New Digs: SBCA’s QC Program Reloads with a Better Interface & New Layout


New Digs: SBCA’s QC Program Reloads with a Better Interface & New Layout

With a long history of developing better standards and providing an efficient quality control (QC) program, SBCA’s QC Program continues to undergo a facelift that gives more stable access to members and improves overall program efficiency to meet the needs
of industry QC requirements.

Originally operating under WTCA, the currently titled SBCA In-Plant Wood Truss QC program was created as a way for component manufacturers (CMs) to monitor day-to-day quality. The goal has been (and will continue to be) to provide an easy-to-use program that is a data-driven management information system. This is simply not possible if one relies upon third-party inspections each quarter to provide a quality and management improvement system. ANSI/TPI 1-1995 Chapter 3 certifications began in 1995 using the tooth count method to assure plate placement accuracy. This was later replaced with the quicker process called the plate placement method through the addition of a Cq factor used in calculating how much tooth capacity was available in a given truss plate. This allowed the creation of a tolerance polygon for ease in assessing if a plate was placed properly. Tolerances are based on percentages; for example, a 10 percent fabrication tolerance means there is a 10 percent reduction in plate capacity, or in other words, 10 percent additional plate material needs to be added to a particular member to act as a sort of buffer.

By using these processes, the QC program made available objective data that the manufacturer could use to ascertain who in their plant needed more training, what equipment should be checked, and how processes could be changed to improve quality and efficiency. In short, it served as a more robust feedback medium. Communication improves between management, design and manufacturing when CMs use this QC program, and in the end, design benefits from the feedback. To be clear, SBCA does not certify the level of quality in the plant; rather, it certifies the process used to define a given level of quality and changes in that quality over time.

Changes to ANSI/TPI 1 QC standards in 2002 altered the course of the program. Take for example, random sampling, which involves inspecting a subset of trusses with a variety of crews, setup areas, shifts, truss types and truss sizes that allow plant management to paint a picture of all trusses manufactured in the plant. Additionally, the Plate Placement Method was introduced as a way to configure plate placement based on tolerance polygons, which are printed onto a template or Joint QC Detail. Our industry’s major truss design software players even programmed this into their software. Doing so simplified the process by which manufacturers could calculate a plate’s lateral resistance and plate placement tolerances, which ultimately increases the speed and accuracy of changing plate sizes based on the need to address lumber characteristics (e.g., loose knots, holes, wane and flattened teeth).

Fast forward to today, and the evolution of these historical changes began pushing the limits of the outdated Windows XP based Microsoft Access QC format. The buy-in for the program over the past 15 years was firm, but the need for an easier program and an upgraded format was growing. In late 2013, development started on a web-based QC program along with the aforementioned name change from “WTCA In-Plant QC” to “SBCA In-Plant Wood Truss QC.” The online format resolved the compatibility issues that users experienced while attempting to run Windows XP. Even more taxing was the stiffness of Microsoft Access and its lack of stability coupled with filing limitations. (See Figure 1.)

With the switch to a web-based program, data storage is now on SBCA’s server, which means the program is agnostic to the operating system and the only need is a modern browser. This format lends itself to multiple users and is ready to go out-of-the-box. The best part? Reliable data backup is finally in use.

So what do users get with such a seamless, friendly program? Well, first and probably foremost, manufacturers can prepare for quarterly reviews more easily—sending data files is no longer required; the data is already on the server. Second, many of the inputs are grouped together. For instance, joints and members have been integrated into one tab. Last, recording defects due to manufacturing and lumber measurements based on ANSI/TPI 1 has been separated. (See Figure 2.)

One of the more exciting features surrounding the move to a web-based QC program is the ability for different platforms of training. Interest in certifications is on the rise, and training clients on how to use all of the options available to them is just as important as the options themselves. It’s for that reason that SBCA continues to offer in-person training, but users will soon have the opportunity to take online training courses. Online classes will include PowerPoint presentations, software demos and inspection procedure videos.

SBCA continues to implement this new QC program while pursuing further additions that will only make it better for manufacturers and fabricators. Change is inevitable in the industry and doing so as quickly and seamlessly as possible can be a challenge. SBCA stands committed to serving the needs of members and values the initial positive feedback from users of the newest changes and hopes everyone can benefit from the work completed so far.