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College of

Engineering

Schedule Acceleration Techniques Using a CM


By
PI: Dr. Jess M. de la Garza, Vecellio Professor
Graduate Student: Ms. Daniela Escobar Hidrobo

Final Report
September 1, 2006

Invent the Future


V I R G I N I A

P O L Y T E C H N I C I N S T I T U T E A N D S T A T E
An equal opportunity, affirmative action institution

U N I V E R S I T Y

Table of Contents

I.

Introduction

II. The Construction Manager


Agency CM
CM at risk
Project Delivery
Construction management and project delivery method
Traditional approach (design-bid-build)
Multiple-prime contracting
Design-build
At-risk construction management

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III. Schedule acceleration techniques


A. Good management practices during project development for achieving
reduced delivery times
1. Start-up driven scheduling
2. Participative management
3. Resources
4. Pre-project planning
5. Alignment
6. Well-defined organizational structure
7. Pareto's law management
8. Employee involvement
9. Realistic scheduling
10. Construction-driven scheduling
11. Concurrent evaluation of alternatives
12. Avoid scope definition shortcuts
13. Use of electronic media
14. Constructability
15. Freezing of project scope
16. Reusable engineering
17. Non-traditional drawing release
18. Supplier/engineer early interaction
19. Materials management
20. Material coordination
21. Prioritize procurement of material
22. Efficient packaging for transportation
23. Material I.D. on purchase documentation
24. Testing/inspection
1

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25. Multiple suppliers


26. Supplier submittal control
27. Field management
28. Safety in workspace
29. Aggressive project close-out
30. Detailed plan
31. Determine system testing requirements
32. Zero accidents techniques
B. Freezing of project scope
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
C. Constructability review
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
g. Other special characteristics
D. Cycle time analysis
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
E. Concurrent engineering
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
g. Other special characteristics
F. Overlapping sequential design activities based on concurrent engineering
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages

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f. Applicability and use


g. Other special characteristics
G. Lean design
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
H. Value engineering
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
I. Four-dimensional visualization of construction scheduling
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
J. Overlapping sequential construction activities based on concurrent
engineering
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
g. Other special characteristics
K. Fast-track
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
g. Other special characteristics
L. Just-in-time delivery
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages

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d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
M. Lean construction
1. "The Last Planner": Shielding production through weekly work plans
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
2. Improving labor flow reliability for better productivity through the use
of buffers
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
N. Optimization of construction operations through simulation and genetic
Algorithms
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use
O. Time-cost trade-offs
a. Technique
b. Implementation
c. Advantages
d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
e. Disadvantages
f. Applicability and use

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IV. Summary

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V. References

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I. Introduction
In todays businesses owners rely on first-to-market product strategies to gain competitive
advantage and increase profit margins. Within the construction industry, this has created a
growing need for enhanced performance delivery systems that can achieve successful project
delivery in shorter time.
Owners demand greater improvements in the quality of project construction at lower costs and
within reduced schedules. The completion of projects time milestones is a crucial factor
because not meeting them usually involves significant economic impacts to the owner while
time savings can lead to profit improvements. However, the increasing complexity of project
technologies along with the competitive nature of business oblige the owner to make changes in
project scope at the last moment, hindering project delivery within the anticipated time.
Moreover, todays market opportunities and competitiveness within the industry can also force
the owner to accelerate project execution and demand earlier completions.
In the presence of increased demands for shortening project cycle times, research has dedicated
in the last years significant time and effort in searching for the right tools and techniques to
assist owners and construction managers to effectively manage time and resources aiming at
expediting project execution and reducing project delivery time. Several sources of research
provide the construction community with different strategies and techniques to effectively
address todays aggressive schedules and tight delivery demands. The document presented
herein is a recompilation of the most effective techniques available to the construction manager
that enable project acceleration to achieve reduced delivery times.

