The Concept of Quality in Foundation Construction

In recent years there has been increase in incident of sinking (fast settlement) buildings, total collapse and a lot of short life span of structures. These lead to waste of scarce public/private resources. It is important to arrest this trend by promoting the construction of better performing and longer lasting engineering structures. The idea is that constant monitoring and testing throughout the construction phase of project will allow for quick detection and response to construction that is out of specification, in order words, the finished product would be of good quality, Quality could be said to be the totality of the characteristics of an entity that bears on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs (Enyiche, 2004). This is different from grade because grade is the category or rank given to an entity having same functional use but different requirement for quality, for example, low quality is a problem but low grade may not be.

Project quality management includes the processes which must be put in place to ensure that the project output will meet all the necessary conditions for which the project was undertaken. Thus, the project quality management is a totality of those factors that shall be put in place, in-order to achieve a standard output, which must satisfy all the minimum working condition for the construction. It shall be integrated with such activities as quality policy, objectives and responsibilities which ordinarily are a management function, and solution derived from such principles as quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement, all of which constitutes the quality system.

All these processes and principles interact with one another in order to achieve an effective result, which will be generally acceptable by all the various quality organization such as the international organization for standardization (ISO) or standard organization of Nigeria (SON).

Quality planning is a major process during planning stage and it should be performed at a regular interval. It is a qualitative stage in a project, when an in-depth survey of the various quality standards are made and proper considerations taken, which eventually leads to the recommendation of a quality standard for this project, and generally the standard for the project is the various British Standard (BS) for reinforcement, concrete, etc.

Outputs from quality planning include quality assurance, quality control and checklists. Quality assurance is simply the activities or processes which are related to the act of defining and planning all the necessary operations geared towards the completion of the project, which will perform satisfactorily in service, but which has been completed in the most economic way (Deming, 1982). It covers all activities from planning to design, development, production, installation, servicing and documentation. It introduced the saying, “fit for purpose” and “do it right the first time”. It includes the regulation of the quality of raw materials, assemblies, products and components, services related to production management, and inspection processes. Quality assurance activities include management plan, results of quality control measurement from testing and examination of operations (Arditi and Gunaydin, 1997).

The most widely used paradigm of quality assurance is the PDCA (Plan – Do – Check – Act) approach, also known as the Shewhart cycle. The main goal of quality assurance is to ensure that the end product fulfills or exceeds the client’s expectation (Fox and Cornell, 1984) )and quality approach places emphasis on four aspects which include:
- infrastructure as it enhances or limits functionality
- elements such as control, job management, adequate processes, performance, integrity criteria and
identification of records
- competence such as knowledge, skills, experience, qualification
- Soft elements such as personnel integrity, confidence, organizational culture, and motivation, team spirit and quality relationships enhance quality.

The quality of the output is at risk if any of these four aspects is compromised.
The ISO systems below defines the methods of control of design activities for this work based upon requirements and the ISO 9000/2000 standard is used as a basis for quality management procedures:
ISO 9000: 2000 Quality Management Systems – Concepts and definitions
ISO 9001: 2000 Quality Management Systems – Requirements
ISO 9004: 2000 Quality Management Systems – Guidelines for performance improvement.

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