What it Takes to be National Precast Concrete Association Certified
Is the concrete producer that made your precast fence able to answer “yes” when asked if they meet over 50 separate production and product quality standards? Any concrete manufacturer can make a precast fence, but only plants that adhere to the strictest guidelines and maintain superior quality control practices are awarded the prestigious NPCA certification.
A National Precast Concrete Association Certified Manufacturing Plant is one that has demonstrated a consistently high degree of excellence in plant facilities, production, procedures, and quality control operations. This certification is entirely voluntary and requires an annual requalification inspection — further demonstration of a manufacturer’s total commitment to excellence and the willingness to go above and beyond just the baseline industry standards.
Excellence in Leadership
Strong managers are required to set and maintain the high bar for all the employees in an NPCA plant. Through a consistent commitment to producing the highest quality precast concrete fences and walls in a clean and safe workplace, the managers ensure that the entire workforce stays motivated, informed, educated, and safe.
In addition to rigid adherence to, and working knowledge of, the NPCA’s 164-page Quality Control Manual, plant managers participate in several NPCA educational courses throughout the year, including:
- Production & Quality School Level 1 is NPCA’s baseline educational course that thoroughly covers the foundational body of knowledge that all employees at a precast concrete plant should have. It is also ideal for employees with Quality Control auditor aspirations.
- Production & Quality School Level II addresses the more technical issues associated with the precast production process in areas of production, safety, and quality control. This course includes blueprint reading training.
- Production & Quality School Level III Leadership teaches managers and plant owners how to become effective and empowering leaders within the precast and pre-stressed concrete industry. Special emphasis is placed on effective communications, goal setting, and leading by example.
The NPCA requires rigorous and quantifiable adherence to high standards for the composition, mixing, batching, handling, and storing of concrete. Cement must meet or exceed these specifications, and pre-pour and post-pour inspections are required. The water used to mix concrete is inspected to ensure purity and to confirm that no foreign materials or substances are present that would adversely affect the setting process. Specific content ratios exist for air and water amounts in concrete, and plants are subject to annual mix water tests and admixture certifications. A certified plant is expected to develop a uniform mix procedure that is replicable to ensure consistency across their entire product line. Detailed documentation must substantiate the formula.
Compressive strength tests are performed, and a certified report is produced for each shipment or lot of cement as proof of conformity. All forming equipment must be thoroughly cleaned after each pour, and written documentation detailing the mixing proportions and ratios is constantly updated and maintained.
Excellence in Equipment Standards
All forming equipment in an NPCA-certified plant must meet certain quality standards and is calibrated and measured on an annual basis. Adherence to specified tolerances, or allowable deviations, in material measurements is required. Scales are calibrated annually, and verification stickers and records must be displayed and accessible to equipment operators at all times.
Hoists, cranes, and other handling equipment must be rigorously maintained in accordance with requirements. Daily inspections are performed on the plant equipment used to transport concrete, and mixers are checked on a regular basis for cleanliness, safe clearances on blades, and proper functioning of seals and lockout controls. Meticulous inspection records must be kept on all equipment in the plant.
Other NPCA-Certified Requirements
- The plant is required to have a plant-specific Quality Control manual with all policies and procedures compiled in one centralized location for easy access.
- The plant safety manual must be readily available at all times.
- Management must hold regularly scheduled safety meetings with staff at least once a month, with minutes and attendance records kept on file in the plant.
- All workers should be properly trained on plant procedures and safety protocols. Plants are required to keep training records for all employees.
- Work orders should be kept until each project is completed, and drawings must be kept at the plant for three years.
- Daily reports of the specific concrete mix proportions used in every batch should be kept at the plant for at least three years.
- Each precast concrete plant must have an ongoing housekeeping program to ensure a safe, clean, and efficient manufacturing environment. The plant’s Quality Control Inspector is required to perform daily housekeeping spot-checks.
Passing the NPCA Inspection
An inspector typically arrives at the plant in the morning to observe and confirm that all departments, processes, and procedures are in full compliance with the NPCA Quality Control Manual. The inspector will closely examine production methods, including the placement and fabrication of reinforcement and casting forms. Plant procedures will be monitored, including pre-pour operations, storage, shipment, curing, and form stripping to ensure that these techniques meet — or exceed — the certification requirements.
The NPCA Quality Control Manual contains a standardized grading schedule on which the plant is scored. An 80 percent or higher score is required for a precast concrete plant to pass inspection.
AFTEC Concrete Fence Forming Systems is NPCA Certified
We are proud of AFTEC’s NPCA certification and work with daily dedication to uphold and execute the demanding standards of excellence set forth in the manual. We are confident that not only are our precast fences and walls esthetically appealing, they are durable and built for long-lasting use and enjoyment.
When you’re looking for a Precast Concrete manufacturer that is on the cutting edge of efficiency and innovation, be sure to look for the NPCA Certification as well!