Focusing on Process Over Product: A New Approach to Construction Productivity

By Patrick
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

This blog is adapted from an AIA presentation on Technology and Practice presented in partnership with the UNC Charlotte College of Architecture in October 2016.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Focusing on Process Over Product
for Construction Productivity”

Research indicates that construction is one of the only industries where efficiency and productivity has actually fallen over the past 50 to 60 years. While processes exist to optimize construction, one of the biggest challenges in overcoming this inefficiency is the fact that few AEC companies see their own inefficiency.

According to the 2013 Dodge Data & Analytics (McGraw-Hill Construction) SmartMarket Report, roughly a quarter of U.S. general or trade contractors expressed familiarity with or had implemented Lean construction practices.

Significantly fewer still—less than 8%—had used specific Lean manufacturing strategies such as Toyota Way or Six Sigma. More interestingly, the report found that those companies not familiar with a Lean approach didn’t view their practices as inefficient.

The building industry as a whole remains a long way from understanding the efficiency benefits of Lean manufacturing in construction. And without this understanding, there’s limited opportunity to reduce the 30% waste seen across construction sites.

However, the journey to Lean manufacturing in construction has already begun and knowledgeable architects can further drive this transformation.

This journey can be seen taking place in three waves.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: The 3 waves of
progress toward #AEC efficiency

The 1st Wave: Design for Fabrication

One of the largest areas of waste in AEC processes is the creation of multiple redundant drawings.

Most architects today create 3D representational drawings from which they extract 2D drawings for the purpose of permitting or, in some cases, construction drawings.

In addition, the fabricator will produce detailed shop drawings that show every nut and bolt and exactly how every part they supply will need to go together.

Then the builder needs sequence drawings that show scaffolding, formwork, space for storage and equipment, and so on.

This is where much of the 30% waste comes from: redundant effort and coordination after the fact of these different files from different professional experts.

Consider how differently each trade looks at a single building element like, for example, a column.

  1. The architect focuses on the finished material, such as the brick or stone cladding.
  2. The structural engineer focuses on the overall shape, perhaps the concrete density, and an understanding of the load the column can bear.
  3. The structural detailer focuses on the rebar inside the column and the connections between the beam and the column.
  4. The builder focuses on the formwork that surrounds the column because that is the activity that must occur in the field.
  5. A facility manager focuses on the as-built conditions as well as the history of how the column got installed.

This may mean five different models created by five different parties with five different software packages that represent the same item in the building, all of which are important to the facility manager who looks at all of those combined viewpoints as important history about the column.

A single building element may be modeled five separate times by five different disciplines which are poorly coordinated.

A single building element may be modeled 5 separate times by 5 different disciplines.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “A column modeled 5xs
by 5 parties = #AEC coordination fail”

Few BIM solutions today integrate these various steps, focusing instead on the architect’s need to create a 3D drawing. Yet these steps can be integrated and done in a collaborative way.

With design for fabrication, all parties can further work to integrate cost and schedule information to get a complete work breakdown and meaningful information for managing a project.

The 2nd Wave: Design for Delivery

On the site of a traditional construction project, many delays occur due to the necessity of sequencing workers. When large sections are prebuilt in a factory environment, it’s possible to use less expensive labor that can work side by side, and in a much safer environment.

However, even factory prefabrication presents challenges.

The prefabricated components must account for the logistics of delivering the units to the construction site and onsite installation.

The design must consider factors such as: How heavy are the elements? How large are the elements? Is there an order to placing them?

Design for Delivery provides value by simulating the construction process as a digital mock-up and creating a production control system to execute. Integrating the design concept, the fabrication details and the sequence models in a true PLM backbone allows AEC professionals to go beyond meeting contract requirements by simply reducing errors.

With true simulation—down to the level of individual workers to account for safety and efficiency, and planned sequencing—all parties can achieve high value and savings.

When in the field, even Lean construction (left) means scheduling conflicts due to the need to store materials onsite and sequence work. In Lean manufacturing of buildings (right) as few as two workers are able to complete numerous tasks at once and produce high quality parts much faster than could be done in the field.

When in the field, even Lean construction (left) means scheduling conflicts due to the need to store materials onsite and sequence work. In Lean manufacturing of buildings (right) as few as 2 workers are able to complete numerous tasks at once and produce high quality parts much faster than could be done in the field.

