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July 1, 2009
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SSMA Kicks Off Code Compliance Certification Program

The Steel Stud Manufacturers Association (SSMA) Code Compliance Certification program kicked off July 1 at steel framing manufacturing plants across America. Initiated over one year ago and approved by SSMA members in October, the program officially began marking Code-Compliant Certified products this month. Based on random inspections by a third party inspection agency, Architectural Testing, Inc. (ATI), the Code Compliance Certification program requires all SSMA manufacturing facilities to pass initial and periodic inspections before they are permitted to label or advertise product as being certified. Participation in the program will become mandatory for all SSMA members.

“The certification program validates that SSMA manufacturers deliver Code compliant steel framing products to the marketplace,” said SSMA executive director Augie Sisco. “The SSMA brand already has value with architects, engineers and specifiers, but this program will enhance their confidence in specifying SSMA products.” The program comes at a crucial time for the steel framing industry. With the economy and especially the construction market in recession, industry funding for market development programs has tapered off significantly. The SSMA program is not relying on any outside assistance to develop, advertise, or manage the program, and is paying outside firms to perform the inspection, testing, and some components of the program marketing. “That steel framing is a quality, consistent, reliable product is being heard loud and clear in the architecture/engineering/construction community thanks to the SSMA program,” said SSMA president Larry Stone. “This will help us compete against materials that warp, crack, burn, and are more susceptible to mold and rot.”

The key to the SSMA program is the independent third party random inspections. Initial qualifying inspections checked not only framing products, but also the manufacturing and quality control processes. “When qualifying a plant for the program, inspectors start by reviewing the quality control manual” said SSMA technical director Don Allen. “Then they check key elements of the program, to make sure technicians do what the manual says they should do. At the initial inspections, inspectors checked micrometers, tape measures, gauge blocks and calipers, then went to work checking products: both coming off the line and stocked for shipment.” Structural stud and track product go through a battery of tests to ensure that they meet the dimensional requirements of standards referenced by the 2006 International Building Code (IBC). Then randomly selected samples are cut from stock, and sent to ATI’s materials testing laboratory in York, Pennsylvania. There, they are checked for thickness, coating mass and mechanical properties such as yield strength and elongation. According to ATI’s vice president David Moyer, “If a single sample fails even one of these lab tests, the facility does not qualify, and our inspectors must go back and randomly select a new set of samples from that same manufacturing facility.” Manufacturers must not only pass the tests, but also prove that appropriate corrective actions have been taken.

The current program covers structural stud and track: 33 mil thickness and greater, in standard SSMA shapes. As more states and jurisdictions move to the 2009 IBC, the program will be updated to the 2009 requirements. The SSMA website includes a list of qualified manufacturing locations under their “Certification Program” link.

“The Steel Framing Alliance has welcomed and encouraged the program during its initial development and implementation, and will continue to support SSMA efforts to grow the market for steel by ensuring quality in the marketplace,” said SFA president Mark Nowak. “Our desire is to continue the strategic partnership established between our associations many years ago, and work together to expand the market for steel framing against competing materials.”

In conjunction with the program, the SSMA Promotions task group is working on getting the word out on specifying code-compliant materials. Specifying certified product will give architects, engineers, specifiers and contractors solid confidence in SSMA Certified products. For more information on the program, go www.ssma.com.

Source: Steel Framing Alliance

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, Framework Online arms you with the latest news and commentary on the steel framing and construction industries. In addition to industry headlines, trends and project profiles, Framework Online provides information and ideas that will better enable members to increase their participation in the residential and commercial construction markets.