PCI PLANT CERTIFICATIONS
Exceeding High Industry Standards
ENTERPRISE PRECAST CONCRETE IS PLEASED TO BE AN AA CERTIFIED PCI PRODUCER.
Enterprise Precast Concrete is producing projects at the highest level of complexity that a precast concrete producer can achieve. AA certification allows Enterprise Precast Concrete to bid projects that are specified at all levels (AA through AD).
The current PCI certification program (which went into effect on October 1, 2021) has five certification level categories:
- AA – Heightened tolerances, increased shape complexity and required survey.
- AB – Greater emphasis on shapes and multiple mixes and finishes
- AC – Wall Panels with Architectural Finishes, similar to the previous A1 standard, PCI MNL 117
- AD – Structural Elements with some Architectural Finishes, similar to the previous CA standard, PCI MNL 116
- AT – Architectural Trim Elements
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S):
CAN YOU FURTHER BREAK DOWN HOW THE PCI CERTIFICATION APPLIES BASED ON THE DIFFERENT LEVELS?
Yes. Here is a link to an article (41mb PDF) that was published in the “IIBEC Interface” magazine in March of 2022. It breaks things down in much greater detail.
WHY DID PCI CHANGE THE PRECAST CERTIFICATION SYSTEM FROM THE LONG ESTABLISHED PREVIOUS ONE?
PCI’s current certification program raises the bar for attainable precast concrete complexity standards. Production advancements have allowed for expanded architect’s enclosure aesthetic and performance options. While there had been buildings built to the AA and AB standards (in the past) it had never existed (as a minimum standard for certification) by any precast certification organization. The current program also better identifies precast producers with advanced complexity capabilities which aligns producers based on the specific level they can succesfully produce at.
IS AA THE ‘HIGHEST QUALITY’ WALL PANEL AND AD THE ‘LOWEST QUALITY’ WALL PANEL?
No. Each certification category represents a ‘high quality’ PCI precast certification standard, based on a set of understood expectations at varying levels. Referring to AA as the ‘highest level’ strictly applies to it being the ‘highest level’ of complexity, that can be defined and measured, allowing the architect to align their project requirements with a compatible producer. That is an important distinction, because all certification levels truly represent precast concrete products produced with ‘high quality’.
WHEN SHOULD I SPECIFY AT ‘AA’ LEVEL?
AA represents the most highly complex certification level. This certification is for producers of highly complex shapes and has the tightest tolerances ever required (a tolerance requirement greater than those specified in PCI-MNL 117, which was previously the highest architectural concrete quality control standard). These are typically for performing art centers, cathedrals or complicated, high-end projects that will have an extremely high level of expectation by the architect and/or owner.
WHEN SHOULD I SPECIFY AT ‘AB’ LEVEL?
AB certification (similar to AA) places great emphasis on shapes and alignment tolerances. The tolerances for AB, are specified in the previous PCI MNL 117 standards. If doing curved walls or embedding any materials into the precast (other than thin brick) the project must be specified as AB (or AA). If doing more than one mix design in the same panel it must be specified as AB (or AA). These are also typically projects where you see more complexity through projections.
WHEN SHOULD I SPECIFY AT ‘AC’ LEVEL?
AC certification is for producers of standard wall panels with exposed architectural finishes. The previous PCI MNL 117 is the reference standard. These will typically consist of integral color with an architectural finish, that tend to be more flat in nature. Formliners can be used. Thin brick can be embedded in an AC certified project but not any other materials (such as terra cotta or natural stone). Generally speaking, the AC category is most similar to the previous A1 architectural certification.
WHEN SHOULD I SPECIFY AT ‘AD’ LEVEL?
AD certification is for producers of structural elements with some architectural finishes. PCI MNL 116, which was the previous structural concrete quality control level, is the reference standard. These tolerances are more lenient than AC, AB or AA. Generally speaking, the AD category is most similar to the previous CA structural certification. While formliners, thin brick and integral color precast can be used on AD projects, these projects are limited to the use of gray cement (instead of white cement). Therefore, for all practical purposes, most of these projects will be likely be plain structural gray panels that are field painted. AD is the only wall certification level where a PCI certified erector/installer is not required. Typically, plain warehouses and simpler big box stores could fall in the AD category.
WHEN SHOULD I SPECIFY AT ‘AT’ LEVEL?
AT certification is for projects limited to architectural trim elements (small pieces, medallions, sills, headers, etc.). PCI MNL 117 is the reference standard.
IF I SPECIFY ‘AA’ OR ‘AB’ FOR MY PROJECT CAN ‘AC’ OR ‘AD’ PCI CERTIFIED PRODUCERS BID ON THAT WORK?
Typically not. While producers certified at a higher level can bid on and produce any work that is certified at the lower levels, producers gaining certification at the lower levels cannot bid on or produce work at the higher levels (without first achieving that specific minimum certification at that particular level). Some producers have chosen to only pursue certification at the AC and AD standards because that is more in line with their core competency and typical business model and there is nothing wrong with that. As indicated earlier, each category represents a high-quality standard (at various understood levels). The only exception that would allow a lower level producer can bid on and produce a higher level project would be if they are specifically named as an ‘approved producer’ in the architectural specification. We strongly advise having a firm knowledge and great confidence in a specific producer’s consistent proven success before considering approving them to bid on a level of project that they have not achieved certification for.
DOES AA COST MORE THAN THE OTHER LEVELS?
Besides the higher level projects themselves typically being more aesthetically complex and upscale in nature, the certification program does not cost any more (or less) from one level to the next.
IF I SPECIFY AA FOR MY PROJECT (BUT THE PROJECT’S FUNDING PARAMETERS DO NOT ALLOW OUR TEAM TO NEGOTIATE WITH A PREFERRED PRECAST PARTNER), WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO GET MORE THAN ONE BID?
Yes. AA as a certification level is very challenging to achieve. Since there are not as many precast producers that have AA certification, it stands to reason that you likely will not get as many bids as normal. For example, you’re accustomed to getting 4 to 5 bids on a typical precast project, you might get 2 or 3 competitive bids at the AA level. However, the proposals received will be from producers that have proven they can produce for that highly challenging level of complexity and expectation.