II. The Construction Manager (CM)


The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) defines the construction
manager as a provider of professional services to the Owner, the CM organizes the effort,
develops the management plan, monitors the participants progress against the plan and
identifies actions to be taken in the event of deviance from the plan. The CM also provides
expert advice in support of the Owners decisions in the implementation of the project. The CM
can be a firm, a team of firms, or an individual (CMAA 2002, pp.3).
Thus, construction management is the practice of professional management services applied to
the planning, design and construction stages of a project, from inception to completion for the
purpose of controlling time, scope, cost and quality (CMAA 2003). The ability of a professional
CM to manage the different phases of a project has the potential to improve projects success.
Construction management can be applied in two different forms: CM in an agency basis and CM
at risk.
Agency CM
The Agency CM acts as the Owners principal agent to advise on or manage the process from
project conception to completion. Agency CM set of services can be applied to any project
delivery method. Typically, the owner hires a CM to extend or supplement its own expertise and
staff, and to manage the project throughout the delivery method chosen (CMAA 2002).
CM at risk
CM at risk provides professional management assistance to the Owner prior to construction and
advice on constructability, budget and schedule considerations. The CM then converts to the
equivalent of a contractor during construction as it assumes the obligations of construction
execution and completion for an established price. Because of the responsibility held by the CM
at risk over construction performance, CM at risk is a distinct delivery method (CMAA 2002).
Project Delivery
A project delivery method is a system designed to achieve the satisfactory completion of a
construction project from conception to occupancy (CMAA 2003). There are numerous different
approaches used in the construction industry to successfully deliver a project, and each of these
may present several variations. However, the four basic delivery systems include:

Traditional approach (design-bid-build)


Multiple-prime contracting
Design-build
At-risk construction management

Construction management and project delivery method


Construction management is a discipline intended to provide professional services and expert
support to the owner in the implementation of a construction project regardless of the chosen
contract form or project delivery method. Thus, CM integrates owner and project needs by
effectively managing project delivery through the application of comprehensive controls in the
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different critical aspects of the project including time, cost, scope and quality throughout
projects phases of planning, design and construction. The different systems of project delivery
and its variations can lead to different construction management practices and applications. But
all project delivery approaches and variations can favorably take advantage of the benefits
provided with construction management services in either the agency or at-risk form.
The four basic project delivery methods are briefly summarized below, along with a discussion
of some of the important characteristics of CMs participation on each.
The traditional approach (design-bid-build)
The design-bid-build or traditional approach has been the most popular approach to deliver
projects for many years. This method involves the owner, the designer, and one or more
contractors with subcontractors. Thus, the owner hires a designer for the development of the
design of the complete facility. Once design is completed, it is advertised so that the interested
general contractors can prepare bids for the construction of the project. In most of the instances,
the general contractor that submits the lowest responsive and responsible bid is selected to
perform the work, and can employ subcontractors to carry out some or all components that
comprise construction. The contractor is then responsible for constructing the facility in
accordance with the design.
Under this approach, the contractor selected is responsible for the means, methods and sequence
of construction, and for the scheduling and coordination of all subcontractors, suppliers and
vendors. The owner thus manages the overall process and administers all contracts. The owner
can also rely on the designer for monitoring construction as an agent, or hire a CM to administer
contracts and manage all the construction work. The owner can also hire a CM from project
conception, thus the CM provides professional services and support in project conception and
pre-planning, planning of scope, design development, contract administration, and construction
management. Thus, the CM operates as the owners agent and performs on the owners best
interest throughout the entire project delivery process (CMAA 2003).
Multi-prime contracting
Under multi-prime contracting the owner holds separate contracts with contractors of various
disciplines, such as general construction, structural, mechanical, and electrical. The owner may
hire a CM to manage project development from conception and design, and to coordinate
contractors and to manage the overall schedule and budget during the entire construction phase,
thus the CM functions as the owners agent to administer the multiple contracts. Under this
delivery approach, the owner holds direct contracts with the designer party and with each prime
contractor. Trade construction contracts may be competitively bid or negotiation directly. Each
contractor is responsible for the means and methods of construction.
There are two basic types of multi-prime contracting: phased construction and full multi-prime
or trade contracting (CMAA 2003).
Phased construction: Under phased construction, the project is bid in phases such as site work,
site utilities, and one or more general construction packages. The CM manages and coordinates
the individual contracts on behalf of the owner. The owner, through the CM, has control over the
overall schedule since the CM develops the schedule for bidding the individual work packages.
The CM also assists the owner in managing costs throughout the phased procurement of
contracts.

