One of the most important aspects of construction is delivering a quality project. Owners hire contractors to perform a specific function, and they expect a superior product. Implementing a quality control program that evaluates the work process from initial steps all the way through to completion ensures customer satisfaction and long-term success, according to Eric Olson, Safety Director at Western Specialty Contractors.
"There are many benefits to implementing a quality control program. Many contractors may not see the value in it when looking at the upfront costs of a program, but ensuring a superior product delivers a number of benefits to the owners, consultants, facility managers and general contractors on a project," said Olson. "In short, Western's Quality Program was designed and developed with the explicit goal of adding measurable value to our customers."
For over a century, St. Louis-based Western Specialty Contractors has made quality control a cornerstone of its organization and a part of its company culture -- a sound quality control program that has attributed to Western's long-term success and respect in the industry. Western celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 and ranks as one of the top 150 privately held companies in St. Louis based on revenue.
"It's woven into the fabric of our daily work lives and integrated into every activity and process that we do," said Olson. "Quality control is the foundation of a healthy, long-term relationship with our customers and an internal source of pride. Bottom line, quality is good for business."
Olson suggests that when implementing a new quality control program, all employees should be fully trained on the value of the program and understand how to perform and document inspections correctly.
"If employees aren't aware or don't understand the value, they may just see the program as more paperwork and will not truly verify the quality of the performed work," added Olson.
With a sustainable quality control system in place, the tangible benefits to construction companies are numerous:
- Contractors complete work the right way, the first time, thus saving time and money on expensive re-work. Tearing out and re-installing defective material is almost always more expensive than the initial task.
- Being forced to redo work increases employee risk. Doing a project the first time comes with injury risk, but that risk is tempered through earnings potential. All work should be completed as safely as possible. Performing the same work a second time for free increases employee exposures for little to no gain.
- A well-documented quality control program can help with any future litigation. Documentation confirming the project was performed correctly goes a long way.
- Finally, delivering a quality project ensures a happy customer. Happy customers are much more likely to hire the same contractors for future projects.
Western's Quality Program is documented in its Quality Assurance and Quality Control Policy and Procedures manual. The multi-section manual details the specifics of Western's program and illustrates:
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- Well established document control
- Detailed proposal preparation, project set-up and process controls
- Strict guidelines on purchasing and material controls
- Robust verification, inspection and testing protocols
- Specific guidance in the identification of non-conforming actions and the necessary corrective procedures
Highlights of Western's Quality Program also include:
- Quality Control Inspection Sheets customized for each specific job
- A Quality Control Supervisor (QCS) assigned to each project to ensure overall quality compliance
- All materials inspected to insure conformance with project requirements before being released for use
- A series of well-defined tests and inspections before, during and after construction to verify that all items conform to stated project requirements
- A complete set of all documents required for the proper execution of work to be maintained on site
Western's Quality program was derived and perfected from some of the best practices across a range of industries, including: Lean, ISO and Six Sigma.
Visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com/about/quality-control/ for more information about Western's Quality Program.