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How Lean Construction Can Boost Productivity


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The Lean Construction Institute describes a simple method for preventing logjams on a construction project. The first step is to gather the people involved in the project and have them talk through the best approach for setting deadlines. You can increase productivity by having everyone openly work together instead of setting rigid schedules in separate silos.

As online communication becomes the norm, more builders share information through online platforms rather than face to face.

Integrating Applications

 “Thirty percent of respondents reported that ‘none’ of the applications in use will integrate, a 10 percent decrease since 2012."

Builders who want to improve productivity with lean methods are also adopting digital technology to share information. Nevertheless, they still have troubles when trying to find applications that share data seamlessly.

The JBKnowledge’s 2017 Construction Technology Report found that “30 percent of respondents reported that ‘none’ of the applications in use will integrate, a 10 percent decrease since 2012, however, a three percent increase since 2016.” In other words, even if a builder uses an app, they are very likely to still wind up entering all the data manually.

Productivity software and software that allows sharing of documents, plans, and photos in real time are essential. Some technologies, like Spot-R by Triax, allow the foreman to track the productivity of all the workers on a site. The app syncs with Procore, making it easy to keep track of hours and costs.

Why Expand the Use of BIM?

The JBKnowledge’s 2017 Construction Technology Report found that those who don’t use Building Information Modeling cannot bid on some projects. According to the report, “The demand for BIM will continue as will BIM's influence on how construction projects are bid and won in 2018. Companies still not exploring BIM will find themselves more and more limited in areas of work.”

From initial design to prefabrication, to building, maintenance, and operation, 3D CAD drawing shared on the cloud can unite a far-flung team.

It further states that “27 percent of respondents reported having a dedicated BIM/VDC [Virtual Design and Construction] department. A startling 28 percent reported that their company does not bid on projects involving BIM. Another unsettling revelation is the 25 percent of respondents who reported only one or two members trained to work on BIM projects...without BIM as a main priority or responsibility.” 

From initial design to prefabrication, to building, maintenance, and operation, 3D CAD drawing shared on the cloud can unite a far-flung team. For the Lean approach to work, adopting BIM is crucial. People need to share design specifications, and using a BIM software in the cloud allows this.

The World Economic Forum’s report entitled An Action Plan to Accelerate Building Information Modeling (BIM) Adoption notes that “BIM adoption has been slow, despite its many advantages.”

BIM can automate the design, check whether a project is buildable, plan for cost, and include information for maintenance and operation.

The report says that “BIM acts as the centerpiece of the industry’s digital transformation. It powers new technologies such as prefabrication, automated equipment, and mobile applications for team collaboration. It also enables new services, and helps determine which new assets best complement existing built environments.”

“BIM acts as the centerpiece of the industry’s digital transformation."

Engineering and design companies are the most likely to use BIM. However, the report found that many of these organizations are not using the most sophisticated versions of BIM, thus limiting its usefulness.

It describes the “levels of BIM maturity” on a scale, with levels 0 and 1 offering no collaboration between people working on a project. At Level 2, stakeholders use 3D CAD and can exchange data electronically. At BIM Level 3, stakeholders can collaborate in the cloud. Although this technology is widely available, fewer companies than you might think are actually using it. BIM use is mandated in the UK, but only 46 percent of the country’s construction companies describe themselves at BIM Level 2, according to the World Economic Forum’s action plan on BIM.

Commit to BIM From Start to Finish

If your company doesn’t use BIM, and you want to make a case for it, the report suggests emphasizing these important functions:

  • The platform stores, manages, and shares data required by new technologies,

  • Its digitized environments can help with financial planning,

  • Centralized storage of data aids bid processes,

  • BIM Level 3 sets up early communication among all the stakeholders,

  • Use of BIM supports global conventions for data generation.

Most who study the construction industry say that it’s not a matter of if the industry adopts digital tools but when they do.

The McKinsey Global Institute’s report, Solving the Productivity Puzzle: The Role of Demand and the Promise of Digitization, projects that governments may soon require the use of BIM for public works projects, which would spur its use among contractors who haven’t adopted it yet.

If you liked article, here are a few eBooks and webinars you may enjoy: 

The Power of I in BIM

ERP is Dead: Why Single-Source Software Packages Can't Compete With Integrated Platforms

Go Lean: Cutting Waste & Increasing Productivity

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