Trade contracting: Under this delivery method the owner holds contracts with each individual
trade contractor. The CM is responsible for coordinating these contractors in the best interest of
the owner.
The success of multiple-prime contracting largely depends on the effectiveness of the
coordination of the prime contractors and the overall schedule through the CM.
Design-build
In the design-build project delivery method the development of the design and execution of the
construction of the project fall under the responsibility of one sole party or a joint-venture.
Under this approach, the owner contracts with a design-build team to plan, design, construct,
implement, and control the entire project from conception through completion, and sometimes
through occupancy and startup. In consequence, the owner has one single point of responsibility
for project delivery. Typically, a design-build firm or a joint-venture between a design and
contractor firms provide all of the services required for project delivery. However, the designbuild approach can present two different variations. The first one involves the owner engaging
with a developer who then selects its own design and construction partners. Another approach to
design-build delivery is given when the construction party acquires complete responsibility for
the project and hires its own design team (CMAA 2003).
The CM comes into play when the owner decides to supplement his staff team and hire an agent
to provide with professional and technical support services to guarantee that the design-build
team performs accordingly to achieve the goals and objectives established by the project.
At-risk construction management
Under this method the CM is hired by the owner at the early stages of project development
during the pre-design and design phases. The CM works with the owner and the design team to
provide professional support and advice to develop the design that best benefits the owner and to
provide input on the methods of construction. When design has progressed and is partially
completed (50% to 80%), the CM prepares an estimate for construction performance and offers
the owner a total project cost usually in the form of a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) or
fixed price (lump sum). If the owner decides not to employ the CMs services for construction
performance, the CM continues to perform as the owners agent (CMAA 2003).
When the CM performs the work under a GMP of lump sum, he becomes the equivalent of a
general contractor or independent contractor during construction. Under this approach, the CM
is completely responsible for delivering the project on time and within the pre-established
budget. The CM selects the methods, means, techniques and sequence of construction, the CM is
as well responsible for the scheduling and coordination of all trade contractors, subcontractors,
suppliers and vendors, and can also perform sections of the work with its own resources.
CM at risk also allows the CM to bid and subcontract portions of the work while other unrelated
parts are still not completed. Thus, the owner and CM negotiate the GMP or fixed price for a
partially completed portion of design (CMAA 2003).
Regardless of the form of contract agreement and the delivery system adopted, the CM performs
professional tasks and responsibilities throughout all the phases of program or project

implementation in the best interest of the owner and the project. With this objective the CM is
expected to have the ability to make recommendations regarding (CMAA 2002):
o
o
o
o
o
o
o

Most effective use of available funds


Enhanced control of the scope of work
Optimal project/program scheduling options
Best use of individual project team members expertise
Maximum avoidance of delays, changes and claims
Enhanced design and construction quality
Optimum flexibility in contracting/procurement options

Having identified the basic systems of project delivery available to owners and the core
characteristics of each one along with the role played by the CM under each approach, in the
following sections the existing schedule acceleration techniques that can be applied to any given
project with the use of a CM in order to reduce project durations and improve delivery times are
presented.

III. Schedule acceleration techniques

Project delivery system


Pages
Agency CM
from
Design-bid- Multi-prime
Designto
build
contracting
build

No.

