Reviewing The Planning Of Civil Engineers Construction Essay

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Civil engineering is a term of planning, designing, building, and management of the facilities that are essential to civilization. As a part of controlling to reduce wastes in it's all shapes (time, money, effort…etc), management is necessary for the technological advances due to human health and well-being and the protection of earth's ecosystems. The planning, design and construction of large, one-of-a-kind systems and structures is a hallmark of civil engineering.

Civil engineers normally apply the principles of geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, environmental engineering, transportation engineering and construction engineering to residential, commercial, and industrial and public works projects of all sizes and levels of construction. Also they may work in research, design, construction supervision, maintenance, or even in sales or management. Each of these areas involves different duties, different emphases, and different uses of the engineer's knowledge and experience. Much of the work of civil engineers is carried on outdoors, often in rugged and difficult terrain or under dangerous conditions.

One of the leading company that provide ready mix concrete is Al Quds Readymix (AQRM) in Jordan. It was established in 1996 but In 2005 the company changed into Shareholding Company with a fund of 14 million JD.

Al Quds main department are:

Batch Plants and Fleet

Quality Control & Assurance


Admixture. Fig1. Al Quds Ready mix in Jordan. (1)

AL-Quds Crushers and Quarries Ltd.

(1) Al Quds ready mix website,

2. Health and Safety Management:

The level of construction safety in a country is affected by a lot of aspects such as variations in the labor forces, insurance rates, legal consequences, shifting economies, and the stage of technological development. This issue can't be solved by theories; there should be a systematic procedure to increase the safety level through construction. The effective procedures include designing, pre-planning, training, management assurance and the development of a safety culture. Health and safety management is an obligation. Figure 2 show that construction fields are the most sectors that indicate injuries.

Fig.2: Injuries rates for industry, construction, and manufacturing. (2)

2.1 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

OSHA is federal agency created by President Richard M Nixon, on December 29, 1970 under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA aims to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and occupational fatality by issuing and implementing rules called standards, to achieve a healthy and safe environment at workspace will lead to:

(2) Bureau of labor statistic, US department of labor, December 2002

Get familiar with risks and hazards and eliminate them.

Prevent and protect workers from illness and injuries.

Eliminate death accident at the workspace.

Give alerts and information for the managers to help improving health and safety culture at the workspace.

Improve manager's confidence.

2.2 Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Safety management systems can be defined as the specific application of quality management to safety. It gives an effective way to figure and identify hazards and risks. SMS involves that the company should consider each risk or hazard within its departments as a particularly single system rather that several. If safety is not seen entirely, it can interfere with the priorities of developments or lead to holes at the safety system willing to build. An effective implementation of SMS is to have a clear evaluation at hazards as whole.

2.2.1 Construction Occupational Health and Safety Management System (COHSMS)

Construction occupational health and safety management system constitutes a set of measures concerning health and safety management that are implemented and operated continually and completely, performed in conjunction with other management systems, such as construction management system. The system includes the following:

Declarations of policies related to health and safety (hereinafter referred to as "health and safety policy" or "project health and safety policy").

Investigation of risks and/or hazards and determination of countermeasures to be taken based on the result of the investigation.

Adoption of targets for health and safety (hereinafter referred to as "health and safety targets" or "project health and safety targets".

Formulation, implementation, evaluation and improvement of plans for health and safety (herein after referred to as "health and safety plans" or "project health and safety plans".

2.3 Construction Safety Planning:

Safety planning plays its important role in construction project management for reducing unnecessary cost and delays related to undesired accidents. Safety planning ensures that safety will be taken into account along with costs, schedules, quality and other important job goals.

Safety planning includes identifying all potential hazards and hazardous operations and safety measures. This safety planning can be enhanced into safety risk management system by adding more tasks: identifying safety hazards, classifying risks, controlling the risks and monitoring the implementation. Among these tasks, safety hazard identification is the most important, since failure to identify safety hazards means safety measures are not adequately investigated.

2.4 Project Safety Management

Health and safety in projects is a policy that aims to make the management of health and safety risks an essential part of the project planning process. Managing health and safety is not only an obligation but is also often expected by our business and research partners. All projects require risk assessment and safe systems of work under the health and safety rules. This policy is designed for large or complex projects. It provides a means of combining health and safety documentation for the different aspects of the project into a clear management plan.

There are various reasons for considering safety management as an important aspect in projects. The major ones are:

Human Factor:

Accidents result in loss of life or in disability of a human being. It results in suffering of the dependants on the injured or dead person. Hence every organization must realize the value of safety management.

Law and Regulations:

The organization has to be concerned about the penalties and consequences imposed by rules and regulations, related to safety.

Organizational Image and Reputation:

Accidents in the projects reduce the confidence level of customers and tarnish the organization's image.

Economic Factors:

Organization needs to consider the expenses associated due to lack of safety management. These expenses can be categorized in Direct and Indirect expenses.

