Lean Today, Leaner Tomorrow

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Editor’s note: We noticed on Twitter via the #aiachat hashtag that David Haynes’ article on Lean practices generated some interest. We asked a few of TROJB’s Lean and BIM specialists to respond.

By Paul Fallon RA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC, Neil Silva, MBA, LEED AP BD+C, and Laura Herbert

Haynes’ article outlines an important direction in AEC work and facility delivery. In the Renaissance the architect was the master builder; more recently, through centuries of increased specialization, we have developed greater separation of the design and build process. Today, integrated design and construction teams have become the virtual master builders, able to conceive and coordinate a project in great detail, and then actually build it. The introduction of lean design using as its principles Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) only scratches the surface of the opportunities that are obtainable. Our goal is always to be as efficient and lean as possible in our practice which is why we pride ourselves on innovative strategies that help build the foundation for cost efficient, timely project development. It is simply not enough to just produce a project in BIM; it is necessary to understand the full implication of aiming to be virtual master builders. Through our experience of managing the BIM process, we believe that a fully integrated approach between owner, designer and contractor strengthens the successes of a project and truly benefits all parties involved by allowing the team to produce an efficient and useful BIM. All levels of the team throughout the life of the project must embrace the ideology to avoid any weak links in its process. On our MaineGeneral Medical Center IPD project, we found value in rethinking how we document the project to reduce duplication of work and to ensure that the right people are doing the work at the right time. In working sessions, the team used pull scheduling to develop a workflow strategy. Together, we created a project-specific BIM Execution Plan. We also tested this workflow prior to implementing the process on the project. We have found that co-location with the construction team as well as live review of the model have greatly streamlined the flow of information. As an example, the architectural design team was able to review fabrication level structural details within the model prior to issuing documents for construction. By understanding how the subcontractors were going to construct the steel framing, we were able to make adjustments in our details that would allow a greater level of efficiency in the field. Adopting lean practices in the AEC industry as presented by David Haynes’ article displays a reasonable overview for transitioning to a more efficient and productive design build process. However we understand this is simply the beginning and that the complexities of embracing a fully lean process in the AEC industry requires more consideration and innovation through virtualization of infrastructure, adaptation of technology, and continued improvement of communication. We are excited to actively advance our lean processes through continued exploration in our current and future design projects.