Graycor Construction Company (GCC) held its annual Quality Boot Camp during two separate sessions in July at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois. More than 100 employees attended the Quality training to discuss the key features of GCC’s new Quality management program that was recently rolled-out and to be implemented on all projects across North America. Led by Quality Manager Michelle Galindo and Quality Committee Chairman and Senior Project Manager Steve Crowley, the daylong event included presentations by Quality Committee members, project representatives and subcontractors that had been involved in the development and testing of the new Quality management procedures. During the Quality Boot Camp, small group exercises were also completed along with interactive text message surveys that helped spur meaningful discussions among the group.
Dave Wing, President of Graycor Construction Company, kicked off the day with a statement on the importance of this initiative, saying, “A commitment to Quality begins with a strong focus on prevention. With this new program, we now have an improved method for managing the risks related to project Quality.” Wing also noted that many of the Quality management tasks in the program are things that are currently already being done by project managers, superintendents and project support personnel, so the new program will help provide the structured, formalized procedure to assist with managing these tasks.
To be successful, Quality management requires the continuous efforts of all project teams. Quality Manager Michelle Galindo highlighted this as she discussed the two components of the Quality management team: Quality Assurance (the role of Graycor) and Quality Control (the role of project subcontractors). She expanded on this further saying, “It is Graycor’s role to lead and audit the Quality effort, but we must also realize that our subcontractors who are at the front lines of these projects have the important role of making sure the Quality procedures are maintained throughout their entire course of work.”
To demonstrate how receptive subcontractors have been, Paul Oldendorf, a representative from the subcontractor Climate Engineered Structures spoke about his own experience with Graycor’s Quality process on the Aldi project in Dwight, IL. He explained how verification of deliveries prior to installation led to the discovery of some incorrect materials. By uncovering this issue early on, he was able to have the correct materials re-ordered, thus preventing substantial delays that may have occurred if the procedures in the quality program had not been followed. Oldendorf went on to explain how he had never seen an integrated Quality program like the one Graycor had developed, and would take the concepts that he had learned on the Aldi project and apply them to other jobs.
Part of GCC’s new Quality program is the “Zero Punchlist” concept. Traditionally, a punch list is a list of repairs or other deficiencies that builds up during a project for a subcontractor to correct prior to the close of the project. With the Zero Punchlist approach, the goal is to have all of a contractor’s work, including any clean-up or repairs, completed prior to demobilization. By regularly reminding subcontractors that they are responsible for detecting and correcting their own defects, subcontractors can better plan for this work, and project schedules are better protected from delays that may arise if contractors demobilize prior to completing their work.
Quality Risk Assessment Matrix (Q-RAM) , developed by the Quality Committee, was another tool presented at the Quality Boot Camp. Designed as a method to rank Quality risks in relation to project-specific objectives, Q-RAM identifies trade work or project components that are believed to hold the greatest risks which then become the highest priorities on a project. These numerical risk ratings result from things such as high value trade work, historical difficulties such as Building Envelope, or the “gut-feel” risks that come from such things as poor coverage in a scope of work, inclement weather eminent during sensitive construction or a tight delivery schedule for a specific construction activity. By documenting the areas of concern, project teams are better equipped to develop solutions that prevent, in a more efficient and effective fashion, costly Quality-related issues from occurring after construction has commenced.
An integral part of the Quality management process is to carefully review the project documents before executing the work and to confirm that the first work-in-place is installed in accordance to such documents and the industry’s best practices. Another key aspect of the Quality program is monitoring the work performed during the commissioning phase when installed equipment and systems are checked, inspected and tested to ensure they are operating properly. To help manage these risks, Graycor Construction Company’s Project Manager Greg Mattson described how the new Quality program utilizes a “Kanban” Commissioning Process-brightly colored cards placed on high risk or high value electrically-fed equipment. The process involves using different colors to signify when a piece of equipment is: 1. correctly placed; 2. Powered; 3. fully operational; and 4. fully backed by required warranty documents and spare parts. The goal for this system is to prevent incorrect installation and operation of equipment and to coordinate ongoing communication among trades.
At the end of the session, Larry Owen, Senior Quality Consultant with American Contractors Insurance Group (ACIG) stated that GCC’s Quality Program “is one of the best” within the Insurance group. As demonstrated throughout the Quality Boot Camp this year, a clearly defined Quality process and the participation of all teams are critical to ensuring positive project outcomes. Quality Manager Michelle Galindo states, “For us to be successful, we must all be stewards of this Quality effort. With these procedures in place, we are moving in the right direction. As the company continues to grow and build relationships with clients across North America, this system will help us to enhance the high level of Quality that Graycor Construction Company has built its reputation on.”