AISC Certification


Newsletters

Being more participant-responsive is one of AISC Certification's goals for 2018 — and better communication with you, our certified participants is one step toward reaching that goal. We want our communication to be plain-spoken, to the point, and include information that will benefit you. Through this quarterly newsletter, we will share the latest news from AISC Certification and how the news might affect you. We will also include a quality-related article, providing insight into a hot-button, industry issue or highlight an element of the certification program that will add value to your investment in quality.

If you have a topic suggestion or questions, please contact AISC Certification at certification@aisc.org or 312.670.7520. Thank you and happy reading!

NEWSLETTER 2018-Q2

Mark’s Remarks - Providing Recognized Value by Conducting a Comprehensive and Rigorous Audit

 Welcome to the 2018 Second Quarter AISC Certification Newsletter! Our  newsletters are designed to provide news and information with a focus on how you can get the most value from your investment in certification.  

Topics in this issue include: “How do You, as a Manager, Drive Results?” by Chris Crosby, PE of Industrial Steel Construction — a preview of his upcoming Quality Track Session Q5  at the NASCC: The Steel Conference in Baltimore, April 11-13, 2018. Also, the final Program Requirements for Fabricator, Erector and Manufacturer Certifications are now available online, and you will learn more about their rollout at the Quality Track Sessions Q2-Q4.

In last quarter's newsletter, I shared that AISC Certification must continue to earn its reputation of providing recognizable value.  To ensure that our focus is on providing value, we established three goals:

  • Become a more participant-responsive program
  • Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous audit, providing recognized value to the participant and the construction marketplace
  • Advance the structural steel industry through certification, auditing, and education

 

In the previous newsletter, I elaborated on the first goal: Becoming a more participant- responsive program. The second goal: Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous audit, providing recognized value to the participant and the construction marketplace, is the foundation upon which value is built.

The basic idea:  Not every company applying for certification will become certified and not all certified companies will remain certified.

...and that’s how it should be!

An audit consists of two parts (or stages) and reveals a company's readiness for certification. The Stage 1 Audit (documentation audit) and the Stage 2 Audit (site audit) are evaluation tools AISC Certification and Quality Management Company (QMC) use to measure the maturity of a company’s quality management system (QMS).

The path to certification varies greatly, company to company, as do company quality management system maturity levels.  Some begin the journey toward certification without written procedures, and therefore, have a lot of work to do before applying. Others, much further along the journey, simply apply, submit their QMS documents and await the site audit. In either case, the demonstration of capability begins with an evaluation of documents and continues with the site audit.  

To be effective for an evaluation of readiness, the audit must be comprehensive, rigorous, and require a company to demonstrate it has the personnel, organization, experience, procedures, knowledge, equipment, and commitment to provide quality products and services.  

Let me know if we are providing value for your certification investment!

Until next Quarter...


 “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”   Aristotle


 


Mark W. Trimble, PE
Vice President of Certification
trimble@aisc.org
312 670 5436 (Office)
312 720 0131 (Cell)

NASCC's Quality Track

Are you looking to learn more about quality? Look no further then the Quality Track at the NASCC: The Steel Conference!

The conference held in Baltimore, MD on April 11-13, 2018 is offering 13 sessions focusing on a range of topics to help increase your industry knowledge and will assist in strengthening your company’s quality management program. There will be targeted sessions for both fabricators and erectors, plus three sessions concentrating on the new certification standard and its future rollout: Certification Standard for Steel Fabrication and Erection, and Manufacturing of Metal Components (AISC 207-16).

For a complete list of 2018 topics, session descriptions, and times, please download the Quality Track Agenda.

For a list of all previous quality sessions, please visit NASCC Quality Track Sessions.

NASCC

How Do You, as a Manager, Drive Results?

The below preview article is for Session Q5: How Do You, as a Manager, Drive Results?, which will be presented on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the NASCC: The Steel Conference. For a complete list of topics, session descriptions, and times, please see the Quality Track Agenda

 

How Do You, as a Manager, Drive Results?
By Chris Crosby, Vice President Engineering, Training and Business Development, Industrial Steel Construction, Inc.

