Retesting debate arises at AAMA conference

Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
June 3, 2009
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION : MEETINGS AND EVENTS

Task group formed to address concerns in establishing 8-year retest requirements

The much-anticipated Certification Re-test Forum took place June 2 during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Schaumburg, Ill., Summer Conference, May 30-June 2. Forum attendees debated a proposal to extend the certification re-testing requirements to eight years instead of its current four years.

Attendees in opposition to the proposal argued that the extension of re-testing requirements could weaken the certification program. Many in favor of the proposal said that the change would de-emphasize testing for manufacturers, while re-emphasizing inspection.

Rich Biscoe, vice president, Architectural Testing, York, Pa., was against the extension. “Much more than 50 percent of these retests fail,” he said. “Upstream suppliers will change their suppliers and their vendors, and they won’t tell [window companies]. Four years later, the company thinks they’re testing the same product, but it will fail miserably because of that piece of hardware that changed.”

Biscoe said the decision to extend retesting seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction to the economy. “There are a lot of ways in this program to reduce costs. I don’t know why testing becomes the whipping boy,” he said. “We should make the decision on facts, not just on what feels good.”

Henry Taylor, president of Architectural Testing, also argued that the extension to 8-year retesting could lead to lawsuits.

Ray Garries, manager at Jeld-Wen, Klamath Falls, Ore., said he supports the move to 8-year retesting, because an increased emphasis on quality controls backed by AAMA inspections will lead to reduced testing failures. In addition, he said, manufacturers are forced to retest more frequently already.

“If you are going to keep up with building codes, you have to retest," Garries said. If changes happen with materials or you get a new vendor, you’re testing. New metals, new processes, we’re testing. … Our test frequency over the last 10 years has gone up 60 percent.” 

Garries also argued that AAMA’s certification program is competing with other certification programs, many with longer retest requirements. “This certification is not the only show in town," he said. "We have five or six competitors, many retesting at longer periods of time. Dade County, with the most strict, difficult certification, is at 10 years.”

Based upon decisions made and opinions heard at the forum, a task group–formed during the AAMA Annual Conference–will begin work to prepare a proposal by Sept. 1 regarding how to enhance the inspection process. The Certification Policy Committee will determine the test report life based upon that proposal with a purpose is to ensure a proper policies and procedures for quality control. Once this proposal is presented to the CPC, a decision will be made at the AAMA Fall Conference, Sept. 20-23 in Las Vegas.