This article is about: What is Quality Control and What is Quality
Assurance and their Application in the Construction Industry
What is Quality Control
Quality is defined as 'fitness to
purpose', i.e. in terms of Construction it is providing a building which
provides an appropriate quality for the purpose for which it is intended. The
price to be paid for a building is a reflection of the expectations of quality -
A cheaper building probably uses inferior materials and is likely to be less
attractive and less durable. The quality is also related to the timing of when
it is delivered.
Quality Control in the construction industry can be looked
at as having three elements:
- To produce a building which satisfies the client
- To produce a building where quality is related to the price.
- To produce a building in which sufficient time is allowed to obtain the
Like most other aspects of construction management
quality control has to be planned. Planning seeks 'order' and a quality control
system for a construction project reflects this sense of order. It may be seen
to be in five basic stages:
- Setting the quality standard or quality of design required by client.
- Planning how to achieve the required quality, construction methods,
equipments, materials and personnel to be employed.
- Construct the building right first time.
- Correct any quality deficiencies.
- Provide for long term quality control through establishing systems and
developing a quality culture.
It is obvious that quality is proportional to costs
associated with the construction process. Costs associated with quality need to
be identified for management decisions. The costs of quality can be broken down
- Failure costs: The costs of demolishing and rebuilding, the cost of
production time, delays to other gangs
- Appraisal costs: The cost of inspection and testing.
- Prevention costs: The costs of providing better designs, more training to
reduce failure costs, more maintenance.
What is Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is a mechanism for ensuring that the
construction process takes place within the framework of a quality management
system. This suggests that quality assurance defines the organization structure,
tasks and duties for implementing quality management.
In 1987, the
Building research establishment surveyed the quality problems on Britain's
construction sites. They found that half of the faults were design related, and
40% of the problems arose from faulty construction. 10% were product failing.
- Misunderstanding the client's brief to develop the design
- Using information which is incorrect or out of date
- Misunderstanding of the client's expectations of quality standards
- Lack of co-ordination between the designers.
- Loose or inappropriate specifications
- Not building to drawings or specifications
- Poor supervision leading to bad workmanship
- Insufficient management of the quality of construction.
- In order to eliminate those potential problems many clients have looked to
quality assurance to reassure them that they will get the right building without
undue quality problems.
The International Organization for Standardization known as ISO, develops and publishs International Standards. The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management. ISO standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer's requirements, and that quality is consistent and improving.
The ISO 9000 Standard is based on a number of principles to manage quality; namely:
- Customer focus
- Involvement of people
- Process approach
- System approach to management
- Continual improvement
- Factual approach to decision making
- Mutually beneficial supplier relationships
It specifies that the following six documented procedures are issued and maintained:
- Control of Documents.
- Control of Records.
- Internal Audits.
- Control of Nonconforming Product / Service.
- Corrective Action.
- Preventive Action
Certification to ISO 9001
Certification is a sure tool to add credibility, by demonstrating that service provided meets the expectations of the Client.
Independent Certification bodies provide independent confirmation that A Company has a quality assurance system and that system meets the requirements of ISO 9001.
top of the page