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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56 • July 2015 www.concreteproducts.com FEATURE BY KIMBERLY KAYLER GLOBAL STANDARD Newly appointed PCI President Robert Risser, P.E., reflecting on his Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute tenure, cites the importance of a certification program being tied to a larger standard. For exam- ple, CRSI has become American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited so they have the ISO based qualities in their program, ensuring they are open and balanced. ANSI oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines and is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess confor- mance to standards—including globally-recognized cross-sector programs such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems. "In the construction industry, only the technical institute serv- ing the corresponding industry segment provides all of the necessary functional elements of a comprehensive quality system and therefore currently serves as a singular, standardized, and accredited certifica- tion organization," says Risser. Neff concurs, noting that ANSI may not apply to all concrete organizations, but following the principles outlined in an ISO based program ensures the transparency required in today's marketplace. PCI's Frank also finds that having a program tied to an international- ly-accepted standard when possible helps ensure impartiality, while limiting conflict of interest. LOCALIZING THE INDUSTRY STANDARD PCI's Becker notes that there are times when it does make sense for an agency to develop their own certification program, though he encourages those entities to partner with industry institutions when- ever possible. For example, the Illinois Department of Transporta- tion desired to expand the existing PCI Plant certification program because of very specific factors that they wanted addressed in plants, such as dimensional tolerances related to their beam designs and how non-conformances were addressed. PCI worked with the state to cre- ate additional requirements. Becker saw that this approach worked for both PCI and the state, and believes this model works for other jurisdictions as well. "If a state is interested in a modification to the certification pro- grams we've developed, we are more than interested in working with them," he affirms. "It doesn't make any sense for them to reinvent the wheel. Further, once you move away from that industry body of knowledge, it can be dangerous. In contrast, the industry institution will have the interest in serving that group as well as support the certification with the knowledge and experience to address specific needs. A certification program not backed by the industry will be challenged by the request to modify their programs, nor do they have the credibility to make such changes." According to Frank, key to success is modifying any standard or specification in such a manner that the owner or end-user is satisfied with the outcome, while providing clear direction to the individual or manufacturer resulting in fewer instances of non-conformances. This involves: a) establishing objective, specific criteria for quality and performance; b) creating an oversight group that is balanced and represents all major stakeholders; c) having a dynamic program that strives for continual improvement to reflect advances in the state-of- the art; and, d) ensuring that the program is impartial.

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