Construction Quality Management System
Mission and Objectives
Operators ensure there is a focus on quality assurance during the building of a pipeline through an organized framework, often referred to as a Construction Quality Management System, or QMS. All this effort helps to mitigate the chance for an issue, such as a leak, to arise either during start up or years later because of a poor construction practice. If there is a focus on decreasing flaws that may occur during construction, then the chance for a leak or rupture is decreased significantly, progressing towards the industry’s goal of zero incidents. The guidance in API Recommended Practice (RP) 1177, Recommended Practice for Steel Pipeline Construction Quality Management Systems, establishes minimum processes for companies that own and operate pipelines, as well as those that construct them.
Similar to other API RPs and Standards, API RP 1177 was developed by the individuals that will be using the document the most, those that own, operate, and construct pipelines. Plus, external stakeholders, such as the public and the regulators, were engaged, ensuring all groups involved in pipeline safety have an opportunity to shape the final guidance.
- Contractor Construction Quality Management Guide
- Developing and Implementing a Quality Assurance Program for Natural Gas Operations
A QMS must have certain requirements to be effective.
- Defined project quality objectives and personnel accountabilities;
- Processes to establish and maintain the appropriate project organizational structure;
- Processes to establish and maintain the appropriate training and qualification of internal and contracted personnel;
- Processes to facilitate and verify quality throughout project design, contracting, procurement, manufacturing, fabrication, and construction;
- Processes to prevent, detect, mitigate, and eliminate potential and actual non-conformances with project procedures, specifications, and referenced standards or non-compliances with regulations, as well as verification and documentation of actions taken and the outcome;
- Assessment of the achievement of quality objectives throughout the construction project; and
- Methods to measure each process’s effectiveness and enact continuous improvement of the QMS.
Similar to API RP 1173, the QMS detailed in API RP 1177 can be stand-alone or integrated into an organization’s existing system, providing flexibility and scalability, so any size company can implement. In other words, while the QMS elements will apply to each organization, the application of these elements are to be appropriate for the size of the organization, the scope of the project, and the risk to the public and environment. Each pipeline construction project is unique. While typical pipeline construction activities are included in this document, they may not be all-inclusive. Other construction activities may be relevant and must be addressed on a project by project basis, utilizing the principles of this RP. Likewise, it is recognized that the identified construction activities may not be applicable to every pipeline construction project. It is the organization’s responsibility to consider unique quality issues applicable to their projects and address them accordingly through their organization-specific QMS.
To ensure success of a QMS, the last two guiding principles listed above are applied in a recurring manner and changes to the processes are made. This practice is detailed below in the example Construction QMS adaption of the Plan–Do–Check–Act (PDCA) cycle, which is further explained in API RP 1173: