With product specification, fabrication and installation deliveries looming, QCP Licensees are under enormous pressure to juggle time-sensitive schedules that accommodate customers. Registering for QCP project certification and undergoing project inspection, when applicable, presents another timing consideration.
But QCP project inspections via Skype can fill the need, allowing both QCP Licensees and QCP Inspectors to change schedules more easily while allowing all parties to improve productivity and meet time-sensitive project deadlines.
To find out, Quality Times (QT) recently spoke with Matt Gongwer of Lue Manufacturing, Inc., who worked with QCP Representative John Reininger to complete inspections for two of the firm’s projects requiring certification. John conducted both inspections via Skype, which were fully documented in about 90 minutes. Use of the technology streamlined the process
What is Skype?
According to Skype’s website, “It is a powerful collaboration tool for real-time input. Built for business by Microsoft, the technology can be used with any device, such as a PC/Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android. It allows for sharing of files, sending messages, using interactive tools with annotation, and more.”
QCP Project Inspection
Lue Manufacturing has three QCP project inspections under its belt: The first is a “Provisional” (i.e. mandatory probationary) inspection conducted by John in person at Lue’s facility. The second and third inspections were executed remotely via Skype on the same day. They involved solid surface countertops for an elementary school, and laminate casework/countertops for a police substation. While these items were also staged in Lue’s plant at the time of remote inspection, John pointed out that, “in other circumstances, and depending on the complexity of the fabricated projects, off-site inspection of the installed products may also be required for fabrication certification,” John said.
What was Required of Lue Manufacturing Personnel?
“Not a lot,” Matt said. “All we had to do was have appropriate measuring devices available and a way to use Skype. I used one of my team engineers to assist with camera and tools for examining the products.”
John explained that for any Skype inspection, he works with QCP Licensee personnel to set up video and audio using available technology, checking the signal, assuring that a clear picture is viewable and conversations are clearly audible. “Once the technology is functioning, the inspection is the same as if a QCP Inspector is in the shop,” John said.
“For the Lue Manufacturing countertop inspection, I directed the engineer to show such things as seam joints and thickness, as well as provide a scan giving a whole picture of the finished product.” Inspection of the countertops took about 30 minutes. “The other project inspection involving casework and countertops was more complex and took about one hour,” John said.
To begin with, remote inspections provide scheduling flexibility, which is a big benefit, according to Matt. “For a commercial woodworking company dealing with architects and general contractors, everything is scheduled down to the day,” he told QT. “There are tight deadlines for completing and gaining approval of the shop drawings, ordering materials, fabricating the products, sending submissions for QCP certification, and having QCP projects inspected — usually involving demanding turnarounds. With QCP certification deadlines built into projects, woodwork industry outsiders don’t always understand timing issues,” Matt noted.
Matt said, “Participating in the remote inspection process with its documentation serves as a self-inspection training process for self-labeling. For instance, by responding to John’s direction about measuring space and other steps in the inspection process, our team knows what is expected for a certified project.”
John told QT that the Skype inspections allow for more efficient coordination and scheduling. “Since I began using the technology, about 10 or more remote inspections have had to be rescheduled.” John explained the benefits. “I’ve done three project inspections in one day. I’ve conducted Skype project inspections in Montana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Florida and Alabama in a short period of time — all without logistical arrangements and travel expenses. In between remote inspections, I can complete reports, thereby reducing their delivery turnaround time. The cost reduction and time savings is a tremendous benefit,” John said. “The time savings of a remote inspection directly impacts project delivery and customer satisfaction,” Matt added.“
During Skyping, I gain quicker responses to information requests; I secure total agreement of all on board; it speeds up the inspection process; and provides documentation of the inspection. If any product corrections are required, a remote re-inspection with visual proof of the corrections may only take 15 minutes,” John said. Of course, for all re-inspections solely for the purpose of assessing corrections, QCP charges for inspection and reporting time.
