Developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the three phases of control are required for all military-related quality control plans and are the core of their Construction Quality Management Systems.
In fact, in addition to the USACE, the Navy Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), the Air Force Civil Engineering Support Facility (AFCESA) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have all adopted the quality control policies and procedures that make up the Three-Phase Control System.
So what are the three phases of control? As the owner of a construction company, you may already be performing them, but you'll need to explain how in your construction quality control plan.
Essentially, if you’re reviewing your construction project requirements before you begin work, making sure your work starts correctly, and monitoring your work in process, then you’re performing the three phases of control. There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.
To give you a general understanding of what’s involved, I’ve put together a brief summary of the steps you’ll follow for each construction task, or as the Corps of Engineers calls them, for each Definable Feature of Work (DFOW).
Phase 1 - Preparatory Phase
The Preparatory Phase occurs usually days or weeks in advance, before you begin each construction task or DFOW. For this phase, your superintendent should do the following:
- Review all the requirements for the task
- Assess the current situation
- Inspect the jobsite
- Review the findings with staff, subcontractors, and the client
Phase 2 - Initial Phase
The Initial Phase occurs just prior to giving the go-ahead to begin work and ensures that the task will start correctly. For this phase, your site supervisor should do the following:
- Check that all requirements for personnel, materials, and equipment are in place
- Verify that the site has passed its job-ready inspection
- Inspect the first article (after work begins) to make sure that it is appropriate to continue work
Phase 3 - Follow-up Phase
The Follow-Up Phase occurs throughout the construction task. For this phase, your site supervisor should do the following:
- Monitor work on a daily basis to assure that all job requirements are being met in a timely manner
- Verify that the tasks or DFOW are being performed correctly up until their completion
The three phases of control are something every construction company should be implementing. Not only do they ensure a consistent level of quality, by having your Three-Phase Control System in place, you’ll also have one more element that project owners are looking for in a quality-driven company.