Quality control is the method used to ensure that the construction company delivers on its promise. In some other industries, when buying a product, if you leave unsatisfied, you could just ask for a refund. Here, things are not as simple. The costs are far higher, which means that the stakes are far higher, as well. So, the only way to prevent a disaster is to have a decent quality control process. Here are a few things you need to know to establish one.
What Is Quality Control?
Before we start talking about how to improve quality control, we must define the term, to begin with. It’s a process through which a business ensures that its quality control is acceptable, as well as that it’s maintained over a longer period. The longer you spend on a specific task (an organization or an individual) the greater the chance that the quality will fall off due to complacency.
So, quality control requires certain testing methods and KPIs to be established early on. Seeing as how this is systemic, quality control also requires you to establish how frequently and on which occasions will these testing instances take place.
In the construction industry, quality control requires specialized inspectors. Seeing as how it’s not a product whose use can be evaluated (a pen is either writing or not writing), you need professional contractors and inspectors on the program. Keep in mind that the investor is also biased and might be in a mindset where no work is worth the amount of money that they’ve invested.
As we already stated, in some fields, methods like quantitative research are quite effective, but the construction industry requires a more specialized approach, seeing as how you don’t have a large product sample. You have one (or several structures) with several individualized units.
While conducting quality control, it’s also important to state the scope that is being inspected. Not every inspection is holistic, and you need to limit your area of inquiry to the specific area of the construction. Whether or not the work is complete also plays a huge role in all of this.
What Is Quality Assurance?
Whenever you hire someone to perform work, you’re negotiating with certain quality expectations in mind. The problem with quality lies in the fact that you can usually only check it when it’s already too late. Too much time has passed, too many work hours have already been wasted, and too many materials have already been used.
This is what quality assurance is all about. It’s a system designed to check the quality of work every step of the way. It’s a method designed to recognize that the works aren’t done up to expected quality standards early on so that the replacement/improvement can be done as inexpensively as possible. Simply put, quality assurance is the key component of quality management.
Now, there are four major types of quality assurance:
- Process control
- Control charts
- Acceptance sampling
- Product quality control
These four types of assurance do more than just help you control the process with time. They also help you monitor and adjust the end product to get a better outcome. In the construction industry, this can end up saving millions upon millions of dollars.
Incorporating Checklist and Why Is This Important?
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that you won’t be able to make it systemic without a checklist. Now, depending on the project, this checklist may vary greatly. What you should stay focused on is a couple of key issues:
- Tending to common issues
- Using the right features for each checkpoint
- Ensuring that the checklist is future-proof
- Using the right language
You see, while no one can remember to include everything on the checklist, not every oversight is as important. The major issues need to come to the forefront and when it comes to the rest. It’s ok to add it at a later date.
The majority of the list should also be formatted in a simple-to-interpret manner. For instance:
- Is the work on that task complete?
- Has the work been inspected?
- Are the defects present?
- Are the defects associated with the installation?
Keep in mind that the majority of these checklists are in a digital form and that the search function can make it a lot easier for one to find their way around. However, it’s important that you’re as consistent with the phrasing here. “Is the work complete” and “Is work complete” may not seem that different, but when one’s using a search function in a massive table, it can affect the result. So, phrasing matters, even something as simple as the use of determiners.
How to Do It the Right Way?
The next thing you need to keep in mind is the importance of doing things the right way around. First of all, you want your reporting system to be highly efficient. Why? Well, there are several reasons. For instance, you want all of these files to be available historically so that you can compare the progress down the line. According to experts behind TEAM IM, it’s a lot easier for any content management platform to handle well-structured information. In other words, if the form of data is always the same, orientation will be much easier.
You also want to set your criteria wisely. You see, going for the industry standard is one thing, and setting impossible objectives is something else entirely. The simplest way to fail is to set impossible expectations, and you would be surprised at just how common this is, even in construction. The key thing is that the specifications are closer to what you know is realistic than to what the client would want.
Most importantly, some terms are simply unacceptable. Visible defects, going below code standards, and not meeting the expectations of investors are the worst possible outcomes. So, if your quality control project could solve only a few issues, it should focus heavily on these three.
Remember, while it all may sound like trivial administrative work, quality control in the construction industry saves lives and property. It also saves millions in fines or loss of investment capital. In other words, there’s no construction industry without proper quality control.