Article #728 Setting the Project Control System (PCS) Quality Management Module: Technical Submittals

The Quality Management module is another critical project control system (PCS) module. The module will address the quality assurance and quality control requirements. Those will include technical submittals, calibration tests for quality inspection equipment, work inspection requests, material inspection requestions, concrete pouring inspection, rotary and static equipment inspections, and non-conformance reports. That quality assurance and quality control processes will become the basis for the quality performance reporting that is critical for any project control system reporting.

Regardless of whether the project control system (PCS) was managed by the Project Owner or the Contractor, the quality assurance and quality management processes need to be implemented. The only difference would be on how will be owning the data captured in those processes.

Technical Submittals

For any construction project, the contract documents, specifically the technical specifications, will require the contractor to submit product data, samples, and shop drawings to the engineer for approval before procurement, and subsequently installation or use of material or equipment is allowed on the project. For projects that use the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), Division 01 Submittals Section (01 33 00) details the administrative and procedural requirements for preparation, transmittal, review, approval, and return of submittals. This will cover types of submittals, quantity and in what format, to whom submittals need to be transmitted and delivered, the Contractor’s responsibility to review, coordinate, approve, submit, and resubmit, and the Engineer’s responsibility for review and approval.

Division 01 also details the submittals requirement for construction progress schedules (01 32 16). progress reports (01 32 00), survey and layout data (01 71 23), shop drawings, product data, and samples (01 33 23), quality control submittals (01 45 00), and construction photographs (01 32 33). For divisions 02 to 49, the specification will stipulate specific submittal requirements applicable to particular products within the section, particular info, and content required of shop drawings or product data, unique requirements of the products, and specifics of samples such as size and location

The PMWeb submittal item module is used to manage, monitor, evaluate, and report on all technical submittals the Contractor needs to submit to the project. These will include shop drawings, method statements, test certificates, material samples, product data, and as-built drawings. PMWeb allows importing the submittal register details usually captured in the MS Excel file into PMWeb. Each submittal item is linked to the relevant submittal review and approval activity in the project’s detailed project schedule.

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One of the recommended best practices in managing Contractors’ technical submittals is to have a pre-defined checklist of items the Contractor must confirm in each submittal for completeness and conformance to specified requirements before submitting it to the Architect for review. PMWeb allows the creation of checklists that may be added to each submittal item. The checklist can be standardized for all submittals, or it could vary by submittal category, among others. As a minimum, the checklist must have the Certification Statement “By this submittal, we hereby represent that we have determined and verified all field measurements, field construction criteria, materials, dimensions, catalog numbers, and pertinent data and we have checked and coordinated each item with other applicable approved drawings and all Contract requirements.”

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Although many Project Owners have a policy of including a single item per submittal, there is also the option to submit more than one item per submittal. This can be done using PMWeb submittal sets. This module allows selecting relevant submittal items that need to be submitted as one package. These could be a set of shop drawings or as-built drawings, among others. The submittal set will have a pre-defined workflow to formalize the steps for review and approvals for the assigned project consultant team members.

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The data captured in the submittal item modules will be the basis for generating the planned submittal log, which will be automatically updated with the actual submittal review and approval progress. The log can include visuals to summarize the submittal items by specification section, submittal category, and WBS level.

The report can be designed to group technical submittals by the type of submittal which could be SD-01 for Product Data, SD-04 for Drawings, SD-06 for Instructions, SD-07 for Schedules, SD-08 for Statements, SD-09 for Reports, SD-10 for Operation and Maintenance Data, SD-11 for Closeout Submittals, SD-13 for Certificates, SD-14 for Samples, SD-18 for Records and SD-19 for Operation and Maintenance Manuals. Those submittal types are based on the classification used by the USA Corps of Engineers and the USA Department of the Navy.

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As the project progresses, the PMWeb submittal item module will be used by the Contractor to submit the required submittals for review and approval by the Project Owner or his authorized representatives. All supporting documents for a submittal, such as shop drawings, catalogs, warranties, test results, method statements, as-built drawings, etc., must be attached to the submittal item record. This data will become the basis for the updated submittal turnaround report.

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Material Alternatives or Substitutions

Some Contracts requires that no substitutions be considered after Contract award unless specifically provided in Contract Documents while other allows for substitutions during construction with substantial requirements about the contractor’s request and engineer’s response. If substitutions are allowed after procurement, acceptance is accomplished by substitution request form.

The material substitution request will require the Contractor to submit samples of the proposed material, product data highlighted for critical points, test data establishing performance equality highlighted for critical points, Shop drawings or fabrication drawings, installation drawings, product comparison sheets with side-by-side comparisons, pictures, slides, or video of the installed product, list of deviations and general educational commentary.

The PMWeb visual custom form builder will develop the ‘Request for Alternative or Substitution’ form for all ‘Request for Alternative or Substitution’ submissions that the contract could make.  Contractors will use this form to detail the reasons for the alternative or substitution request, with the proposed cost and time savings. The form will also include fields for capturing the review and approval comments made by the engineering consultant and project management consultant.

The form will include a predefined checklist of all items that need to be reviewed before accepting the substitution request. The checklist will usually have tables to list items needed to review and analyze the Product Equivalence, Effect on the Project, and Effect on the Warranty.

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It will be required for each ‘Request for Alternative or Substitution’ submission that the Contractor must attach the specification of the originally-specified material or equipment and specification for the proposed alternative or substitution. The attachments will also include the alternative or substation material or equipment brochure, details of the proposed fabrication method, and the proposed installation method. This ‘Request for Alternative or Substitution’ form will have a workflow to detail the different tasks required for the review, approval, and final approval of the substitution request.

The Request for Alternative or Substitution Register will provide a real-time register of all submitted requests and their current status. The register will include visuals to summarize requests by type of proposed alternative or substitution, requests by specification section, requests by status, and a summary of total cost savings associated with these proposed material or equipment alternatives or substitutions.

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