Master Precaster taking precast to new heights

Master Precaster taking precast to new heights

According to National Precast’s CEO Sarah Bachmann, National Precast has introduced a new category of membership, Master Precaster, and it’s a must-have when awarding a precast contract. The initiative comes in response to discussions with external bodies such as roads’ and other government authorities and tier one builders, who have experienced cost blowouts resulting from quality and other issues.

Too often, a head contractor will award a project to a precast manufacturer – who may not be a National Precast member – purely based on price. The decision may not pay off in the long run, with cost consequences such as inferior quality finishes, incorrect manufacturing detailing, incorrect dimensions or delays. While roads’ authorities have their own prequalification schemes, head contractors and other government bodies do not. And relying on ISO third party certification alone – which focuses on systems and procedures – isn’t always a good decision.

“Most head contractors just don’t have the time to do their own proper checks. It’s too late when we get the call after inferior precast has been supplied and find out that a member has not been used. There’s just not a lot we can do, unfortunately. That’s why we have introduced Master Precaster,” Bachmann says.

A requirement of wearing the Master Precaster member badge is that the precaster must have satisfactorily completed one of National Precast’s stringent audits and comply with the Master Precaster Code of Conduct. It’s a step above what a Precaster member must pass, and covers off on eight areas, including:

  1. Industry contribution;
  2. Track record;
  3. Financial stability;
  4. Technical skill;
  5. Factory capability;
  6. Quality management;
  7. Safety management; and
  8. Environmental management;

According to the Association each of these areas is critically important, and if any one is not up to scratch, the outcome can be devastating.

“The benefits of our audits are that they are conducted by professionals who have a thorough understanding of precast manufacture. We take a very thorough stocktake of the precaster’s capability and scrutinise the precaster’s operations. Within each category we go into an incredible amount of detail,” Bachmann says.

Having systems and procedures in place and implementing them are two very different things. According to Bachmann, the Association’s audit includes checks that the required processes and procedures are actually being implemented on a daily basis. Just some of those checks include:

  • Whether shop drawings have been correctly approved;
  • Whether hold points address the most important manufacturing stages;
  • What is checked prior to delivery;
  • Whether employees have sufficient skills and experience;
  • Whether required certificates and licences are current;
  • Whether the correct documentation is used for each project;
  • Whether appropriate insurances are held; and
  • Whether specified strengths are achieved.

Bachmann says that precast boasts all the benefits of using more off-site manufactured product in construction, offering the construction industry some very real opportunity for productivity improvement. She also acknowledges that one rotten apple can spoil the experience for everyone.

“Precast is a growing sector and we want to make sure specifiers and users have a positive experience and use it again. That means doing our bit to lead the industry, to ensure our members at least are doing the right thing and to raise the bar.

“So we’re on a mission to spread the word about Master Precaster, which admittedly sets the bar high. But it should be high. It’s what every precast manufacturer should be striving for and what every head contractor should be demanding,” Ms Bachmann comments.

Bachmann invites head contractors to give some thought to what they should be looking for in addition to a competitive price.

“While an initial tender price might be appealing, there are some simple questions worth asking, like… Do you really want to be working with a precaster who isn’t a part of its national body, in touch with latest industry developments and making a contribution to the standards within their industry? Or one who has inadequate quality or safety procedures that are actually being implemented? Or who cuts corners that will result in inferior outcomes? Or whose staff turnover is so high that they cannot deliver the required amount of technical expertise during the leadup and manufacturing process? Or who has had prior financial difficulty? We check all of those things,” Bachmann says.

While Master Precasters may not offer the cheapest initial price, they will reduce contract risk for a head contractor. Master Precasters supply every state and territory of Australia.  They can specialise in a particular type of precast such as flooring or can manufacture a range of precast elements. Master Precasters can supply precast for large or small residential or commercial projects in the buildings or civil sector. Don’t make the mistake of NOT using a Master Precaster! Search for one here for your next project!