Concrete Products

JUL 2015

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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www.concreteproducts.com July 2015 • 55 FEATURE CERTIFICATION TRENDS quality systems typically embodied in an industry's technical insti- tute. A certification program developed and run by an independent technical institute ensures transparency, allows for continued pro- cess improvement, and removes any fear of bias towards one or more industry stakeholder." A credible certification program requires more than just issuing a certificate, so be cautious of a certification program that isn't tied to an organization that has established best practices related to their area of the concrete industry. For example, there are many instances of companies self-certifying when time is of the essence and they must meet requirements in order to keep a project. Another exam- ple is the licensing or certification that local jurisdictions require for contractors as a means for keeping track of those companies who have been reviewed to work. However, in most cases, these programs are not founded in an established set of best practices specific to the industry. Case in point is the development of certification programs by unions. Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI) Executive Director Ted Neff notes that the development of such programs isn't inherently bad as they are often based on industry knowledge and the developers have technical expertise, however, it is also key to have relevancy to code bodies and industry standards. For example, ACI 301, Specifica- tion for Structural Concrete references several of the industry's cer- tification programs and using it will cover a number of certification requirements needed for a concrete project. Neff says that the specification should be clear and distinct in order to avoid vague interpretation, as such distinction will help eliminate companies self-certifying their crews, adding: "Owners and designers have fewer resources to police their projects, so certifica- tion provides a means to ensure they get the quality they deserve." Robert Bowers, P. Eng., LEED Green Associate, director of Engi- neering for the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) con- curs, noting that certification programs are used by many to differ- entiate themselves from their competition by demonstrating their ability to meet and exceed industry standards. "Those individuals seeking certification recognize the importance of promoting their experience level and knowledge of industry best practices, as well as a commitment to continuing education," he observes. "These are the three key elements to the ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Certification, which should be similar to other personnel based certifications." PCI Managing Director of Research and Development Roger Becker notes that certification programs should provide customer-focused, management driven, and process-based quality management systems. "While commercial companies can provide audit services, only the technical association or institute associated with that particular subject matter can today provide all the required elements that are necessary of a credible program," he says. "The work of the technical institute within a strong, unified, and quality-focused industry bene- fits all stakeholders, the end-user, and the general public." Becker also notes that the benefit of institute-based certification programs is that they are an integrated knowledge development and continuous improvement process connecting directly with the indus- try's body of knowledge. Further, they are developed by a wide range of experts so a program reflects a diverse mix of industry professionals. "Review by committees and open comment are key," Becker con- cludes, "since the industry organizations are typically governed by boards that have no financial gain from the program, their efforts to reach consensus are not based on profit." Epoxy-coated bars on the jobsite ready for concrete placement. PHOTO: P. Fosnough

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