which is available for free at the NPCA website, precast.org.
If you prefer a hard copy, NPCA offers those at a minimal cost, as well.
STEP 2: MANUAL REVIEW
When reviewing the latest Quality Control Manual for Precast Concrete Plants, it is important to know where to start. Terms and Conditions and the Grading Schedule are ideal places to begin.
The Grading Schedule provides a roadmap on what needs to be accomplished to have a successful audit. Pay close attention to the critical sections as certain scores are required.
The Terms and Conditions provide additional details about program specifics, such as continuous improvement; certified and probationary status; corrective actions; and audit frequency.
Now that the foundation is solid, begin diving deeper into chapters. Each brings important information to bear.
- Chapter 1: General Requirements
- Chapter 2: Materials
- Chapter 3: Concrete
- Chapter 4: Production Practices
- Chapter 5: Quality Control Operations
- Chapter 6: Special Requirements for Specific Products
STEP 3: NPCA STAFF AND OPTIONAL SERVICES
After reviewing the manual, it is time to reach out. NPCA staff members always are happy to discuss your situation and offer suggestions to make sure that you are comfortable when it comes time for your first audit.
If you remain hesitant, NPCA offers an optional technical service called the Plant Evaluation Program. While this isn’t tied to the NPCA Plant Certification program, this service often is utilized by plants wanting to improve processes along with plants planning on pursuing future certification.
STEP 4: SCHEDULE THE AUDIT
Once the manual review is complete and lined up with your processes, congratulations. It is time to move forward to schedule your audit.
At this point, reach out to the NPCA Technical Staff and complete the Plant Certification application. NPCA then releases your application to a third-party agency that will perform the audit.
The agency contacts facilities directly to set up a day and time. It is important to note that since this is the first audit, facilities will know in advance what day the audit is scheduled to be performed. After the initial audit, every year thereafter will be unannounced. The typical process takes approximately 4-6 weeks from submitting the application to becoming a new NPCA Certified Plant.
Take a deep breath.
Like most things in life, change is difficult and can seem overwhelming at first. The NPCA Plant Certification program doesn’t have to be that way. Just take it one step at a time and open the doorway to new business and opportunities for your facility.
Chris Frederick is the senior director of membership and regulatory services at NPCA.