Several years ago, I was meeting with one of the members of the NASCC steering committee, discussing different topics for future classes. We were kicking around several different quality-related topics, and somehow we got sidetracked and started talking about general business problems not just related to quality. One topic we discussed for a long time was how successful managers drive results, and that begged the question: “As a business manager, how do I drive results?” We started down the typical path of carrot and the stick, yelling and screaming, money, promotions, additional responsibility and power, but then we started to look at the issue from a different perspective—the perspective of employees—people. Unfortunately, our time ran out, and we moved on without delving any deeper.

Several years passed and the topic arose again. This time I was discussing the question with a close, trusted colleague whom I consider one of the smartest people I know. We batted around the idea for some time before she asked me “What if we question the whole paradigm of being “results-driven”? What if we put employees first? What if results are just a by-product of great people policies?” We looked at Forbes’ list of Top 100 Companies to Work For, and what did we find? Basically, an overlapping Venn diagram of companies that produce great results. That is to say, companies that treat their employees well are largely the same companies that produce great results and are leaders in their respective markets. So, the question we left on the table was…do we have to put our employees’ needs at the center of our business model to succeed?

I thought for months about this meeting and our discussions. As fabricators, we are always stating that we are in the business of selling labor. But do we stop and think about where our livelihood comes from? Do we understand that it’s our employees who make it happen, and without them, we are not shipping fabricated steel out the door? I thought about all the fabricators I have worked for in the past. Some of these fab shops “got it” while others did not. The fabricators who “got it” understood the importance of their employees and their impact on the success of the organization. What separated these shops from the other ones who did not “get it”? Leadership. That was the difference. It wasn’t technology or the next best piece of fabricating equipment or the latest and greatest welding machine or a grinding disc that could last for days. It was leadership. Leadership at all levels.

I have had many mentors and bosses over the years, but one specific leader sprang to mind, and I thought about how he “handled” the employees (including me) to drive results for the organization. I remembered several specific encounters with him, but they all had the same common denominator. As I recall, we were struggling with a rash of quality issues and failing to meet budgets on labor. As can be expected, this leader, my supervisor, had several long meetings with me to “discuss” my plan on turning these events around. He used the word “inspire” several times as we talked about the employees. In the heat of the moment, this did not resonate with me. It wasn’t until years later, while working for a different fabrication company, that the lightbulb came on when I ran into a major disconnect between my supervisor and myself on how to lead employees. One specific dark and dreary day, I was contemplating my lot in life and asked myself what the major difference between the two supervisors was. I generated a laundry list of adjectives, but one word surfaced after days of thinking – inspiration. The first supervisor had not only inspired me but encouraged me to inspire other employees while the second supervisor did the opposite. The first supervisor inspired me to take ownership of my responsibilities, lead the assigned employees, problem solve, manage the assets, mind the store and inspire others. He did all of this without having to micro-manage me, yell at me, carrot and stick me, or manipulate me.

Fast forward several years as I started to write my treatise of leadership through the eyes of an average Joe. This series of events came to mind, so I studied them, wrote about them, read about other people’s experiences and thought some more, and this is what I came up with: A great leader inspires employees to action and does not demand employees to action. How did the positive mentors in my career drive results? By inspiring me. The common denominator was that their leadership styles inspired their employees, making them better as a result of their leadership. The true measure of these mentors, these leaders, was their ability to make employees better, to inspire them, and to have an impact on them that lasted even when the leader was absent. Leaders who can provide that kind of inspiration motivate their employees and managers to achieve great results. And I’ll talk more about how they do this in Baltimore. Hope to see you there…

