Winner of the GIRI ICE Tom Barton Award announced

19 Oct 22
Winner of the GIRI ICE Tom Barton Award announced

Quality and handover manager Gavin Ford from contractor Costain has been announced as the winner of the inaugural ICE Tom Barton Award for his research into prevention of nonconformance and rework in construction. His works link viewpoints from industry professional with live NCR information using data from a major construction project. 

The award, which was created to honour GIRI’s founding director, recognises the efforts of individuals and project teams within the engineering and construction industries who have demonstrated innovation, commitment, and excellence in implementing new ideas or initiatives targeted at eliminating error. 

Gavin is quality and handover manager at Costain, and received his trophy at the annual ICE Awards ceremony on Friday 14 October in London. He was nominated by Prof Jonathan Gosling from Cardiff University for his PhD research into the prevention of non-conformance reports (NCRs) and rework and his “determination to make a difference and spark change within the construction sector”.

Gavin has worked in the construction sector for 14 years, the last ten years in the quality and handover sphere. He joined Costain in 2016 as a quality manager where he has pushed the concept of continuous improvement. For the last three years he has been doing a PhD alongside his full-time role within the business. 

Titled Leadership and decision-making to prevent non-conformance and rework in construction, Gavin’s PhD thesis entails the detailed analysis of NCRs on a major highways scheme using root cause analysis techniques to understand what went wrong, the decision-making process to correct the issue, and how it could be done differently to avoid future error.

“The point of the PhD is to inspire change within Costain and the wider industry,” says Gavin. “It is an industry-wide problem – the idea that right first time is unachievable, or that errors are inevitable is sad to hear. It sparked a passion to do better, particularly within the quality sphere. There is so much we can learn from NCR data, which at present is being overlooked.”

Gavin’s PhD research has two parts. The first, which is gathering quantitative data, is focused on 1,260 nonconformance reports (NCRs) from the A14 Huntingdon improvement project, analysing these to find out the most frequent and costly NCRs with their corresponding root causes. “With this we can start to build a picture of what we should focus on in terms of priorities and policies for change,” he explains. “For example, re-evaluating our internal and supply chain capabilities via role performance metrics to ensure suitably qualified and experienced personal in key roles at all times.”

The second part of the research involves a qualitative study of viewpoints to nonconformance and rework. “A survey featuring questions specifically around nonconformance and rework outcomes of the dataset is posed to project leaders and quality professionals within Costain, and the research will compare the findings from the two sets of results to see whether there is consensus on any of the issues. Finally, by combining and comparing the quantitative and qualitative data, I hope to come up with a framework or strategy for improvement. If we have fundamental, digestible data that can influence the leaders of companies, we can positively affect change. The results of the research will also show whether the industry has moved on and improved from GIRI’s initial findings.”

“Gavin’s drive, enthusiasm and commitment to undertake a PhD whilst in full time employment and with two young children is a testament to his determination to make a difference and spark change within the construction sector,” said Prof Jonathan Gosling in his nomination. “His research hopes to make strides in operational excellence within Costain and the wider construction communities, both academic and practitioner. He has also been a leading figure within Costain in changing the way non-conformance is costed and improving NCR processes.”

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