Powder Coating Done Right: PCI Updates Certification Programs

Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Operating under the mantra “powder coating done right,” the Powder Coating Institute’s (PCI) reengineered and expanded certification programs support the entire powder coating marketplace by assessing a company’s capability to produce quality parts.

PCI certification is an extensive audit program that evaluates the candidate’s business practices, process elements, equipment, maintenance practices and quality control capabilities. Certified coaters can show, through demonstrated audit performance measurement, that they have the capabilities to correctly clean, coat and cure products to meet manufacturer’s recommendations. “Process measurement and repeatability are key to giving customers confidence that a certified finishing operation has the processes in place to do the job well,” notes Trena Benson, PCI’s executive director. “Those who pass the comprehensive audit demonstrate that they have the ability to meet a high professional standard in the industry.”

The program offers two certification types: PCI 3000 certification is available to custom coaters, while PCI 4000 certification is specific to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The certification process for both programs consists of a telephone consultation with the certification candidate to address initial facility questions as well as to finalize an audit date. This is followed by an on-site evaluation performed by a PCI certification program auditor. The duration of the onsite portion of the certification process is no less than one full day, with a maximum of two days. The on-site audit includes a meeting with representatives of the company applying for certification, review of candidate records, logs and procedures, and a process review of the candidate’s powder coating operations. The audit is performed using PCI-developed scoring for the purpose of determining line operation capability, with clear criteria for the various elements to meet PCI certification requirements. Audit results are communicated to the candidate by the PCI certification program administrator.

Certification program auditors are selected by PCI via a stringent application process and are experts in the powder coating industry. They have a minimum of 10 years of industry experience and must possess a comprehensive understanding of the complete powder coating process, including process operation, safety standards, equipment design requirements, QA/QC procedures, process control, pretreatment chemistries, powder formulas, etc., as well as in-plant operational experience.

Quality assurance

Quality and testing are important parts of PCI certification. Documentation of tests, such as chemical titration analysis and film thickness measurements, (left) are just a couple of the processes that are reviewed by the auditor.

Years two and three of the certification cycle require maintenance audits. Guidelines and processes for certification maintenance are provided to the certified coater by the PCI certification administrator. The maintenance audit is effectively a self-audit to be completed by the certified company’s identified certification audit representative. Once complete, the certification maintenance audit is submitted to the PCI certification administrator for evaluation. In year four, a full onsite recertification audit is required.

Record mangement

Powder coaters achieving PCI certification are afforded many benefits. PCI certification allows a company to differentiate themselves from other coaters and can provide access to business opportunities requiring the use of a PCI certified powder coater. They are able to use the audit as a basis to create a continuous improvement process for enhancing their powder coating operation. And, they have access to the “PCI Certified” logo to promote their certification status and benefit from the distinction associated with the high standards of certification. “Quality and customer satisfaction are our number one goals,” states Spencer Cheak, General manager of PCI 4000-certified PlayCore, Southern Fulfillment Center. “To be recognized by a third party for our conscientious manufacturing practices and processes is not only a testament to all the hard work our team puts in to ensure a top-quality product, but an overall assurance of quality that our customers can trust.”

PCI certification is offered to all powder coaters who apply powder coatings and is available to both PCI member and non-member companies, although PCI members qualify for substantial discounts.

To learn more about the PCI certification programs or to receive an application, please visit www.powdercoating.org/certification, or email us at certification@powdercoating.org.