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A Lean Construction Case Study: How Saint-Gobain Increases Efficiency With Lean Practices

Thursday, July 17th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute, and Dassault Systèmes teamed up to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction.

Below is an excerpt from that report on how digital configuration multi-product assemblies are increasing industry efficiency at Saint-Gobain.

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Increasing Industry Efficiency With Digital Configuration Multi-Product Assemblies

Since 1988, building product manufacturers in the European Union have been working to comply with the “Construction Products Directive” (CPD), a piece of landmark legislation that “aims to ensure the free movement of all construction products by introducing a common technical language” to describe and define product characteristics.


A Bottom-Up Approach to Lean Construction: Increase Business Opportunities for Subs, Value for Owners

Thursday, June 26th, 2014


shutterstock_77585377Trade contractors that have thought about going Lean but are still waiting for the “right” project to come along may be missing major opportunities.

It’s true that as Lean first moved from manufacturing into the construction arena, its use was typically driven by a project owner’s desire to keep costs from running over budget and ensure project milestones were reached on time.

Pioneering owners led the formation of integrated teams and required everyone (construction managers, architects, engineers, GCs, and major subcontractors) to apply lean project delivery methodologies

Today, however, even a single project contributor who adopts Lean Construction practices to improve business processes will ultimately deliver increased value to the customer.


How To Improve Construction Project Efficiency Part 2: Lean Principles, Tools, and Advanced Approaches

Thursday, June 19th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction.

Below is an excerpt from that report, part 2 of a 2-part series on the adoption of Lean construction practices. (Click here to read part 1.)

Lean Construction Guiding Principles

As Lean has its roots in manufacturing, some have turned to approaches that are rooted in those industries.

Toyota Way

While most experts said they are familiar with the set of Toyota Way principles, they tend to “pick and choose” aspects of it that apply to their businesses.

For example, some mentioned that respecting individuals and striving for continuous improvements—which are central in Toyota Way—are important precepts in their organizations.

Other principles of Toyota Way, like solving root problems, can be seen in the systems they use, such as Last Planner.

Six Sigma

Similarly, Six Sigma strives to identify and solve root problems. Although Six Sigma is a system that offers tools and strategies for process improvement, there is limited adoption of it by companies.

Again, some say they may follow certain aspects that relate to their businesses, but not others. “Six Sigma tends to be a bit more manufacturing, and I don’t think we find it as applicable in our business,” says one contractor.

A trade contractor also notes that while industrial construction has embraced Six Sigma, “the commercial industry isn’t sophisticated enough to really embrace it,” and he notes that instead they rely on systems like Last Planner.


How To Improve Construction Project Efficiency Part 1: Insights by Lean Practitioners

Thursday, June 5th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is an excerpt from that report, part 1 of a 2-part series on the adoption of Lean practices:

In the effort to bring Lean to the industry, contractors are employing a broad mix of principles, processes and tools for Lean construction. While there are some more commonly adopted means and methods, many companies are seeking their own unique solutions.


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Lean principles are also being applied by companies at various levels—from the field to the back office.

Given the broad and diverse approaches, companies are learning that there is no “silver bullet” for being Lean. <<Click to Tweet

Efficiency Efforts: GCs

During the past five years, general contractors (GCs) who have adopted Lean principles and practices have focused their efficiency efforts mostly in the field.


Super-Subs and Integrated Project Delivery

Thursday, May 8th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is an excerpt from that report:

Rise of the Super-Sub

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Through advancements in modeling and production technologies, a new tier of trade contractors is emerging.

Dubbed by some as “super-subs,” these firms combine construction with expertise in engineering and operations.

They are deeply leveraging advanced tools to aid in greater collaboration, virtual construction and model-driven prefabrication and modularization.


A Lean Construction Case Study: Planning and Coordinating Prefabrication at St. Elizabeth Hospital

Thursday, April 10th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is a case study from the report:

Planning and Coordinating Prefabrication to Increase Project Profitability

St. Elizabeth Hospital 5-Story Patient Tower and Connector Building in Appleton, Wisconsin

Tweet: Planning & Coordinating #Prefabrication for Project Profitability [CASE STUDY] #LeanCon @Dassault3DS @mhconstruction Boldt Company has been using Lean project delivery for over a decade, and they have been able to bring many of the lessons they learned from the industrial side of their business to bear on their general building projects, according to Will Lichtig, vice president of business and process development at Boldt.

