Impact of Quality Management in the Swedish Construction Process
Abstract: During the past few years, extensive effort has been devoted to developing quality systems as an integral part of the process in the construction sector. The construction process is complex, involving many different actors with different interests. The demand for quality assurance comes primarily from central authorities via the client, but quality systems should be applied throughout the whole chain and all actors involved in the process. The aim of this study was to investigate how the concept of quality management is being adopted in the construction process and the impact it has had so far. The work associated with quality management was studied in several companies chosen from different categories in order to cover the whole construction process. Companies representing clients, architectual/engineering-companies as well as different types of contractors were studied. The main method used in this thesis was the collection of data by interviews and sorting of these data into the same system as the ISO 9001 standard, together with the use of key factors. With this method, it was possible to search for patterns that could describe the general activities associated with quality management in the construction process. The results of these studies show that quality management appears to be considered primarily as a means of increasing effectiveness and enhancing competitive advantage. Apart from this, the demand of the customer for quality systems may be another force motivating companies to introduce quality management. It was shown that the most common way of implementing quality systems was by inspections, probably due to client requirements. Extensive systems for inspections were regarded by most companies as one of the major elements in the work associated with quality systems. These inspections were often found to be rather meaningless because companies had problems in finding resources for this type of work. However, over time, it was found that the degree of acceptance regarding the use of the ISO 9001 standard gradually increased. The various parts of the ISO 9001 standard were not regarded by the companies as equally important, and were therefore not used to the same extent. Some requirements of the standard tended to be confused with others, or to be misinterpreted. In conclusion, quality systems based on the ISO 9001 standard in the construction sector are used to varying degrees and the acceptance of the standard is increasing. The connection between the integration of these quality systems into the process and the use of this as the basis for innovation and learning in the further development of the construction sector is, however, neglected and should be considered in the future.
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