QUALITY CONTROL OF CONSTRUCTION WORKS IN J&K STATE- AN EXIGENCY.
In J&K State many huge and small construction activities are in progress almost in all the districts, but who monitors their quality control carries a big question mark. Normally the engineer in charge has to satisfy himself for the prescribed quality of the end product after getting the samples tested from a licensed laboratory. Whether the private laboratories existing in J&K State are licensed to carry out the required tests needs to be got verified. Sometimes the tests are got performed in the laboratories of the NIT with some charges shared by the Institution and the staff, who again have to be properly registered by the competent authority for conducting the tests. The test results need to be got counterchecked at other places too to ensure their authenticity, in the interest of the safety of structures involving the risk of lives of many people. Setting up of testing laboratories for the engineering construction duly licensed by the competent authority is a must for ensuring effective quality control. It has to be watched that the tests are got conducted confidentially and that the executing agency is not allowed to exercise its influence to obtain the test results of its choice from the testing laboratories as has been suspected earlier.
The fair testing is all the more necessary as our J&K State falls in high seismic zone and with poor bearing capacity of the soil, needs safe structures to save lives on any unforeseen catastrophe.
In my engineering course in sixties, we were told about a 16 story structure that was near completion in Mumbai. The engineer and the architect were sipping coffee in the next building at the 16th story level. On one sip they looked on the building getting completed and on taking another sip, they saw there was no building and it had crumbled down killing about 300 workers. Investigations revealed that the quality of steel was substandard, besides the construction was resumed from the plinth level after a pause of several months and the surface was not cleaned properly to join with the new concrete. Proper overlaps were not provided in the steel. The case took a couple of years to decide and the Engineer in charge and the contractor had to suffer punishment imposed by the concerned justice late Mr.M.C.Chagla.
Another incident related by an engineer of our state, who served on a bridge construction in USA in sixties, stated that the bridge on which he was working along with other engineers collapsed on its inauguration. The Government spent double the cost of bridge to investigate the cause of failure. It was revealed that one important aspect of design was not taken into consideration and a circular was issued to consider this missing aspect of design henceforth and the engineer in-charge was awarded for providing the fraternity a chance to include this missing aspect of design in future constructions. This is quite unbecoming of our state of affairs, where engineers are discouraged on every defect, which may not be their fault.
While constructing a building in seventies, I was representing the executing agency and the departmental designer had to furnish the design details of the reinforcement. Two identical cantilever slabs with a span of seven feet were to be laid as portico. The main steel was shown bent at the very entrance point itself, which was challenged by me. However the designer insisted on his being correct. After removing shuttering of one slab after a passage of about two months with due curing and all that, the slab collapsed within hours. Still the designer was adamant and stated that if his design is wrong, then the second slab should also collapse. As we removed the shuttering next day, this too collapsed within the same span of time. Thereafter I gave the details as per the specifications and got laid the two slabs afresh, on which my boss was unhappy, as he wanted to recover the damages from the erring department, which would have even involved a punishment to the officer responsible.
Another example can be cited of a reputed designer, who furnished the design of a 40 ft. span beam stuffing the beam with over safe steel quantity, leaving hardly the needed cover over the steel rods. Again this was challenged by me, but since the authority had engaged him for the purpose, there was none to hear my plea, though I registered my protest. The beam developed hair cracks on removal of shuttering, which was bound to happen in absence of proper cover of the steel rods. The matter was exploited by others and I asked the boss to put the structure on load test, on which he asked, what shall happen, if it collapses. I told him the erring designer and others shall be taken to task. He however felt safety in eating the humble pie and the structure has stood for the past over two decades, but without raising a superstructure doubting its stability.
Thus any creation by mankind without quality control remains in the vortex of dubiety so far as its sustainability and acceptability are taken into consideration. From the stroke of a painter’s brush down to the task of making paper-made containers, this axiom holds good. And, in the art of engineering, no construction is acceptable without quality control. From the view point of this conception, a number of organizations like ISO, ASTM, AASHTO, BS, TRL, IRC, etc. have been evolved all over the world, especially in the developing world. The functions of these organizations are to find out ways and means to control the quality and to identify the norms of acceptability of building materials.
