Construction industry is one of the most unpredictable environments to work in.
But at some point, we have to accept the fact that there will be nonconformities, there will be things that will go wrong and we should be there to fix them. That’s all what Engineering is about: create and fix stuff. Be a constant problem solver.
So, NCRs shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. Even to Clients and Project Managers. They are part of the building process and part of the challenge.
However, there are some typical NCRs that always come up in construction projects and it will be for the benefit of everyone in the industry to learn from them and try to avoid them because they are probably the biggest generators of waste (of any kind of resources):
1. There are no approved design drawings available or there are no drawings at all, when the site teams need them on site.
Result: the teams on site proceed based on some draft drawings, some previous revisions of existing drawings or even worse…according to some handwritten sketches drawn in some meeting. It is probably by far the most common scenario of a nonconformity in construction industry…(root cause: extremely bad planning and last minute.com decisions and changes).
2. Construction proceeds without having other documentation in place (usually Method Statements and ITPs) which are strongly required by almost any construction contract today.
Result: the teams on site are given instructions to proceed and the…paperwork will be sorted out later…(programme is the King!). Bad planning, miscommunication, lack of clear requirements just scrap all theories about quality management, procedures, systems and effectiveness. Programme is the King!
3. Method Statements are not followed on site
Result: shortcuts in order to stick to the programme (again) and maximise production (progress) without considering the consequences. “Safety” and “quality” should be part of the programme. If it’s not done right and safe, then it’s not done at all.
4. The ITPs are not followed on site
Result: many NCRs occur because materials are not tested on the frequency that is required, inspections are not done as agreed through the ITP and more often the Client is not invited properly to release the Hold Points on site…
5. The Drawings are not followed on site or they are not detailed enough
Result: it may sound obvious but there are quite a lot of cases where the drawing is not followed or the available drawing is not detailed enough to provide the right information to the people on site. Confusion, delays, waste of time, materials and resources in general.
6. The RFIs or other instructions from the Client are not followed on site
Result: There might be an approved Method Statement, an ITP and a drawing in place, but an RFI or an instruction from Client’s Representatives could easily change many things.There are cases that people forget that there are also some additional information that should take into account (RFIs, Client’s replies on documents, letters, instructions etc)
7. Changes on site and repairs are not approved by Client’s Representatives
Result: many NCRs occur because for some (logical) reason the teams on site have to deviate from the approved design or the approved method statement and this change is not recorded anywhere. In most construction contracts, there has to be an approval prior to change or even repair something on site.
8. A different material than the approved one is used on site
Result: miscommunication, bad planning and last-minute decisions often lead to compromises in order to avoid further delays and finally use the one material that is available (even if it is not approved by the Client).
9. Use of non-calibrated equipment
Result: improper follow-up, out-of-date spreadsheets and calibration schedules result into this “easily picked-up-by-any-Client’s-Representative” non-conformity…
10. Construction records are not filled out properly
Result: as a result of lack of training and obviously rush , the checklists, forms and other records that need to be in the As-Built/Handover Folders are a big mess. Missing signatures, missing information and incomplete checks are discovered when the responsible people might not be in the project anymore…This could cause delays and significant contractual breaches.
What is a typical NCR that you keep on having in your project and what should be done in order to avoid it in the future?
Why do you think it’s happening and what have you proposed to avoid recurrence in that specific project?
Does anybody in your organization discuss the NCRs in a project after the end of it?
Does anybody discuss the NCRs of past projects before starting (or even bidding for) a new one?