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Quality in Steel Erection
Posted by Ted Sheppard on December 14, 2010 at 10:15 AM.

ts.jpgToo many erectors rely too much on outside inspectors.  Look at the following situations:


1.  You get the inspector from hell who immediately throws the erector under the bus and then goes after the bolt manufacturer, the paint manufacturer, and any other supplier that also sends in material test reports.  The outcome for the erector is not good.


2.  You get an inspector who does not enforce the project specifications or the industry standards, but he or she is nice and you just want to get along.  He is usually two or three or more floors behind you, but you never hear anything bad from him.  The outcome for the erector could be bad or possibly good.


3.  You get an inspector who makes up the rules as he or she goes along.  Some of them may be more stringent than industry standards and some may be less so.  Some may be impossible to do without faking it.  Again the inspector is nice and you have little rework; so you go along.  The outcome for the erector could be good or it could be bad – very hard to tell.


4.  You get an inspector who knows and understands the project specifications and industry standards, enforces them fairly, and is always where the work is.  This is a wonderful experience, and the outcome for the erector is good.


It amazes me that so many erector owners are relying on someone who is not on their payroll to ensure the quality of their work.  They are putting their reputations on the line, and they have nothing to say about it.


Quality is not a dirty word, and neither is inspection.  However, inspection is the tail end of the process, a confirmation of conformance to requirements.  Quality guru Philip Crosby who managed QC for the Pershing Missile program wrote a book with the title “Quality is Free.”  But in the long run quality is free and handsomely profitable as well.  It can be an excellent sales tool.  Good quality generates repeat customers.  What is not free is doing parts or all of a work item over again.


Quality demands a commitment from top management to put policies and procedures in place.  Quality demands that those policies and procedures be communicated clearly and concisely to every worker on the payroll.  Quality demands that employees be trained in all of the elements that drive the quality process.  In short, quality is good management.  The keys are education, training, effective communication, and working together.  If this is done right, you do not have to worry about inspection or the inspector.


Don’t disappoint me by saying that this will all happen some day.  Make some day today, and make today every day.  


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