‘Quality control’ is a small coinage of words, but the extent of its related works is gigantic. All building materials are needed to be under quality control as far as possible for healthy existence by ensuring any construction work’s utility as per its design life. It is now the bare truth that no construction work is scientific without the provisions of quality control. In civil Engineering works, a laboratory with modern equipment is essential, and to run it well, skill engineers and technicians are needed. Some states have taken the lead to make an all-out effort regarding quality control at the Government level. Specifications of work quality are an important feature of facility designs. Specifications of required quality and components represent part of the necessary documentation to describe a facility. Typically, this documentation includes any special provisions of the facility design as well as references to generally accepted specifications to be used during construction.
General specifications of work quality are available in numerous fields and are issued in publications of organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), or the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Distinct specifications are formalized for particular types of construction activities, such as welding standards issued by the American Welding Society, or for particular facility types, such as the Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. These general specifications must be modified to reflect local conditions, policies, available materials, local regulations and other special circumstances.
In recent years, performance specifications have been developed for many construction operations. Rather than specifying the required construction process, these specifications refer to the required performance or quality of the finished facility. The exact method by which this performance is obtained is left to the construction contractor. For example, traditional specifications for asphalt pavement specified the composition of the asphalt material, the asphalt temperature during paving, and compacting procedures. In contrast, a performance specification for asphalt would detail the desired performance of the pavement with respect to impermeability, strength, etc. How the desired performance level was attained would be up to the paving contractor. In some cases, the payment for asphalt paving might increase with better quality of asphalt beyond some minimum level of performance Quality control in construction typically involves insuring compliance with minimum standards of material and workmanship in order to insure the performance of the facility according to the design. These minimum standards are contained in the specifications described in the previous section. For the purpose of insuring compliance, random samples and statistical methods are commonly used as the basis for accepting or rejecting work completed and batches of materials. Rejection of a batch is based on non-conformance or violation of the relevant design specifications. Procedures for this quality control practice are described in the following sections.
An implicit assumption in these traditional quality control practices is the notion of an acceptable quality level which is a allowable fraction of defective items. Materials obtained from suppliers or work performed by an organization is inspected and passed as acceptable if the estimated defective percentage is within the acceptable quality level. Problems with materials or goods are corrected after delivery of the product.
In contrast to this traditional approach of quality control is the goal of total quality control. In this system, no defective items are allowed anywhere in the construction process. While the zero defects goal can never be permanently obtained, it provides a goal so that an organization is never satisfied with its quality control program even if defects are reduced by substantial amounts year after year. This concept and approach to quality control was first developed in manufacturing firms in Japan and Europe, but has since spread to many construction companies. The best known formal certification for quality improvement is the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 9000 standard. ISO 9000 emphasizes good documentation, quality goals and a series of cycles of planning, implementation and review.
Total quality control is a commitment to quality expressed in all parts of an organization and typically involves many elements. Design reviews to insure safe and effective construction procedures are a major element. Other elements include extensive training for personnel, shifting the responsibility for detecting defects from quality control inspectors to workers, and continually maintaining equipment. Worker involvement in improved quality control is often formalized in quality circles in which groups of workers meet regularly to make suggestions for quality improvement. Material suppliers are also required to insure zero defects in delivered goods. Initally, all materials from a supplier are inspected and batches of goods with any defective items are returned. Suppliers with good records can be certified and not subject to complete inspection subsequently.
The traditional microeconomic view of quality control is that there is an “optimum” proportion of defective items. Trying to achieve greater quality than this optimum would substantially increase costs of inspection and reduce worker productivity. However, many companies have found that commitment to total quality control has substantial economic benefits that had been unappreciated in traditional approaches. Expenses associated with inventory, rework, scrap and warranties were reduced. Worker enthusiasm and commitment improved. Customers often appreciated higher quality work and would pay a premium for good quality. As a result, improved quality control became a competitive advantage.