The 3rd Wave: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

The third wave is about building in information on manufacturing efficiency into the way buildings are designed. The starting point for Design for Manufacturing and Assembly is to think about how to optimize factory processes and then most efficiently assemble the modular elements in the field.

In this approach, designers must understand the capabilities of the manufacturer to design an approach to construction and delivery that accounts for the logistics of getting the product installed. For example, a prefab concrete panel might best be completed with rebar exposed on one side.

By using half completed panels, the shipping weight can be reduced, the need for formwork eliminated as the panels themselves can serve as formwork for the final onsite concrete pour, and onsite MEP connections might be more easily completed.

Prefabrication has proven popular as a way to improve worker safety and productivity, as well as product quality.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #Prefab improves
worker safety, productivity, quality

But a factory approach must also account for how best to transport and place modular elements. In some cases this might necessitate the combination of a remote, highly automated factory, near site fabrication of elements and onsite final installation of elements. These types of strategies can greatly eliminate waste.

New Processes to Support the Three Waves

While most new designers coming out of school today are trained in modeling tools, not all are gaining true insight into their role in waste reduction. Architects can optimize the AEC process by working closely with manufacturers, fabricators and subcontractors early on projects, and with integrated drawings.

To reach this end, however, AEC professionals will need to adopt new contract structures to ensure early access to knowledgeable suppliers and embrace project insurance that protects all parties.

In addition, architects can advise owners to budget for shop drawings earlier in the design process, so that design documents and shop drawings can be created simultaneously in a collaborative environment.

By breaking down siloes, tomorrow’s AEC professionals can manufacture even highly complex projects more efficiently than ever.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: 3 waves of #AEC progress: Design for
Fabrication → for Delivery → for Manuf & Assembly

Related Resources

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience

Lean Construction SmartMarket Report

Moving to Modular Buildings? Better Know Your Fabricators’ Limitations

By Patrick
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Moving to #Modular Buildings? Better
Know Your Fabricators’ Limitations @3DSAEC #prefab

Building owners, designers and contractors are increasingly realizing the benefits of modular prefabrication. This trend, transforming the way construction components are delivered, is helping speed projects to market and leading to higher quality buildings.

The switch from stick-built construction to the assembly of manufactured components also makes the fabricator’s role more important than ever. Yet every manufacturer faces limitations that can impact their capabilities in delivering the optimum system to the jobsite.

When designers factor in manufacturer limitations, they can better select partners that can deliver the best possible end product.

Three challenges in particular must be addressed:

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: 3 Universal Challenges
of Building Product #Manufacturing

Factory machinery, with inherent limitations, is used for manufacturing building products.

Factory machines, with inherent limitations, are used for manufacturing building products.

1. Factory machinery’s capability limitations.

Compared to assembly in the field, manufacturing large system components in the factory presents a number of benefits in quality, safety, scheduling, and other areas. The benefits are limited only by the manufacturer’s capabilities, including the following:

  • Machinery size. The size of the available assembly table, kiln or other equipment will dictate the size of the finished component. A manufacturer’s capabilities can best be assessed by breaking down a design based on the capabilities of their machinery.
  • Local codes. Does the manufacturer’s machinery solution meet the local codes? For example, in the U.S. and UK, a welding machine is an acceptable solution for forming the rebar for a prefabricated concrete slab. In many Nordic countries, code prevents use of this type of machine.
  • Machinery layout. Lines must be organized so that a bottleneck does not delay the entire product’s delivery. By adopting a Design for Manufacturing and Assembly approach—with the use of universal connectors—manufacturers can outsource a single component or system that can easily be assembled in the factory or onsite.

 


Limited space presents challenges for prefabrication delivery processes

Limited space presents challenges for prefabrication delivery processes.

2. Limited space for storage and staging areas.

Manufacturers must address upfront two challenges in the logistics of getting product onsite:

Highway size limitations. Federal governments set minimum height and width requirements that will limit the size of pre-assembled systems. In addition, oversized products typically must be transported in daylight hours with an escort.

The space available for storing product. Factories cannot be stopped at the first sign of a site delay. If a problem arises on the site, a manufacturer may suddenly be faced with the need to store, for example, 1,000 housing modules. And what happens for manufacturers producing for multiple sites, where suddenly two sites experience delays? Having a buffer zone, such as a lot or warehouse space situated outside the factory or just off the jobsite, can be essential.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Limitations of machinery, space & competitive
bidding wreak havoc on #AEC building projects @3DSAEC


Bidding processes don’t account for delivery and other realities of modular products.

