PCL Construction’s culture of quality is built into everything the company does. Its employee-owners take great pride in consistently, effectively and efficiently delivering construction work and services. At the heart of PCL’s industry-leading quality program are dedicated employees and cutting-edge technology.
What distinguishes PCL’s quality program? National Quality Manager Bill Bennington says the company analyzes metrics to identify, predict and prevent common causes of rework. “PCL tracks and analyzes quality-related data at unprecedented levels,” he says. The increased use of metrics is an industry trend that PCL anticipated ahead of its time. It began formally tracking quality-related metrics in 2009. With more than a decade of data, the organization has created an innovative and industry-leading program focused on continuous improvement to ensure work is done right the first time.
One way in which the company is capturing metrics is through an assessment process designed to evaluate how uniformly its quality program is being implemented throughout the company. Clients and subcontractors benefit from being able to rely on a consistent product and experience throughout the country.
During the assessment process, Bennington travels across the country to evaluate numerous projects from each office on how well they are adhering to PCL’s operating procedures. These assessments are performed to ensure that every office delivers a quality product for its clients.
Bennington approaches each assessment with a solution-provider mentality, “It’s an opportunity for growth; to identify ways in which we can better deliver projects and mitigate risk.”
The assessment results are compiled into an Annual Quality Report which identifies positive trends within the company and details any quality issues incurred throughout the year. This data is leveraged to prevent issue recurrences on future projects. It also categorizes issues by division, identifies a root cause, and captures the associated cost and whether it was incurred by the company or a subcontractor. The practice of tracking costs incurred by subcontractors is not done by all general contractors, but PCL believes that if a subcontractor is not successful, then PCL is not successful. By leveraging historic subcontractor issue data, PCL can work alongside subtrades to help them mitigate risk on projects.
PCL utilizes cutting-edge technology to ensure an industry-leading program. Technology is best utilized to verify and document that work was installed correctly.
PCL partners with technology industry leaders for deficiency management, artificial intelligence, photo documentation and drone operations. Additionally, the company utilizes a product developed in-house called Job Site Insights™ to monitor temperature, humidity, water intrusion, wind and noise.
Drone usage by PCL has skyrocketed over the past several years. In 2021, the company captured more than 750,000 drone images, which is nearly 3,000 images per working day. A recent solar project required 1,000 piles to be installed per day over a five-square-mile job site. Daily drone flights captured the current state of construction. That information was then processed through artificial intelligence engines that reported how many piles had been installed and if any were outside a specified tolerance.
Bennington claims, “Technology helps us look at our historical data, be predictive in our risk analysis, and better leverage our people in those areas. It’s great at identifying issues and managing their resolution.”
Bennington believes that project teams are the most important factor in PCL’s quest to “build it right, build it once.”
Understanding a client’s unique vision for their project and communicating it to the team in the field is critical. “Having the right conversation at the right time with the right people will avoid a lot of quality issues on a project,” says Bennington. “Making sure that expectations are aligned and communicated is key. We enable teams to do the right thing by ensuring they have all the information they need and the proper tools.”
Bennington summarizes PCL’s approach by saying, “There are things that move the needle in terms of quality - planning and communication, discussions and our interactions with those in the field, being present, and having a finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the job site. That’s where the magic happens.”