Conversion for Certified Companies

Beginning June 1, 2018 (May 1 for applicants), certified companies will follow the new Program Requirements for Fabricator, Erector and Manufacturer Certifications. The new requirements will reference the new Standard for Steel Fabrication and Erection, and Manufacturing of Metal Components (AISC 207-16). To assist, we are providing three resources containing more information about the conversion and  and tools to help you through the process. If you have conversion questions, don’t forget we’re available at conversion@aisc.org or 312.670.7520.                                                                                                                    

New Certification Bulletins

We have released three Certification Bulletins since our last newsletter. Certification Bulletins help to communicate program changes that may affect you. Their purpose is to explain the change and why it is occurring, plus they provide clarity and program transparency. If you have any questions about these, please contact us at certification@aisc.org or 312.670.7520.

Newsletter 2018-Q1

Mark's Remarks: Being More Participant-Responsive

VPWelcome to the 2018 First Quarter Issue of the AISC Certification Newsletter! In this, and future newsletters, we will provide news and information with a focus on how you can get the most value from your investment in certification.This issue includes “AISC Certification: More Than a Standard,” by Larry Martof, Director of Qualify Management Company — a preview of his upcoming Quality Track presentation at the NASCC: The Steel Conference in Baltimore, April 11-13, 2018. Also included, is the latest certification bulletin, “Bulletin 2018-01 for Scheduling Site Audits.”   

Just a few days after joining the staff of AISC last May, I met with the certification department staff to share my expectations for the future of the certification program. Providing Recognizable Value was the theme of my presentation.  “To be worthwhile,” I said, “the Certification Program must provide value to those who rely on it.” During that meeting, we reviewed how jurisdictions, agencies and specifiers rely on the program to set a basic level of quality for their projects. And how our participants — the fabricators, erectors, and component manufacturers rely on the program to improve their management systems, quality, and to differentiate themselves from their competition.

From that meeting, we developed some initial goals:

  • Become a more participant-responsive program
  • Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous audit, providing recognized value to the participant and the construction marketplace
  • Advance the structural steel industry through certification, auditing, and education


My focus in this issue will be on our goal of “becoming a more participant-responsive program.”  

Coming to AISC from the fabrication industry, my perspective is that of a certified participant. In addition to 25 years with an AISC-Certified fabricator, my experience includes engineering design and construction project management — where I learned to always add value through my work and never waste time or money. Adding value, reducing waste and improving efficiency are key principles behind our efforts to become more participant-responsive.

During my travels, I have appreciated hearing about your adventures on the path to better quality and your interactions with the Certification Department. You have expressed your commitment to our programs, their value, and the effort it took to earn the coveted certificate. Most of you shared positive stories about how we have treated you. A few, however, gave examples that made me cringe.  

With increased acceptance of AISC Certification as the way to set a project’s expected level of quality, more specifiers are including the certification requirement in their documents — and more fabricators and erectors are becoming certified. To minimize the growing pains, we have added additional contract auditors and made improvements to the way audits are scheduled. And, though we have nearly 1,600 participants in the program, conduct about 35 audits each week, and correspond with our participants hundreds of times each month, “cringe-worthy” experiences are never acceptable!  

My commitment to you: If you will share your certification experiences with me (good and bad), we will continue to improve our responsiveness and provide better value for your certification investment. 


 “Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising” -Milton S. Hershey


 


Mark W. Trimble, PE
Vice President of Certification
trimble@aisc.org
312 670 5436 (Office)
312 720 0131 (Cell)

NASCC's Quality Track

Are you looking to learn more about quality? Look no further then the Quality Track at the NASCC: The Steel Conference!

The conference held in Baltimore, MD on April 11-13, 2018 is offering 13 sessions focusing on a range of topics to help increase your industry knowledge and will assist in strengthening your company’s quality management program. There will be targeted sessions for both fabricators and erectors, plus three sessions concentrating on the new certification standard and its future rollout: Certification Standard for Steel Fabrication and Erection, and Manufacturing of Metal Components (AISC 207-16).

For a complete list of 2018 topics, session descriptions, and times, please download the Quality Track Agenda.

