U.S. Army Corps of Engineers trains on Quality Management

The LBNF/DUNE mega-construction project will consist of millions of parts and pieces assembled in challenging underground environments; how will we know it is being built correctly?

Preparing for the start of construction, several members of the LBNF project team have completed a comprehensive course in Quality Management taught by construction experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  The course has been used nationwide for many years to train contractors and contract managers in proven methods for achieving high quality on their construction projects.

Emily Collette, a Fermilab engineer at SURF who participated in the USACE Quality Management training. Photo courtesy: Roy Woodward

Quality boils down to building the project precisely according to the detailed design specifications contained in the various construction contracts. The USACE approach distinguishes between Quality Control and Quality Assurance.  Quality Control is the responsibility of every contractor, who must develop a plan and program to assure that the completed project meets all the quality requirements of the contract.  Quality Assurance is Fermilab’s responsibility. Fermilab’s QA Program must assure that the Contractor’s Quality Control is effective and the work complies with the quality requirements established by the contract and specifications.

The USACE program emphasizes a consistent approach of Three Phases of Control (Preparatory, Initial, and Follow-up) designed to prevent problems, quickly identify any issues and efficiently perform needed rework.  It is the core of the Construction Quality Management Program.

Another useful concept in the USACE Construction Quality Management is the Definable Features of Work, which breaks work into tasks with separate quality control requirements.

“These concepts will help us develop our QA Plan for oversight of the Contractor’s work activities,” said Kevin Fahey, the LBNF/DUNE Quality Assurance Manager, who is already preparing an addendum to LBNF DUNE QA Plan to address Construction Quality Management with these tools in hand.

All LBNF/DUNE team members bear some responsibility for quality, and “everyone from the team is now on the same page with respect to QA/QC expectations,” noted Tom Hamernik, the LBNF Near Site Conventional Facilities deputy project manager and one of the participants.

By consistently meeting quality standards, the project will be well positioned to meet the goals for schedule, budget, safety, as well as the ultimate performance requirements of the experiment.