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    Charlotte Business Journal: How lean construction could save time, money in real estate projects

    July 13, 2017


    By Ashley Fahey, 

    The two most important aspects of any construction project usually have to do with time and money: delivering the project on schedule and on budget.
     
    It's often a challenge, though, with multiple partners having to work through delays, unexpected changes and inefficiencies. And while external factors will frequently contribute to those challenges, some contend that a lean or integrated project delivery model can help owners, architects, engineers, general contractors and other parties involved be more efficient and, ultimately, consistently on schedule and budget.
     
    Bevan Mace, national vice president of operations and lean at Balfour Beatty, spoke at a CoreNet Global Carolinas event on Wednesday about how owners and supply chain operators can leverage team-based lean methods to make the construction process more efficient. Mace is also a member of the Lean Construction Institute, founded in 1997 to promote lean and IPD methods.
     
    "What I continue to see on project teams is that everyone is busy — we’re either working on a project or waiting on the capital to be approved or a concept to be agreed to," Mace said. "Then, when the hammer drops, it’s go, go, go."
     
    Many projects employ the typical method of "leaders and doers," Mace said, in which the top executives or owners delegate the design or vision to those hired for the project, then all parties work exclusively on their portion of the development.
     
    Lean promotes the idea that people who are closest to the work in all sectors should get involved at the earliest stage to weigh in on how best to accomplish the tasks — "breaking down the silos," as Mace put it, focusing on collaboration that's intended to make the construction process more efficient and productive, and maximizing the value for the owner.
     
    Dodge Data & Analytics conducted a study sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute that examined what factors led to the most successful construction projects. It surveyed 81 owners who completed 162 projects and asked each one to evaluate a number of factors in a "typical project" as well as their "best project."
     
    The study found that 61% of typical projects were completed behind schedule and over budget while 46% of each respondent's best project finished under budget and ahead of schedule (to compare, 21% best projects were completed behind schedule and over budget; 10% of typical projects were completed under budget and ahead of schedule). It also found that 76% of best projects engaged key stakeholders before or during project conceptualization whereas, in 42% of typical projects, those stakeholders aren't engaged until design development or later.
     
    "There's a huge opportunity to bring that collaborative approach into the design process," Mace said.
     
    T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW), an asset management firm out of Baltimore, used an IPD system in a $20 million renovation of a university campus building.
     
    Brian Dean of T. Rowe Price spoke in a case-study video about the project, saying that, for the first time, builders, designers and other partners were brought to the table from the start. He said that collaborative approach allowed all involved to "take ownership" of the work they were delivering on, resulted in fewer changes throughout and the project coming in under budget.
     
    "Lean is about reducing waste, then it starts to become, ‘What’s valuable to customers?'" Mace said. "The customer isn’t the end owner or client. It’s everyone who touches that process." 

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