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To become a successful material engineer , one is to be familiar with all the

technical aspects of a project related to construction materials , the proper
selection of materials , approval and testing of materials and checking the proper
storage of materials at the project.

For Quality Control , the site inspection and observing construction works are
of too much importance. To become an effective material Engineer for any
construction project site, one has to be very dedicated in understanding his roles
and responsibilities on the contractual relationships and inspection techniques
and must have a thorough knowledge on different type of International Standards
and Specifications . He is also to know in details about the construction materials
and their properties in order to ensure the use of quality materials in the project.


There are many International Standards for materials to be used in the

construction field. The following standards are frequently referred for
different materials to be used for the purpose.

(1) ASTM American Society for Testing Materials

(2) BS British Standard
(3) DIN Deutsches Institut fuer Normung
(4) ACI American Concrete Institute
(5) ANSI American National Standards Institute
(6) EN European Norm
(7) CP Code of Practice
(8) ISO International Organisation for Standardization
(9) AASHTO American Association of State Highway & Transportation Official


Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other

precise criteria to be used constantly as rules , guidelines , or definitions of
characteristics, to ensure that materials, products , processes and services are fit
for their purpose.


The standards which cover most of the materials used in construction field are
ASTM , BS and DIN . These standards either describe about the test methods of
carrying out tests for different properties of a material and in many cases also
specifies the limits for some properties of a specific material . ACI is an American
Institute for Concrete specifications only . AASHTO deals with materials of
highway & transportation. ISO , EN and CP are some other standards used for

The British Standard Institution (BSI) is one of the world’s leading standard and
quality services organisation . It was formed in 1901 and incorporated under Royal
Charter in 1929 , BSI is one of the oldest national standards making body in
the world . BSI is globally recognised as an independent and impartial body
serving both the private and public sector.

American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) develops standard test methods,
specifications , practices , guides , and terminology in 130 areas covering different
materials . Organized in 1898 , ASTM is one of the largest voluntry standards
development organisations in the world . American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) was founded in1918. It does not develop standards itself but it facilitates
development by establishing consensus through its accredited developers.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide

federation of national standards bodies from some 130 countries , one from
each country . ISO is a non-governmental Organization established in 1947.

ISO 8402 defines “Quality” as “the totality of features and characteristics of a

product or service that bears on it’s ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.”

The ISO 9000 series of standards are as follows for Quality Management Systems:

ISO 9000 : Quality Management and Quality Assurance Standards – Guidelines for
selection and use

ISO 9001 : Quality Systems – Model for Quality assurance in Design/Development,

production, installation and servicing

ISO 9002 : Quality Systems – Model for Quality assurance in production ,

installation and servicing

ISO 9003 : Quality Systems – Model for Quality assurance in final inspection

ISO 9004 : Quality Management and Quality Systems Elements – Guidelines

American Concrete Institute (ACI) is an organisation established in 1904. They

have developed Manual of Concrete practice , building codes , etc. which are used
as guidelines in the field of construction.


(1)To promote the quality of products to make them fit to be used

(2)To promote economic uses of materials in their production
(3)To promote suitability in quotation of materials in documents
(4)To promote international trade in removing barriers in national practices
(5)To promote industrial efficiency through variety control

A material engineer is to study the specifications in order to know about the

physical , chemical and other properties of any material to be used in a project and
also about the limits of these properties if available in the specifications . This
would be of great help to him to be ensured about important tests to be carried
out for the material . If the test results for the material is o.k , then it can be used in
the project. ASTM & BS specifications for Cement , steel , aggregates , concrete
cubes are to be studied thoroughly so that test results for those at any project
site can be readily checked by the material engineer.
In construction projects , specifications of materials are always very
important.These specifications are mentioned in several places on the contract
documents and drawings in most of the projects . So a material engineer must
understand that, he needs to study International and Local Standards and
Specifications for the frequently used materials in construction projects.



