As part of a broad commitment to continuous improvement, senior leaders of Turner Construction Co., www.turnerconstruction.com, New York, N.Y., gathered at its Sibley Memorial Hospital, www.sibley.org, project in Washington, D.C., to advance lean construction.

One key concept that guides a lean approach is that of going to the “gemba” or the location where work is underway. In that spirit, the centerpiece of Turner’s recent Lean Leadership Summit was a tour of the Sibley project, at which the company’s use of BIM (building information modeling) and lean construction methods is credited for shaving weeks from the construction schedule.

The Sibley team used BIM to design and pre-fabricate modular corridor rack systems to house the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing elements for each floor of the hospital. The 157, 20-ft. racks were modeled, and then built and assembled off-site and delivered for installation.

The use of modeling software combined with lean methods enabled the team to begin precisely assembling ductwork, cabling, and piping early, at approximately the same time that construction excavation started. The original schedule allowed four to five weeks per floor for installation of the rack systems, but with the modularized racks, the team was able to complete each floor in four to five days.

“With enhanced communication and collaboration, we’ve witnessed an improvement in our entire workflow,” remarks Joe Kranz, project executive. “Used in concert with BIM, lean methods have helped individual building processes go better, which has helped drive overall efficiency and accelerate our schedule by two months.

“It has also yielded improvements in reliable commitments from subcontractors, allowing for more efficient planning of the work,” he continues. “The prefabrication of corridor racks and patient room headwall units jump-started the interior fit out work as soon as the concrete re-shores were removed.”

The summit also included a presentation by Chip Davis, chief executive officer of Sibley Hospital, who discussed the hospital’s Innovation Hub as the home for training on Lean and Six Sigma practices as well as creative design thinking, which are expected to help the organization build capability for both incremental improvements and more “out-of-the-box” innovations.

Addressing the importance of building a culture ready to embrace innovation and a lean management approach, Zach Rosenberg, chief executive officer and co-founder of disaster resilience and recovery concern the St. Bernard Project, www.stbernardproject.org, New Orleans, facilitated a discussion about organization cultural development, high-impact innovation, and leadership.

North America-based Turner is a subsidiary of international construction service provider HOCHTIEF, www.hochtief.de, Essen, Germany, which operates in the transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, and social/urban infrastructure segments as well as in the contract mining business.

“I’ve been in the industry 31 years,” exclaims Kranz, “and this is my first project where the team has fully embraced lean practices and the results continue to surprise and impress me.”

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #construction, #software, #technology, #BIM, #leanconstruction, #sixsigma