For a list of all previous quality sessions, please visit NASCC Quality Track Sessions.

NASCC

AISC Certification: More Than a Standard

The below preview article is for Session Q1: Certification is More than Just a Standard, which will be presented on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. It kicks off the Quality Track at the NASCC: The Steel Conference. For a complete list of topics, session descriptions, and times, please download the Quality Track Agenda

 

AISC Certification: More Than a Standard
By Larry Martof, Director of Quality Management Company

There is a misconception that the “standard” encompasses all of the requirements you must adhere to and be audited too.  In reality, it is only one piece of the certification pyramid so, let’s explore this further.

The steel construction industry relies on many documents to drive quality and design.  These cover both informative and normative references.  Informative references provide good information that can be helpful to assist the user with a particular topic while normative references contain requirements that must be followed.  Contract documents will identify the standards that must be followed, and normative may specify a particular version or just use the current edition.  But there is no single document that encompasses the entire construction project.  It is the same with certification programs; the standard is only one of many documents that provide the criteria to be followed.  But there is a defined hierarchy to the many normative documents used in the AISC certification programs.

Certification Pyramid

At the top of the document pyramid lays the program requirements.  This document provides the administrative requirements for the execution of the certification program.  They contain the process for application, scheduling, auditing, certification decision, appeals, and complaints.  They also establish the other normative references used as requirements in the program.  For example, the Certified Building Fabricator Program starts with the program requirements.  These requirements state that the AISC Certification Program for Structural Steel Fabricators – Standard for Steel Building Structures, 2006 is used as a normative document and refers to it as the standard. So it becomes the second tier of our document pyramid.  The standard goes on to references other industry normative documents such as the AISC Code of Standard Practice, AISC Steel Building Specification, AWS D1.1 Welding code and the RCSC Bolt Specification.  It also identifies the contract documents as another set of project-specific normative documents. This completes our document pyramid.

Why is this important to an applicant or participant in an AISC certification program?  Well, in each of the standards, we find a statement in Section 3 that states: “The Fabricator/Erector/Manufacturer shall have the latest editions available and be able to demonstrate the ability to work to and meet the requirements of:” which is followed by a list of reference documents.  The “shall” in Section 3 makes this list of documents normative, so they are part of the requirements to be followed, met and used as audit criteria. As a helpful resource, there is a complete list of site references for all certification programs listed under the “Audit Resources” tab of the Applicants, Certified Fabricator, and Certified Erectors pages at www.aisc.org/certification.  

AISC Certification begins with the program requirements. Program requirements have been issued for all of the certification programs, and either includes the endorsements or reference endorsement program requirements.  In spring of 2018, AISC will announce a public review period for a new set of program requirements.  This new set will harmonize the five current programs into a set of general program requirements which apply to all certifications and supplemental requirements that are specific to a certification program.  The general set will include information from the application to receiving a certificate and all the steps in between. The intent is to have a more thorough and complete set of requirements so that each participant or applicant understands the process to be or become an AISC certificate holder.  In today’s vernacular, AISC Certification must be “transparent” to our applicants and participants, specifiers, engineers, architects, jurisdictions, and customers who comprise the structural steel industry that we serve.

Bulletin 2018-01 for Scheduling Site Audits

The first bulletin for 2018 describes the AISC Certification scheduling process for site audits and includes the 2018 and 2019 Audit Schedules. The bulletin is available here. 

The audit windows, defined in the bulletin and noted in the Audit Schedules, had their time-frames shifted. This shift allowed for more time between the site audit and certificate expiration (please note the certificate expiration month did not shift). Though beneficial for reasons listed in the bulletin, the shift resulted in frustration for some companies who experienced audit dates earlier than customary. For those companies who were negatively affected, we apologize. 

To eliminate the frustration, we are publishing the audit schedules, which note the month an audit is expected to occur depending on a certificate’s expiration date. Participants will now know of their audit month well in advance to help assist in planning activities.