Producing drawings is an important part of a foodservice designer’s work and computer drafting programs have certainly streamlined the process. While they can make drawings more accurate, these drafting programs cannot eliminate every potential error. For that reason, I’m a firm believer in the use of checklists as part of the quality control process to help catch potential problems.

The What

Peter Christensen, FCSI, Principal, Christensen Consultants, San Jose, Calif.As foodservice designers we need to enhance the drawings and make sure better-quality drawings leave our offices. In my consulting career in this industry, I’ve seen everything from “Get it done and throw it out the door” to “Let’s check it very carefully and make sure we don’t send anything out that we’re not proud of.” So, I’ve come up with a quality control procedure that foodservice designers can perform prior to sending drawings out for review.

My idea came from an airline cockpit. The comforting thing about flying is knowing that the people in the cockpit run through a checklist before they get in the plane and take off. With drawings, the stakes may not be as high, but unchecked drawings can lead to embarrassing mistakes with misspellings or typos: Those are the least of the issues. You could also have problems that aren’t resolved before the drawings get to the health and building departments, which means they will be flagged, corrected and resubmitted. That takes more time in the plan-check process.

Having a checklist makes sure that the process goes smoother. There are fewer calls back to you, less confusion and less chance for an error.

The How

How do you develop a QC process or checklist? First, review the requirements for the agencies to which you will submit the drawings for review. For example, if you’re doing a project in San Francisco, review the city of San Francisco building department’s requirements prior to submitting your drawings. That way, you know what they expect and, hopefully, your drawings will meet those requirements.

Second, keep a list of errors or mistakes that have come up over the years as you have prepared previous drawings. When you start to see a trend of things that keep getting flagged as a problem, add those issues to the list and resolve them before finalizing drawings.

As you acquire more information and more items in need of perfecting, just keep adding things to the list. It’s a living document.

The Why

A QC system tells the architect you’re doing your job. When you get a list of 300 comments on a job with 20 of them on the foodservice side — and 10 of those are annoying little things that you could have noticed beforehand — you’re not doing your homework. Our drawings are coordinated with the plumbing, mechanical and electrical engineers, who rely on accurate information from the foodservice designer. Quality drawings mean there’s less back and forth.

End-users are paying us to provide a professional package of drawings. If we are doing our quality control, then we’re giving them what they’ve paid for: a professional set of drawings that has been reviewed and checked properly.