Darren Graham, marketing manager at Viewpoint, offers three top tips for improving specialist subcontractors’ project quality
At the core of a contractor’s success is the ability to deliver high-quality projects on schedule and on budget. This is particularly applicable for specialist subcontractors, hired for specific trades or skills, if their projects are riddled with quality control and safety issues their reputations, and thus, their business can be severely diminished.
In the wake of the deadly 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, where substandard building materials combined with failures of fire prevention systems were blamed for the fire’s quick spread, quality control for contractors across the board is being more heavily scrutinised across the UK.
A recent report on the housing stock by the UK’s second-largest housebuilder, Persimmon, revealed significant issues with fire prevention measures and poor workmanship on its properties.
Among the issues found in the Persimmon report were issues with cavity barriers — pieces of fire cessation materials placed into building cavities designed to stop the spread of fires within buildings.
“The cavity barrier problem is a manifestation of a lack of supervision and inspection of the way in which building work is carried out both by Persimmon’s own labour and Persimmon’s subcontractors,” the report said.
Technology’s role in quality assurance
The lack of proper insight into projects cited in the Persimmon report is an issue that many contractors and specialist subcontractors face daily – especially if they’re still relying on manual processes like paper and pen or cumbersome spreadsheets to collect and review data from jobsites. But the technology is there, at contractors’ fingertips to not just improve quality and productivity on projects, but streamline workflows, save significant overhead costs and boost bottom-line profits.
Recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan noted that global spending on construction could reach $17.5tn by 2030, and that greater adoption of construction technologies will be a vital part of this growth trend.
“Technological advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud software, drones, and pre-fab construction will be leveraged to reduce cost and improve quality and speed of construction,” noted Chaitanya Habib, visionary innovation research consultant at Frost & Sullivan.
BIM technology, too, is having a positive impact on quality control by providing more collaborative design and construction processes through digitisation and 3D modelling. UK contractors are already mandated to adopt BIM Level 2 models for any government-related projects.
A recent Dodge Data & Analytics report, ‘Measuring the Impact of BIM on Complex Buildings’, stated more than 93% of owners who use BIM on projects find that it improves the quality/function of the final design.
One of the greatest opportunities to improve quality control, however, rests at the field level.
3 top tips for quality control
In order to achieve greater quality control on construction projects, specialist subcontractors should consider these three tips:
- Deploy a collaborative software solution – Using a collaborative software solution that leverages the cloud to deliver real-time information between the field and office will allow for greater project transparency to mitigate project risks. Contractors can see work progress and issues as they’re happening to get out ahead of any potential problems. And, by digitising and automating workflows that once depended on manual processes, contractors save valuable time and reduce costs.
- Gain real-time visibility – Utilise modern technologies and software to improve the quality of reporting and project management through real-time information and tracking of data and workflows. Digitise paper forms and complete paperwork online to always ensure important records are available and current. This creates clear visibility into projects and promotes better oversight for quality control.
- Be accountable for liability from start to finish – Leverage technology to increase the levels of detail and attention on projects. Take photos or record evidence of why works cannot be completed due to others parties/factors to clearly define liability responsibilities. Report weather conditions and any delays they cause. Log incomplete tasks and defects ahead of owner walk-throughs. Use real-time tools to identify areas where quality can be improved.
These factors will help drive a better quality handover of the project once complete. And Viewpoint’s Field View™ solution leverages these key factors to unlock the modern quality control today’s contractors need.
Field View is a cloud-based mobile application that allows workers to capture, share and report data in the field. Field View drives paperless workflows to streamline field processes and operations dashboards that enable an analysis of field data across projects for actionable insight and reporting.
A real-world application
RED Systems is a UK-wide specialist subcontractor that designs, supplies and installs a range of structural glazing, aluminium windows, doors, curtain walling, rooflight and atrium systems. The company had paper versions of health and safety systems and quality systems, which caused numerous issues in terms of recording, tracking and managing records as well as the time lost through this process management system. The company also struggled with getting records back to the office in a timely manner.
RED Systems selected Field View to streamline its productivity and quality control processes, The company moved its office activity out on site offering its field teams the ability to resolve issues quickly, reduce risk and deliver higher-quality projects with accurate, paperless processes in the field. The company was also able to upload elevation drawings and monitor its sites remotely across the UK, ensuring real-time information and tracking was possible around the clock in any location.
“Field View allows us to manage the quality handover – which is important not only for client retention but also our bottom line,” said Michael Green, RED Systems managing director.
“I would recommend a system like Field View to all subcontractors.”
You can learn more about how Red Systems improved its project quality here.