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CHAPTER 7. CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED RESEARCH Conclusions This report documents the results of a comprehensive study on the assurance of quality in highway maintenance. An extensive literature search and review and a series of surveys and interviews of highway maintenance agencies were performed to determine We state of the art In quality management. Based on Me results of these efforts, a prototype QA program for highway maintenance was developed. The formulated prototype program was then arranged into an implementation manual that can be used by agencies wanting to develop, implement) and operate customized versions of Me program. Concurrent win Me development of Me prototype was an investigation into identifying potential methods of tracking the relationship between QA program outputs and the long-term performance of highway elements. The findings of the literature review suggest that quality principles and ideas can and do have applications In maintenance. Ideas, such as involving customers In defining quality, measuring quality in order to improve quality, and continuously seeking newer and more efficient technologies, are more frequently being recognized as better means for conducting Me business of maintenance. The results of questionnaire surveys and in-depth interviews of various highway maintenance agencies show that only four agencies Florida' Maryland, Oregon, and British Columbia-operate LOS-based quality programs, The first three agency's programs involve assessment of long-term, end-result performance of maintained roadways, while Me last agency's program involves assessment of both in- process/end-product work quality and long-term, end-result performance. None of the four agencies use customer Input or statistics to develop LOS rating criteria; however, Florida, Maryland, and British Columbia conduct QA/QC checks of LOS rating teams to ensure consistent ratings. A fifth agency-Pennsylvania-was noted as having a comprehensive quality assessment program for in-process/end-product work and an established process for Incorporating customer satisfaction input into its program. Two potential methods for tracking the relationship between QA program outputs and the long-term performance of highway facilities were identified in this study. The Backlog Analysis and Me Change in Condition Indicator vs. Time methods were devised and Men indinduaDy evaluated using actual pavement condition and maintenance LOS data to determine Weir overall worminess as tracking methods. In terms of practicality of use, both methods were viewed as relatively simple and straightforward. The effectiveness of each method, however, was only partially ~2i
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validated by Me evaluations. Although "big-picture" trends between pavement performance and maintenance LOS were generally observed trends suggesting that higher LOS results In a slower rate of deterioration major performance factors, such as funding allocations, design, materials, traffic, and rehabilitation, were not accounted for due to We limitations of each me~od's analysis procedure. For this reason, it was recommended Mat bow methods be considered precursory tracking methods Mat require the support of a more reliable methodology; one that accurately accounts for the effects of the previously stated performance factors. The main objective of this study was accomplished following Me development of a prototype QA program for highway maintenance. This program is described and illustrated In detail In a two-volume instructional document, titled Maintenance QA Program Implementation Manual. At the heart of the program is an LOS rating system that enables agencies to produce long-term, end-result maintenance quality assessments. The system uses statistical, attribute-based QA methodology and allows for the inclusion of customer-defined quality standards. LOS ratings can be produced at Me activity, project, and network levels of maintenance, Hereby enabling an agency to identify areas of deficient or excessive LOS and to Men take Me necessary actions to bring LOS ratings more in balance win each over. The LOS rating system is functional in a centralized or decen~al~zed management environment. In the case of the latter, a QA/QC process is available that will help an agency ensure consistency In LOS ratings among its multiple rating teams. The LOS rating system is augmented by a maintenance work priority component, Mat helps rationally determine which work activities should be reduced in case of funding shortfalls or which activities should be performed first in emergency situations. A workload inventory component is also included which enables an agency to predict how much work is required to produce a desired LOS. Integrated with accurate activity cost data, Me workload Inventory can be used to develop a zero-based budget request that relates Me total resources needed to achieve and maintain the desired LOS. Other key components of Me prototype QA program include employee training, customer satisfaction, and process updating. The main requirements for adopting Me QA program, as pointed out in Me ImpZementahon Manual, are fourfold. These requirements are as follows: An existing method of documenting work accomplishments, Including production and productivity data. Reliable labor, equipment, and material costs associated with each work activity. An inventory of highway maintenance features to be maintained. · A basic understanding of quality management concepts. It Is believed Mat none of these items will pose a major problem for most transportation agencies. MMS's Mat feature each of Me first Tree items to some degree have been 122
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implemented by many agencies within the last 20 to 25 years. And, CQI and total quality management (TQM) practices have been tried, or at least studied, at several transportation agencies, so the concepts will be familiar to some. Perhaps We biggest change Mat win be necessary is the culture shift that encompasses the way an agency will act, think, talk, and work in order to do things right the first time. Doing this win enable an agency to shift from a "fixing" mode to a "prevention" mode, including the benefits of cost avoidance associated with each repair Mat does not have to be repeated. Eventually, this culture shift will lead Me way to greater levels of customer satisfaction win Me LOS being received. As suggested by Deming in his first principle of quality (Create constancy of purpose), management must possess a long-term commi~nent toward CQ]. This unplies a strategic plan Mat states this commitment and backs it up by channeling necessary resources toward Q]. Essential to Me successful application of quality management is a commitment starUng at Me CEO level and working down Me hierarchy. In summary, an agency must look at the issue of quality and decide which of the following two approaches is best for them: 1. Time that can be spent trying to limit the costs of achieving a desired LOS to the historical funding available In Me past. 2. Time Mat can be spent establishing a desired LOS requested by customers and doing Me technically right thing for Me right reasons at Me right time. Choosing the first course of action may direct an agency toward continued customer dissatisfaction with the results being achieved. Choosing the second course of action can enable an agency to pursue Ql In a more positive manner. Suggested Research Although the prototype QA program Implementation Manual was designed and prepared as a stand-alone instructional "rude, Me chances for success by an implementing agency could be greatly enhanced through assistance provided by the NCHRP 1~12 contractor. It is therefore recommended Cat a "follow-up" phase of this project be considered that would involve pilot testing of the prototype program in several State and local highway agencies. This assistance could be provided Trough several means, Me most Important of which include: Presentations at maintenance conferences and meetings, highlighting the features contained in He QA program Implementahon Manual and the potential benefits Hat can be achieved by an agency wishing to improve He quality, uniformity, and cost-effectiveness of its highway maintenance operations. 123
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Development and presentation of workshops Hat elucidate He concepts and demonstrate He methodologies of He prototype QA program. · Development of a computerized version of the software necessary for an agency to implement He system. · "Beta Testing" of a complete prototype system within 3 or 4 highway agencies, with guidance provided by He NCHRP 1~12 in several key areas., such as establishing appropriate features, developing LOS criteria, and performing QC checks on He LOS rating teams. Establishment of "Help Desk" phone lines to help implementing agencies avoid the many pitfalls and problems outlined In Me ImpZernentation Manual. 124
Representative terms from entire chapter: