We use an analogy at PCL to help us remember the importance of meeting the needs of our clients. We compare our projects to a meal that a customer might order in a restaurant. No matter how good the meal, it is the final cup of coffee that the customer remembers. From a quality perspective, the challenge with any repetitive work is to maintain the quality efforts to the last cup of coffee.
The Last 75
After fabricating 2,600 precast concrete box segments for the new I-4 Connector Project in Tampa, Florida, what could possibly be different about the last 75? I asked PCL’s casting yard general foreman, Manuel Rodriguez, how he was going to maintain the quality standards of the remaining 75 segments so they would be cast to the same level of perfection as the previous 2,600? That’s when he helped me understand that, for him, it’s personal.
Precast concrete segments being
installed on the new I-4 Connector.
PCL’s casting yard general foreman,
Manuel Rodriguez, dedicating one of
the I-4 segments to his daughter,
“This one is dedicated to my daughter, Hillary,” Manuel said to me as he wrote her name on the inside of one of the massive precast concrete segments. “Some day, she will be driving over this bridge and I want her to be proud that her daddy built this and she knows it’s safe!”
Quality on a Schedule
PCL Civil Constructors (in a joint-venture partnership with Walsh Construction) is in the final stages of this impressive and very complicated $450 million bridge project that will provide direct access to the Port of Tampa for truck traffic from Interstate I-4. The precast segmental yard located a few miles away from the project has been consistently producing six segments a day, following a prescribed quality management program, for the past two years. Each day, the team of dedicated construction professionals has been installing rebar, placing tendons, and pouring concrete to the exacting standards demanded by the contract specifications and our client, the Florida Department of Transportation. Hundreds of segments wait in the storage yard anticipating their turn to be hoisted into place into one of the 11 bridge structures of the project. Each one is unique and numbered specifically to fit like a jig-saw puzzle high above the travelling public.
The Final Cup of Coffee
With any type of repetitive operation in the construction industry, you need to maintain the quality efforts right to the last cup of coffee for a lasting impression on your client. Anything short of this is unacceptable. The pressures are immense. As the end of the project approaches the craftsmen begin thinking strategically about where their next paycheck will come from. Should they stay on till the completion of this project, or would their cash flow be more secure if they were to seek out a new project? These are valid questions and concerns that no project quality management plan will ever address.
This is the reality of the construction industry, and that’s why Manuel’s confident statement that “this one’s for my daughter” was so powerful. I am assured that the segments under his watch will be produced to the quality standards required. Make sure your project team exhibits the dedication that Manuel does right up to the last cup of coffee. “Build it right and build it once.”