Of course, total quality control is difficult to apply, particular in construction. The unique nature of each facility, the variability in the workforce, the multitude of subcontractors and the cost of making necessary investments in education and procedures make programs of total quality control in construction difficult. Nevertheless, a commitment to improved quality even without endorsing the goal of zero defects can pay real dividends to organizations.
Bureau of Indian Standards
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is a national standards body engaged in the preparation and implementation of standards, operation of certification schemes both for products and systems, organisation and management of testing laboratories, creating consumer awareness and maintaining close liaison with international standards bodies.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) came into existence, through an Act of Parliament on 1 April 1987, with a broadened scope and more powers taking over the staff, assets, liabilities and functions of erstwhile Indian Standards Institution (ISI) with following objectives.
Harmonious development of activities of standardization, marking and quality certification
To provide new thrust to standardization and quality control
To evolve a national strategy for according recognition to standards and integrating them with growth and development of Industrial production and exports.
BIS is involved in multifarious activities like Standards Formulation, Certification, Product/Schemes. Laboratory Services, International Activities, Consumer – related Activities, Promotional Activities, Training Services, Information services, Sale of Standards & Publications
Under Standards formulation, it is engaged in formulation of Indian Standards for 14 sectors namely Chemicals, Food and Agriculture, Civil, Electrical, Electronics & Telecommunications and Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Management & Systems, Metallurgical Enginnering, Petroleum, Coal & related Products, Medical and Hospital Planning, Textile, Transport engineering and Production and General Engineering, Water Resources under Division Councils which have 308 Sectional Committees working under them. As on 31 March 2008, 18424 Standards formulated by BIS, are in force. These cover important segments of economy, which help the industry in upgrading the quality of their goods and services. BIS formulates need-based Indian Standards in line with the national priorities as a time-bound programme.
Product Certification Scheme
BIS Product Certification Scheme is basically voluntary in nature. However, keeping in view the health and safety of the consumer, it has been made mandatory for 68 items by the Government through various statutory measures such as Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, Coal Mines Regulations and Indian Gas Cylinders Rules besides BIS Act. Some of the items brought under mandatory certification on consideration of health and safety are milk powder, packaged drinking water, LPG cylinders, oil pressure stoves, clinical thermometers etc. As on 31 March 2008, 20025 certification marks licences are in operation under the Scheme, covering about 1000 different items ranging from food products to electronics.
All foreign manufacturers of products who intend to export to India are required to obtain a BIS product certification licence. Towards this, BIS launched its Product Certification Scheme for overseas manufacturers in the year 1999. Under the provisions of this scheme, foreign manufacturers can seek certification from BIS for marking their product(s) with BIS Standard Mark. Under this scheme, about 101 licences of foreign manufacturers in about 15 countries are in operation as on 31 March 2008. Under the scheme for Indian importers, Certification Marks Licence can be granted to Indian importers for the product imported into the country and are not covered under Regulatory Requirements. Indian importers can apply for BIS licence on such products and they are treated as Indian manufacturers. Three licences are in operation under this scheme. BIS also runs other certification schemes like IECEE-CB, IECQ and IECEs Schemes of IBC under different provisions. India is a certifying member of the IEC System of Quality Assessment of Electronic Components (IECQ) and IEC System for Conformity Testing to Standards for Safety of Electrical Equipment (IECEE). Further, BIS has taken new initiatives like simplification of procedure for grant of licence, basically to reduce the procedural time. This has yielded some encouraging results.
To support the activities of product certification, BIS has a chain of 8 laboratories. These laboratories have established testing facilities for products of chemical, food, electrical and mechanical disciplines. Approximately, 25000 samples are being tested in the BIS laboratories every year. In certain cases where it is economically not feasible to develop test facilities in BIS laboratories and also for other reasons like overloading of samples, equipment being out of order, the services of outside approved laboratories are also being availed. Except for the two labs, all the other labs are NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratiories) accredited. BIS has recognized about 116 laboratories for product certification purposes. BIS has undertaken the project of modernization of all its testing laboratories in order to increase the in-house capacity of testing of samples as well as to reduce the time taken in testing.
Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery started in April 2000 on voluntary basis under BIS Act 1986. It is aimed at to protect the consumer’s interest and providing third party assurance to consumers on the purity of gold. Till 31 Mar 2008, 91 hallmarking centers have been recognized. Since the launch of the scheme, over 5403 gold jewellers have taken licence from BIS, a figure which stood at 186 in the year 2001-02. So far, over 381 lakh jewellery articles have been hallmarked. The list of hallmarked jewellers with BIS licence and BIS recognised hallmarking centres has been hosted on BIS website. Under a similar scheme of Hallmarking of Silver, 405 licences have been granted since its launch in October 2005.
Management Systems Certificate
BIS runs other important systems certification schemes under the Management Systems Certification. Under Quality Management System Certification Scheme (QMSCS), which was launched in September 1991, the total number of operative licences as on 31 Mar 2008 is 1161 which has grown from the figure of 916 in 2001-2002. BIS Quality Management System Certification has been accredited by Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) Netherlands for 23 major economic activities.
Under Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Certification (HACCP) Integrated Scheme, 64 certified companies are under operation as on 31 March 2008. Under the Environmental Management Systems Certification Scheme (EMSCS), the total number of operative licences as on 31 March 2008 is 131 which has grown from a figure of 61 in 2001-02. Under the Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OH & SMS) Certification Scheme which was launched in January 2003, the total number of operative licences as on 31 Mar 2008 is 35.
Among the new Schemes, BIS has launched public Service Delivery Management systems as per IS 15700-2005 “Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Service Quality by Public Service Organizations.” in order to ensure minimum standards of service delivery in all sectors pertaining to or influenced by the government.
With the growth and popularity of the BIS Certification Marks Scheme, there have been instances of misuse of BIS Standard Mark also. BIS, therefore, lays emphasis on enforcement activity to stop misuse of Standard mark, enforcement raids are carried out and prosecution cases filed in the court of law wherever legally tenable. To strengthen this activity, two outsourced agencies have been engaged for providing intelligence and assisting in carrying out raids against offending parties for an initial period of one year in selected locations. The number of search and seizures operations carried out in 2007-08 stand at 125. Indian Standards Institution (ISI)
World Standards Day is celebrated the world over to raise awareness and focus on the need for global standardization and its role in meeting the needs of consumers, trade and industry. It is celebrated on October 14 every year to mark the foundation of the International Organization for Standardization, popularly known as the ISO.
It was on this day in 1946 that 25 countries met in London and decided to create an international organization with the objective of facilitating international coordination and unification of industrial standards. The ISO started functioning in 1947 with the Indian Standards Institution as one of the founder members. Over the years, the membership of ISO has gone up with 130 member countries representing developed and developing economies.
In the twilight years of the British rule in India, when the country was faced with the gigantic task of laying the industrial infrastructure, it was the institution of Engineers (India), which prepared the first draft of the constitution of an Institution which could take up the task of formulation of National Standards. This led to the Department of Industries and Supplies issuing a memorandum on September 3, 1946 formally announcing the setting up of an organisation called the Indian Standards Institution. It was on January 6, 1947 that the ISI came into being and in June 1947 Dr. Lal C. Verman took over as its first Director. Symbolic of the role, the Indian Standards Institution (I.S.I.) was to play the first standard drawn was for the National Flag of India.
Considerable progress has since been made by the Indian Standards Institution with its multifarious activities like standards formulation, certification, testing of products international cooperation and standards promotion. However, a need was felt to provide recognition and status to the organisation to enable it to discharge its functions effectively. Thus the Government enacted the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 which led to the establishment of the Bureau of Indian Standards as a statutory body on April 1, 1987.
