The webinar on “Quality in Construction – Its Impact on Nation Building” on 4th November 2022, received excellent participant response, with over 100 attending. It was supported by the India Chapter of the International Road Federation.

Mr. Somenath Ghosh, Chairman – Quality Sub-committee of CEAI, moderated the proceedings. He welcomed all the speakers and the participants and to set the tone invited Dr. Ajay Pradhan, President CEAI to give the opening remarks.

Dr. Ajay Pradhan, President CEAI, set the context to the webinar while highlighting the criticality of construction quality in the current day environment of hectic construction activity all over the country. He provided the background of CEAI and the commendable work it has been doing in the field of projects in different sectors in India. He pointed out the major factors that influence quality in the lifecycle of a project, namely quality of engineering & design and the supervision provided by engineers, the clarity and transparency in tender specifications and the contractor’s clear understanding of the same, quality of human resources, sharing of necessary data with contractors, selection of best qualified contractor and not based on lowest price, contractor’s track record in safety and quality.

Mr. R. K. Pandey, Member Projects, NHAI Dwarka, gave the Keynote Address. Complimenting CEAI for selecting the important topic of Construction Quality for the webinar Mr. Pande highlighted the critical aspects pertaining to the Highways and Roads sector in India which has the second largest road network in the world. He briefed the participants about the prestigious National Highway program of the Government of India, known as Bharatmala, with a plan to develop about 65,000 kms of National Highways with a budget of Rs. 200,000 crores per annum. However, he also drew attention to the fact that India has the maximum number of fatalities on roads and therefore it was critical to cover road safety also in addition to the quality in road construction. He also highlighted the peculiarities of Roads and Highways which are required to be kept operational all the time, even when construction work is in progress. The construction quality of roads is critical since the road conditions can affect a multitude of aspects such as vehicle maintenance, human resources and several other factors.

He also dwelt on the lifecycle of the road projects covering pre-construction, construction and post construction phases where high quality has to be ensured during all these phases. Although the processes followed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in implementing projects during various stages starting from DPR, all the way to engineering and construction adhered to established practices and quality-based criteria, there had been instances of quality not matching the standards. Therefore, NHAI have often engaged the services of external experienced people to undertake independent review of reports and documents as well as to conduct work inspection at various stages followed by a detailed process of approval of their recommendations and implementation of the same. The process incorporates multiple levels of checks and inspections with the objective to ensure high level of quality in the construction work.

Mr. Pande also explained the methodologies for two types of projects executed by NHAI namely Concession Projects and EPC Projects. They had been enhancing the mechanisation element in their projects which ensures better and consistent quality, and they were also considering deployment of Digital technologies (such as sensors, drone videography, etc.) to improve that further. He however, stated that despite the strict process followed to select contractors, the results were not always encouraging. He therefore looks forward to support from CEAI to play a role in the entire process, which would go a long way to enhance road construction quality.

Mr. D. U. Ramakrishnan, Head QCS, L&T Energy Hydrocarbon Limited (LTEH) made a comprehensive presentation on ‘Construction Quality – A Critical Success Factor in Large Scale Hydrocarbon Projects’ highlighting the importance of construction quality as a Critical Success Factor in large scale Hydrocarbon projects. He started his talk explaining the challenges faced by the Construction industry, especially in the hydrocarbon sector, which in turn had the potential to impact the construction quality. Process quality and Product quality are the two important aspects of Construction quality and are the key factors that contribute to the project success. Process quality pertains to the operations processes through the lifecycle of the project from Engineering phase through Procurement, and Construction, which calls for due attention to be given to aspects such as client specifications, interface engineering, constructability, drawing revision control, vendor’s quality management, logistics, storage and preservation and strict quality assurance and inspection at various stages of construction. Product quality on the other hand is influenced by quality enablers such as production technology, measures to improve productivity, deployment of digital technologies and so on.

Mr. Ramakrishnan, in order to explain and drive the point, screened a few videos of modern technology-based tools deployed by LTEH for processes such as CNC enabled based piping fabrication, Orbital Welding, special machinery for LNG tank construction work involving 9% Ni steel, latest NDT techniques such as Digital Radiography and PAUT, Electrostatic painting, Auto-plastering and Robotic wall painting, CNC based Automated rebar cutting / bending etc. He also highlighted the effectiveness of modern quality assessment tools such as CPQR and EIPQR respectively for Civil and E&I quality assessment without subjectivity. All these advanced technologies facilitate the process of achieving high construction quality, ensuring work being done right the first time, also leading to high productivity.

Mr. Sathish Rao, Head PMC Business Unit, TATA Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE) elaborated on ‘Quality in Construction – A Project Manager’s Perspective’ of Quality aspects in large scale construction projects. He began by stating that the construction quality has to address both the stated needs as well as the implied needs for a project to be successfully completed. The PAF model for the cost of achieving the requisite project quality consists of two components namely Failure Cost and Prevention Cost. It was critical to minimise the failure cost which could adversely affect the project outcome. Quality Assurance and Quality Control are both critical. Quality Assurance calls for implementation of training and reward schemes which can help ensure high motivation levels in employees to achieve high quality. Quality Control on the other hand addresses the adherence to standards, implementing corrective measures while ensuring continuous improvement. He also dwelt with the multiple factors which affect construction quality such as material quality, changes in documents, design complexities, scope creep and so on. He drew attention to the fact that the cost of poor quality had far reaching impact on the project outcome. He compared it to an iceberg where several costs resulting from poor quality are hidden costs which appear in a variety of forms such as impact on schedule, higher OPEX cost, lost sales, loss of client confidence, etc. Emphasising on the importance of training, he presented statistics on training cost vs rework costs under different situations. Mr. Satish Rao while concluding stressed on the need to move away from the traditional L1 to a Quality cum Cost Based System (QCBS) for contracts.

Mr. Alok Bhowmick, Manging Director, B&S Engineering Consultants touched upon ‘Myths of Quality Assurance in Construction Projects’. He drew attention to the fact that quality observed in several construction projects was not up to the mark, plus accidents and near misses were occurring at a worrisome frequency. He presented details of several accidents caused by various factors such as wrong design by inexperienced and incompetent designers, quality policy not being followed, work done by un-qualified contractors, usage of poor-quality material, absence of work supervision and so on. He went on to add that it was necessary  to learn lessons from accidents and near misses based on investigation reports, however that was not seen happening and that such mistakes were in fact being repeated.

Mr. Bhowmick further highlighted the misconceptions regarding Construction Engineers and Construction Quality such as construction is thought to be a low-profile job, designers are not required to visit sites, and the impact of such misconceptions on the fate of the projects. He also stressed that the costs of such thoughts were a reason contributing to construction errors are very significant. He then went on to  suggest guidelines for the way forward for Owners’ and Clients’ Engineers as well the Structural Engineers of Consultants with the objective that everyone concerned adheres strictly to the quality requirements and avoid accidents and failures.

The presentations were followed by a Question-Answer session in which there was an enthusiastic response from the participants.

Mr. Suhas P. Bhagwat, Member – Quality Sub-committee, CEAI, delivered the Vote of Thanks.

Link for the webinar: https://youtu.be/Sj9k4RNdTTc

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