Quality Assurance Protocols in Critical Infrastructure Design
Demand for increasingly large-scale, complicated electrical and mechanical systems has spiralled in recent years. As the world becomes increasingly technology focused then a requirement for increased electrical system complexity and reliability has become the norm.
The importance of data handling and building management systems – along with the advent of smart cities and the ever-influential internet – has seen clients become more selective and demanding about what and how critical infrastructure systems are designed and installed, and how this is done. Such systems have become crucial to businesses, data centres, hospitals, the emergency services and governmental departments across the country. And, as their integrity is imperative to the successful day-to-day running of an organisation, clients are, understandably, anxious to see that these systems are correctly designed, manufactured, installed and set to work.
We have found, however, that the level of expertise and understanding needed in the design and delivery of such systems is not always suitable to meet this demand. Manufacture through to installation, construction completion and commissioning are areas where faults, mistakes and mis-designs can creep into an electrical or mechanical system, and the errors can by-pass all but the most experienced engineers.
This is why HDR | Andrew Reid’s clients – both longstanding and new – are increasingly asking for our experienced team to be involved at all levels of the quality assurance and commissioning process – from factory witness testing of plant and equipment to installation and integrated systems tests.
Client’s are increasingly recognising the huge advantages of building and installing systems ‘right first time’. It helps reduce the potential for clashes or snags later in the process, it improves efficiency during installation and, with no re-work costs and reduced forward maintenance costs, it helps provide better value over the lifecycle of the system. Getting it right straight off also means that there is less likely to be an installation issue that risks delaying the pivotal commissioning process.
Our expertise means that we are able to ensure that the quality of the final installation is as specified; we use our experience and quality assurance protocols to develop and ensure common test programmes and ensure they are followed at a manufacturer’s factory. We can then carry this process through the rest of the project, helping ensure that a client’s requirements are being met and that the final installation is exactly as designed and is fit for purpose. By working with all members of the project team we are able to make sure the client’s requirements are met.
With clients beginning to understand the advantages of having a robust quality assurance protocol in place, it is becoming more commonplace that our teams are engaged on projects earlier in the process and that they work on-site to support the installation effort long before the actual commissioning process begins.
Our engineers focus on working with the installation team to educate them, encourage pride in their work and draw a level of ‘ownership’ into the scheme – through from the first induction to the last shift on-site. By setting benchmarks and helping educate and improve skills across the site team, the quality of any installation will be improved. With HDR | Andrew Reid’s skilled and experienced QA specialists and engineers, as well as the rigorous checking protocols put in place, clients can be assured that the installation will stand up to even the closest of scrutiny.
“Increasingly we are being asked to start the quality assurance and quality control process much earlier on in the construction cycle. We don’t make design decisions – we are part of the issue-resolution process,” explains the Director HDR | Andrew Reid, John Hall, adding, “We want to be able to unveil any problems as early as possible during construction. The early resolution of issues ensures that by the time a project needs to power up, we are in a great position to move forward. This helps us save time and money, and deliver high-quality outcomes. It is that assurance of quality that we are happy to put our name to.”