Sunday, February 14, 2016

Quality Control

In India, with a view to ensure construction quality various bodies formulate guidelines & specifications. Some of the main institutions/ bodies are as under:-
  • Bureau of Indian Standards  - BIS
  • The Indian Roads Congress - IRC

BIS is a statutory institution established under the Bureau of Indian Standard Act, to promote harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods. The standards are revised periodically, keeping in view the rapid development in field and to bring in further modifications/ improvements in light of experience gained while using the earlier version of the standard. Earlier this was known as "Indian Standards Institution".

The BIS codes give detailed guidelines for:-
  • Material specifications and testing.
  • Construction methods and practices.
  • Soil Investigation
  • Design of RCC including reinforcement detailing from seismic considerations
  • Design Steel structures including welding.

The IRC codes give detailed guidelines for the construction of:-
  • Roads
  • Bridges

In addition every state in the country has its own:-
  • CSR- Common schedule of Rates
  • Specifications
The CSR's are based on "Analyses of Rates". The analyses of rates is done, by the state PWD engineers, based on the individual states own conditions related to the availability of material , terrain conditions, man power availability etc.

Idea behind ISO is to promote standarization in order to facilitate international exchange of goods & services & technological & economic cooperation. ISO is derived from the greek word ISOS, meaning "equal".

The two generic ISO standards namely ISO 9000 & ISO 14000 apply to construction. Both are used to set criteria for management systems, rather than products. ISO 9000 applies to quality management systems & ISO 14000 covers environmental management systems. They are among the many standards promulgated by international organization for standardization.

Within the ISO 9000 family, most of the  - registered contractors opt for ISO 9001 and some for ISO 9002". They are identical except that ISO 9001 includes design & ISO 9002 does not.

The globalization of industrial & manufacturing markets & clients relentless march towards higher- quality products & services suppliers has persuaded some specialty and general contractors for registration. The ISO registration is a tool to demonstrate a quality commitment to clients.

In order to become registered or certified for three years, companies must be audited by a third - party registrar to make sure they comply with all of the elements of the standards. In case of ISO 9001, there are 20 elements covering such items as management responsibility, quality system, contract review, design control, document & data control & purchasing.

 Under the surveillance auditor, there is two type of auditor. One is internal auditor and other is lead auditor. The internal auditor team is one who keeps the company on its toes. It includes a project manager, the human resource director, field foreman, a contract administrator, a staff accountant. They receive 16 hours of training & fan out individually across the company. If the internal auditors find a problem, they give a written report about what needs to be done and a time frame for doing it. The lead auditor is that who later checks to see if remedial action has been done.

The ISO 14001 standard has slightly different objective. Its goal is to create an atmosphere and culture. The ISO 14001 is a requirement for company to have a procedure to determine in impact of everything it does on the environment.  

Until now, the focus of activities relating to environment issue, has not really been on how to manage activities to actually protect the environment. According to ISO 14001 there is a huge difference in the motivation and focus.

The difficulty in assessing contractors for compliance with any ISO standard is that they present a totally moving target because projects employees are changing constantly. The 14001 standard requires monitoring & measurement & it is " difficult to establish baselines " to determine success. One way around the obstacle is measure energy or recycling levels and then compare that to levels if there was no programs.

Skanska's 24 U.S. subsidiaries are the first Americian contractors to be ISO 14001 Registered, with Beers Construction Co., Atlanta.

The process leading to ISO registration is not cheap, costing more in employee time rather than direct expense. There is no way of identifying the cost or benefits. But, internally, it becomes a training mechanism and externally it gives you a report card. If firm is audited and approved for registration, it will make them a better contractor.

Being registered for ISO 9000 & 14000 gives industry firms the opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition & demonstrate to clients that they have quality system in place.  

The industry should expect clients in industrial & manufacturing markets to be relatively aggressive in moving the issue ahead as they all become registered themselves. ISO registration gives construction firm common language. so they can easily deal with their client.