Technique

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O

Essential good management practices


Freezing of project scope
Constructability review
Cycle time analysis
Concurrent engineering (CE)
Overlapping sequential design activities based on CE
Lean design
Value engineering
Four-dimensional visualization of construction scheduling
Overlapping sequential construction activities based on CE
Fast-track
Just-in-time delivery
Lean construction
Optimization of construction operations through simulation and genetic algorithms
Time-cost trade-offs

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18-21
22-33
34-36
37-41
42-51
52-56
57-60
61-64
65-70
71-81
82-83
84-95
96-101
102-113

Table 1. Schedule acceleration techniques

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X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

CM at risk

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

A. Good management practices during project development for achieving


reduced delivery times
Control of project time is fundamental to achieve schedule compression and deliver projects in
reduced periods of time. During project development from conception through planning, design,
construction, until project close-out, the management and organization of time and schedules is a
key to achieve successful project completion. Research reveals that a series of actions could be
implemented and enforced throughout project development to give the construction manager an
enhanced use of time. Below are listed a series of basic but essential management procedures
that should be adopted in the execution of any given project to efficiently manage and control
time with the objective of minimizing delays and reducing the time required to deliver
successful projects to owners. These actions can be applied to the different phases of project
development including pre-planning, design development, materials management, construction
and start-up. Nonetheless, the biggest opportunities for achieving true reductions in project
delivery occur in the pre-planning and planning phases before the project begins. Consequently,
following good management practices during early stages of project development is imperative
to increase the potential for early project completion.

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X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
-

Table 2. Good management practices for achieving reduced delivery times

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X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

and CM at risk)

(Agency CM

Start-up

(CM at risk)

Construction

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and CM at risk)

Start-up driven scheduling


Participative management
Resources
Pre-project planning
Alignment
Well-defined organizational structure
Pareto's law management
Employee involvement
Realistic scheduling
Construction-driven scheduling
Concurrent evaluation of alternatives
Avoid scope definition shortcuts
Use of electronic media
Constructability
Freezing of project scope
Reusable engineering
Non-traditional drawing release
Supplier/engineer early interaction
Materials management
Material coordination
Prioritize procurement of material
Efficient packaging for transportation
Material I.D. on purchase documentation
Testing/inspection
Multiple suppliers
Supplier submittal control
Field management
Safety in workspace
Aggressive project close-out
Detailed plan
Determine system testing requirements
Zero accidents techniques

Materials mgt.
(Agency CM

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(Agency CM)

Pages

Design

Description

Pre-planning

No.

(Agency CM)

Project delivery phase

1. Start-up-driven scheduling
The Construction Industry Institute (CII) recommends, under Engineering/procurement/
construction (EPC) projects, developing the overall schedule based on the owners needs related
to the start-up dates and activities. Start-up activities define then construction dates and
construction schedule, and construction establishes procurement and engineering dates (CII: The
Game Planner 2004). Thus, under this approach project completion is executed and achieved as
per requested by the owner. The start-up driven schedule can then be used by the construction
manager for following up, monitoring and controlling progress in relation to the schedule
derived from owner requirements (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
2. Participative management
Participative management refers to the involvement of employees considerations and ideas to
improve planning and productivity, and to reduce inefficiencies. CII defines participative
management as the process of involving those who are influenced by decisions where everyone
makes certain that everyone gets their needs met (CII: The Game Planner 2004, pp.12).
Participative management enhances employees motivation and commitment while reducing
process inefficiencies, increasing the likelihood of reducing activity durations as well.
Moreover, motivation among workers ultimately results in improved labor performance and
higher levels of productivity.
3. Resources
It is important to assign enough and adequate resources to develop an effective project plan.
Usually costs and expenses at the beginning stages of planning are minimal compared to overall
project costs, and the effects that effective project planning may have over overall project
duration are gigantic (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
4. Pre-project planning
Pre-project planning is the process of obtaining and developing important information with
which the construction manager and the owner can assess and evaluate areas of higher risk
within the project (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004). The identified risk can be
addressed by committing more resources, leading to the minimization of areas of potential
failure or delays.
5. Alignment
Alignment is defined as the condition where appropriate project participants are working within
acceptable tolerances to develop and meet a uniformly defined and understood set of project
objectives (CII: The Game Planner 2004, pp. 10). Alignment supports individuals and team
performance to be consistent with project objectives and needs.
6. Well-defined organizational structure
From project conception and throughout project development, all project parties and members
should have a clear and proper understanding of the authority, responsibility, and accountability
of each position. The construction manager needs to clearly define project participants

