You don’t get to this stage of construction without having kept a close eye on structure, strength and the quality of the materials being used.

3 story brick building under construction. Workers on scaffolding laying the bricks

And, as we keep learning in this building project, it all comes down to systems. Every month, Ashish (the Cushman & Wakefield engineer at the site) conducts a review meeting with us. He explains where we are, notes any deviations from schedule, budget or blueprints and, crucially, shares the quality management test results. A report card every month!

A complex chart detailing the results of various tests of sand quality, cement strength and moisture content of soil.

The fact that we routinely board flights, ride in elevators and submit to invasive medical procedures means we take Quality Control for granted. We take it on faith that the equipment we are entrusting our lives to is safe and that experts are routinely checking to ensure its reliability.

Yet we also know how often these things don’t happen. Inspections are missed, repairs are delayed, systems fail. And then planes crash, elevators plummet and the oxygen machine breaks down.

That’s why we believe in the importance of the mundane and the required. That’s why we have Quality Control for every process and every material used in the building. Whether it’s cement, sand or steel, it has to meet certain international specifications before it can be used.

Sand may seem like a simple component of construction but given that it is a key ingredient for mixing with cement and cement is what keeps the building from collapsing, getting the chemistry right is crucial. It’s tested at prescribed intervals for the presence of impurities – organic and inorganic – as well as for the percentage of silt. If the sand is damp, its bulk increases, messing up the recipe for that perfect cement batch so there’s a moisture test too.

I love how specific it is. Nothing personal, nothing left to chance. This is about systems.

Quality Control lab at a building site

Some of the testing is sent out to labs and some is done by the team at the site. Our Quality Control Lab isn’t show-offy or fancy. It’s a straightforward little room filled with no-nonsense equipment run by engineers who are serious about their work.

Man wearing a white hard hat standing in a quality control lab.The “compressive strength test” is where a cement concrete cube (150mm x 150mm x 150mm – standard set by IS codes) is placed in a Compression Testing Machine at designated intervals post-casting. At our lab, the test is done at 7 and 28 days after curing. 7 days gives the team the chance to reallocate the proportions if problems appear; by 28 days, the strength will be at 99% and hence good to go.

Here’s Raju demonstrating how the compression test is done. The result on the screen to the right reads 963 (IS minimum is 456) which is, as we say: zaroorat se zyaada.” In fact, that’s our motto around here.  As we create India’s first centre built to Universal Design standards, we keep saying: “Let’s make it better than it has to be.





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