As general contractors who self-perform many trades and work collaboratively with trade partners on others, prefabrication is one area where they have been able to find opportunities to improve cost, schedule and safety on their projects while sustaining or improving quality. (more…)

How to Use Prefabrication on a Lean Construction Project

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is an excerpt we wanted to highlight.

Lean Strategies for Employing Prefabrication

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Lean design and construction focuses on improving total project performance, rather than reducing the cost or accelerating the delivery of single activities or phases.

While the use of prefabricated components and modular construction is not new to the industry, their application has increased dramatically in recent years.


Why Go Lean? GCs’ Reasons for Adopting Lean Construction Practices

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is an excerpt of the report: the in-depth interview findings on “Drivers for Lean.”

In-Depth Interview Findings: Drivers for Lean

Business goals drive Lean adoption.  Click to Tweet

Tweet: GC Research: Among the varied reasons that companies adopt Lean practices in construction, many are related to how a company is perceived in the marketplace, including the need to stay ahead of the competition and the desire to be seen as a leader in this area.

These reasons, along with client influence, could also help companies secure contracts.

Trade contractors also mention the desire to work collaboratively and the ability to ensure constant improvement as key drivers for their businesses.

Other drivers relate directly to the desire to reduce waste, such as cutting costs and reducing projects schedules.


How to Collaborate for Sustainability: Integrated Design-Build-Operate Practices

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction. Below is an excerpt of the report: a sidebar article titled “Collaborating for Sustainability.” 

Collaborating for Sustainability

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The most effective collaborations reach beyond the project development team to bring in perspectives from across the building lifecycle.

Bringing the Users’ Perspective Forward

PNC Financial Services Group has developed a fleet of LEED-certified bank branches, and its Tower at PNC Plaza, now under construction, is expected to be North America’s tallest naturally ventilated office tower.


Lean Works: Exempla St. Joseph Hospital Team Collaborates on Prefabrication to Improve Schedule

Thursday, February 20th, 2014


McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute and Dassault Systèmes teamed up recently to produce a research report on Lean Construction. The following is an excerpt from the report, illustrating how one construction team has benefited directly from Lean practices.

CASE STUDY: Collaborating on Prefabrication to Improve Schedule

Exempla Saint Joseph Replacement Hospital
Denver, Colorado
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Faced with a daunting state-imposed deadline, the new Exempla Saint Joseph replacement hospital project in Denver needed to be on an extremely fast-track path.

To meet the challenge, the project team devised a highly collaborative strategy that leverages multi-trade prefabrication and modularization to shave schedule.

The plan would enable the team, led by Mortenson Construction, to deliver the 831,000-sq-ft facility in 30 months—five months ahead of an estimated traditional schedule.

“Prefabrication had to be a significant part of this strategy,” says Bill Gregor, construction executive for Mortenson. “It was the only way to meet the schedule restrictions.”

Gregor says the team needed to fast-track both interior and exterior elements to keep everything moving ahead quickly. The team focused its efforts on four main elements for prefabrication—exterior wall panels, multi-trade corridor racks, bathroom pods and headwalls. By accelerating the exterior panels, crews could enclose the facility quickly and help the team maintain pace with prefabricated interior elements.

That process was enabled, in part, by the contractual framework. Although the project uses traditional contracting methods, integrated project delivery concepts were implemented. Stakeholders committed to a collaboration agreement, which includes incentives, as well as a BIM execution plan to map out the process.

Collaboration proved critical. To accelerate the schedule, designers and contractors worked together in the schematic phase—or earlier—to minimize redrawing.

“Early on we had prefabrication charrettes,” Gregor says. “There were brainstorming sessions with a lot of the players involved to work through all of the ideas of what we could accomplish.”

Prefabrication and Modularization

For the enclosure system, Gregor says a joint venture of two local contractors were brought in during the design development process, allowing the design team’s work to be informed by the prefabrication process. “[The design team] drew it knowing how we would fabricate [the panels] so they could create modules in their drawings.”

