The primary source for the requirements outlining PCI’s Plant Certification Program is PCI Policy 20. The applicable standards and procedures for the Program that support the requirements of Policy 20 have been developed in accordance with ISO 10005, Quality Management Systems – Guidelines for Quality Plans; ISO/IEC 17021-1, Conformity Assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems - Requirements; and ISO/IEC 17021-3, Conformity Assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems – Competence requirements for auditing and certification of quality management systems. PCI certified plants have also demonstrated compliance with ISO 9001, Quality Management Systems – Requirements. The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute is accredited by the International Accreditation Service (IAS) as a management system certification body. Accreditation provides a formal, independent verification that PCI’s program meets the established quality standards and PCI is competent to carry out these certification activities.

PCI is accredited by the American National Standards Institute as an Accredited Standards Developer. The nature and scope of PCI’s standards development activities are to develop and maintain voluntary consensus standards for the design, detailing, fabrication, transportation and erection of precast and precast, prestressed concrete products.

The PCI Plant Certification Program evaluates plants of precast and/or prestressed concrete manufacturing companies against published standards. Unannounced audits are conducted by an Auditing Organization that is also accredited by IAS. Plants are evaluated on their quality system, documentation, production procedures, management, engineering, personnel, equipment, and final product. PCI Plant Certification ensures a project specifier and owner of approved uniform production methods and an acceptable in-house quality assurance program.

Program Standards

The Standards (requirements) used for evaluation of a plant are published in PCI’s Quality Manuals:

  • MNL-116, Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Precast and Prestressed Concrete Products
  • MNL-117, Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Architectural Precast Concrete Products
  • MNL-130, Manual for Quality Control for Plants and Production of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete Products
  • MNL-135, Tolerance Manual for Precast and Prestressed Concrete Construction
  • The specific provisions of the Client’s Quality System Manual.

Notice These Plant Certification Program Procedures

The following procedures outline initial and continuing certification activities, which include application processing, the initial audit and additional surveillance audit(s). These procedures also summarize the requirements for granting, maintaining, reducing, suspending, and withdrawing certification, as well as certification renewal. These policies and procedures are described more fully in PCI Policy 20.

Initial Certification

  1. The Client submits an application and the appropriate application fee to PCI.
  2. PCI processes the application and makes a decision whether to accept the application and the application fee. The Client is requested to sign a certification contract prior to additional certification activities. Stage 1 of the certification process can now begin.
  3. The Client submits their Quality System Manual (QSM) to PCI for review by PCI and PCI’s technical experts. The QSM must comply with PCI’s QSM Preparation Guidelines document (QSM-1) and be submitted in accordance with the PCI QSM Submittal Guidelines. Any required revisions noted during review must be corrected prior to the initial certification (stage 2) audit.
  4. Upon receipt of the Client’s QSM, the Client and the auditing organization schedule a Precertification Evaluation (PE) at the Client’s facilities for an onsite assessment. The PE is an ungraded audit, whose purpose is to gauge the readiness of a plant for a certification audit, assist the auditor in the planning of future audits, review QSM issues (if any), allow the client a direct opportunity to clarify any program questions, and provide feedback on any observed nonconformances.
  5. Following the onsite portion of the PE, PCI issues a report summarizing the evaluation and noting any areas of nonconformance.
  6. The Client is to correct any nonconformance issues, provide a corrective action response, and indicate their readiness for their initial, unannounced audit. Acceptance of the Client’s corrective action response for the PE and approval of the QSM concludes the Stage 1 Audit for Initial Certification.
  7. Once the Stage 1 Audit has been completed, PCI schedules a plant quality auditor from the auditing organization to conduct the plant’s initial certification audit. This initial audit (Stage 2 audit) is unannounced, as are all regular audits required by the certification program.
  8. Upon review of the report for the initial audit, the Client then submits their corrective action responses to any nonconformance items noted, within a defined time. The corrective action response describes the Client’s root-cause analysis of each nonconformance and describes the specific correction and the corrective actions taken, or planned to be taken (preventive actions), to eliminate detected nonconformances. In the case of a major nonconformance, the Client is to include objective evidence supporting the corrective actions.
  9. PCI and PCI’s technical experts review these two reports (the plant quality audit report and the Client’s corrective action response).The responses are either accepted or there is a request for additional information.
  10. During Stage 2 of the certification process, the Client will be requested to submit a PCI Certified Plant Sales Declaration.
  11. Once the Client’s corrective action responses have been accepted, PCI reviews the Client’s application for certification, certification contract, sales declaration and all audit-related information and makes a decision whether all certification requirements have been met and whether to grant the Client PCI Plant Certification. The Client will be notified once certification is granted. The Client will receive their certificate, and the Client will be added to the list of certified plants on PCI’s website directory. The annual certification fees and payment schedule are determined from the Certified Plant Sales Declaration form, and payment of these fees is a requirement to maintain certification. See “Fees Schedule” in Policy 20 for more details.

