Skip to content
Blog4 min read

QCast Up Close


QCast Up Close

February 28, 2022

By Mel Marshall, Mel C. Marshall Industrial Consultants

Reinforced concrete pipe is widely known for its long history, with evidence of the first concrete pipe sanitary sewer in America dating back to 1842 in Mohawk, N.Y. Since then, concrete wastewater pipelines have grown increasingly more complex in their design, manufacture, installation, and inspection. As the product has evolved, one thing remains constant – RCP’s consistent reliability and quality.

RCP maintains its reputation as the gold standard of quality and durability in part because of the industry’s third-party certification program known as the Quality Cast Plant Certification Program, or QCast. QCast is the industry’s ongoing quality assurance program for ACPA member and non-member companies. The inspection program covers the inspection of materials, finished products, handling and storage procedures, as well as performance testing and quality control documentation.

One person in the concrete pipe industry who knows QCast well is Mel Marshall. Mel, a 60-year veteran of the concrete pipe and precast industry and founder of Mel C. Marshall Industrial Consultants, was involved in the early days of establishing the QCast program. He remains deeply involved and has played a vital role in its ongoing success. The ACPA recently sat down with Mel to talk about the early days of the QCast program and how it has shaped the industry. Here’s what Mel has to say.

Q: How did the QCast program come about?
Mel: The main impetus was to raise the bar and improve the industry – to have third-party certification to validate plants’ processes and procedures. We also recognized the need to develop a Quality School (QSchool) to certify Quality Control personnel so we made that a requirement of the QCast Certification program.

In the early 1990s, a committee of us met and started developing plans for QCast. We brought in Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE), which toured one of the Minnesota pipe plants close to where we were meeting. We educated them on production methods, and that Minnesota plant, which later became part of Forterra, became the test plant for implementing QCast.

Q: What impact has QCast had on the concrete pipe industry?
Mel: QCast has greatly elevated the quality of our products to a new level. Auditors go in every year, unannounced, to make sure those involved in concrete pipe production understand all the necessary procedures, such as the three-edge bearing test for pipe, the hydrostatic test, and more. Through the audit process, plants have the opportunity to correct deficiencies if necessary. Because of its rigorous process, the QCast program has gained wide acceptance by specifying agencies since its inception.

Q: How do you get help specifying agencies?
Mel: Although some DOTs have their own inspection programs, one thing we’ve been able to say over the years – especially as QCast gained credibility – is that accepting QCast inspections saves DOTs the time and expense of having to oversee and perform their own inspections. We have been able to do this with the efforts of the ACPA’s regional engineers and its members

.Q: What changes has the QCast program undergone?
Mel: Quite a few. The program has evolved to keep up with the industry’s innovations. The QCast manual is updated every year, by the ACPA Quality Committee, which is responsible for the QCast program. Inquiries for changes come from producers, DOTs, WJE auditors, and the ACPA which is then proposed to the Quality Committee for consideration. The updated manual is effective January 1st of each year. Another change has been ANAB’ IEC/ISO 17065 accreditation for QCast. By earning this accreditation, amongst other benefits, the QCast program provides confidence and trust to interested parties, like DOTs, tha tthe program operates in a consistent manner.

Q: What does the future look like for QCast?
Mel: Just keep growing and following the industry’s innovations! The program is here to stay, and we plan to continue improving it every year – which is what it’s designed to do. A real key is having a third-party auditing firm that provides the outside expertise to verify that the in-plant production methods abide by the QCast requirements.

The wins are when a DOT says they will accept the QCast program, and an even bigger win is when they accept QCast in place of their own inspections. That’s a huge win for us, and it saves the agency money.

Q: Mel, tell us why QCast is so important to you?
Mel: I love concrete pipe with a passion. It’s a product that lasts practically forever. I love it all. I love being involved in ASTM standards and developing the standards. We’ve had so many interesting changes over the years that have dramatically improved the industry – from the old tamping machines to our modern manufacturing technology, and how we came to have gaskets. I love concrete. I think the concrete pipe is the most interesting structural, reinforced concrete product there is. I love the industry and its people. I love helping people resolve issues. I just love it.

For more information on concrete pipe performance, contact us at