For example, Last Planner was used to design the St. Olaf College Field House in Northfield, MN, completed in 2002. The process resulted in a $2 million+ savings and a shorter project duration compared to a larger, comparable project at a nearby university. St. Olaf was so pleased with the results, it invited Boldt back to the table for a second, $50 million building project.
Today, Boldt is working toward deeper implementation of lean production management, as well as application of lean principles in its administrative offices. Next year, the company plans to review its equipment yard."We'll be looking at applying lean to managing our tools and equipment," says Reiser.
“Each year, we redefine our strategic initiatives," he adds,"and we always include something regarding the lean construction process."
For more information on lean construction, visit www.leanconstruction.org.
Moving Into the Lean Stream
St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton is in the midst of a $110 million expansion project. The Boldt Company has been commissioned to complete Phase I of the project, a $20 million job involving a parking ramp completed last June, plus a new main entrance, rehab center, admissions area and lab scheduled for completion in 2006.
The project is in the early stages of implementing an enhanced version of Last Planner, known as Lean Stream."We're trying to move into Lean Stream, where you get into more details with production practices," explains Larry Lehner, superintendent."With Lean Stream, you work three to four weeks out vs. six weeks."
The process involves even more detailed planning."Now, we break things down into daily tasks, as well," says Lehner."We're taking chunks of the project and working backward into the small details. We work to break it down to see overlaps, and shorten the duration required to complete segments. We try to trim a day or two off of individual tasks."
Although Lean Stream is a new development, Lehner has been using Last Planner for several years with positive results."It takes away a lot of the questions about where should I be now and what should I be doing," he states."It's also interactive. It's not just us telling the subs what to do. It requires thinking ahead week by week and planning it out ahead of time."
In meetings, project team members come together to discuss tasks that must be completed during each stage of a project, then develop a schedule."We're literally all working on the same page," says Lehner."We're able to bring up questions and issues early on in the process. For example, when the architect sits in on the meetings, he can answer questions right away. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing."
Lehner sees this as a major improvement over traditional methods of project planning."Before, it was helter-skelter. We met with the different project managers, but we didn't hash out details. We were never true to the actual time to completion," he points out."This comes directly from the field and is a lot more accurate."
Admittedly, it took time for Lehner to become comfortable with the lean process. But now he uses it on all the jobs he works on."You get out of it what you put into it," he states."It helps us to keep track of things. I've been using it religiously on all of my projects for 5 to 6 years."