Adopting Lean Practices in the Architectural/Engineering Industry

Lean Business Practices have been adopted in many industries such as automotive design and build, aircraft design and build, and ever increasingly by leading construction companies. What are the best practices the Architecture/Engineering (A/E) design industries can adopt and utilize? David Haynes, Director of Consulting for Ideate Inc., sheds more light on these issues in this Viewpoint article.


2 thoughts on “Adopting Lean Practices in the Architectural/Engineering Industry

  1. Mr. Haynes has interesting ideas, but many are borrowed from domains with different characteristics. Motorola, like most manufacturers, designed products and then made many of them. A/E/C is in the business of designing and building large-scale prototypes. As Mr. Haynes points out, “Problems arise with BIM when A/E firms rely upon BIM’s visualization only, and when complexity issues arise as a result of modeling granularity. 3D modeling without integrated data lacks information sustainability. ” This points to the core problem of current practice – architects are responsible for great granularity but necessarily (too many products, too much complexity) lack the knowledge needed to support detailed design. Consequently, information flows are bizarre because they cannot be trusted – each handoff requires new expertise to evaluate it. This is reflected in the decades-old transition from approving shop drawings to stamping them “reviewed” (but without much contractual meaning to the review).

  2. Leo – I agree that Lean and Six Sigma is from manufacturing (Motorola and Toyota) and that those industries are product design and build which is different than building design and build. Three points:
    1. In the article, I was describing where Lean and Six Sigma had their historical background.
    2. If you really look at Virtual Design and Construction or BIM, its roots are also in the manufacturing world (Automotive and Aerospace).
    3. I believe the A/E industry can learn from other industries – or at least glean their best practices and make them useful/meaningful in the A/E industry.

    The new paradigm of BIM and Lean demands more relevant/pertinent information into the model as the project progresses. This is where IPD comes into play – the saying ‘more minds, better minds’ – that the design team gathers and synthesizes the input from many sources (contractors and trade partners). That synthesized information is placed into the model so the final design reflects more clearly what the design intent is to be.

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