In response to inspector attrition and differing evolution of material and engineering specifications, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute is developing state department of transportation-specific criteria for its Plant Certification Program. A pilot began in early 2009 with certified producers supplying Illinois DOT, and PCI is now preparing to offer criteria specific to counterpart agencies as requested on a state-by-state basis.
The new program will help DOTs by enabling them to have input into the audit process and allow them to conserve their resources and rely more on PCI certification. It's a win-win situation for both the DOT and producers, says PCI Director of Quality Programs Dean Frank, P.E.
Retiring DOT staff members are not being replaced and agencies are finding it difficult to spend as much time in precast concrete plants as they did in the past, he adds, while the current PCI Plant Certification may not address specific state requirements, or reflect an agency's design preferences, preferred connections, or raw material and concrete mixture guidelines. DOT requirements more stringent than those of the PCI Quality Control Manual will be included in a guidance document for the plant staff and auditor. Conformance to the DOT-specific criteria will be checked during each of the program's twice-annual unannounced audits.
Regarding the potential for PCI to have a confusing array of 50 state-specific certification programs and audit requirements, Frank notes, Once we address a number of states, we will identify commonalities that can then be included in the overall PCI Plant Certification Program. We will also be able to give DOTs feedback from a national perspective. [Agencies] generally welcome feedback on how their requirements compare with those of other states. And in fact, one major potential benefit of this program would be to help DOTs harmonize their specifications.
Precast concrete plants that service multiple states are already facing this issue, he adds, and the new state-specific certification is an attempt to bring PCI and DOT requirements together. Û email@example.com; www.pci.org/certification