Both Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) programs are key parts of quality management in construction. These two terms are often used paired together as QA/QC and by some people used interchangeably despite the activities being different. They are, however, equally essential elements of quality management that complement one another to achieve the successful realization of construction projects.
What does quality in construction mean?
Just like in other industries, the quality of a service or product is measured by its adherence to desired, established, and agreed-upon specifications. The same is true for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry. In AEC, quality is defined as a certain – acceptable – performance of construction activities and attained results by the structure. High-quality construction meets or even exceeds the owner’s expectations and requirements.
What makes quality control and quality assurance essential for every construction project?
These two construction quality programs involve planning, monitoring, and inspection. We asked expert qa/qc consultants from VERTEX to explain how they’re deployed to ensure that the construction project will meet key benchmarks, such as:
- staying within budget,
- respecting set deadlines,
- satisfying safety and quality standards,
- avoiding legal disputes.
Quality goals are more easily achieved if the construction progress is continuously being monitored, measured, and if necessary, adjusted or improved. Even if the project owners don’t completely understand all the specific technical elements of a project, their satisfaction will depend on project delivery, completion, and the structure’s performance over its lifetime.
What is the difference between quality control and quality assurance?
The aim of both QA and QC is to deliver a final product that will satisfy the client’s expectations and meet the project’s technical specifications. The main difference between these two practices of quality management is that they approach the project in distinct ways.
While each of these two programs deploys its own set of activities, they complement each other to achieve a common goal.
Quality assurance consists of a series of systematic practices that are conducted typically before the on-site construction begins. This means preparing and planning to execute the necessary tasks correctly, so the desired outcome can be accomplished with minimal errors and setbacks.
QA programs specify general standards and plan out safety and other training programs for construction workers, and determine procurement and supply systems. They also keep track of the implementation to make sure that both the project management team and the construction workers are adhering to established procedures.
Quality Assurance does monitor the project’s quality during construction. The inspection of the construction is a part of the Quality Control program. It is the job of the QA department to collect and provide information to the Quality Control team to do their job effectively. This may involve information about the project schedule, system specifications, or materials, as well as insight into the owner’s satisfaction level and any potential remarks or objections.
As opposed to the final product-oriented approach of QC, Quality Assurance is more process-oriented. It will focus on certain elements to make sure that design phase procedures are correctly implemented and that they adhere to company-established quality standards. For example, QA makes sure that construction materials comply with the company’s standards, or that architects, engineers, and designers have an appropriate level of qualifications.
Quality control deals with the project on-site and the outcome of the construction process by examining the completed work and making sure it was correctly executed. The QC system deploys a set of routine technical inspections to verify compliance with the standards established by QA planning. Quality Control records the quality of activities on the construction site and determines if the project plans & specifications are being accurately implemented.
This may involve inspection of the utilized materials or checking if construction site personnel are performing according to QA-specified standards. QC may also check if the suppliers meet the set criteria, or even test supplied parts and services.
In conclusion, Quality Control determines the quality of a completed job by examining if the QA-established standards were properly executed and resulted in a satisfactory end product.