PCI Plant Certification
PCI’s Plant Certification Program ensures that each plant has developed and documented an in-depth, in-house quality system based on time-tested, national industry standards. To become PCI Certified, plants must demonstrate they have appropriate experience and training in manufacturing precast concrete, quality systems and procedures in place and a commitment to quality throughout their organization. Each plant is required to develop a plant-specific Quality Systems Manual (QSM). This manual defines in detail how their operations work and is reviewed and approved by PCI. After the QSM is completed, an initial unannounced audit will take place. Upon passing its first audit, a plant is certified.
Once a year, each plant undergoes two thorough, unannounced audits. They are conducted by third-party engineers who audit the plant according to requirements specifically targeted to the products being manufactured at that location. PCI-Certified plants are audited in accordance with standards published in three PCI quality-control manuals:
- MNL-116, Quality Control for Plants and Production of Structural Precast Concrete Products
- MNL-117, Quality Control for Plants and Production of Architectural Precast Concrete Products
- MNL-130, Quality Control for Plants and Production of Glass Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Products
Inspectors also randomly inspect products to their project specifications to ensure that products meet their design intent and criteria.
Since the various precast concrete product lines require different levels of expertise and production techniques to produce, PCI Certification provides a system of categories. This system ensures that producers are qualified to produce the products that you are specifying. Precast concrete plants can be certified in as many as four product groups:
Group A—Architectural Products;
Group B and BA—Bridge Products;
Group C and CA—Commercial (Structural) Products; and
Group G—Glass-Fiber-Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) Products
Below is a breakdown of the PCI Certification categories.
Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Architectural Precast Concrete Products
Architectural precast concrete products, through their finish, shape, color, or texture, contribute to a structure’s architectural expression. These products may be custom designed or feature standard shapes. They may be manufactured with conventional mild-steel reinforcement, or they may be pretensioned or post-tensioned.
These products typically have more stringent requirements for dimensional tolerances, finish variations, and color consistency.
AT – Miscellaneous Architectural Trim Units
Includes mullions, bollards, urns, railings, sills, copings, benches, planters, pavers, and other types of miscellaneous shapes.
A1 – Architectural Precast Concrete Products
Includes exterior cladding, loadbearing and non-load-bearing wall panels, spandrels, beams, columns, and all products covered in AT.
Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Pro¬duction of Structural Precast Concrete Products
Bridge components consist of precast concrete or precast, prestressed concrete products and are usually produced with gray cement and local aggregates. Those in Group BA have form, machine, or special finishes.
B1 – Precast Bridge Products (No Prestressed Reinforcement)
Mild-steel-reinforced precast concrete elements, including some types of bridge beams or slabs, as well as products such as piling, sheet piling, pile caps, retaining-wall elements, parapet walls, and sound barriers.
B2 – Prestressed Miscellaneous Bridge Products (Non-Superstructure)
Any precast, prestressed elements except for superstructure beams. This includes piling, sheet piling, retaining-wall elements, stay-in-place bridge deck panels, full-depth deck panels, and all products covered in B1.
B3 – Prestressed Straight-Strand Bridge Beams (Superstructure)
All precast, prestressed superstructure el¬ements using straight, pretensioning, or post-tensioning strands such as box beams, I-girders, bulb-tee beams, stemmed mem¬bers, solid slabs, segmental box beams, and all products covered in B1 and B2.
B4 – Prestressed Deflected-Strand Bridge Beams (Superstructure)
Precast concrete bridge members that are reinforced with deflected pretensioning or post-tensioning strand. Included are box beams, I-girders, bulb-tee beams, stemmed members, solid slabs, and all products in B1, B2, and B3.
BA – Bridge Products with an Architectural Finish
These products are the same as those in Group B, but they are produced with an architectural finish. They will have a form, machine, or special finish. Certification for Group BA production supersedes Group B in the same category.
Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Pro¬duction of Structural Precast Concrete Products
This group includes structural and nonstructural precast or precast, prestressed concrete elements for buildings and other structures. These products have no special architectural finish and may be suitable for painting if specified.
C1 – Precast Concrete Products (No Prestressed Reinforcement)
Conventionally reinforced precast concrete elements, including piling, sheet piling, pile caps, retaining-wall elements, floor and roof slabs, joists, stairs, seating members, columns, beams, walls, spandrels, and similar products.
C2 – Prestressed Hollow-Core and Repetitively Produced Products
Precast concrete products that are prestressed with straight, pretensioning, or post-tensioning strands. Included are hollow-core slabs for floor, roof, and wall construction that maybe wet cast, machine cast, extruded, or slip formed. Other products include railroad ties, flat slabs, wall panels, utility poles, and all products in C1.
C3 – Prestressed Straight-Strand Structural Members
Precast concrete structural members that are prestressed with straight, pretensioning, or post-tensioning strands. Included are stemmed members for roofs, floors, and walls, as well as beams, columns, spandrels, joists, seating members, and all products in C1 and C2.
C4 – Prestressed Deflected-Strand Structural Members
Precast concrete structural members made with deflected pretensioning or post-tensioning strands for roofs and floors, beams, joists, and all products in C1, C2, and C3.