Maintaining Certification

  1. Certified plants are audited twice per year – a recertification audit conducted between July 1 and December 31, and a surveillance audit conducted between January 1 and June 30.All audits are unannounced. The duration and timing of the audits is in accordance with the requirements of Policy 20.
  2. Clients are to submit corrective action responses addressing any nonconformances noted during the audit within 30 days of receiving the audit report.
  3. Continued participation in the plant audits, timely submission of corrective action responses, prompt resolution of nonconformances, and continued payment of the certification fees are conditions for maintaining certification.

Change in Scope, Suspension, and Withdrawal of Certification

  1. A reduction in scope will result if the plant no longer has the capability to produce products in that category or if an audit reveals that the plant does not have the capability to produce those products in conformance with the applicable requirements.
  2. A reduction in scope may result if the Client has not produced products in a specific category for 2 years, unless evidence of capability is demonstrated in accordance with PCI Policy 20.A reduction in scope will occur if there is no production in that category for 5 years.
  3. An increase in scope can be granted if the Client demonstrates capability to produce products in the new category during a regular audit.
  4. An increase in scope can also be granted as the result of a Special Audit requested by the Client. The special audit is performed outside of the normal audit sequence, and the extra fee for a special audit for this purpose is charged to the Client.
  5. A plant with no production for 18 months will have their Certification placed on hold (Suspended).
  6. A failed audit grade will result in a Special Immediate Audit.
  7. Corrective action responses for failed audits must be submitted within 15 days of receipt of the report.
  8. Major nonconformances for which corrective actions cannot be confirmed from the Client’s corrective action response may require a Special Immediate Audit. The necessity for this Special Immediate Audit will be determined by PCI, or this major nonconformance may be assessed during the next regular audit.
  9. A failing audit grade on two of any three consecutive audits will result in withdrawal of certification.
  10. 10.Certification will be withdrawn if a plant’s account for certification fees is more than 120 days in arrears.

Certification Renewal

  1. PCI plant certifications are renewed on an annual basis and are effective July 1st.
  2. Prior to certification expiration, renewal documents with the associated requirements, procedures, and due date(s) will be distributed to all Clients. Signed certification contracts and the completed PCI sales declaration, as well as any other necessary applicable administrative or technical requirements for renewal, must be submitted by the deadline.
  3. Corrective action responses for any major nonconformances from the recertification audit must be resolved to be eligible for renewal.

Auditor Tasks and Requirements during Plant Quality Audits

  1. The auditor will examine the Client’s policies, processes, procedures, records and related documents relevant to the Client’s QSM to determine that it meets the requirements relevant to the intended scope of certification and in compliance with the applicable PCI Quality Manual (MNL-116, MNL-117 and/or MNL-130). The Auditor’s examination of the Plant’s QSM will help determine that the processes and procedures are established, implemented and maintained effectively, to provide a basis for confidence in the Client's management system.
  2. The auditor will examine the implementation of the Client’s policies, processes, and procedures to verify that they are conformance with the Client’s QSM and the requirements of the applicable PCI quality manual(s).
  3. The Auditor will communicate to the Client, for the Client’s corrective action, any inconsistencies between the Client's policies, procedures and practices, and their implementation, with the requirements in the relevant QSM and applicable PCI quality manual(s).
  4. When requested, PCI will provide the name and available background information on the auditor or audit team, with sufficient time for the Client to object to the appointment of a particular auditor or technical expert and for PCI to reconstitute the team in response to any valid objection. The availability of this option has also been communicated on the Plant Certification Application.
  5. The Auditor communicates the audit plan during the opening meetings for all audits; this includes precertification evaluation, regular audits, and special audits. The dates of the PE shall be agreed upon in advance. Special audits may or may not be scheduled and agreed upon with the Client, depending upon the reason for the special audit. All regular audits conducted during the certification cycle are unannounced.