The alarming global inflation rate is taking a bite at the construction industry, leading to a 7.3% increase in the UK’s construction output price index (OPU). The increase could cause a ripple effect in quality control as developers may try to cut costs, jeopardizing the integrity of a project.
This is where quality control comes in. Beyond costs, many other factors can contribute to poor quality construction projects. These factors are often difficult to track using traditional construction methods. Today, most construction companies are tilting toward more reliable quality control strategies using software to protect the structural integrity of projects without spending heavily.
In this article, we’ll examine how quality control works for various kinds of construction projects and how software like PlanRadar fits perfectly into the equation.
Role of Quality Control in the Construction Industry
A successful construction project should balance cost, time, and quality. As part of the overall quality management checklist, quality control’s role in construction is to ensure that products and facilities comply with requirements and quality control measures.
The quality control manager’s main purpose is to minimise the chance of defects before project handover and its constituent parts of the finished project through the construction quality inspection procedure.
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 highlighting any concerns.
Moreover, an important part of quality management and quality control measures in construction is effective communication. It means collaborating with construction team members, educating teams on standards, communicating inspection results, and setting clear tasks. PlanRadar provides an effective communication platform for quality control audits and defect management.
PlanRadar’s app 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 and can resolve issues before client handover.
Quality Assurance in Construction?
Quality assurances are processes and plans carried out during project construction, and it avoids expensive delays and ensures that the construction methods and plans are thorough. When executed well, these methods can become structured programmes for all projects.
In construction, reputation and trust are the cornerstones of a company’s development and growth. Robust quality management, like 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 frequently meet to identify, discuss and solve productivity and quality problems.”
You can see the proof of success in the outputs:
- 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%.
- In a building project by Shimizu Construction Company, managers reported several faulty reinforced concrete work cases. 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?
- Quality assurance is systematic, ensuring procedures and processes are in place to enable businesses to meet the quality control checklist. On the other hand, quality control ensures results meet the standards.
- Quality assurance is connected to a functional interaction between contractors on-site, while quality control deals with the outcome of this work. The two operations are closely linked because monitoring quality levels throughout the project impact the results.
- 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 monitors the project steps and ensures compliance with the required methods.
Quality Control for Residential Developments
Residential developments and infrastructure need quality control plans to keep building and design standards high and stay within quality requirements. Shoddily constructed residential developments carry repercussions that extend to wasted materials, time, and resources. They can also lead to dangerous buildings that aren’t suitable for residents. These major defects can be expensive to fix and can massively damage a housebuilder’s reputation.
Proper quality control must improve the efficiency of residential development projects and instill high expectations in the industry when maintained. One of the major reasons housing developments need to have good quality is because these buildings are usually one design repeated multiple times. Therefore, when a mistake is made once, it might be repeated multiple times across a development, multiplying the cost to repair.
Quality Control for Offsite/Modular Construction
Offsite or modular construction deals with a precise process of designing, planning, transporting, fabricating, and assembling building elements necessary for quick site assembly. To achieve this, constructors need to use various systems, materials, scales, and manufacturing methods. Digital quality control software for construction can help to ensure that all of these pieces come together properly, with no mistakes.
Modular construction often uses standardised designs to save on materials and deliver projects quickly. However, this means that factory workers or pre-programmed machinery can replicate a flaw hundreds of times if it isn’t spotted. In some cases, you might only notice a mistake once the pieces arrive on-site. For this reason, it is particularly important to implement quality control for offside/modular construction.
Residential structures are perfect candidates for offsite modular construction, as are hotels, factories, student housing, and office buildings. These buildings have repeated components, such as identical hotel rooms, office spaces or bathrooms.
How to Manage Quality Control in Construction
Creating a quality control checklist is good. 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 center of their vision, no matter the expense or timescales. A good quality control checklist 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:
1. 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 to ensure that the team meets safety and quality standards.
2. Quality Communications
The construction team must fully understand the quality control standards. Scheduled meetings and touchpoints minimise tension and potential conflict. PlanRadar’ app-based platform is a quality control inspection software that can be accessed through smartphones, tablets, and desktop devices. There’ll be fewer misunderstandings and errors.
3. Quality Assurance Monitoring
Every team member can be responsible for quality control with PlanRadar; it allows its users to create tickets and send them to their supervisors for action, sending them to the contractors along with completion dates and all relevant documentation and also, click the notifications tab once all tasks are complete,
4. Subcontractors and Materials
Quality managers also determine the material and equipment selection criteria, recording delivery and completion dates to recognise 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.
5. 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 and access it from your smartphone.
6. 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.
7. Project Completion Inspections
At the end of the project, complete final quality control inspections in PlanRadar with fully customisable templates. Finally, runoff punch list reports show all tasks’ status and demonstrate compliance with pre-defined specifications.
What to Include in a Construction Quality Inspection
In quality control measures in construction, clients, environmental policy guidelines, and regulatory agencies define what quality means. These quality assurance procedures, requirements, and quality control checklists are in the construction quality management document.
Quality inspections are carried out from time to time to ensure that construction meets the construction quality management plan. So, in addition to keeping a quality control checklist, here is what to include in a construction quality inspection:
1. Safety and Compliance Policy
You need a safety and compliance policy in your construction quality inspection. As quality control measures in construction, safety and compliance policies keep workers safe and stop preliminary work on the construction project.
An inspection is necessary to ensure workers aren’t taking shortcuts that endanger their health or compromise the project’s safety.
2. Use Quality Control Checklist
A quality control checklist helps construction quality inspection by keeping things organised and ensuring you verify all critical items. They are a simple binary attempt to measure the quality of a construction project.
You can share your findings with your team as you outline the things done right and those aspects of the design that needs improvement.
Here is a quality control checklist for construction quality inspections:
- Inspecting construction progress compliance with plan and specs
- Inspecting compliance specs, standards, and work quality
- Inspecting coatings and finishes
- Conducting a review of, and completion of agreed modifications/variations
- Inspecting all the construction materials delivered and used in the building
- Semi-final and final inspections when building nears completion stage
- Keeping an eye on completed works
3. Clearly Defined Quality Requirements
Another factor in your construction quality inspections is a clearly defined quality requirement and specifications for every project step. You must establish quality standards, document them, and leverage them for construction quality inspection.
4. Standard of Materials
In conducting construction quality inspections, there is a great need to review the standard of materials procured for the building. Defective and low-standard materials bring up issues that lead to project failure and safety hazards.
Inspections help to ensure that the project uses only materials from reputable suppliers, with a quality control officer overseeing the shipment.
5. Review of Contractor Quality Management Program
Finally, there is a need to review the contractor’s quality management program, which should define the contractor’s procedures, practices, and processes in meeting or exceeding the quality requirements.
If you have a quality control program, but you aren’t seeing a lower number of defects at handover, then you might need to rethink how and when you conduction quality control checks.
How Does Construction Management & Quality Control Contribute to Infrastructure Cost?
Construction management uses specialised management techniques to plan, design, and construct projects. 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. 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 the cost of $4 billion.
Collins concludes that 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 for the same money. Most cities could build an entire rail line for the cost of the PATH station.
Source: The World Trade Center PATH station
Quality control: within reach of even the smallest companies
Establishing project requirements for material, equipment, and labour is clear on quality control standards, and its execution is important for delivering construction projects on time and within 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 using PlanRadar. You can also test our quality control software for construction today in a FREE 30-day trial.