Most contractors utilize Building Information Modeling (BIM) and many make use of Lean Construction (a scheduling approach that maximizes efficiency and minimizes waste – great for tight schedules), but not many integrate the two. The few that do, like Sundt, offer enormous advantages to their clients because the skillful integration of BIM and Lean translates to significant savings of both time and money that wouldn’t have been possible using just one method alone.
Sundt’s Director of Construction Technology, Dan Russell, provided a great example of the successful combination of BIM and Lean in a presentation he made recently to the Arizona Chapter of the Lean Construction Institute. In it, he showed how Sundt saved the Arizona Board of Regents $2 million on the recently completed Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB 4) at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. ISTB 4 is a $112 million, state-of-the-art research and educational facility.
“With Lean, instead of a superintendent creating a master schedule and handing it to the subs, he builds a baseline schedule with milestones and then works with the subs to complete the schedule through a series of pull-planning sessions,” Dan said. “It’s a very detailed process, but it’s invaluable for helping everyone understand where their piece fits into the big picture, who they affect and vice versa. It was especially helpful with ISTB 4.”
After creating the project’s schedule through Lean, Sundt’s team maximized the opportunities for off-site prefabrication with BIM, which Dan calls “a schedule compression tool.” Altogether, prefabrication saved $2 million in general conditions (money that went directly back to the owner) and eliminated 16 weeks of construction time from the schedule. The team was able to pre-fabricate:
- 100 percent of the ductwork and
- 30 percent of the plumbing working with Dynamic Systems, Inc.
- 90 percent of the fire protection working with RCI Systems, Inc.
- Five percent of the electrical working with Wilson Electric Services Corp.
- The building’s north and west facades were prefabricated off-site by KT Fabrication, Inc.
- Nearly all of the building’s laboratory components with its electrical, process piping and teledata interfaces were fabricated off-site by ISEC, Inc.
“Lean was crucial for developing the project’s ultra-aggressive schedule,” Dan concluded. “We couldn’t have met it without the prefabrication, and we couldn’t have done the prefabrication without BIM. Using BIM and Lean together was the perfect approach.”