Leveraging “Design For Manufacturing” for More Sustainable Buildings

By Patrick
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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.

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for More #Sustainable Buildings

construction

Design for Manufacturing is a process whereby designers consider the impact of manufacturing processes in the way they design buildings.

Large components—whether large concrete panels or whole modular rooms for an apartment building—might be completed within a factory environment and delivered to a jobsite where they are connected to MEP systems.

To be successful in this approach, designers must work with building component manufacturers to understand their capabilities and design a construction approach that accounts for the logistics of getting modules to the jobsite and installed.

By considering how to optimize factory processes and then most efficiently assembling the modular elements in the field, designers can leverage strategies that greatly eliminate construction waste.

With reduced waste, building owners can adjust their budgets and apply significant savings from improved processes to better materials and overall more sustainable buildings.

The Two Paths to Reducing Construction Costs

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Reducing Construction Costs

Construction projects typically see amounts of waste near 30% due to redundant rework and inefficiency. Without this waste, building owners could achieve significant project savings and reinvest in higher quality materials that are less harmful to the environment.

There are two potential approaches to reducing costs in construction:

  • AEC professionals can continually look for cheaper materials and labor to control construction costs. For example, vinyl is a very popular building material, largely because it is inexpensive compared to wood and other solutions. Yet PVC is made from chlorine salt using lots of electricity in a very environmentally unfriendly process.
  • Alternatively, AEC professionals can change their processes. By adopting a Design for Manufacturing approach, fabricators can automate many of the repetitive tasks that have to be done to produce a building. Fewer, albeit more highly skilled, workers can manage building component production in a safe, factory environment.

The latter approach may require a greater upfront investment, but the return on that investment can be recouped through the dramatic reductions in waste. Those savings can, in turn, be applied to investment in more sustainable building solutions.

Reinvesting Savings in Sustainability

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Green projects are projected to grow significantly in the years ahead. At present, buildings consume 70% of all electricity in the United States, reports the U.S. Green Building Council. There are numerous ways to reduce this electric consumption, but most AEC professionals consider building products rather than building processes as a solution.

Designers’ strategies for achieving sustainable design might range from making tighter envelopes that require less heating and cooling, adding solar panels, using smart lighting controls, to numerous other initiatives.

In the UK and some other countries, laws limit buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions. In some parts of the U.S.—namely, California—there are some emissions limitations set by law, but most green building is done in the name of incentives such as LEED or the 2030 Challenge for Sustainability, among other programs.

But for owners and AEC professionals that truly care about green buildings, it is important to also consider a clean AEC process.

A Design for Manufacturing approach to AEC could potentially lead to cleaner processes than traditional onsite construction.

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for More #Sustainable Buildings

Related Resources

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

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

By Patrick
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fabrication → for Delivery → for Manuf & Assembly

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Integrated Project Delivery: What AEC Project Owners and Contributors Need to Know

By Akio
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UCSF Medical Center Mission Bay IPD Construction 01

UCSF Medical Center Mission Bay: An IPD success story. 
Image source: www.ucsfmissionbayhospitals.org

What is IPD?

Integrated project delivery (IPD) is a collaborative building delivery method.

IPD integrates diverse stakeholders—owners, engineers, architects, construction companies, contractors, and government agencies—to form a collaborative team under one contract. IPD also incorporates a variety of systems, practices, and business and financial structures. It is a joint venture approach, with shared risks and rewards.

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for #AEC with shared risks & rewards”

Successful IPD has been achieved through many different approaches, including design-assist, design-build, and public-private partnership.

The goal of IPD is faster delivery of a high-quality, cost-effective project.

Traditional Delivery

A project not utilizing IPD can be a fragmented process. In traditional project delivery, various project contributors typically don’t work together efficiently.

Often, teams are assembled on a “just-as-needed” basis. The process is linear and segregated, and information, including costs, is not shared.

Risk is individually managed, while compensation—or reward—is individually pursued.

The result is an overrun budget and schedule, yielding project outcomes below expectations.

Benefits of IPD

Conversely, a project utilizing IPD allows project team members to work together as a single, virtual company. In an IPD approach, key project stakeholders are assembled early in the process.

As a result, IPD leverages the experience, talent, and input of team members from the start.

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talent & input of team members from the start”

Information is openly shared, and decision-making is faster in regards to scheduling, budgeting, and materials. With the right IT infrastructure, IPD can help manage costs, safety, and field conflicts, resulting in reduced waste and increased productivity during a project life cycle.

Coordinated IPD phases, such as conceptualization and design, result in a more efficient—and potentially shorter—construction phase than traditional delivery. The project risk is shared. Compensation is based on collaboration and tied to the project’s overall success. Individual actors have the potential to profit more than under a traditional model.

The AEC industry is faced with global market challenges, such as efficiency, productivity, and high costs. IPD can solve industry challenges and achieve successful outcomes by enabling collaboration among project experts through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.

Case Study: UCSF at Mission Bay

A recent example of a public works IPD success story is the $1.5-billion University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) at Mission Bay in San Francisco, CA.

The collaborative project team comprised the owner, designers, the contractor, and 17 subcontractors. The design-build challenge called for integrating three separate hospitals along one common spine within an 878,000-square-foot structure.

Additional challenges included changing legislation, workflow practices, and technology over an 8-year life cycle.

Furthermore, 18 months after construction began, UCSF added cancer-treatment services to its design, requiring an additional 175,000 square feet. The team segregated out this revised area as a new project to control overall scheduling and budgeting.

Despite the revised design, the UCSF Medical Center was completed in June 2014, one week ahead of schedule, and had a $200-million reduction in budget from the initial estimate.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “IPD enabled @UCSFMBHospitals construction
to finish ahead of sched & $200M under budget”

UCSF Medical Center Mission Bay IPD Construction 03

UCSF Medical Center Mission Bay.
Image source:  www.ucsfmissionbayhospitals.org

Overcoming the Challenges of Adopting IPD

The complexity and size of a project, as well as differences in business models, will influence how willing stakeholders are in participating in the IPD process. The idea of sharing information, balancing financial risk, and being project-focused presents an enormous challenge for companies whose previous experience is based solely in a traditional delivery method.

To be successful, AEC companies will need to overcome a fear of change and be open to collaboration, transparency, and trust. Adopting IPD also has the perception of liability. A contractual agreement assigning risk to each party, however, will adjust participant liability.

Keys to IPD success include:

  • selecting the right project delivery strategy based on project size, complexity, and schedule
  • selecting the right team
  • choosing the right contract
  • establishing an effective compensation structure
  • and implementing an operating model aligned with processes and resources.

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“5 Keys to IPD Success”

Adhering to the core principles of IPD—mutual trust, shared risk and reward, and open communication—are crucial in achieving team integration and overall project success.

Finally, a common collaboration platform, integrated project management tools, and a 3D BIM system to enable the open exchange of data are essential to the successful implementation of an IPD approach. Cloud-based programs are particularly useful for tying together project contributors from all corners of the globe.

IPD Offers a Better Collaboration Framework

Collaboration among the owner, contractors, and design professionals is based on shared information and risk/reward. In the IPD method, the entire team is communicating and is on the same page throughout the project, enabled by collaborative technologies.

The outcomes are improved efficiency and productivity, higher-quality and cost-effective design and construction, faster delivery, reduced liability, and shared profits.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Integrated Project Delivery: What AEC
Project Owners and Contributors Need to Know”


Related Resources

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience

Civil Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction Solutions from Dassault Systèmes


References: http://www.enr.com/articles/38058-health-care-best-project-ucsf-medical-center-at-mission-bay

 



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