The central theme in Western Wood Product Association’s mission is Quality Assurance. WWPA’s Quality Assurance includes writing and maintaining standards for Western species lumber. It includes developing procedures for producing specialized lumber products and training staff from member companies to better understand lumber grades and to increase grade recovery in their manufacture of lumber. It also includes after-sales documentation support such as heat-treating certificates and debark certificates. Outlined below is a review of WWPA’s Quality Assurance.
Lumber Quality Management. WWPA helps assure conformance of Western lumber to applicable standards on seasoning, size, and grade through regular inspections at member mills. Each year, WWPA field staff inspect lumber representing over 8 billion board feet of production -both human and machine graded.
Design Values Assessment. Softwood lumber is manufactured into a wide range of sizes and lengths, and is used in many types of construction—from floor joists and roof trusses in single-family homes to laminated beams in commercial buildings. Each application requires lumber that has suitable design values. WWPA staff are experts in assessing design values for various species, sizes, and characteristics, and able to develop custom design values specific to proprietary structural products
Rules writing. Lumber grading rules are criteria used to determine how various characteristics, such as wane or knots, affect the performance of structural lumber or the aesthetic value of appearance grades. WWPA is one of seven grading agencies in North America authorized to write and publish grading rules for lumber. As lumber markets change or new markets develop, WWPA addresses these changes through revisions in grading rules or by developing new rules. The revised or new rules undergo rigorous review by WWPA’s Quality Standards Committee and require approval by WWPA’s Board of Directors. In the case of changes to structural lumber, approval is also required by the American Lumber Standards’ Board of Review.
Grader Training. There is a wide range of lumber grades for structural and appearance lumber. WWPA staff provide regular training to member companies on proper methods to measure and assess lumber characteristics, and how those characteristics are used to identify the appropriate grade for each piece of lumber. WWPA staff also help members develop proprietary grades for specific markets, and train their personnel in the recognition of those proprietary grades.
Lumber Grader Certification. After lumber graders reach an acceptable level of expertise, WWPA recognizes those graders’ hard work and high level of achievement by issuing WWPA Grading Certificates. The certificates and wallet cards presented to the newly certified grader identify their proficiency by grade category. New cards are issued to every certified grader as they become proficient in new categories. There are nearly 500 WWPA certified graders employed at member companies.
Inspection-Based Reporting. WWPA provides regular reports to members identifying grading and sizing accuracy, seasoning, sorting accuracy, and stamp legibility. Detailed reports can be provided to each mill on lumber graders’ accuracy by product. Other reports are provided upon request such as member’s overall grade accuracy benchmarked against other member mills, allowing members to ascertain their grading accuracy compared to other member mills. There is no disclosure of company name, production size, or other possible identifiers in any benchmarking reports.
Quality Assurance for Special Products. The Association pioneered the quality assurance procedures used by the lumber industry to make MSR products, and also provides quality control for more finger-jointed lumber operations than any other lumber grading agency in North America. Every six months WWPA staff conduct detailed assessments of members’ glued products lines and MSR machines, training members in the latest product testing techniques. Additionally, in conjunction with Southern Pine Inspection Bureau, WWPA audits Western treating plants records and tests core samples of treated products to assure treatment strength and penetration.
Quality Management System (QMS) Program. Member companies can participate in a quality management system developed by WWPA specifically for lumber manufacturers wanting the highest level of quality assurance for their products. WWPA staff work with participating members to increase grade and fiber recovery, identify and solve quality problems, and increase overall quality awareness.
Grade Certification. Lumber carrying the WWPA grade stamp is backed by a host of quality assurance services offered through the Association. For example, WWPA provides special export certificates on lumber shipped to foreign ports, as well as certification for Japanese Agricultural Service, or JAS, grading. When disputes between a mill and the customer on a shipment of lumber, WWPA can act as an impartial third party and will inspect the lumber to determine if it meets the invoiced specifications.
The Association's grade stamp is recognized worldwide as a symbol of integrity. This mark represents the mill's commitment to consistently deliver a product which meets or exceeds its defined performance standards, whether the lumber is for structural or appearance purposes.