Posts Tagged Lean

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One of the latest MCGraw Hill Reports is out, and its got the easy to read melodic title of “Pre-Fabrication and Modularization: Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry” Now there is a lot of data out there showing that productivity in the Construction Industry has flatlined over the past decades where other industries have seen 200%+ growth.  Why?  Well I’m no economist but when there was no incentive to change, no economic shock and banks were handing out money to anyone with a pulse, well, why change?  Also during this time and still to a degree when you talk about introducing productivity tools/technology to the AEC Industry, in between people laughing at you they’ll say “good luck.”  Times are changing though and the report goes on to state that the two main drivers that were driving the increase in PreFab were “increased productivity” and “competitive advantage”, so generally “money” and “close more deals” or in other words, “money”.

So what is this acronymical jargon stew of BIM, Lean, PreFab mean?  How about this, spatial coordination/clash detection of “items” built off site to fit together on site like a model (remember attach Part A to Part B) to reduce waste.   And waste means everything, time, materials, etc.  Turner Construction reported a metal waste average of 15-25% of total recyclable materials with onsite fabrication  but with pre fab that dropped to 5-10%.  So let’s call that a 50% reduction.  50%, and that’s just in one category.

So is it no wonder that Pre Fab is shown in a glimmering light in this report when one of the sponsors is the Modular Building Institute, well ummn no, but just like if the Milk Board sponsored a study showing that calcium is good for you is that not true?  I blogged earlier about Skanska knocking it out of the park using pre-fab on the Miami Hospital so is it no wonder that it is being adopted more rapidly by the rest of the industry.  The report also mentions Turner using it because it makes good business sense and when I say that, I mean that from an economic/dollars perspective, less site waste, less time with your crew on site, quicker installs, less wasted time.  And what helps enable all this, to make sure it fits the way it is supposed to?  BIM, that is Building Information Modeling.  So understand there are all flavors of BIM from clash detection, to spatial coordination, etc. it is whatever it is to help you out.

One of the more dramatic benefits of an integrated Lean/ BIM project mindset is that the scales drop from the eyes and we begin to see the waste that is avoided in all its hidden forms: defects, motion, inventory, transportation, overproduction, processing and waiting. By embracing a Lean mindset we are able to deliver efficient, high quality, cost-effective healthcare facilities by capitalizing on the greatest tool we have: human talent. – James P. Barrett | Turner Construction Company | National Director BIM & Lean Building

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What the… It’s like alphabet soup and it’s also like the wild west out there, everyone staking their claim, evangelizing, growing their camps…but what’s it really mean.  To me, and I’m lucky as we provide mostly the BM,  not a very attractive acronym I realize as soon as I type it, but we provide the building model and then there is a whole lot of work to fill in the ‘I’ (Information) but what my position does afford me is to see how people are using these tools, how they understand them and what they hope to accomplish, but first lets decipher the soup and to me they break down into the majors (concepts) and the minors (processes).

Majors

BIM – Building Information Model.

VDC – Virtual Design and Construction

IPD – Integrated Project Delivery

Lean / Lean Construction

Minors

HPBMS – High Performance Building Management Systems

LPDS – Lean Production Delivery System (not sure I should have added this one but it came out Lean Construction Institute) and, well it fit well into the schema.

Well, what’s the point?  I will go back to quoting a GC we worked for, who was one of the first to ask us for a Revit model of an existing building.  ‘We now have the time and inclination to do things right’  This was as the real estate bubble was bursting, bids were more competitive and clients asking for hard bids.  Loans had dried up. The old ways of doing things just did not seem to work or feel right and the lowest hanging fruit was putting together a building digitally, go over design options, costs, maintenance costs of those options going forward, operating costs for your choices, choosing, unearthing design problems digitally before a shovel hits the round, minimize change orders, get a building up quicker, for less money, and of equal or better quality with a firm assurance of what that building might cost you to run in the future, as the total life cycle costs of the building end up dwarfing the costs to build it.

So put any wrapper around it you want but it is about building digitally, communicating with your peers, subs, and anyone else who has a stake in it and getting it done.  The playbook?  Well that’s where we see all the acronyms come in and consultants forming and practices starting to help guide firms through this. My experience has been that GCs were the first to really adopt this, and the good ones have been through it, at least from the construction end, but there is a lot more learn, streamline and go through before there will be anything close to best practices (digitally) across all disciplines so I hope you like soup…But in the end, it’s like grandma says, ‘it’s good for you.’

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