Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC
Perspective of: Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle
I have had a long, interesting conversation with two people who are at the center of the action with the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP), Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle.
Katheryn is the Associate Program Manager for AASHTO’s NTPEP. She manages and oversees the operations of the NTPEP program and works closely with several of the NTPEP Technical and Executive Committees. Derrick is the Chemical and Corrosion Laboratory Specialist at KYTC Division of Material. He chairs NTPEP-Technical Committee on Coatings.
The conversation has been so rich with information that I decided to split it in two parts. Here is the first part. Next Tuesday the second part will be published.
1. Why was NTPEP created?
Katheryn – NTPEP was established within AASHTO in 1994, as a technical service program reporting to the Standing Committee on Highways (SCOH).
It combines the professional and physical resources of the AASHTO member departments with the objective to evaluate materials, products and devices of common interest for use in highway and bridge construction.
2. Is NTPEP an evaluation or a testing program?
Derrick– NTPEP is an organization that tests and evaluates products.
NTPEP should not be confused with an approval process. It is the responsibility of state DOTs to establish acceptance criteria for test data received from NTPEP in order to accept or reject a product for use in that state.
3. How has NTPEP evolved over time, in terms of size, type of products, concept?
Katheryn – The program has grown from initial 5 product categories to include over 23 categories. In 2008 a manufacturing audit plan was added to the program. This has helped NTPEP provide broader service to the member departments for both product evaluation and manufacturing review.
Product evaluations and manufacturing audits by NTPEP provide a central, unbiased source of data for our member departments. Members can evaluate products that meet their specification requirements on a preliminary basis and have confidence in the data they are utilizing.
NTPEP also provides the manufacturers with a way to move their products for use by state transportation agencies, and know they will have a fair and level playing field for evaluation.
In 2013, we completed a survey of member departments regarding usage of data for all product categories. There has been substantial growth over the past 4 years in state participation and data usage. Manufacturers have also become more involved with NTPEP technical committees in the past few years.
4. Should the NTPEP program be accepted by a larger number of states? For the four categories that entail bridge preservation, the acceptance of the program is not widespread.
Katheryn – We get this question very often from product manufacturers. Why 30 state DOTs are not looking at this data? Why are only 15 states looking at it? The fact is that NTPEP cannot tell states what to do.
NTPEP is an AASHTO technical service program and its adoption is voluntary, just like every other technical service program within the AASHTO engineering department. State DOTs can use the NTPEP program or they can do something different for product evaluation. For example, some states utilize the NTPEP program but elect to ask manufacturers for additional testing.
In order to make states better understand the NTPEP program, we organize a series of activities, such as peer exchange and face-to-face meetings. At the end though, it is a state’s prerogative to decide what to use and what not to use.
Derrick– Let me underline that state DOT membership in NTPEP is completely voluntary.
To reinforce what Katheryn said, it is a state’s prerogative to accept or qualify a certain material for usage. NTPEP makes great efforts to communicate with all 50 states at each level. AASHTO staff has done an excellent job of making inroads with each state, and also trying to keep up with the turnover of personnel in the states.
5. In your opinion, what are the benefits that NTPEP brings to DOT Agencies?
Katheryn – I can summarize the benefits in four points: savings of costs and time, assurance of high quality testing program, predictable testing schedule, and a large testing data base.
6. And what are the benefits to product manufacturers?
Katheryn – The program allows for a “one-stop” shop for manufacturers in order to have their products tested and evaluated. Manufacturers are also able to receive real time data.
7. What does it mean?
Katheryn – NTPEP should be thought of as a data collection / distribution warehouse. Manufacturers have the capability to review the data and approve it for release to the states for evaluation.
8. Can a manufacturer decide whether to release test data or not?
Katheryn – Only to an extent. In the past some data was not released. With our new software system this is no more an option. If a manufacturer is not satisfied with NTPEP test data, the manufacturer has two options: either to withdraw a product from the program or to contact the test facility for re-testing. If a manufacturer withdraws a product, it cannot be retested unless the formulation is significantly changed. The bottom line is that test data will not be left in a limbo.