Materials Testing Center home page

US Army Corps of Engineers
Materials Testing Center

Cementitious Materials Certification - Frequently Asked Questions

Please click the questions below for more information.
What is a cementious materials certification?

This is a process to certify that a cementitious material (Portland cement, pozzolan, fly ash, and granulated blast-furnace slag) can be purchased from a qualified producer’s regular production with a reasonable assurance that it will meet specification requirements. The same producer can be certified for one product and not another.

How is the certification performed?

Typically the certification process will involve the onsite inspection of the producer’s facilities and equipment, quality control processes, product testing labs and processes, and the collection and testing of material samples from the producer at the MTC facilities to verify agreement with the producer’s lab results. All certification costs are borne by the material producer.

Sealed-bin testing offers a project-specific acceptance testing program to verify that materials meet specification requirements and that the materials verified are delivered to the construction site. Samples of materials are tested prior to use and the bin sealed by a Government inspector exclusively for Government use. Loading of the material into tankers is witnessed by the inspector and the tanker sealed prior to departure, with the seals removed and logged in at the construction site at unloading.

What is the general process and timeline to have a certification performed?

The process starts by filling out and submitting the certification request form. Once received and after determining all the information is in order, an estimate of the certification process cost is sent to the laboratory. If the laboratory agrees to the cost, a testing services agreement (TSA) is assembled and sent to the point of contact that submitted the request. The TSA is a mechanism that allows the Materials Testing Center (MTC) to accept funds from sources outside the Federal Government. The TSA is signed by an officer of the laboratory company and sent back to the (MTC) along with a check for the certification cost for routing through our internal approval and processing system. The MTC routes this check for funds acceptance. Once accepted, the funds are loaded into the financial tracking system where the MTC can then access the funds and perform the work. Under most circumstances, the time required to route the TSA and process the funds takes between 30-60 days. It is recommended that a laboratory plan on the entire process for certification taking at least 90 days, which includes onsite inspection and sampled material testing at the MTC facilities.

How do I prepare for our material certification [Including Certification Check Lists]?

For your material certification, first, make sure you schedule your certification onsite inspection to allow at least 2 full working days to perform the inspection, and that those who supervise the production and lab testing and those that perform the test methods will be available for those two days. Make sure your quality system documents are up to date, in order, and ready for review. Make sure all quality control records are readily available for all the methods your quality lab performs. Make sure you have recent calibration sheets and data for all instruments and equipment that require regular calibration. Make sure your testing procedures are documented and up to date (using the standards as your procedures is acceptable, as long as they are easily available to the testing personnel and the latest editions of each method). The MTC will usually send copies of inspection checklists prior to arrival so the laboratory will have some ideas of what will be examined.

Above all, DON’T PANIC THE DAY OF THE INSPECTION! Our inspectors are not out to fail your production facility or your laboratory on issues you may have, but to help you understand your issues and make your production facility and quality labs better!

How do you maintain a certification and what can cause you to lose your certification?

Once a producer’s material is certified, the producer must, every 6 months, submit the following to the MTC: results of applicable chemical and physical tests of the certified product(s), samples and mill certificates of the certified products, and CCRL inspection reports.

Loss of material certification may occur when the certified material is no longer needed (the project is completed), repeated poor quality, failure to correct production process issues, failure to submit the required data every 6 months, failure to follow quality control protocols, refusing to address concerns of the USACE District or the MTC, and any number of other issues.

Re-establishing material certification may, at the discretion of the Director of the MTC, involve a material resampling and testing protocol, inspection of production facilities, review of facility quality controls, or a complete and full inspection, with all costs borne by the material producer.

I don't see the answer to my question. May I ask a new question?

Yes, please click on the New MTC Certification Question link to send an email to Chad Gartrell and Brittany Hopkins.