Direct Expenses: (These are the actual costs incurred in occurrence of a risk).

Expenses incurred in treatments of the injured.

Compensations to be provided to the dependants of dead or injured.

Increased insurance premiums.

Replacement costs.

Legal expenses.

Indirect expenses:

Slow down in work.

Decrease in morale of fellow workers

Time lost by other workers.

Administrative expenses.

Loss of customer confidence.

Overtime needed to cover the lost time.

fig.3: Cause of Accidents in the Construction Industry (2001). (3)


3. Total Quality Management (TQM):

3.1 Quality Control and Quality Assurance (QC/QA):

Quality control (QC) is a systematic technique that ensures a product or a service is meeting the specified quality criteria and requirements of customers or client. Quality Assurance (QA) is a term used for the set of procedures that performed to ensure the product or service is meeting its requirements under the action of production before it's completed. The main difference between QC and QA is demonstrated below:

Table 1: QC/QA Comparison.

Quality Assurance

Quality Control

A planned and systematic set of activities necessary to provide adequate confidence that requirements are properly established and products or services conform to specified requirements.

The process by which product quality is compared with applicable standards; and the action taken when nonconformance is detected.

An activity that establishes and evaluates the processes to produce the products.

An activity which verifies if the product meets pre-defined standards.

Helps establish processes.

Implements the process.

Sets up measurements programs to evaluate processes.

Verifies if specific attribute(s) are in a specific product or service

Identifies weaknesses in processes and improves them.

Identifies defects for the primary purpose of correcting defects.

QA is the responsibility of the entire team.

QC is the responsibility of the tester.

Prevents the introduction of issues or defects

Detects, reports and corrects defects

QA evaluates whether or not quality control is working for the primary purpose of determining whether or not there is a weakness in the process.

QC evaluates if the application is working for the primary purpose of determining if there is a flaw / defect in the functionalities.

QA improves the process that is applied to multiple products that will ever be produced by a process.

QC improves the development of a specific product or service.

3.1.1 Quality Control through Al Quds Ready-mix:

Ready mixed concrete production is playing an important role at construction business environment nowadays. Al Quds provides a high quality of concrete used in construction works. Production concrete has many different levels stages and it is necessary to achieve the required quality in these operations. Al Quds is tending to develop the characteristic of business procedures through the whole company.

Al-Quds has a fully equipped laboratory with testing tools for aggregate and concrete. These tools are calibrated by "Arab Center for Engineering Studies" and "The Royal Scientific Society". A team of engineers and technicians are qualified to handle testing for improving the quality of concrete products.

As a step of quality improvement, Al Quds has signed an agreement with "Arab Center for Engineering Studies" recently to conform the quality of concrete admixture produced and aggregate. Due to this agreement, scheduled random samples are tested and calibrated regularly.

Fig.4: A schematic diagram of construction supervision. (4)


3.2 TQM Definition:

Total Quality Management is a technique approach that first established in the 1950's and has become more popular since the early 1980's. Total Quality is a explanation of the culture, attitude and organization of a firm that tends to provide customers with products and services with a satisfied quality.

TQM is a method by which managers and employees can involve in the continuous improvement of the production. It is a mixture of quality and management tools intended at increasing profits and reducing losses as possible.

3.2.1 TQM Implementation at Construction Firms:

In developing a total quality culture in construction, one important step is to develop a construction team of a main contractor and subcontractors who would commit to the quality process and develop a true quality attitude. Thus, the main contractor should only select subcontractors who have demonstrated quality attitude and work performance on previous jobs. Te following basic steps to implementing TQM in construction projects:

Obtain the commitment of the client to quality;

Generate awareness, educate, and change the attitudes of staff;

Develop a process approach toward TQM;

Prepare project quality plans for all levels of work;

Institute continuous improvement;

promote staff participation and contribution using quality control circles and motivation programs; and

Review quality plans and measure performance.

3.2.2 Resistance to Total Quality Management in Construction

The factors which may cause resistance in the implementation of TQM in construction are:

Product Diversity:

All buildings constructed are unique. Quality is seen as consisting of those product features which meet the personalized needs of the customers and thereby provide product satisfaction, supplemented with a proviso of freedom from deficiencies.

Organizational Stability:

The construction industry has a high number of organizational collapses, especially during a downturn in the economy. Thus, commitment toward TQM strategies and policies that may take several years to provide ''pay offs'' may be perceived as futile or a misdirection of resources. As compared to the head office, the building site is transitory. Teams specially formed for a project may cease to exist after contractual obligations end.

3.3 ISO9001-2000 for Construction Firms:

ISO 9001-2000 is a quality management system standard. 

Any construction organization needs a strong management system to achieve its benefits as a trade mark 1t the market place. Therefore ISO 9001-2000 is the appropriate tool to increase customer satisfaction and productivity. ISO 9001-2000 offers resource planning to effective monitoring and projects control. ISO tends to reduce customer complaints by increasing efficiency of quality management system.

