Quality control elements

Quality control (QC) and quality management (QM)

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According to the standard (EN ISO 9000, 2015) (the valid standard for quality management), quality is defined as the "degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements". Quality thus indicates the degree to which a product (good or service) meets existing requirements. The designation of quality can be used together with adjectives such as poor, good or excellent. Inherent, in contrast to "assigned", means inherent to a unit, especially as a permanent characteristic. This means objectively measurable characteristics such as length, width, weight, material specifications.

In addition to the (EN ISO 9000, 2015) series referenced above, the (ISO 55000)series (asset management) should also be mentioned. The basis of the 55000 series is closely related to the 9000 series as it refers to the asset management system (while the 9000 series refers to management systems in general).

  • Quality management can include establishing quality policies and quality objectives , and processes to achieve these quality objectives through quality planning , quality assurance , quality control , and quality improvement .
  • Quality planning is part of quality management focused on setting quality objectives and specifying necessary operational processes , and related resources to achieve the quality objectives. Establishing quality plans can be part of quality planning.
  • Quality assurance is part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.
  • Quality control is part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements
  • Quality improvement is part of quality management focused on increasing the ability to fulfil quality requirements. The quality requirements can be related to any aspect such as effectiveness, efficiency or traceability.
  • Management is the coordinated activities to direct and control an organization.

Management can include establishing policies and objectives, and processes to achieve these objectives. The word “management” sometimes refers to people, i.e. a person or group of people with authority and responsibility for the conduct and control of an organization. When “management” is used in this sense, it should always be used with some form of qualifier to avoid confusion with the concept of “management” as a set of activities defined above.

Management system is a set of policies, processes and procedures used by an organization to ensure that it can fulfil the tasks required to achieve its objectives. (FitSM 2015) These objectives cover many aspects of the organization's operations (including financial success, safe operation, product quality, client relationships, legislative and regulatory conformance and worker management). For instance, an environmental management system enables organizations to improve their environmental performance, and an occupational safety and health management system enables an organization to control its occupational health and safety risks.

Hence Quality management is something that applies to all activities of an organization, and it is perhaps important to emphasize that this means that it applies to all levels, processes and activities of the organization. For instance, the quality level can be associated for instance with the number of allowable defects in a structure, the condition rating and the reliability level. The acceptance quality level is agreed upon between the owner and the operator based on the importance of the structure. It should also be emphasized the Deming cycle (plan, do, check, act) that should apply to all these activities.

Static quality control

In general, static quality control, as can be derived from the COP surveys, includes (a) preparatory work, (b) on-site inspection, (c) lab test, (d) assessment of condition or reliability, and (e) assessment of safety. The activities included in these individual quality control steps for performing the quality assessment are generally structured as follows:

Preparatory work

The preparatory work is usually divided into the subsequent process steps

  • Study an inventory information
  • Identify conceptual weaknesses of the original design
  • Identify the material weaknesses
  • Compare the current traffic loads to traffic load model used in the original design
  • Define the vulnerable zones
  • Evaluate à priori reliability

For the individual activities enumerated here, more details can be found in (IMSAFE-WP2, 2022) and (IMSAFE-WP3, 2022)

Inspection on site

The inspection on site process steps can generally be broken down into the following:

  • Identify damages (e.g. cracks, spalling, deformations, etc.)
  • Measure on site material properties
  • Collect samples

Lab test

Results of the on-site inspection may also cause in-depth laboratory analysis in justified cases, such as:

  • Lab testing of carbonatization depth
  • Lab testing of chloride ingress
  • Lab testing of concrete strength

Assessment of the Condition or Reliability (KPI)

Subsequently, the observations and findings of the inspection on site, monitoring and the lab test are the basis for the following assessment steps, whereby the assessments should respectively be based on significant key performance indicators (KPI’s) see (IMSAFE-WP3, 2022)

  • Qualitative assessment of resistance (Condition assessment) reduction based on observed damages
  • Qualitative assessment of reliability (Reliability assessment of structural safety and serviceability)

Assessment of the Safety (KPI)

Subsequently, the results of the Qualitative assessment of resistance (Condition assessment) or Qualitative assessment of reliability (Reliability assessment) are used to assess the safety (e.g. by means of safety factors, partial, global or KPIs), whereby reference is also made to the existing action situations, see also (IMSAFE-WP3, 2022).

Dynamic quality control

In general, dynamic quality control, as also confirmed from the COP surveys and seen in the expert references, includes (a) assessment of remaining service life (b) consideration of maintenance scenarios, and (c) elements of decision making. The activities taking place in these process steps of dynamic quality control can roughly be structured as follows:

Assessment of remaining service life

This process step usually comprises the following

  • Evaluating the speed of active damage processes
  • Prediction of damages
  • Reliability and safety development over time

Maintenance strategies

In this process step "Maintenance strategies", the following activities are usually performed for the planned remaining service life:

  • Definition of a reference scenario "end-of-life intervention",
  • Analysis and selection of clearly defined maintenance strategies or its combinations, see D3.2 chapters 3 & 4.
  • Estimation of the long-term costs for the considered maintenance strategies,
  • Estimation of availability for the considered maintenance strategies,
  • Estimation of the impact of the considered maintenance strategies on reliability and safety.

Decision making

Decision making is the final step of a dynamic quality control process. In general, decision making is divided into the following steps

  • Performing multi-attribute or multi-objective optimization of e.g. maintenance strategies
  • Monetization of non-monetary KPIs
  • Determination of the optimal scenario