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How digital quality inspections can save the day in construction remediation

By Linda Schwefel
January 25, 2022

So, we’ve discussed the problem of construction rework, and the devastating effect it can have on your deadlines and your profits. We’ve also shared how digital quality inspections can help open lines of communication, empower employees to follow the latest processes for quality assurance, and deliver location-based insights to keep supervisors in the know about conditions on-site. But even if you’ve followed all the advice and done everything you can to avoid rework, sometimes it can’t be avoided. Then what?

Even with your best efforts, some measure of rework is expected and built into project budgets and timelines.  That doesn’t make rework any less painful. So, what happens when you’ve gone over the job specs, the plans, the scope of work, and kept a watchful eye on workers, material, and work product, but still something goes awry and some remediation must occur. What then?

Here’s where digital quality inspections in construction can really make the difference, with benefits including:

Early warning system. As noted in a recent article by the Constructor, the need for rework is often not discovered until a quality check is performed. When your workers use a digital quality checklist in the field, supervisors receive data, photos, videos, and updates in real-time whenever a worker is on site. Compare this to sites that utilize pencil-and-paper checklists, or laptop spreadsheets — in these circumstances, you’ll get quality updates whenever the supervisor gets around to visiting the site and going through the work performed. This delay can lead to defects being overlooked for days (or even longer), resulting in more work that must be undone when the problems are finally uncovered.

Data-driven analysis of what went wrong. Once a failure has been identified, there will need to be an immediate investigation to determine the cause of the defect – faulty materials? Shoddy workmanship? A simple mistake in a task? Or perhaps it’s a problem of work not being performed where it was supposed to be – sometimes it just takes a task to be a few millimeters off to make a job go awry. As noted by an eminent Australian civil engineer and researcher, systematic documentation is necessary for any recovery measures. And if your documentation lives on multiple clipboards on the floor of work trucks, in a worker’s car trunk, or maybe even in a stack of paper in someone’s in-basket at the office waiting to be input, it’s hard to get a handle on what went wrong. The information gathered by the digital quality inspections has all the information you need to discover the cause (or causes) of a defect, so you can quickly determine how to fix it.

Open lines of communication (again). The ability to freely communicate between stakeholders remains critical when there are quality issues. From workers touching base with supervisors to ensure defects are being remediated, bosses being able to remotely view materials and work performed in real-time, and even the ability to share photos with clients, contractors, suppliers, regulators, or anyone else who needs to weigh in, digital quality inspections are the next best thing to having everyone there in person.

Ability to quickly get back on track. Once defects are identified, the key to remediation is having a common game plan. Digital quality inspections help here, too – contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, or any stakeholders involved can determine the best course of action. Supervisors then may create digital checklists for workers on-site to perform the remediation efforts, as well as new quality protocols to ensure there are no further defects with materials, processes, or work performed. Once the supervisor creates these criteria, he or she can push the checklists to each worker in the field, so every person is working from the same form and following the same guidelines.

Not everything is under your control at a construction site – there are workers, materials, the site itself, and let’s not even get started with the weather. With so many moving parts, we recognize that nothing will completely eliminate the need for rework. So while we don’t promise that you can achieve zero rework with digital quality inspections at your construction site, we can tell you that not only will they help to make rework far less likely, they’ll also make remediation less costly in time, money, and effort.


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