Contractors prefabricated 346 exterior panels—most of which measure 30 ft. by 15 ft.—at a warehouse within five miles of the project site. Five to six panels could be brought in per truck for just-in-time delivery. Each panel was picked directly from the truck, lifted and installed. “On our best day, we placed 26 panels,” Gregor adds.

To help expedite the hospital’s 640 bathrooms, the team decided to create 440 of them as modular pods. The original design included 75 different bathroom configurations, but the team was able to rework it to establish 15 standardized pods. The custom pods were designed to a schematic level and then handed off to the manufacturer. “The manufacturer drew it, designed it in the model and transmitted it back to the design team as an element to insert into [the design] model,” Gregor explains.

Multi-Trade Prefabrication

One of the more unique aspects of the team’s overall approach is the use of multi-trade corridor racks. Only a few hospital projects had used this technique prior to the Saint Joseph’s job, but Gregor says Mortenson saw significant potential given that schedule was a primary driver. The 166 corridor racks, which measure roughly 25 ft. long, were constructed in a rented warehouse close to the site. Although each rack contained unique elements, the team worked to standardize and streamline the design as much as possible to improve efficiency.

Mechanical and plumbing contractor U.S. Engineering took the lead, first building the steel structure, then adding ductwork, piping and related elements. The racks were on wheels, enabling crews to move them from station-to-station within the warehouse. After U.S. Engineering’s work was done, the rack was moved over to the electrical crews from Encore Electric to add their work. From there, insulation, drywall and framing were also added.

Dan Strait, vice president of project development at U.S. Engineering, says that compared with traditional methods, the multi-trade racks required significantly higher levels of collaboration and coordination, particularly in terms of logistics and constructability. “How do you, from a constructability standpoint, connect a rack to the lower wall sections?” Strait says. “From a logistics standpoint, how does that workflow go? Is it a benefit or not? There are a lot more conversations like that.”

Strait said the trades created digital models for coordination and fabrication. U.S. Engineering could also generate a bill of materials for each rack as well as a set of instructions for crews from its models.

The team also created a production schedule that allowed for a steady flow of racks. Strait says crews created the racks slightly ahead of construction, storing up to two weeks of racks in the warehouse. By using this method, Strait says contractors could maintain steady manpower needs, avoiding peaks and valleys. By allowing some limited storage, the team could accommodate for fluctuations in field installation.

Once shipped to the field, crews could install up to five units per day, creating roughly 125 feet of corridor space.

For the final piece of Mortenson’s strategy, the team is creating 376 multi-trade headwalls, which include piping for medical gases, electrical, framing, drywall and finishes.”


The project, which topped out in April 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014, is ongoing and Mortenson does not have final metrics in place, but clear benefits are emerging.

As of October 2013, the project was a month ahead of schedule, five months ahead of a traditional schedule. Gregor also notes that, with so much prefabrication being done in warehouses at ground level, the work is exposed to much less risk. There were no recordable incidents on the prefabricated work, as of October 2013. Gregor notes that in some ways elements, such as the multi-trade racks can cost more in terms of direct costs, but that it is made up in other ways, such as reduced overall schedule. “We’ve been able to identify that it is cost-neutral,” he says.

Strait says he also sees significant benefits to the schedule. U.S. Engineering and Encore Electric partnered on multi-trade rack corridors for another project in Denver that completed this year, and they were able to build upon their collaboration in this project and work together effectively. He says that the team was able to install corridors on that project in one third of the time it would take for a traditional job.

“It’s a great concept,” he says. “The collaboration is a benefit in itself. It brings the team closer from both a cost and construction standpoint. You get just as good quality, if not better, and it’s leaner construction in terms of workflow.”

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Tweet: Hospital uses prefab to get 5 months ahead of schedule [Case Study] #Leanconstruction #AEC @Dassault3DS


Download the full report, with our compliments.

SOURCE: McGraw Hill Construction SmartMarket Report, “Lean Construction: Leveraging Collaboration and Advanced Practices to Increase Project Efficiency”


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