Any Government agency has its own General Specification. This General
Specification covers the technical specifications for buildings , roads , stormwater
drainage , electrical , mechanical and Services works . These General
Specifications are essential parts of the Contract documents related to a
project . A material engineer must consult the General specifications of the
Ministry from time to time in order to be familiar with what it says about the
materials to be used in construction works. These Specifications are based mostly
on ASTM , AASHTO , BS , CP , DIN , KSS & ISO. These are elaborate on every work
.to be implemented for a project and is the basic guideline for a material engineer

A Particular Specification is a Project Contract Document containing Particular

details on the specification of works for that project . For a particular project the
Contractor engaged for the smooth execution of the work shall have to follow
both the Particular Specification and General Specifications of the Ministry . Works
in which Particular Specification does not cover will have to be followed according
to the General Speifications. The Particular Specifications describe the scope of
works including the Contractors responsibility for the construction ,
maintenance and related activities . A material engineer is to be thorough with the
Particular Specifications of the project to know all the details of materials to be
.used and the storage , testing and the mode of approval for those materials

For the execution of a project successfully , a material engineer has a key role to
play in a team of technical professionals entrusted by the ministry for the timely
execution of the project . He is to co-ordinate with the Project engineer & other
team members to follow up events of the construction program. Quality Control
Services in a project includes inspection of works and tests of materials with
related actio including reports and follow-up actions . These things are
mentioned in details in the Particular Specifications . A material engineer should
also foresee the requirements of construction materials well ahead of time as
per construction program of the project. He should also make arrangements to
procure the materials on time so that the progress of work in the project does
.not hamper

A Project contains a set of documents which includes Particular Specifications ,

Drawings and Bill of Quantities. The BQ is a very important source of informations
about materials for the project. A material engineer is also required to study
the BQ to get more informations about the project , quantities for each item of
work . Drawings of a project are also references about the works to be done and
.materials to be used in the project

From technical point of view it can be concluded that General Specs. & Technical
documents of a project like Particular specifications, Bill of Quantity and
Project drawings are of very much importance for a material engineer to cope up
with the procurement , proper storage & testing for the assurance of quality and
workmanship of a project

In 1948 , CSI had been organized for the purpose of improving specification
practices in the construction and allied industries . CSI developed a standard
method for organizing project specifications that became the foundation for
comprehensive construction communication system which is being presently used.
.In 1967, CSI published their first manual of practice

The CSI has 5 parts in its Manual of Practice.These are :

Part I - Elements of a project manual

Part-II - Specification Writing Techniques

Part III - Production Techniques

Part IV - Special Applications

Part V - Appendices

The CSI manual of practice outlines recommended techniques & a philosophy for
preparing and organizing written construction documents . But it does not give
any technical product or design information . CSI has a 16 division format
developed by them in 1963 . These formats organized specifications into
generically related groupings . This was followed by the section organization
within divisions into a 3 part format.

A specification is a precise statement describing the characteristics of a

particular item. It is not practicable to include sufficient notes on the project
drawings to describe in complete detail of all the materials and the fabrication
methods needed for a construction project . For that reason separate written
descriptions known as specifications are produced . Specifications are the
construction documents which define the qualititive requirements of products
, materials and workmanship upon which the contract is based . In the years
1962 and 1963 , CSI had several meetings after which they finally introduced the
system which is known as CSI 16 Division Format. These Formats are accepted
worldwide which helped contractors for their bids.

The CSI 16 division format has the following advantages:

*It provides a standard fixed framework for organizing specifications

*It serves as a guidance for arranging specification sections very easily
*It enables readers to easily retrieve information.

The 16 divisions are fixed in both number and title . Following is a list of the
Division titles and a summary of the subject matter in each.
Division 1 : General Requirements : General and Administrative requirements ,
procedural matters , and temporary facilities and controls which apply to all the
other sections contained
in divisions 2 through 16.

Division 2 : Site Work : Work and materials related to the site and site
preparation including demolition, earthwork, piped utilities, landscaping, paving
and surfacing.

Division 3 : Concrete : Concrete including forms,reinforcing and precast items.

Division 4 : Masonry : Brick, stone, concrete and other masonry units and
associated mortars and accesories.

Division 5 : Metals : Structural metal framing, metal decks, metal fabrications ,

ornamental metal.

Division 6 : Wood and Plastics : Rough and finish carpentry, heavy timber,
structural plastics and plastic fabrications and laminates.

Division 7 : Thermal and Moisture Protection : Work and materials associated

with thermal and moisture protection like waterproofing, insulation, cladding ,
roofing, sheet metals, sealants etc.

Division 8 : Doors and Windows : Most types of doors, frames, windows and

Division 9 : Finishes : Finishing works & materials as plaster, gypsum board , tile,
carpet, painting, wall coverings and acoustical treatments.

Division 10: Specialities : Miscellaneous pre-manufactured items like toilet

.partitions & accessories, lockers, signs, fireplaces and chalkboards

Division 11: Equipment : specialised building equipment like security , food

service , laboratory , stage, medical, & water and sewage treatment.

Division 12: Furnishings : Furniture, Drapes, blinds, art work, multiple seating and
interior plants.

