Thursday, December 13, 2007

Integrated Project Delivery

Yep it's here.

Finally we are starting to see a significant change in the way we all work together.

Integrated Project Delivery or IPD (as our industry likes to create acronyms) has become a new method of project delivery that really starts to grasp the full potential of Bim and true integrated practice. A couple of books out there such as "Integrated Practice in Architecture" by George Elvin and "Construction Partnering and Integrated Teamworking" by Gill Thomas and Mike Thomas really start to dig into the more in depth part of the discussion, but I'd like to give you all a brief rundown of what it really means.

I wanted everyone to know what Lean Construction and Integrated Project Delivery means. As we start to use BIM technology more and as the industry starts to change we will see more and more knowledgeable owners asking for better project delivery methods.

Know that we are currently driving to be able to provide this type of delivery method. Recently we have even been requested to use this method yet, keep in mind that it will be a learning curve for everyone in the process.

First of all, Lean Construction was initially a concept developed by Toyota when they noticed that the amount of material, time and resources that they lost in the design to construction phase of their automobiles was almost 50% of their project cost. In essence, Toyota then developed a collaborative team approach right from the initial design meeting. This involved ALL players. From the engineers who were designing the engine, wiring, and computer systems to the interior designers who were designing the buttons, knobs, dashes etc… And what they saw was a huge increase in profitability (about 34%). I have heard that the typical project cost for a single car is somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 million dollars give or take. Needless to say when profitability increased by 4.5 million a car, they integrated it as a company standard.

In addition to management savings there were two more areas that increased the bottom line. The first was they began to notice as the teams worked together more and more that the amount of staff actually needed was significantly less (almost half) because the teams started to refine the process of knowing what questions to ask their teammates. This freed up other personnel to assist in other efforts or projects and again drove up the profitability of the project. The second area of savings was the amount of material. Toyotas own internal green effort was established to try and eliminate product waste. So while the teams were designing, the manufacturers (in the meetings) of the materials were able to produce their product based on the design to save waste. The example I heard was that instead of using a 4x6 standard piece of vinyl door covering that they switched to a 3x4 piece that worked just as well and again reduced cost and almost eliminated waste.

This concept then carried over to the construction industry. And the best definition I could find was as follows:
Lean construction is a “way to design production systems to minimize waste of materials, time, and effort in order to generate the maximum possible amount of value (Koskela et al. 2002) ”. Designing a production system to achieve the stated ends is only possible through the collaboration of all project participants (Owner, A/E, Constructors, Facility Managers, End-user) at early stages of the project. This goes beyond the contractual arrangement of design/build or constructability reviews where constructors, and sometime facility managers, merely react to designs instead of informing and influencing the design.

This is the opposite of 'business as usual' in the construction sector, where people do things on project after project in the same old inefficient ways, forcing each other to give up profits and overhead recovery in order to deliver at what seems the market price. What results is a fight over who keeps any of the meager margins that result from each project, or attempts to recoup 'negative margins' through 'claims', The last thing that receives time or energy in this desperate, project-by-project gladiatorial battle for survival is consideration of how to reduce underlying costs or improve quality'.

In essence Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction are synonymous terms. Both involve bringing all players to the table at the beginning of the project and both involve using the other teammate as a resource to create a “PROJECT FOCUSED” team as opposed to a Profession Focused one. In Australia, they call this “Project Alliancing”. Recently, I was lucky enough to work on a couple of projects that involved the entire team in this type of method and to be honest it was the most fun I’ve ever had. Both in learning what information contractors need and how the architect wants the design to look (not to mention shrinking the paper trail and endless phone calls).

The best example I can give of this collaboration was in a large scale projecte that dealt with local and international architects and us as the contractor, when we sat in a meeting recently where the American architect mentioned we would be drawing bathroom partition details. Our PM/contractor laughed and asked “Why?” The architect responded by saying, “So you guys know how to install them.” Our PM/contractor had obviously been through this before and his response was a series of questions that smacked the architects in the forehead, “Have you been trained in how to install those? Are you holding the warranty on the partitions? And lastly are you willing to take the phone call and go fix the product due to incorrect installation?” Our International architecture team kind of chuckled and the PM then said, “Please just dimension their locations and mounting heights and let me worry about installing them.” This sort of collaboration saves everybody on the team time and money and ultimately allows us as a contractor to have input in the actual construction, staging and phasing of the project from the beginning instead of trying to figure out how to do it later.

Iit is pretty important that you all know what we can start to expect from owners more and more. Also keep in mind that BIM is really the platform that allows this sort of collaboration and delivery method most effectively. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, but keep in mind this is not “Design-Build on Steroids” but rather a totally new project delivery method.


Anonymous said...

How do architects get contractors to buy into this mentality. My current contractors are being trained in the School of RFI Creation. If I didn't detail the toilet partitions, they'd send be three separate RFIs on the number, type placement and thread pitch of the bolts used. Then hang me out to dry at the progress meeting because I haven't selected the screw finish color yet.

Anonymous said...

If the job is lump sum, the contractor quotes what is on paper only - so many times the design side expects the contractor to know what the intent is - intent cannot be built without details. In a perfect world all jobs could be design build with the contractor selected at programming and have them involved in the design, sadly most Owners do not want to spend that little extra money.