With operations across Australia and New Zealand, mechanical and HVAC services contractor AE Smith has been busy producing industry-leading standards.
Previously using thousands of sheets of paper for every job, Operations Manager Jeff Wright says AE Smith’s quality assurance (QA) process did not hold well to audits. Their New Zealand division decided to tackle this head-on and undertook a major culture change, investing in innovative digital QA tool CONQA in 2018. CONQA’s simple and user-friendly technology makes it easy for any site staff to complete the relevant ITPs and associated checklists during the build on their phone. All the QA information is captured digitally in one place and can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in real-time.
Previously, they had lost about 10% of a project’s value to rework, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These defects were not only a massive cost but also a major reputational risk to the business. By implementing CONQA on their next project, with the same staff, they reduced their defects by more than 90%, only 0.2% of the project’s value.
This success came from leadership establishing a culture of quality and accountability, and driving continuous engagement with the CONQA platform, building confidence and skill. Armed with a robust QA process, they delivered their next project in 2020 with zero defects, ahead of schedule and under budget- virtually unheard of in the industry.
By this stage they were also harnessing CONQA to boost client satisfaction, team morale and to substantiate payment claims. Through sharing detailed and timely QA reports, AE Smith have earned themselves an excellent reputation as a highly professional and transparent contractor. "The client loves it, they’ve never had something like this before. They know exactly how we’re tracking and if we’re on programme. Our last progress claim was 900 pages long, because it had a copy of every single trench we worked on, with photos and comments attached." says Jeff.
With these reports they are also achieving 100% accuracy on their payment claims to the builder. “With us the risk is zero, they have all the documents to prove it, it doesn’t get easier than that.” he says.
CONQA has enabled them to be more competent at planning and forecasting, using the platform’s progress features. "We know down to the hour how we are tracking productivity-wise" he says. This visibility allows them to better resource for completion, as well as giving the team more opportunities to check-in with each other.
Crucially, the site team understands the value CONQA adds to their work. "You are creating a happier work environment when things are getting done right the first time. The mood on site when you’re sending them back in on weekends, after hours, fixing up stuff they’ve already done- they are not happy. If they’re not happy, I’m not happy." says Jeff. They also save significant time on tedious administrative paperwork.
"You’re getting people to change the way they’ve always done it, but the only way you’re going to see the benefit is by embracing it. We haven’t looked back." says Jeff.
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The wonderful team at Premier Services Group welcomed us on site and showed us how they're completing Quality Assurance checks regularly on large, complex projects.
Delivering meaningful quality assurance (QA) that makes a difference is a construction industry-wide challenge. Not satisfied with their QA processes, AE Smith decided to tackle them head-on by undertaking a major culture change and implementing CONQA across their new projects. AE Smith saw their rework improve from about 10% on their previous project to 0% on their latest project.
“CONQA allows our site foremen to spend less time at the office and more time at the work face, supervising our biggest asset, which is our labourforce".
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