The importance of quality throughout project lifecycle

As engineers, we are very detail oriented and should always make quality part of our process—it should never be an afterthought.

By Jeff Haywood October 28, 2014

As engineers, we are very detail oriented and should always make quality part of our process—it should never be an afterthought. What we produce makes a statement about who we are. The process should follow the complete lifecycle of the project, from definition to startup. Do you raise questions to both your project teams and the customer throughout the project?

During the definition and design phase, take the time to perform a detailed review of all documentation provided by the customer as well as gathered during site visits. Have a clear understanding of the project deliverables. Do you take the time to understand what is important to the customer when it comes to quality? Review control narratives, piping and instrumentation diagrams, IO lists, electrical drawings, and screen layouts for consistency across the board. It is much easier to make modifications at the front of the project than at startup. Verify that panel layouts make sense with device location. Have a documented programming standard that all members of your team are following.

During development, what do you do to ensure your team is following the standard laid out for the project? Publish any additions or corrections to the standard during the project lifecycle. Taking the time to perform reviews on work performed by your teams goes a long way in ensuring the quality of your deliverables. Submitting programming and doing functional reviews with the customer will ensure that the project is moving in the appropriate direction prior to beginning functional testing. Take the time to make sure your programs are well documented and look for spelling errors. Ensure the format and structure for tag descriptions, alarm descriptions, and historian tag descriptions are consistent.

Is testing a major part of you quality process? Take the time to test your programs in the same manner or greater than you would during a factory acceptance test. A documented testing approach is always best. This ensures the system is functioning at a high level before the customer sits down with it. Invite the customer to be more than a witness. The more involved the customer is willing to be the more likely they are to receive the high quality system they demand. Taking the time to ensure all related documentation changes have been captured and updated makes startups more efficient.

Do you use factory acceptance testing documentation as a base for site acceptance testing? Tweaking your testing documentation to meet the startup requirements ensures consistency. Take the extra effort before leaving site to ensure all as-builds have been captured and documentation has been updated appropriately.

This post was written by Jeff Haywood. Jeff is a senior engineer at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.