QUALITY ASSURANCE AND RESEARCH

The Quality Assurance and Research wing, functioning under the control of the Chief Engineer, was started way back in 1957 and it was originally known as Highways Research Station (HRS). Research on Road and Testing of Materials, Quality Control for Road & Bridge works are the primary duties of this wing, by which it provides technical advice and guidance to the Highways Department. A Joint Chief Engineer, four Deputy Chief Engineers (Research) and Eight Divisional Engineers (Quality control) are in charge of the activities of HRS.  The objectives and functions are as follows

Functions:

  • Assessing the quality and suitability of the materials and composite materials used for road and bridge construction
  • Assurance of quality standards for all the materials used in the construction of roads and bridges at all stages of works for all the works executed by the Department
  • Continued Research in all aspects of Highway Engineering with a view of optimal utilization of resources for achieving the best quality road network

Activities of the wing:

Quality Control Mechanism:

A three-tier quality control system has been put in place to check the quality of works at all stages, by conducting relevant tests. Quality control laboratories at Circle and Division levels have been formed to achieve the above purpose. The quality checks conducted at the preliminary stage of a work, avoid considerable wastage of time, energy and financial resources, enabling to take corrective measure at this stage itself.

Laboratories:

Four laboratories at Chennai viz., Soils, Concrete, Bitumen and Traffic are functioning under the control of the Chief Engineer, Quality Assurance and Research. Apart from this, four regional labs one each at Thanjavur, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli also function under the control of Chief Engineer

With a specific focus to achieve better quality standards in all the works of this department, four additional Regional Labs are proposed to be instituted in the ensuing year, at Villupuram, Tiruchy, Salem and Tiruppur.

The broad functions of the above labs are:

  • Suitability and Quality assessment of basic material used in the construction of roads and bridges
  • Ascertaining the quality standard for the materials and composite materials used in the construction of roads by conducting lab tests and field tests.
  • Closer scrutiny of performance behavior of materials used in the road construction.
  • Problem-assistance to field Engineers for arriving at a solution in distressed areas.
  • Identifying accident-prone areas and suggesting suitable remedial measures to minimize the accidents

This apart, designing of flexible & rigid pavements, subsurface soil exploratory works, pile load tests for bridges, non-destructive tests on concrete members, tests on steel, mix design for all layers and elements of Roads and Bridges, evaluation and testing of structural and surface characteristics of roads by Axle load tests and surface roughness tests.

Non-standard junctions are highly prone to accidents. The junction pattern and existing characteristics are closely studied and based on the data collected and detailed analysis, road junctions are designed to reduce Road Traffic Accidents, drastically.

Co-ordination with the Government agencies such as Traffic Police Department on transportation and traffic related issues, offering expert advice on technical specifications for road safety related components etc., are also the functions of Quality Assurance and Research wing.

As a result of effectively carrying-out all the above activities, during 2012-2013, the Quality Assurance and Research wing has earned a Revenue to the tune of Rs.4.17 Crore to the State’s exchequer by way of Lab and field tests.

Research Activities

During the year 2012-2013 four research schemes were undertaken by this Institute and the status are as follows:

  • Study on the Effect of use of Retarder in Concrete Mix and its effects on Concrete Strength. Laboratory tests have been completed and the performance is under observation.
  • Feasibility Study on Transition of Marshall Mix Design to Super Pave Design. Sophisticated equipments needed for the study have been procured and the sample testing have commenced. The Behaviour of Design would be observed.
  • Study on the performance of flexible pavement. Candidate stretches have been selected and preliminary field and lab tests have been commenced.
  • Journey and Speed Studies on selected stretches of Urban, Semi-Urban and Rural roads within the State. Two case studies have been selected, one at Chennai and the other at Madurai city. First round of observation completed. The second round of observations, are in progress

For the first time in recent decades, eight technical papers were presented by HRS at the 73 rd Annual Session of Indian Roads Congress, conducted at Coimbatore during January 2013. These Technical papers were part of ongoing research Schemes of this Institute. The expertise and knowledge gained in the Research, was shared through Technical Forums.

For the year 2013-2014, the following Research studies are proposed to be conducted:-

  • Study on the Luminosity of street lighting on select stretches of corridors at urban, semi -urban stretches of the city.
  • To study the possibility of using copper slag as fine aggregate in Cement concrete pavement.

Training

Training activities have been given a fresh impetus by the Quality Assurance & Research, HRS. In the year 2012-2013, about 387 Engineers of the department in all cadres have been trained on various aspects of Highway Engineering with a focus on all round development of the Engineers.

During 2012-2013, about 296 students of all premier Engineering institutions all over the state have completed their project thesis work and in-plant training at HRS. Moreover around 600 students have undergone one day training at HRS.

This Institute is equipped with latest, sophisticated state-of-art equipments, knowledge resources and skilled manpower. Hence, HRS has emerged as the favorable destination of the students including IITs for completing the project thesis and undergoing training.

Hence, it has been contemplated to establish a dedicated, exclusive Training Centre with all the latest state of-art facilities in the compound of HRS which would be imparting quality training programme to the Engineers of all cadres throughout the country, throughout the year.

The Training Centre would also undertake research programmes and coordinate with other premier research institutes and Technical Bodies such as IRC, CRRI / MARI, GERI, NITHE, IITs, Reputed Engineering Institutions etc., to promote technical excellence and research.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO 9001-2008 Certificate)

The office of the Chief Engineer (H) Quality Assurance and Research has been accredited with ISO 9001-2008 certification. This also includes Regional Labs at Thanjavur, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore and the Office of the Superintending Engineer, Construction and Maintenance wing at Chennai, Salem, Madurai and Tirunelveli.

This is a feather in the cap of the Highways Department to achieve more and more better results in future.