Metal Architecture Home

Metal Building Systems

Improving the Building Process: New Accreditation Will Help the Metal Building Industry in Varied and Important Ways

On April 8, the accreditation committee of the International Accreditation Service Inc., Whittier, Calif., approved new accreditation criteria for inspection programs for manufacturers of metal building systems (AC472). This comprehensive, third-party accreditation program for the inspection of metal building manufacturers is based on the requirements of Chapter 17 of the International Building Code and provides code officials with a means to approve the inspection programs of manufacturers involved in the fabrication of metal building systems. To achieve the accreditation, the manufacturer must put in place a comprehensive quality-assurance program unequaled in the marketplace today. This is significant for our industry and of great value to our builders and customers. AC472 will give code bodies credible information that can streamline approvals of metal building systems, helping to speed and improve the overall building process. The AC472 accreditation program, which replaces the AISC-MB certification in 2009, promises to have a positive impact on metal building system construction.

The Metal Building Manufacturers Association, Cleveland, strongly endorses AC472. MBMA staff and volunteers have given countless hours working out the numerous details of these new criteria; but that is good news because this programis one of the most important and far-reaching activities in the association's history.

As metal building manufacturers, MBMA members deeply believe our constant and consistent commitment to unwavering quality and to substantive quality-assurance programming is what truly differentiates us. MBMA members believe it is the association's role to foster quality and responsibility in the industry. In fact, we attribute the industry's growth to the deep level of building quality represented by MBMA members.

Affiliation with IAS gives us credibility among building code officials and among governing agencies and bodies in cities, counties, states and regions nationwide. IAS accredits testing and calibration laboratories, inspection agencies, building departments, fabricator inspection programs and IBC special inspection agencies. It has a global presence and a solidly respected reputation. As a result, building owners will benefit in many ways from their inspection oversight and quality-assurance requirements as they relate to metal building systems manufacturers.

A significant value of the program is that it is based on the requirements of Chapter 17 of the IBC (IBC 2006), now adopted by most states. Chapter 17 outlines special inspection requirements for fabrication plants. Therefore, code officials can accept IAS accreditation as sufficient evidence that manufacturers are in compliance with those requirements of the ICC code, preventing the need for further inspections.

AC472 will replace the AISC-MB certification program that has provided third-party certifcation for metal building system manufacturers since 1989. The American Institute of Steel Construction, Chicago, and MBMA jointly decided to end AISC's sponsorship of the Metal Building Certification Program effective Dec. 31. MBMA and IAS collaborated to give life to the metal building accreditation program over a nine-month time frame, from August 2007 through April 2008. The effort culminated in unanimous approval of AC472 on April 8.

To begin the education process, MBMA and IAS jointly held a two-day training workshop from April 22-23 in Dallas. Over 70 representatives from MBMA member firms attended the workshop to learn more about the specifics of the program.

MBMA Members Will Benefit

For building systems manufacturers, eliminating additional in-plant inspections over and above the inspection program requirements is a value-added attribute of the new program. Currently, under Chapter 17 of the IBC, code officials can require in-plant inspections of every building a manufacturer produces.

Under the IAS program, that number is reduced to two, which allows compliance to become less cumbersome. These process changescan, therefore, potentially result in savings in both time and effort that can be passed on to building owners and developers and/or enhance a company's efficiency and bottom-line results.

Under the program, each accredited company will participate in two inspections per year at each of its primary manufacturing and engineering design facilities. The first inspection will consist of an audit performed by IAS representatives and an independent inspection agency. Then, approximately six months later, the inspection agency will perform another inspection.

The IAS AC472 Program covers three parts: Part (A) is modeled after AC172 for steel fabricators and covers structural welding; Part (B) is coldform steel fabrication; and Part (C) is engineering. These elements of the process bring great value to the marketplace for manufacturers, as well as building contractors, owners and specifiers.

One value for manufacturers is that AC472 uniformly and comprehensively addresses quality management system fundamentals, such as engineering, fabrication and shop practices, personnel requirements, materials certification, process control, and administrative and technical requirements that are essential for code officials to designate IAS-accredited entities as approved fabricators.

Another attribute is the program will allow comprehensive and elaborate material traceability. Documentation will allow an owner to trace materials all the way from the maker of the steel to the erection of the finished product.

IAS began training of Inspection Agencies in May and June and expected to begin accepting applications for AC472 this month. IAS accreditation will help MBMA members and code offi cials expedite the approval process for metal building systems bringing greater credibility to our industry, expediting code compliance matters and offering enormous advantage to us all.

To learn more or begin the accreditation process, log on to www.iasonline.org. To learn more from the MBMA point of view, click on www.mbma.com.

Keith E. Fischer is chairman of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, Clevland