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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
Group G —Glass-Fiber-Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) Products

Below is a breakdown of the PCI Certification categories.

Architectural

Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Architectural Precast Concrete Products, (MNL-117)

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.

Bridges

Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Structural Precast Concrete Products (MNL-116)

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 elements using straight, pretensioning, or post-tensioning strands such as box beams, I-girders, bulb-tee beams, stemmed members, 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.

Commercial

Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Structural Precast Concrete Products (MNL-116)

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.

GFRC

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.

Guide Specifications: 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.