CA – Commercial Products with an Architectural Finish
These products are the same as those in the categories within Group C, but they are produced with an architectural finish. They will have a form, machine, or special finish. Certification for Group CA production supersedes Group C in the same category.
Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Glass Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Products MNL-130
G – Glass-Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Products
These architectural products are made by spraying cement/sand slurry reinforced with glass fiber into molds. The products are custom designed and contribute to a structure’s architectural expression through their finish, shape, color, or texture. The range of products is similar to those non-loadbearing units in category A1.
Understanding these categories will help you select qualified precast concrete manufacturers to bid on your project. PCI suggests that you start the process by listing the various precast concrete products required for the project, and then determine the appropriate product group and category for each product based on the product’s use, the method of reinforcement, and special surface finishes. In the specifications, list each precast concrete product and each required group and category included in the project’s scope. Refer to the “How to” for additional discussion information.
PCI Personnel Certification
PCI has two comprehensive certification programs for employees of companies involved in precast concrete manufacture or erection. The Plant Quality Personnel Certification Program ensures that precast plant employees have extensive technical knowledge and training that aid in producing consistent, high-quality products. The Field Quality Personnel Certification Program brings the quality program into the field by training personnel on industry erection standards and best practices for conducting field audits or erection processes.
Plant Quality Personnel Certification
Conducting an effective quality-control program requires knowledgeable and motivated testing and inspection personnel. These employees must understand the key ingredients that produce overall quality, the specifics of how each product is manufactured, and how to conduct precise tests and inspections. PCI has been training quality-control personnel since 1974 and published its first technician training manual in 1985. Three distinct levels of Plant Quality Personnel Certification can each be achieved by passing a written, closed-book PCI examination:
This basic level requires six months of precast concrete industry experience (or other educational, technical, or professional criteria). Level I certification focuses on the fundamental requirements of the many quality-control issues typically encountered in a precast plant. Requirements also include current certification by the American Concrete Institute in the Concrete Field Testing Technician Program, Grade 1.
Level II certification provides greater detail in maintaining and improving quality levels, such as tensioning and strand-elongation corrections, effects of accelerated cur¬ing, material-control tests, welding basics, and a variety of plant topics. Requirements include PCI Level I and one year of precast concrete industry experience (or other educational, technical, or professional criteria).
The highest level of certification provides significant instruction in concrete materials and technology. Certification requires two years of precast concrete industry experience, attendance at a four-day PCI school, and PCI Level II certification.
Field Quality Personnel Certification
CERTIFIED FIELD AUDITOR (CFA)
This program, instituted in 1999, provides certification for personnel trained to conduct field audits of industry erection procedures and evaluate compliance with PCI standards. CFA certification requires a minimum of two years of precast concrete erection experience and a commitment to upholding professional standards appropriate to the program. Certification helps ensure that the high quality achieved in the plant is maintained throughout installation.
CERTIFIED COMPANY AUDITOR (CCA)
PCI-Certified company auditors perform the company audits that lead to PCI-
Certified Erector status. CFA certification requires two years of acceptable experience in the supervision of the erection of precast concrete and current CFA certification.
To view a list of the next scheduled schools or to register for a school, click here.
PCI Erector Certification
PCI offers two programs related to field operations and erection of precast concrete products.
PCI’s Qualified Erector and Field Certified Erector programs extend the institute’s demanding quality standards to the process of erecting the finished precast concrete products in the field. These programs provide assurance that the high-quality precast concrete components produced by a PCI-Certified Plant are erected to the exacting standards expected by owners, developers, architects, contractors, and the precast concrete structures industry as a whole.
The erection process is vital to the overall performance of the finished precast concrete products in the structure. Handling pieces properly and installing them correctly require well-trained erection personnel who understand every aspect of lifting, maneuvering, and connecting each precast concrete component regardless, of its shape or size. An erector may qualify in one of two structural classifications and/or an architectural classification.
Category S1-Simple Structural Systems
This includes horizontal decking members (such as hollow core slabs on masonry walls) and single-left wall panels attached to a structure.
Category S2-Complex Structural Systems
This includes everything contained in S1 as well as total precast concrete systems, multi-product structures (those that combine vertical and horizontal members), and single-or multistory loadbearing members, including those with architectural finishes.
Category A-Architectural Systems
This includes non-loadbearing cladding and GFRC products, which may be attached to a supporting member.
The PCI-Qualified Erector Program is designed to provide assurance that individual erecting crews have the skills, procedures, and supervision necessary to conduct erection operations in accordance with essential safety and quality criteria published by PCI. Each PCI-Qualified crew is audited twice each year by a PCI-Certified Field Auditor, with at least one of the two audits conducted by an independent auditor.
The PCI-Certified Erector Program is designed to provide assurance that the erecting organization has the managerial and administrative capability to achieve and sustain performance consistent with requirements established by PCI, the producer, and the owner/specifier. It represents the highest commitment to safety and quality an erector can achieve under the PCI Quality Assurance System. Each crew of a PCI-Certified Erector is audited twice each year by a PCI-Certified Field Auditor with at least one of the two audits conducted by an independent auditor. In addition, the organization’s quality documents, safety and erection procedures, personnel qualification records, project files, and equipment management records are audited annually by an independent third-party PCI-Certified Company Auditor to provide evidence that the required managerial and administrative criteria are being met on all applicable projects.
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