How 160 CMs Are Materially Benefiting from In-Plant QC

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineJune 23, 2020
by Evan Protexter


SBCA In-Plant Wood Truss QC logo

It is important to quantify the benefit of a quality control (QC) program. On one hand, it can take resources away from production. But on the other, it generates unique data that is vital to risk management, as well as effective and continuous improvement. No other activity in a manufacturing facility allows the finished product to tell a story and accurately identify specific areas needing further attention. Through a comprehensive QC program, management can quickly and accurately tell where training is needed and which machines are potentially in need of calibration. While some may say they can’t afford to make time for a QC program, others would argue that you can’t afford not to.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ), the thought leader for organizations seeking excellence through quality, defines quality control as “the operational techniques and activities used to fulfill requirements for quality.” So what requirements are CMs trying to fulfill? Those requirements are spelled out in Chapter 3 of ANSI/TPI 1. This document outlines the requirement for inspection frequency and procedure for metal-plate connected wood truss plants. Typically, plants will assign inspections to a person on the line or a designer, in addition to their regular duties, while some CMs may hire a full time QC person who goes above and beyond the requirements set in ANSI/TPI-1. Regardless of the approach, the most important thing is that QC inspections are regularly performed as outlined in the CM’s QC Manual.

The purpose of these inspections is to have someone in the plant verify the quality of the product as it is finished on a regular basis as a representative sample of overall production. They are not performed because of jurisdictional requirements or because the inspector showed up for their quarterly inspection, but to fulfill requirements CMs have to comply with TPI 1 Chapter 3, the CM’s own QC Manual, and the CM’s own internal quality expectations. The inspections performed represent a sample of the trusses manufactured, which can then feed directly into continuous plant improvement. Regular inspections help plants recognize items that can be worked on to ensure issues with quality are addressed quickly and don’t create either a customer service headache or a field performance issue in the future. Improvements in training, machine recalibration, and unnecessary cost increases from unspecified materials used during manufacture are just a few of the ways in-plant inspections benefit your plant in a financially material way.

There are a few resources SBCA has developed to aid in in-plant QC program performance. The first is the SBCA In-Plant program. This program is by no means a requirement for performing QC inspections, but offers an easy off-the-shelf option for plants who may want additional support from SBCA on program implementation and operation. The second resource is the new Digital QC program. This program, while still in beta testing, is being rolled out to plants who are contracted with SBCRI for third-party inspection services. Digital QC has a number of benefits such as reduced inspection time, better data collection, and objective inspection results. If you have questions about SBCA’s In-Plant QC program or the Digital QC approach, please contact Evan Protexter at