John estimated that about 80% to 90% of project inspections could be conducted via Skype, thereby offering added benefits to QCP Licensees.
“Matt is with one of our great 5-star companies concerning timing,” John said. “John turns the inspection into a learning process so that going forward we are educated about how to correctly meet specifications in order to grow our business,” Matt noted.
Matt Gongwer, Engineering Manager, Lue Manufacturing Inc. Matt has been with Lue Manufacturing for 4-1/2 years. Previously, Matt was associated with Coleman Cable, Inc., as a quality and process manager for 5-1/2 years and as a plant manager for 2-1/2 years. Based in Goshen, Indiana, Lue Manufacturing has been producing fine custom made countertops, cabinetry and case work for 45 years. Founded in 1970, this second generation business has continued making products for both residential and commercial using a variety of surfaces and cabinetry. Lue Manufacturing became a QCP Licensee in August 2016; the company has been an AWI Manufacturing Member since 2009. www.luemfg.com.
Recently I travelled to Merchants Fixture in Ashland,Virginia, a casework and millwork manufacturer which several months earlier had applied for Quality Certification Program (QCP) licensing, and was now ready for the required inspection of its work samples and facilities. During my visit, Vice President (and QCP Liaison) Brandon Wright explained that since the company’s establishment in 1978, its bread and butter had been the design of retail, fast food, and other commercial interiors. He described how Merchants began fabricating its own casework in 1984, after clients expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of fixtures generally available to them.
Taking advantage of the fabrication and installation prowess it has since developed, Merchants Fixture has become increasingly active in areas of the architectural woodwork market which are typically less modular in nature, and often specify AWI Standards. As part of its systematic effort to compete in that environment, the company applied for QCP licensing. During that process, Merchants became aware that QCP also offered an “Individual Drafting Accreditation” (IDA) program designed to give woodwork industry engineers and drafters a working knowledge of current AWI Standards, including those for shop drawings. As AWI Standards became a more frequent requirement for projects which Merchants was pursuing, company drafter Brandon Gomez was asked to take on the challenge of diving into the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), and becoming QCP accredited. (For an overview of the IDA, visit awiqcp.org/Home/DraftingAccreditation. He has completed the initial “learning modules” curriculum of the program, and is ready to take the final exam required prior to accreditation.
Brandon began his drafting career as a student at the Hermitage Technical Center, a public high school in Henrico County, Virginia whose mission is to “prepare the students to be contributors to a competitive work force, which will be needed in the 21st century.” His two years of training there included participation in drafting-based competitions. After graduating from Hermitage, Brandon went on to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where his continuing AutoCad training emphasized 3D modeling.
Merchants Fixture added Brandon to its staff shortly after he left VCU, and he spent his first year as a professional learning the construction details and terminology which comprise the content of architectural woodworking. In 2017, he was assigned his first project which required conformance to AWI Standards, and for the first time, his drafting required referring to the AWS. The resulting drawing details were incorporated into a Microvellum library for future use. Brandon noted that this ongoing process “is a lot of work, but once we have everything set up in the computer, in spec groups and so on, it will become much easier”.
Commenting on how the IDA curriculum benefits his approach to drafting and the company’s awareness of AWI Standards, Brandon said, “I like how AWI formats its drawings. There is a lot of detail, providing all the information that is needed over the course of project, including for installation, when that’s required. The formatting includes basic information that some of us previously never added to our drawings. I like it.”
Brandon also believes that his contact with the IDA curriculum has been beneficial to his personal drafting skills and the company’s drafting procedures. “AWI formatting definitely opens up my eyes when I am laying out all the required information in paper space. Looking at examples of AWI drawings shows me how I can become more organized and consistent when putting the various view types on the sheet, with the floor plan at the top, section views at the bottom, and so on. Before, organizing that information was different from job to job. AWI formatting is the same for every job, and that’s what I like. We are now consistent in how information is laid out on paper.”
Brandon has promised to check in with Quality Times after completing his final IDA test. We wish him good luck!