Quality Assurance in the Construction Industry

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Quality Assurance in Construction

The importance of Quality Assurance is based on the principals of getting things right first time. By implementing, maintaining, reviewing and continually improving a Quality Assurance System a company can achieve and reap the benefits of having such a system in place.

Quality Assurance exists because of the degree of dissatisfaction experienced by the industry's clients over a long period, combined with a growing impatience by some of their advisers to achieve value for money. An increasing number of building companies are also frustrated by the inadequacy of a system which, however valiantly they try, leaves their efforts lacking in some regard. A revolution has occurred in the assembly of buildings from what was a craft process, to one where the critical work of connecting interdependent units is done, in the main, by semi-skilled labour from a multiplicity of separate employers. This makes great demands upon supervision and management systems.

A Quality System is designed to provide an assurance to Clients, which can be supported through documented records, that all contracts will be completed in accordance with the agreed time, cost and specification. It should also further ensure that the company personnel, sub-contractors and key suppliers are aware of customer requirements and that they are fully met. Conformance with requirements of the detailed procedures developed in accordance with the Quality Manual has to be mandatory for all staff employed in the company. It is essential to the system that encouragement is given to each employee to develop and maintain an attitude of continuing quality improvement and customer satisfaction.

Quality Assurance is concerned with developing and planning the necessary technical and managerial competence to achieve desired results. It is also about attitudes, both of management and of all those for whom they are responsible. The philosophy underlying Quality Assurance is intended to ensure the provision of building work which satisfies the customer's requirements and offers a fair return for the resources employed. As such, it becomes a way of doing things, rather than a way of avoiding responsibility.

There are many benefits associated with a company that is Quality Assured. An effective system should define responsibilities and facilitate personnel to understand and relate to working methods more easily by establishing a co-ordinated management structure. The eight quality management principles are defined in ISO 9000:2000, Quality management systems Fundamentals and vocabulary, and in ISO 9004:2000, Quality management systems Guidelines for performance improvements. Below is a summary of the main principals and benefits associated with an organisation who is Quality Assured:

• Competitive advantage where if full advantage is to be gained, this approach requires to be part of the overall marketing strategy of the company. The benefits will be substantial. The attraction to potential clients of a building organisation adopting Quality Assurance is self evident. Once this is incorporated into the marketing strategy it should be strongly promoted, assuming that the Quality Assurance procedures are based upon sound practical methods.

• Cost Reduction where the implementation of more efficient management structures and check procedures will substantially reduce the requirement to repeat/improve works that have already been carried out. The soaring costs of rework, i.e. making good any deficiencies after the initial build, whether it be on or off site activity, haunts those building professionals conscious of a better way. The fact that so few organisations know the actual costs of such work is itself a sad commentary on the state of the industry's inability to analyse production costs. Quality Assurance in its present state, will only go some way in facilitating the obtainment of such cost data, but will substantially reduce...
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