3. Poor outcomes due to competitive bidding practices.

Today the reigning belief is that the best price comes from competitive bidding. Yet the bidding process actually is more likely to lead to the worst possible price. The bid component truly leads to about 15 percent of the 30 to 35 percent overrun most projects face as a result of redundancy.

There are two reasons for this:

Delivery is not addressed upfront. By creating a generic design that multiple parties are able to bid, there is no possibility of optimizing against the delivery process. By creating a time and material contract that uses the delivery process as the starting point, projects will come out with a better price.

Unknown factors lead GCs to bid high. Every project faces unknown variables, be it weather or an unforeseen site challenge. These factors cause contractors to pad their bid. But by working directly with the trades who will address these unknowns, it’s possible to get early insight into potential challenges.

Room for Improvement

The off-site or near-site manufacture of building systems leads to a more repetitive, reliable process. These processes can be simulated and studied for further optimization. By working with manufacturers as partners in the design process, projects can gain an edge in schedule, budget and quality.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Moving to #Modular Buildings? Better
Know Your Fabricators’ Limitations @3DSAEC #prefab

Related Resources

WHITEPAPER: Prefabrication and Industrialized Construction

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Collaborative and Industrialized AEC Industry Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

How BIM Will Impact the Civil Design Process

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

bim for civil design

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “How #BIM Will Impact the
#CivilDesign Process | @3DSAEC @Dassault3DS”

BIM: A Game Changer for Civil Design

The AEC industry is moving toward embracing a collaborative environment. It is crucial that owners, designers, engineers, and fabricators have simultaneous and real-time access to design models and project data.

AEC business leaders are advocating for Building Information Modeling (BIM) as the future of infrastructure projects worldwide.

Adopting BIM technologies into the civil design process will enable stakeholders to instantly collaborate with each other on an integrated design platform. BIM can provide for digital sharing and collaborating of models, instead of individually working from drawings.

As a result, BIM will increase efficiency and reduce time and cost, which is imperative due to the scope and pace of civil design projects coming from today’s emerging markets. With large infrastructural projects, BIM is a must.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “With large infrastructural projects, #BIM is a must”
@Dassault3DS #AEC #CivilDesign

Without BIM, design changes can be crippling. Cross referencing and approval times drag down productivity and drastically increase construction time and costs. Departments struggle to work coherently with each other. Indexing the work becomes an extra process, thus slowing down the entire project timeline. Teams that depend on drawings, not an integrated BIM model, are unable to fully visualize a structure’s proper angle views due to the limitations of a drawing.

Fortunately, an integrated design platform can avoid these situations.

For AEC stakeholders, BIM is the future of the process.

Better Civil Infrastructure Outcomes Through Collaborative Processes

BIM provides visualization, shared information, and accommodates changes. For best results, identify a project suitable for process experimentation, then determine what value you want to get from a BIM tool set.

Significant BIM capabilities to consider include:

  • End-to-End Collaboration. Sharing with digital models is easier than with drawing sets, while also promoting collaboration of ideas. No team member is isolated as in the past. The project team also can now collaborate on cost and pricing as the design progresses, rather than work from one set budget and schedule.
  • 3D Visualization, instead of 2D drawings. Digital imagery captures reality using simulation tools in a shared model in a way that paper cannot capture. Accuracy is enhanced; rework and duplication of drawings across building disciplines is minimized.
  • Flexible Design Changes. A shared model like BIM can accommodate for changes in design during construction, which can be frequent. In the past, this was a very difficult process.
  • Integrated Data. The platform connects to fabrication and construction data. This promotes pre-fabrication and reduces waste.

As implemented by an integrated solution, BIM makes the civil design process easier—and improves the AEC industry as a whole. BIM can ensure a greater level of accuracy in civil infrastructure projects, improve efficiency and productivity, and save money and time.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “How #BIM Will Impact the
#CivilDesign Process | @3DSAEC @Dassault3DS”

Related Resources

WHITEPAPER: “Civil Design Innovation: Industrialization Methodology Achieves Breakthrough in Civil Design”

Civil Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience



Page 1 of 712345...Last »