Division 13: Special Constructions : Building components with special purposes

including pre-engineered buildings , air supported structures , integrated ceilings ,
swimming pools , gas storage tanks, utility control systems, solar energy systems
and fire suppression systems.

Division 14: Conveying System : Elevators ,cranes , escalators and other powered
transportation systems.

Division 15: Mechanical : Equipment and systems involved in plumbing ,

drainage , heating , ventilating , air conditioning and fire sprinkler systems.

Division 16: Electrical : Electrical works including lighting and power

distribution , controls , communications, and instrumentation.

It expands the 16 Division format by providing names and numbers for the
various specification sections. The Master format is based on a 5 digit number
system. The first 2 digits refer to one of the 16 divisions. Thus the number 03300
refers to a section in Division 3 - Concrete . Five digit numbers are provided in all
the broadscope and mediumscope sections. For narrowscope sections , only titles
without 5 digit numbers are provided. The specifier assigns numbers for a
narrowscope section used.

05200 Metal Joists (Broadscope)

05210 Steel Joists (Mediumscope)
05221 Open Web Steel Joists (Narrowscope)
05222 Steel Joist Girders (Narrowscope)

For a broadscope section the last 2 digits are 00 , for a mediumscope section only
the last digit is 0 and for a narrowscope section the last digit may be any digit .
Masterformat can serve as an index for cataloging construction data and
information in a library or data bank.

CSI Three part section Format :

In the 3 part section format of CSI , all technical sections of the specification are
divided into 3 distinct parts, always in the same order : (1) general (2) products
and (3) execution . If followed
Properly, it makes the reading of the specification a simple , orderly process and
eliminates many error due to oversight.

Scope ; Related work ; Submittals; Inspection
Requirements ; Testing ; Certificates ; etc.

Technical specifications for all materials, equipment, fabricated items, etc;In no
case is it proper to show any installation requirements in this part , or
specify quality of workmanship in this part.


Qualititive standards relating to workmanship etc. ; covers installation ,
erection , construction etc. ; In no case is it proper to cover any product ,
materials , equipment or fabricated item requirements in this part.

(a)Preliminaries :

(i) In construction of projects , the most important thing is the selection of

materials related to
that construction work . In this connection , a material engineer is to strictly
follow the contract documents which include the Particular Specifications ,
Drawings and the Bill of Quantity of the project.

Materials to be used in a project should be of good standard having been used

successfully in similar situations on other projects . If a single product or
manufacturer is named in the contract documents then no substitution is allowed
. If products or manufacturers are specified by name accompanied by the term
“or equal” or “or approved equal”, then contract document is to be complied
with substitutions provisions to obtain approval of an unnamed product . But
where specifications describe a product with exact characteristics needed without
a brand or trade name then that material is to be procured for the project .
Where the specifications require with performance requirements , the material
performance should be according to the manufacturer’s certification of performance
in the product literature. But where the specifications need compliance with a
specific standard , then a product should be chosen which complies with that

(ii) General Specifications : If a material details is not covered in the contract

documents clearly , then General Specifications is to be referred for that
material . General specification is the guidelines for all type of materials as defined
in CSI & has to be followed in all project works where contract documents did not
give any reference or explanation on a particular material. So for any material to
be tested and approved for a project, General Specification handbook is of vital

(iii) Other standards mentioned in the contract : In Particular Specification of a

contract document, it is clearly stated that unless a higher standard is mentioned in
the contract, the project works would conform to the General specification of
Buildings and Roads and other standards like ACI , ASTM , BS , DIN , ISO , AASHTO
etc. So all other standards mentioned in the contract shall have to be given due
importance before approval of the material.

(iv) Submittal of Schedule of materials : The Contractor’s submittal of schedule of

materials are to be followed up by the material engineer as per the program
specified in the contract. The submittal of the contractor should contain the quality
assurances about the materials , samples of the materials , list of materials and test
results of the materials. The material engineer is to ensure these things.

(b) Products :

Locally produced materials of Kuwait are to be given priority for being used in
projects subject to satisfactory test results. Next priority would be for materials
produced in GCC countries if Local material is not available or fails in perfoming
satisfactory test results. Materials produced outside Kuwait or other GCC countries
would come as the last preference if materials are not available or fails to comply
from Kuwait or other GCC origin. These are also to be taken into consideration
before selection and approval of any material for the project.

