Driving quality control in construction using software

A successful construction project is one that can achieve a balance between cost, time, and quality. Sitting as part of the overall quality management remit, the role of quality control in construction is to ensure that products and facilities comply with requirements and established standards.


A satisfied Project Manager

The quality control manager’s main purpose is to minimise the chance of defects before project handover and often this is done through inspection of the finished construction and its constituent parts. Supervision of a construction project is not as simple as completing a punch list. Quality control, in construction terms, expands into quality assurance and involves monitoring work in progress, examining the quality of current construction tasks, and providing daily reports that highlight any concerns.

Moreover, an important part of quality management is effective communication. This means collaborating with members of the construction team, educating teams on standards, communicating inspection results and setting clear tasks. PlanRadar provides an effective communication platform for quality control audits and defect management. The software holds all data in one place, making it easily accessible to those who need it. Audits can be completed and recorded in the central Cloud-based app and tickets can be raised and managed to resolution. As a result, teams are connected together and can resolve issues before client handover.

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Read on for more information on:

  1. Quality assurance in construction
  2. How to differentiate between quality control and quality assurance
  3. How quality control plans can be created and managed through PlanRadar
  4. The ways construction management and quality control relate to projects running on-time and to budget

Quality assurance: what’s the difference?

The American Society of Quality (ASQ) defines “quality assurance” as “The planned and systematic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled.” Hence, quality assurance is an ongoing process carried out during construction and not at the end. Quality monitoring not only avoids expensive delays but also ensures that the construction methods are carefully planned. Used well, these methods can become structured programmes for all projects.

In the construction field, reputation and trust are the cornerstones of a company’s development and growth. Robust quality management, including quality control and quality surveillance, is important when gaining client trust and these specific procedures and inspections must become part of the building process. Quality assurance programmes, such as quality circles, are important tools in this process. According to the book “Project Management for Construction” by Chris Hendrickson: “Quality circles represent a group of five to fifteen workers who meet on a frequent basis to identify, discuss and solve productivity and quality problems.”

You can see the proof of success in the outputs:

  1. On a highway under construction by Taisei Corporation, the team discovered that the loss rate of ready-mixed concrete was too high. A quality circle composed of cement masons found out that the main problem was due to an inaccurate checking method. By applying the circle’s recommendations, they reduced the loss rate by 11.4%.
  2. In a building project by Shimizu Construction Company, managers reported several cases of faulty reinforced concrete work. The ironworkers’ quality circle examined their work thoroughly and soon the faulty workmanship disappeared. As a result, the team achieved a 10% increase in productivity.

What differentiates quality assurance from quality control in construction?

Put simply, quality assurance is systematic and ensures that procedures and processes are in place to enable businesses to meet quality standards. Quality control is making sure that results meet the set standards. Quality assurance is connected to a working interaction between each contractor on-site, while quality control deals with the inspection of the outcome of this work. The two operations are closely linked because monitoring quality levels throughout the project impacts on the quality of the results at the end.

The quality control manager’s task is to check the output and compare it to the standards specified at the start of the project, regardless of the steps taken to achieve this. A quality assurance manager’s role is to monitor the project steps and ensure compliance with the required methods for each one of them.

How to manage quality control in construction

To create a good quality control plan it’s important to understand your client’s needs and vision. Sometimes the owner’s main intention is to save time and money and meet only the mandated quality standards. On the contrary, other clients may put quality at the centre of their vision, no matter the expense or timescales. A good quality control method will serve the needs of the construction firm to create safe and high-quality construction while meeting the client’s expectations.

To do this, quality managers need:

  • A specially designed control plan

The quality manager creates the quality control plan and discusses this with the client, highlighting individual responsibilities. They also design or implement checks and tests that ensure that the team is meeting safety and quality standards.

  • Quality communications

The construction team must fully understand the quality control standards that will apply to their work. Scheduled meetings and team touchpoints minimise tension and potential conflict. PlanRadar’s open, app-based platform means that quality control inspection criteria can be accessed through any smartphone. As a result, there’ll be fewer misunderstandings and errors.

  • Quality assurance monitoring

Every team member can be responsible for quality control with PlanRadar. Any user can create a tickets and send it to supervisors for action. These tickets can then be allocated to contractors along with completion dates and all relevant documentation, images or notes. The user can even tag tickets to the building blueprint for easy identification. Once the tasks are complete, push notifications inform supervisors who can view all open tasks through a dashboard.

  • Subcontractors and materials

Quality managers also determine the criteria for material and equipment selection, recording delivery and completion dates to recognise any delays. Users can also create fully-customised and branded reports in PDF or Excel format. They can export these documents to share with the client from their mobile devices.

  • Project quality specifications

Search and categorise relevant building codes and industry regulations before construction starts and include them in quality control checks. Document your data in the Cloud using PlanRadar to save data and then access it from your smartphone.

  • Nonconformance control

Plan backup protocols for defect management and create full audit trails for transparency. Store all documents in PlanRadar. Access and report on the information at any point, from anywhere with Cloud-based storage and access.

  • Project completion inspections

At the end of the project, complete final quality control inspections in PlanRadar with fully customisable templates. Finally, run off punch list reports to show the status of all tasks and demonstrate compliance with pre-defined specifications.

How does construction management & quality control contribute to infrastructure cost?

Construction management is a method of planning, designing, and constructing projects using specialised management techniques. The main goal of construction management is to control quality, time and cost, and quality control sits within this environment. Jeff Collins highlights the importance of construction management in the Innovation Management Solutions blog.

Word Trade Center Path Station in the construction phase

Source: The World Trade Center PATH station

Collins states that the World Trade Centre PATH station’s original price tag was $2 billion and completion was due in early 2013. However, due to issues in the steel supply chain, a lack of communication between government agencies and developers, a lack of best-of-breed project controls, and non-adherence to construction deadlines, the PATH station opened in 2014 at a cost of $4 billion.

Collins goes on to conclude that for the same money, New York City and the state of New Jersey could have built additional commuter rail lines, increased capacity along the new Second Avenue subway and improved roadways. Most cities could build an entire rail line for the cost of the PATH station

Establishing project requirements for material, equipment and labour and being clear on quality control standards and how they will be met, is important for delivering construction projects on time and to budget. PlanRadar is a trusted digital documentation and defect management tool that helps to establish construction goals and manage the tasks needed to meet them.

Our clients save, on average, seven working hours a week by using PlanRadar. You can also test the software today in a free 30-day trial.