Standardization is intrinsic to life and we see its many manifestations in nature and life around us. Standardization encourages improvement in the quality of life and makes major contributions to safety, public health and environment protection.
Standardization is based on the experiences of daily life itself. They are results of a cooperative effort, and revised from time to time to keep in step with technological progress. They provide us with a criteria for judgement, a measurement of quality and a certain guarantee of compatibility and interchange ability.
In the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), similar to standards bodies the world over, standards are formulated through technical committees which have representatives from the manufacturers, technical experts and users. The standards are documents of consensus which are finalized after taking the views of all those who may have an interest in it.
BIS plays the key role of holding the secretariat for the Technical Committees and collating and analysing the data and other information which may be required for formulating the standards. BIS has formulated nearly 17,000 standards which may be categorized as basic standards, product specifications and methods of test and codes of practices.
ISI Standard Mark
With the objective of satisfying the consumer in terms of product quality, the BIS has undertaken various quality certification activities. The domestic consumer is familiar with the ISI mark on a product which is an assurance that the product conforms to the requirements as laid down in the specification. Conformity to the standard is ensured through regular surveillance of the manufacturing process, surprise inspections and testing of samples drawn from the factory as well as from the market. Fraudulent and unauthorized use of the ISI mark is a violation of the law punishable under the BIS Act.
Quality Management System
There is a world-wide movement for installing Quality Management Systems in accordance with the IS/ISO 9000 series. In India also this has become a prime requisite for manufacturers and service sector units which wish to make an impact in the domestic and global markets. The concept of Quality Management Systems aims at quality control mechanism at every stage of a manufacturing or a service system and not just the quality of the end product as is the case with product certification.
With the growing concern for environment-friendly industrial activity, the ISO 14,000 series of standards were developed. After adopting these standards as national standards the BIS has also launched the Environment Management System Certification under which units may demonstrate their compliance with the ISO 14000 standards. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification which again has acquired international recognition for certifying the safety of food manufacturing process has also been undertaken by the BIS. The Bureau of Indian Standards has also formulated IS 15000 : 1998 which is equivalent to the internationally accepted Codex standards.
BIS has established a chain of laboratories at different centres in the country for testing the conformity of certified products and also samples offered by applicants for grant of ISI mark. It also offers specialized services of calibration of test equipment and instruments and procurement of standard reference materials. They also undertake research and development for evolving speedy and effective test methods.
As a founder member of International Organization for Standardization (ISO), BIS continues to actively participate in international standardization. As a member of the ISO Council it participates in its policy-making bodies like the Committee on Developing Country matters (DEVCO), Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO), Committee on Information (INFCO) and Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO). Besides, it also holds secretarial responsibilities of various Technical Committees and Subcommittees and maintains participation status and observer status on most of the Technical Committees.
BIS is also actively involved in International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and has participation status or observer on all the important Technical Committees.
During the question hour in one of the seminars on Infrastructure Development in Middle East in Abu Dhabi in April 2012, I asked, ”What methods were adopted to ensure implementation of codes of practice and if the testing laboratories are licensed, which is necessary for ensuring the safety of the structures?” The reply was that regular tests were being conducted; besides implementation of the proper design was ensured by timely inspection by the authorities. In addition the testing facilities are being centralized under one roof, for which a central laboratory has been proposed to be constructed. In fact I found that the construction of a ten story block in our neighbourhood in Abu Dhabi was stalled by the Municipal authorities due to use of lesser than design requirements.
J&K Govt. needs to consider establishment of fully equipped laboratories, with skilled technical personal and due registration by the Bureau of Indian Standards to ensure the safety of upcoming structures and also get a review prepared on the existing public structures to suggest safety measures if needed. Precautions to be taken against fire hazards of our heritage buildings can also form a subject. The recent burning of Dastgeer Sahib Shrine at Khanyar should sound a beguile of warning for the authorities and safety measures need to be taken without any further delay, for which too responsibility needs to be got fixed.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
(Retd. Chief Engineer)