The submittal of list of products by the contractor with data is very important
before the start of the project to avoid delay. Material submittals will have to be as
per prescribed format being used in the project . After going through the submittal
log , each material data is to be studied as per clauses and provisions in the
contract documents . If satisfied , then the samples of materials are to be procured
for approving the particular materials. After that samples are approved , the
material samples(as needed in the Government laboratory) are to be sent for the
required tests according to the contract . After getting and checking the test
results , approvals are given to materials which satisfy the requirements of the
contract documents . Thus , approvals of all materials should be completed before
any use or installation of that material in the project . After the approvals , the
materials should arrive at the project site according to the time schedule fixed
for the project to avoid delay. After the arrival of materials at the project site ,
those are to be checked very carefully & are to be compared so that it complies
with the shop drawings , the sample of material approved and the same samples
for which tests had been performed satisfactorily.Also to be checked are that those
materials are new and undamaged. Damaged and defective materials are to be
removed from the site immediately . Thereafter the materials are to be stored in a
proper way & conditions at the storage area of the project.


For the storage of materials at project site, the following points are to be strictly
followed up as minimum requirements.
(1)To check adequate space for storage areas for the materials to be stored.
(2)To see that all materials are properly stored and protected.
(3)To see maintenance of storage area in a neat and orderly way.
(4)To assure necessary condition of temperature, lighting and ventillation
provision for the storage area.
(5)To check safety provisions in storage area of flammable or explosive
(6)To check adequate provision of fire extinguishers in places where asphalt
, painting and gaseous materials have been stored.
(7)To check facilities for adequate weather protection and possible damage
prevention of the materials in the storage area.
(8)To ensure that where outside storage is necessary , the materials are
stored above ground level.
(9)To check that materials are handled and stored carefully to prevent damages
during storage.
(10)To go ahead with visual inspection regularly to check that defective and
inferior quality are removed from site immediately after detection of the fault.
(11)To check that no unspecified or inferior quality materials are brought
inside the storage area by the contractor.
(12) To check that the storage area is free of mud and deleterious materials.

* He is to ensure that the material submittal log of the contractor is as per


* He is to prepare the format containing all the informations required

related to the Specifications of the materials (available from contract
documents) and he is to make comparison between the specification and
the material catalogue submitted for approval.

* He is to classify materials as Local or Foreign with the date of

submittal & the date of approval according to CPM & the approval of the
sub-contractors and also he is to co-ordinate with the planning engineer in
this respect.

* He is to make co-ordination with the project / planning engineer to

ascertain that a registrar is prepared at the project site showing each
material status with date of arrival and the date of approval by also
mentioning the type and quantity of the material.

* He is to keep a record of all the documents which belongs to material approval

including selection of samples, material samples to be tested and the related

* He is to co-ordinate with the Quality Control Department regarding the

materials to be used in the project, their status and procedure of approvals.

* He is to review and make comparison for the test results according to

the contract documents and General Specifications and take the necessary
action in case of failure or partial failure ( make deduction for the materials
or reject ) in co-ordination with the project / planning engineer

* He is to audit periodically the storage of materials to ensure the method

of storage including quantity and provide the program engineer all the
data informations about these audits.

* He is to make a weekly program for the project engineer showing all the
submitted but yet to be approved or understudy materials (consultants and
ministry) and to co-ordinate with the engineer responsible to avoid delay in

* He is to ensure that all samples are taken from the materials

representing the true quantity and tests have been carried out and test
results are received and studied before allowing the use of it for execution.

* He is to co-ordinate with project engineer periodically having enough time in

hand and ask the contractor for bringing the material for approval in
consultation with the planning engineer

* He is to follow-up the use of material at site & be sure about the quality of it’s

* He is to co-ordinate with the Quantity Surveyor for the arrival of

material at site to prepare the quantity and the price of the material which is
to be used and to be paid in the monthly bill.

* He is to supervise and follow-up that all the required material tests have been
carried out by the contractor at the site Laboratory.

* He is to go for the periodical checking of the storage area of to

materials make sure that the storage method is ok , safety precautions
are taken and no new material without his recorded knowledge is
added inside the storage area.

* He is to take part in preparing technical studies for treatment of all the

defects or notes which might have been appearing after the materials are used
in the project

*He is to make sure that samples are taken properly according to the
quantity and as per specifications and study the results before the use of the

*He is to participate for preparing monthly payments related to the quantity

of imported and stored materials at site

*He is to follow-up the works related to the testing of the materials at

the Government Laboratories

*He is to prepare the final list of used materials at site identifying by

resources , quantity, types and test results

*He is to update the material approval log with all the informations by
preparing the latest lists of materials approved including quantity , sources ,
agents , types etc.

*He is to take initiative for developing specifications and new contract

documents from the experience he gained working as a material engineer in
the previous projects.