This photo is an example of the many millions of dollars worth of equipment that sits on site, ready to do a job. Imagine how much a work stoppage would cost this company if its equipment sits idle because you can’t produce the proper equipment certifications and safety documentation. Can your bottom line withstand that impact?

What is Quality?

Quality is most simply defined as “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy given needs,” basically that it is fit for use or purpose. 

What is Quality Control?

Quality Control (QC) is a process by which a company can ensure that a manufactured product or performed service adheres to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the company and/or of its customers. 

Quite often, QC and Quality Assurance (QA) are thought of as the same thing; however, there are slight differences. QC is a “Reactive” process in which the QC manager or team will check and identify defects, mistakes and/or wrong components specifications before making the product available to clients. QA is “Proactive” and more focused on preventing defects and assuring customers that a product will deliver an ongoing high-quality experience. A QA program continuously tries to improve and go above and beyond in all transactions and interactions with the customer. 

Both QC and QA are part of Quality Management. To perform proper Quality Management, a Quality Management System (QMS) is a desirable program to have and operate under as it creates many benefits for companies, which we will discuss in a future article. 

Why Is It Important?

Several techniques are used to ensure QC. In most industries (including oil and gas), many testing techniques, inspection techniques, and scheduled maintenance checks are used to ensure that equipment assets and personnel are compliant and that safety measures are implemented before the job starts. 

Proper Quality Control will help keep employees, contractors, customers, and the environment in which they work SAFE. 

In the case of equipment assets, all parts of the equipment (no matter how small or numerous) must be inspected, properly maintained, and deemed safe for use. Documents of compliance, certifications, inspections, audits and scheduled maintenance are all integral parts of QCQA. This is especially important when the job involves high pressures, sour gas, and corrosive or abrasive environments, like those in the oil and gas industry. Or, in the case of the aircraft industry, where critical failures in software or metal fatigue can cause catastrophic events. You don’t want to be on that plane if that happens. What’s the old saying… put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye! And it’s not just assets that need to be trained and certified. All employees who work on the equipment must also have the proper accreditations.

QC also ensures that a new part purchased from a vendor has the right specs for the job and the right certification of compliance for its intended use. For example, sour gas is often present in the oil and gas industry. So, any equipment used in a sour gas environment must be rated for “sour service,” even nuts and bolts. Sour gas is very corrosive on metal and very deadly to people. Along with company safety audits for equipment and personnel, vendor audits should also be performed to ensure the right parts are sold to the company.

Summary

If a company uses equipment or personnel that is not compliant, it could be held liable for any injuries or environmental damage. 

Work can be stopped if a company cannot prove that equipment or personnel have the proper certifications for a project. For example, before a frac, all piping must be deemed safe to use on a well site. This is usually proved by having up-to-date NDT reports showing that the pipe meets all safety criteria. If the company cannot produce this documentation, work will stop until the document is produced or an NDT company is called in to UT (test) the pipe and produce a report showing that the pipe is safe to use. Work stoppages such as these could cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In worst-case scenarios, workers’ injuries or environmental damage could occur on a work site. If it was found that the equipment failed because it was not compliant, then there could be criminal and/or civil suits brought against the owners of the equipment. Oil and gas, pulp and paper, and aircraft are just a few highly regulated industries where compliance is critical.

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