FCA’s quality partners share three practical steps contractors can take for effective quality control inspections.
By: Ed Caldeira | First Time Quality
You need your quality control inspections to be effective and thorough. If you make a plan, set up your checklists wisely, and make communication and feedback a priority, your inspections should go smoothly and you can keep your team—and your stakeholders—happy.
1. Make an Inspection Plan
First, you should decide what stages of construction you will inspect and put a sensible plan in place. This way, you can communicate exactly what you want inspected and then hold people accountable for meeting your expectations.
A fast and easy way to plan your inspections is to look at the project construction schedule. The schedule naturally breaks the project into stages. Pick the stages that are pay points for subcontractors, intermediate milestones, or are just parts of the project where you know you need to verify work vs. specifications.
For example, if you are installing a pad for a new boiler, a sensible inspection plan could follow the schedule with inspections for forming and reinforcing pad, concrete pour, set boiler, etc.
Your completed inspection plan should not only list the quality control inspections you will perform, but should also list who should be doing the inspection.
If it is repetitive, you should also list how often it should be carried out. For example, should a separate flooring inspection be carried out for every room, floor, or once for the entire building.
Selecting a good checklist and refining it to meet your unique needs is essential to ensuring the quality of your inspections. If you select a checklist based on your experience, keep check points to critical parts of your project, and modify them as issues come up, you will have a checklist that will make your inspections as effective as possible.
2. Make Communication a No-Brainer
You need to make sure construction inspections are performed and executed properly. A good quality management system or quality control software helps you keep track of what is being inspected and the outcome of the inspection. Ideally, the inspector can share inspection details with you in real-time from the field so you will never wonder what is going on with the project.
A good start is to set up communication guidelines. For example, let your inspector know that you want an email as soon as he finishes the inspection. Alternatively, you might want the quality management software automatically email you inspection reports at the end of the day. Either way, make sure your inspectors know what you want them to do.
This way, you get a stream of information about what is happening in the field. You want to stay informed about who is inspecting what, and ensure your inspector records the data you want him or her to record, such as taking pictures or making note of measurements. You are in effect inspecting your inspection process to make sure it meets your expectations.
This level of communication not only results in field people executing their work properly, but the inspector can interpret the results accurately. You want to be on the same page with your inspector so he can evaluate the quality of the job the same way you would.
For example, if you receive a picture of flashing on a building, you can see and give feedback on whether or not it meets your standards. If the inspector’s evaluation aligns with yours, they are inspecting properly. If not, you are using different standards of performance and you know you need to communicate your expectations more clearly.
3. Give Consistent Feedback
When you give consistent feedback on inspections, your inspectors know that what they are doing matters and that you are paying attention. If you do not give feedback until the project is done, things can be going wrong the entire time because you did not have the information to correct course during the project.
Good Construction Quality Management software gives you immediate information, so you can make sure what you expect out of your process is actually what you are getting from your inspectors. This level of feedback enables you to quality control your inspection process so you end up with the best possible results.
When you are done with a job, you should feel that there will be no surprises at the end because you have had control and insight into the job every step of the way. A solid inspection plan, clear communication, and consistent feedback will make your inspections as effective as possible.
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