4. Financial Management:

Financial management is a planning system for the future of a business activity to make sure a constructive cash flow. It includes the management and maintenance of financial assets. Financial management contains the process of classifying and managing risks. Financial management concerns evaluation rather than the techniques of financial quantification.

A financial manager should take into consideration the data to control the performance of the firm. Managerial finance is an interdisciplinary approach that is including both managerial accounting and corporate finance. Financial management is the science of money management as experts says. However, financial management has the priority human existence because every unit needs to look after its finances.

4.1 Types of Construction Contracts

While construction contracts serves as a means of pricing construction, they also structure the allocation of risk to the various parties involved. The owner has the sole power to decide what type of contract should be used for a specific facility to be constructed and to set forth the terms in a contractual agreement. It is important to understand the risks of the contractors associated with different types of construction contracts.

Lump-Sum Contract:

In this type the contractor is responsible of all the risks, and he is expected to request higher profits to avoid sudden failures. Other commitments are made through this contract such as reporting systems or a quality control program. Any term of cost that is not mentioned the profits of the contractor will be reduced by that amount.

Unit Price Contract:

In this type, the risk of mistaken estimate of uncertain quantities for some tasks has been removed from the contractor. Contractors might offer an "unbalanced bid" if they discovered large difference between its estimates and the owner's estimates of these quantities.

Cost plus Fixed Percentage Contract:

Some owners are forced to consider all risks of cost as overruns. Especially in the construction that involves technology. The contractors are getting the actual cost plus a fixed percentage.

Cost plus Fixed Free Contract:

This type is just as same as the one above except that in fixed free; contractors are getting the job cost with fixed fee regardless the time of the job.

Cost plus Variable Percentage Contract:

For this type, the contractor will commit a penalty if the actual cost exceeds the theoretical job cost to a penalty if the actual cost exceeds the estimated job cost, and on the other sides, contractor is rewarded for reducing the actual cost.

Guaranteed Maximum Cost Contract:

Sometimes the owner might decide to ask the contractor to be responsible of all the risks (actual project cost and project time. Any work change orders from the owner must be extremely minor if at all, since performance specifications are provided to the owner at the outset of construction. The owner and the contractor agree to a project cost guaranteed by the contractor as maximum. There may be or may not be additional provisions to share any savings if any in the contract.

4.2 Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

In any firm there should be a measure of its success and performance, therefore KPI is a measure of how a firm is progressing to fulfill its target. KPI is dependent on the firm's type and activity and its usually monitored using business intelligence techniques. Nowadays KPI's are monitored by a procedure called "Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)"

4.2.1 Construction KPI's

The responsibility of managing growth and economic challenges needs managing contracting and subcontracting firms to develop a controlled business strategy. As a part of this strategy; the KPI's that should be monitored in construction firms are:

Liquidity: it refers to how much cash the firms is gaining or consuming.

Labor Productivity: Productivity issues have a huge effect on profit margins due to break in labor budgets. Separating jobs within a project is a must to identify the difference between actual and theoretical labor expenditures.

Cash flow: it refers to individual projects and how much are affecting in cash.

Schedule Variance: Project owners demand clear communication regarding project progress and timely completion. Given increasingly complex project specifications and schedule compression, you must be able to identify and monitor schedule variance to deliver projects on a timeline that satisfies owners' demands. Understanding how factors cause schedule variance, such as change orders and weather, allow you to properly plan, communicate, and coordinate resources to ensure higher quality output, improved safety, and better resource utilization and allocation. Effectively managing schedule variance also helps construction firms maintain a competitive advantage against other firms that often fall behind schedule.

Margin variance. Compare your gross margins to business plan objectives by monitoring overall margin variance. Similarly, investigate the gross margins on particular projects, relative to the project estimate, to determine whether the project is achieving expected profitability. Through constant attention to margin variance, management and field supervisors can make the corrective changes necessary to keep individual project margin variance to a minimum and the overall gross margin stable.

Unapproved change orders. Construction firms face an increasing economic threat from risk transfer provisions in standard contract types. Reduce your firm's financial exposure by identifying and diligently pursuing unapproved change orders.

Committed cost. With rising material prices and labor shortages, construction firms face financial exposure when suppliers and subcontractors are not yet committed contractually-particularly on longer-duration projects. It is imperative for your firm to track uncommitted costs to increase the proportion of committed costs where possible and, where necessary, to incorporate factors such as price escalation and contingent cost terms into their committed costs in order to limit financial exposure.

Backlog. Properly tracking backlog-and the expected gross margins on backlogged work-allows construction firms to avoid the problems associated with insufficient work and profit fade. With this knowledge, your firm can make strategically sound decisions about which projects to pursue.

Customer satisfaction/scorecard. To maintain competitive advantage, track your firm's ability to meet owner expectations by compiling and analyzing qualitative feedback. This retrospective examination of past projects identifies potential deficiencies, enabling your firm to address such issues in current and future projects.