Documented Proof: Certifications Are No Good If the Results Aren’t Certain and Repeatable

By Jason Seals

Third-party certification has become a staple for objective confirmation of a product’s performance and compliance with the North American Fenestration Specification (NAFS) (AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/IS2/A440, as cited by model building codes). A trusted label indicates that the product has been verified, conforming to code-mandated standards and specifications through independent testing and assessment.

Just because a product passed a laboratory test once doesn’t mean the production line replicates that test sample on a reliable basis, however. FGIA’s AAMA Gold Label Certification Program ensures that the certifying manufacturer has an effective quality control system to verify that every unit is made the same as the certified product.

To qualify for certification under NAFS or National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) specifications, licensees must, in addition to testing at an accredited laboratory, obtain approval of current written, in-plant quality management system (QMS) procedures. These must be mandated by the certification program in a comprehensive QMS manual.

The AAMA Certification Program Validator (ALI) has encountered licensees who have problems meeting the QMS documentation and record-keeping requirements in recent years. To aid in improving this, AAMA QMSUG-1-21, Recommendations for Compliance with Minimum Quality Management System Requirements for AAMA Certification Programs Licensees, is a recently-updated guide describing recommendations for licensee compliance with minimum QMS requirements for AAMA Certification per AAMA 103, AAMA 104, and/or NFRC 700.

A Look at the Requirements

AAMA 103-19 (Section 16) and AAMA 104-17 QMS requires a quality manual (system documentation), including tips on organizing a manual and formatting individual documents (written procedures) for easy reference. It also calls for defined roles and training of quality inspectors, maintenance of test equipment, inspection records with a minimum retention of one year, product labeling, and numerous required product inspections. There must also be disposition of non-conforming material or product through isolation, identification, scrap/rework disposition, traceability, and systems for handling customer complaints and corrective action, with examples provided.

For AAMA 103-19 Section 17, additional QMS requirements for the five-year certification extension option include processes and diagrams for internal auditing, use of certified insulating glass units, in-process corner assembly structural integrity tests for vinyl-framed products and inspection of the finished product at twice the rate of Section 16. Finished product tests of sill corner assembly, leakage, and weep system drainage tests are also required, as are checking open/close/lock operational functions.

For NFRC-700 Section 8.2, additional QMS requirements include internal auditing, organization charts, maintenance of NFRC Certified Products Directory schedules and inspection records, with a minimum retention of five years.

The User Guide is a complimentary download and a webinar giving an overview of the user guide is also available through the FGIA website.

Jason Seals is certification services manager, fenestration, for the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA).

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DWM Magazine

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