Do You Know the Vision & Value of SBCA’s Digital QC?

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineSeptember 30, 2019
by SBCA Professional Engineers with contributions from SBCA Staff


While Investigators at Clemson University determined a floor collapse was an occupancy violation and caused by the "rhythmic jumping up and down of the closely spaced crowd attending the party," this is an example of an incident where a focus on the truss floor system could easily arise.

Because this intense outside scrutiny of truss systems has the potential to arise at any time, SBCA’s QC Committee and Board have undertaken a critical industry project entitled Digital QC and SBCRI’s 3rd Party Digital QA, which defines a quick and accurate method for Component Manufacturers (CMs) to evaluate the quality of a truss anywhere and at any time. SBCA staff, over the past 18 months, has done the research and testing needed to provide a QC and QA method that has never been done before. SBCA’s goal for Digital QC and SBCRI’s 3rd Party Digital QA is to provide objective facts regarding truss quality in case of scrutiny.

We can now take a picture of any joint on any truss and, using digital processing of the picture and SBCA/SBCRI-generated algorithms, assess that truss joint’s compliance with the quality provisions of the TPI-1 standard.

This automatic collection and recording of data removes the need for a person to manually measure and record truss joint and related truss QC information, where subjectivity and human error are possible.

Digital QC and 3rd Party Digital QA improve both the efficiency and accuracy of the truss performance data. CMs will have a recording and proof of the truss manufacturing process being in control and conformance to the TPI standard.

This is just the beginning of many additional benefits and opportunities that CMs can gain from having access to this data for management purposes.

Where We’re Going

The saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The best measurements of the quality of a truss come from evaluating its fundamental structural properties: proper plate placement and embedment. The details of those measurements, as defined by the critical joint inspection method for assessing plate placement and embedment per ANSI/TPI 1 (see graphic 1), are implemented in a fast, thorough process via SCBA’s Digital QC program.

The brand new Digital QC & SBCRI 3rd Party Digital QA process allows a CM to quickly and easily gather a tremendous amount of data with the touch of a button. Using a small, rugged tablet, your in-plant QC inspector can photograph and digitally “inspect” all QC Joints (critical joints) on a truss in moments.

Measure to Manage

A comprehensive quality control program has two critical parts: ongoing in-plant assessments and periodic, non-biased 3rd party inspections for code compliance purposes. Implementing both of these programs in your component manufacturing plant ensures that you are using the most current truss manufacturing best practices.

While code compliance is important, the true value of your in-plant QC program is much more comprehensive. The objective data you can collect from SBCA’s Digital QC program will provide an incredible amount of information you can transform into making better management decisions.

Capturing large quantities of objective data about your manufacturing process will allow you to see what’s working and what’s not. Do you have a machine that’s not pressing as effectively as it should? Is Crew #12 having QC issues on a particular joint or truss type or not as efficient as they could be? Is the set-up of your floor truss line causing a plate placement issue that translates into a productivity issue? Are your finish rollers set properly to ensure full plate embedment?

Digital QC has the potential to provide real-time data about lumber quality concerns, employee training issues or areas that the maintenance staff should look at. By greatly speeding up the inspection process, Digital QC allows you to collect more data than before, all of which will help tell you determine where your process improvement and procedure focus should be.

Third Party Inspection

A critical part of your in-plant QC program is bringing in an outside source for periodic third party inspections. This independently evaluates your in-plant data gathering and quality processes, and is intended to assure management that the data you are gathering is unbiased and “in control.”

The SBCRI 3rd Party Inspection Program will also utilize the Digital QC program to assess how your plant is functioning. This allows SCBRI Inspectors to review the same data in the same manner as the in-plant QC process being used on a daily basis. Your inspector will be another conduit for understanding the data you’re gathering, show you comparisons to industry benchmarks and help you use the information to make the best possible quality management decisions.

The SBCA Digital QC & SBCRI Digital QA programs will help our industry create industry-wide performance benchmarks, guide improvement of manufacturing best practices, provide insights about industry QC trends for training, and reinforce that trusses continue to be the engineered framing method of choice. It will reinforce that our industry is the very Best Way to Frame.

Delivery, Installation and Inspection

Last but not least, Digital QC will provide very tangible benefits after trusses are manufactured, stored and shipped to the jobsite.

Upon delivery, the first order of business for the new owner of the trusses is to inspect them. CMs who use the SBCA Digital QC & SBCRI Digital QA programs will have designated critical joints (a.k.a “QC joints”) identified, allowing the receiver to quickly and easily examine the trusses on the jobsite.

If there was any impact to the trusses during the loading and shipping process, this should be easily identified during the initial jobsite examination, and any trusses needing repairs can be marked and fixed.

From this point the trusses are owned by others and the SBCA/SBCRI field inspection program can be used to monitor any changes to QC joint quality, during any stage of the construction process which could affect the quality of the trusses including, but not limited to:

  1. Post hoisting inspection
  2. Post installation inspection
  3. Post applying OSB, lumber and gypsum loads
  4. Building department inspections
  5. After the building has been in use and student dancing/jumping occurs

If truss QC joint changes are found during any step of the construction process, truss assessment and repairs can easily be made. It will be very valuable information for our industry to know what construction processes cause changes in truss quality to occur. As a collective group, we can then work on specifics surrounding the root cause of any truss quality changes and create industry best practices to cure them.

Finally, a key outcome of SBCA and SBCRI work is that the SBCA membership that uses Digital QC should be able to establish a reputation as a high quality truss manufacturer. Furthermore, the SBCA/SBCRI field inspection program will become the standard for installed structural framing quality assessments.

Long term, SBCA/SBCRI can be the digital go to source for wall panel and any type of industrialized framing quality assessments. Checklists are the past, Digital QC is the future and our membership will continue to lead the way when it comes to innovative framing solutions.

For additional information, please review these digital QC articles and articles on collapses due to overloading by crowds: