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Further to my article "Safety – a very first tool of a Construction Engineer," I want to talk about Quality as another priority a construction engineer owns on a project site. It gives immense pleasure in constructing something of a quality that offers complete customer satisfaction and meets contract requirements.
Which tools do you need to achieve Quality?
On a project site, you will receive a dedicated orientation by the QA/QC department, elaborating company vision, client's involvement, inspection procedures, and inspection and testing plans (ITP's's).
In addition to orientation, you need to read and be aware of the following tools or documents to help yourself satisfactorily execute the work. Always ensure that the papers are the latest and are approved.
- Project Procedures
- Project Specifications
- Project Quality Plan
- Codes and Standard
- Inspection and Test plans (ITP for steel, concrete, etc.)
- Issued for Construction Drawings.
- Method Statements.
- Material Approvals.
- Data Sheets.
- Standard forms and inspection checklists.
Know your customers
As a construction engineer, understand and get to know your customers. You have you in- house Quality Control department to satisfy before you offer the completed work to your client. Sometimes clients deploy third party inspection agencies and independent testing agencies.
So in a typical setup, you will your quality team comprises of the following:
- QC department
- Third-Party Inspection Agency
- Owners or Client's Engineer or Representative.
- Auditors ( Internal and external )
What is Construction Quality?
Is it aesthetic? Something world-class? Excellence? An expensive product?
For a project, ''Quality ''is conformance to contract specifications, codes, standards, client satisfaction, achieving what was promised in mockups, and following the procedures.
Quality is not achieving more than what is specified; it's not about gold plating. Good Quality reduces re-works saving cost and time. Adopting well-planned quality systems helps you deliver the work right the first time.
As per ISO 9000, Quality is a "degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills the requirements."
Project Quality Plan
It's the second most important document (following Safety Plan) a project site develops. This document complies with ISO-9001:2008. ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are among ISO's most well-known standards ever. More than a million organizations implement them in some 175 countries.
ISO 9001 helps organizations to implement quality management. ISO 14001 helps organizations to implement environmental management.
The project Quality Plan includes:
- Advice to management about how to minimize failures.
- Deals with the prevention of problems.
- How to learn from mistakes and prevent recurrence of failures.
- Understanding of Continuous improvement.
- Methods to Improve the financial performance of the business by planning and achieving results using efficient and effective processes.
- Methods to enhance sales, as a result of an improved ability to satisfy customers.
- Methods of enhancement to the organization's's reputation for satisfying customer's needs.
- Understanding of reduced cost of poor quality.
- Methods to motivate and train the workforce.
- Ways of improving staff morale and an increase in confidence within the whole organization.
- Ways to encourage an open approach to problems and, therefore, more chance of their solution and avoidance of their repetition.
These are a set of procedures developed by the project as part of the QA exercise to carry out the works. Following these standard operating procedures by everyone ensures uniformity in the delivery of the assigned task and performance.
Some examples are Document Control Procedure, Document Numbering Procedure, HSE Procedure, and Project Site Set up, Daily Report, etc.
Specifications developed by the project are must-read by every construction engineer. They provide you with an understanding of the requirements of the product you are delivering. For example, a concrete specification tells what should be the grade of concrete for the construction of piles or underground water tanks.
Projects develop hundreds of specifications covering various trades, namely Concrete, Steel, Masonry, Coating, Earthwork, Road works, etc.
Codes and Standards
Codes and standards are listed in the specifications. Project data bank provides you with access to read these documents for implementation. Every country produces its codes, and the works need to be conforming to these codes.
As a construction engineer, be aware of International standards, namely ASTM, BS, ACI, AISC, ISO, IS, and many more. Your project work also needs to conform to local country codes and manuals. In Qatar, I use to refer to QCS – Qatar Construction Specification quite often.
Inspection and Test Plans
In short, they are called ITP's prepared for monitoring the fieldwork. The ITP lists commodities and items to be inspected, and players involved in the inspection. There will be four types of inspections, namely Hold Point Inspection, Witness Inspection, Surveillance, and Review.
As a construction engineer, it is your responsibility to raise inspection requests 24 hours in advance for QC to come and inspect. Standard formats will be available to carry out checks of certain work.
For example, if you are seeking to obtain a clearance to pour a foundation, a Concrete Pour Card will have to be filled. This pour card lists out various checks to be carried out by QC.
Hold point inspection involves approvals from all people involved in the inspection before proceeding to the next step. Witness point inspections involve the same players, but the construction engineers may proceed with the next step if no one shows up or communicates.
Both of these inspections call for 24 hours advance notice by construction engineer to people involved in the inspection.
Surveillance inspection happens as QC rep or client's engineer moves around the site & make an observation of the ongoing works. They may talk to Construction Engineer if they notice anything unsatisfactory or non-conforming.
There will be plenty of Standard forms to record inspection, testing, and other QC functions. Some examples are as below:
- Concrete Pour Card
- Soil Compaction Test form
- Grout Release Form
- Excavation Permit
- Structural Steel Inspection form
- Surface preparation and coating inspection forms
- Non- Conformance Form
- RFI- Request for information form
- Welder Qualification form
- Hydro testing forms
In addition to forms, there will checklists developed by QC for your use.
Other Tools for a Construction Engineer
Datasheets, material approvals, vendors requirements are some of the additional documents you need to refer to during the execution of the work.
Benefits of Construction Quality
- Higher Customer Satisfaction.
- Increase Reputation.
- Reducing Costs.
- Gets you to do "Right at First Time."
- Continuous Improvement.
- Higher productivity.