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  • Writer's pictureDr. William T Bersing, DM, PE, CCM

Drive additional NATO and US Government business with a strong Quality Control (QC) system

Construction contractors enhance their opportunity for additional NATO and US Government business by maintaining a strong Quality Control (QC) system.

Scheduled goals are achieved through regular production/QC meetings and proactive contractor leadership that "builds it right the first time" and builds it safely. QC staff manage specified QC processes, including submittals, preventative controls, inspections, tests and documentation. The contractor manages daily quality control of all trades from project award through to completion inspections and acceptance by the customer. The inspector, in its quality assurance (QA) role, assures that the contractor's QC system is effective.

Three phase control concept. The contractor's control of quality is divided into three phases for each Definable Feature of Work (DFOW). A DFOW is a task that is separate from other tasks and has control requirements unique to that task. Typical examples of DFOW's are exterior water piping, excavations for foundations , masonry walls, interior electrical wiring, etc. Performance of all three phases is the contractor's responsibility. Each control phases is an opportunity to prevent problems and costly rework.

The preparatory phase Is performed and documented prior to starting the DFOW: Example actions include: reviewing and approving submittals, reviewing applicable contract drawings, specifications, test requirements, safety requirements and activity hard analysis, inspecting delivered materials and construction to be interfaced with etc. Construction standards and contract interpretation issues are discussed and settled before start of the DFOW to avoid the need for "tear out" after work is in place. The preparatory process pays dividends by locating and resolving conflicts in advance of construction. Contractor Responsibilities Produce a quality product on time, safely and in compliance with the contract. Provide a quality control system that prevents deficiencies. Identify each proposed DFOW and establish a 3-phase control process. Inspect construction and perform specified testing to ensure quality.

Track and correct any non-complying work. Provide submittals of all products incorporated into the work. Document and maintain records of all QC activities. Perform punch-out inspections and participate in Pre-final and final acceptance inspections.

Plan of Action Requirements for developing the QC plan are found in the QC specifications of the contract. The contractor submits a QC plan showing how the designated QC organization will proactively manage and control all on-site operations, and off-site fabrication, e.g. structural steel, pre-cast concrete, major systems.

Required Meetings Prior to the start of work, a pre-construction conference, a QC plan meeting and a coordination and mutual understanding meeting are held. These meetings assure a complete understanding of the QC system and clarify the interrelationships between contractor and customer personnel. During construction, the contractor conducts regular QC/progress meetings, preparatory and initial phase meetings.

The initial phase is performed and documented at the beginning of each DFOW. This is an opportunity for the contractor to get the work off to a proper start in compliance with contract requirements and to establish standards and quality of workmanship. Testing procedures and compliance with safety standards are validated. The initial phase helps to achieve preventative control and to reach early agreements on quality.

Submittals and Procedure Control The contractor is responsible for review, approval and management of submittals and for timely delivery of approved materials, fabricated items and equipment to be installed. The contract lists the required submittals. The QCM certifies that each submittal is in compliance with the technical provisions of the contract. The contractor prepares a submittals register and a network of scheduled activities, updated each month to minimize the potential for construction delays due to missing or unapproved materials or equipment. The schedule must allow adequate time for customer-approved submittals.

Testing Testing is the contractor's responsibility and is essential to controlling quality. The contractor must: Check the contract to determine the required on-site and off-site testing. Select qualified personnel, labs, equipment and procedures that comply with specified standards. Schedule timely testing and follow up testing. Submit required testing documentation in a timely manner. The QAR may check laboratories, equipment and procedures for compliance.

The follow-up Phase For each DFOW is surveillance, inspection and documentation of the work to determine continuation of compliance with the contract requirements and quality of workmanship confirmed during the preparatory and initial phases. The follow-up phase may be performed on a daily, routine or predetermined basis as required to ensure contract compliance. The follow-up phase is more productive when preceded by thorough preparatory and initial phases.

Completion inspections Completion inspections by the contractor's QC organization ensure a facility that complies with the contract for turnover to the customer. When work is complete, the QCM conducts a punch out inspection. After correction of the punch list work, the QCM participates in a pre-final inspection and final acceptance inspection with the customer. Effective QC action enables the contractor to expeditiously schedule and complete outstanding compliance items. Prompt completion allows full payment to be made.

Reporting Documentation is the proof of QC efforts and contract compliance. The required reports must be complete and accurate, must be validate the adequacy of quality controls and must be submitted on time.

Daily production reports document prime and sub-contractors activities and safety compliance. Daily QC reports list the DFOW, phase of control, observations, results of control actions taken and any corrective actions. Include complete information on the 3 phase controls, inspections, tests, rejected work and safety monitoring. Document instructions received from the customer. Each daily report must be referenced to its associated Schedule Activity ID.

Quality Assurance Representative Role The quality assurance representative, QAR will review daily reports and other required documentation to determine the adequacy of the contractors QC system. The QAR' interest is that the contractor maintains the necessary control to prevent any "rework" or tear out. The QAR will emphasize inadequacies in the quality control program instead of individual construction deficiencies.

QC+QA=CQM Construction quality management (CQM) requires the combined efforts of contractor QC personnel and customer QA personnel to achieve our shared goals - quality construction built safely, on time and within budget.

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