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Construction Quality Management: Everything You Should Know

01 Aug 2023

A successful construction project delivery requires proper quality management controls in place. It ensures fewer mistakes and project rework, timely delivery, reduced costs, and improved business relationships. In this blog post, we’ll cover some basics about construction quality management that you should know. We will begin with a quick introduction. 

What is Construction Quality Management? 

Construction quality management is the process of controlling quality on a construction site. It basically ensures that all parts of the project are compliant and safe to use. Inspections are performed both internally and externally. They’ll be testing for things like soil compactibility, concrete stiffness, weld quality, and much more. It is usually performed both during and after work unless it is for a specific material. Before construction begins, it is crucial to check building materials to avoid any incidents. At the same time, final project inspections determine whether or not it meets compliance and its cost-effectiveness. 

What are the Key Challenges in Construction Quality Management? 

Despite all these contractors and teams, however, not every project meets compliance. It is almost impossible to accomplish quality assurance and quality control without quality management systems or policies. It is common for superintendents to overwork themselves since they are responsible for the quality of work. Quality and standards may also differ from job to job due to a change of crew and suppliers. There are no standardized systems & processes for conducting quality control, so quality assurance becomes difficult. An integrated construction management approach improves quality on sites and reduces rework. 

Quality management in construction begins with an understanding of the factors that can influence safety and quality. Those factors include: 

1. Defective and low-standard materials 

Construction quality issues can arise from excess water or sand in concrete mixes, lumber cut from stunted trees, and improperly graded steel. Not only are these materials prone to failure early, but they pose a safety hazard during the construction process as well. For example, worker injuries are common when sparks are generated during cutting or when a structure collapses due to poor support. The only way to guarantee a project is supplied correctly is to buy only from reputable suppliers and have a quality control officer oversee all materials shipments. 

2. Supplier Quality Issues 

Problems with suppliers and vendors can increase costs and lower quality levels even if the materials themselves are not to blame. For example, building supplies that are changed for another brand or material that does not meet the same standards may lead to unhappy customers and time-consuming rework requests. Make sure all suppliers understand the requirements and conduct regular audits to ensure they are staying within them. When a construction project is in the middle of the process, finding new suppliers might seem like a distraction, but it can enhance construction quality.   

3. Poor Subcontractor Management 

A study found that human error accounts for over half of all construction defects. When subcontractors hire employees without the proper skills and cannot train them, they can make mistakes that go unnoticed for years. It would be best to screen subcontractors and other labor providers to ensure they are skilled and capable of catching their own mistakes. Audits of subcontractors are still necessary for contractors and project managers to detect and resolve any problems early. 

4. Lack of documentation of Changes and Practices

There are times when quality problems are not caused by errors or design changes but rather by the lack of documentation. For example, changing material with different maintenance and replacement periods can lead to improper handling by the maintenance team if all final documents are not updated. You should be able to easily update project documents using a Document Change & Control Management System. There is no reason to delay updating drawings and other related files. 

5. Managing Unexpected Changes

In the construction process, last-minute changes often cause serious quality issues. For example, at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency in July 1981, a change in the design of the tie rod supports led to a fatal collapse. Make sure you set deadlines by which designs cannot be changed anymore or arrange for extensions. Give yourself enough time to verify any changes to the existing design and test them. 

6. Increased scope

Most construction projects begin much smaller and simpler than they end up. What makes a primary bridge transform into a multilane highway? Such unplanned growth is known as scope creep. The scope of every project changes over time as new costs, time constraints, and constraints on a particular site are discovered. However, when these changes result in cutting corners to stretch a limited budget and time frame, this is where the problem lies. A well-defined scope of the project ensures that the contractors maintain the same quality throughout the whole project. 

7. Lack of communication between teams

According to a study, communication problems lead to the most quality issues. A lack of communication leads to the inefficient use of new techniques, faulty materials, and a lack of secondary and tertiary testing to identify current problems. You can significantly improve communication between team members working on a single construction project with an integrated eQMS solution like Qualityze with chatter functionality for enhanced communication. 

8. Intricacy of designs

A work of high quality is unaffordable if it is too complex. Therefore, complex techniques and unusual features must be minimized whenever possible in projects involving cutting-edge infrastructure and commercial construction. Furthermore, simplified designs offer a better profit margin to the construction company while maintaining the highest quality. 

9. Lack of Proper Process Management

Using the right construction process management system, you can determine the best intervals for checking the work for errors and omissions. Unfortunately, most construction firms fail to carry out essential checks on their work on time without quality control and assurance management system. If you utilize the right construction quality management system, you can easily and quickly keep track of current projects. 

10. Failure to Perform Regular Audits

Some contractors continue to use flawed designs or ignore quality problems regardless of the results of their third-party testing and auditing plans. Reports bounce back and forth from the project manager to the lead engineer without a clear workflow for managing the process. Identify the right person who can manage audits, respective follow-ups, and share recommendations for improvements within time to avoid any catastrophic events. 

Related Article: Audit Analysis: Know Why It is Important?

How to Improve Construction Quality Management?

It is best to implement an organized process for improving construction quality management. The first step to establishing any process is defining objectives and defining accountability in a formalized structure. However, that is just the beginning. Construction Quality Management System should detect and mitigate potential issues at every stage, verify any outcomes, and assess the quality objectives’ effectiveness. While creating a process may seem like a lot of work, it consists of just a few steps. 

  • Define Quality Requirements

For a construction quality management process to be effective, it is necessary to research the quality requirements and specifications for each project step. Documentation is needed for distribution and clarification, so it’s more than just knowing the standards. The process may involve clarifying specifications through further documentation. Once you’ve established quality standards and documented them, you can develop your training process. 

A quality management plan and a quality assurance process will form the basis of the quality management process. A quality control plan outlines any unique project requirements, determines quality standards, and how to achieve them. It also guides through the best practices for meeting and exceeding quality standards. The quality assurance process will also identify the inspection requirements, the timing, and the reporting methods, as well as the person responsible for reporting. 

  • Fulfill Training Requirements

Setting standards is essential, but training is also crucial. To comply with the construction quality management processes, it is necessary to identify the people responsible for each process and keep them informed about standards and requirements and the procedures to follow. Since they will be responsible for the quality of the project, they should inform their subordinates of the specific standards their team must adhere to. 

  • Managing and Monitoring Construction Quality Processes

After the training is completed and the processes are established, assessing the quality of the management is the last step. The quality assurance person should review all plans for compliance with business standards, including work practices, materials, and finished work. It is their responsibility to fix any faulty materials or labor. Finally, they implement quality control procedures to ensure the project meets standards or exceeds them. 

If you want a comprehensive solution to manage construction quality management and the respective challenges, you can count on Qualityze Enterprise Quality Management Solution. It enables your quality teams to align business objectives with industry-proven best practices while meeting compliance and project requirements. 

Related Article: Impact on Construction Quality Management Due to COVID-19?

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