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functions and expected performance in order to reduce the potential delays caused by the lack of
understanding on who is responsible for what (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
7. Paretos law management
Also known as the 80/20 rule, Paretos law management rule suggests that attention should be
given to the few activities and elements (20%) that represent the major part of the work or
benefit (80%). Therefore, the construction manager should focus the attention of the project
team in the activities that represent overall project duration. CII affirms that on average around
20 percent of project activities represent 80 percent of overall project schedule duration (CII:
The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
8. Employee involvement
Employee involvement can be defined in terms of team building, training, communication,
performance appraisal, and rewards. These factors are the key to achieve employee successful
self-direction and process improvement (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
9. Realistic scheduling
Realistic scheduling is the action of constantly reviewing and updating the overall schedule to
reflect real progress and actual situations of the project. Realistic scheduling involves the use of
general schedules for overall control as opposed to detailed schedules which are more efficiently
used for short-term planning (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
10. Construction-driven scheduling
The use of a construction-driven schedule is also an alternative for time management and control
as it serves as a baseline for determining how much and when schedule reductions can be
achieved. Scheduling software can be very useful in preparing and tracking the schedule (CII:
The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
11. Concurrent evaluation of alternatives
Concurrent evaluation of technical alternatives generates important savings in time (CII: The
Project Managers Playbook 2004).
12. Avoid scope definition shortcuts
Good scope definition is crucial for project success, particularly when striving to reduce project
delivery time. Consequently, it is not recommended to take shortcuts on project scope in an
attempt to save time (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
13. Use of electronic media
The use of electronic media through computer technologies facilitates and improves information
management by expediting information delivery, improving data management, encouraging
strong communication and promoting project documentation, which finally leads to increased
productivity and shorter delivery times (CII: The Game Planner 2004).

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14. Constructability
The CII defines constructability as the optimum use of construction knowledge and experience
in planning, design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project objectives (CII:
The Project Managers Playbook 2004, pp. 10). Implementing a constructability program at
early stages and following during project development can lead to reduced construction
duration, ultimately reducing project delivery time. Constructability is further discussed in the
following section.
15. Freezing of project scope
Project scope should be completed and frozen as early as possible in the planning and design
phase such that all the major requirements and decisions are early made. Early freezing of
project scope allows addressing important issues that may affect project schedule in an early
manner, increasing the potential for project schedule reduction (CII: The Project Managers
Playbook 2004). This technique is discussed in detail in the following section.
16. Reusable engineering
Design delivery time can be reduced by reusing design elements from previous projects or from
standard design libraries when available. Examples of reusable engineering can be design
elements like structural steel connection details or instrument junction boxes, suppliers standard
designs for equipment or materials, particular systems such as air compressors, among others
(CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004). Standard design elements can also be produced
and saved to be used several times in the same project.
17. Non-traditional drawing release
This technique involves the release of partially completed drawings that contain complete and
approved detail to be used for expediting procurement and construction planning. This
procedure helps guaranteeing that material and equipment will be available when needed,
minimizing delays caused by material or equipment unavailability, thus improving construction
timely performance. Similar techniques related to drawing release will be discussed in more
detail in following sections (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
18. Supplier/engineer early interaction
Obtaining in advance engineering information related to design components that allow followon engineering work enable a faster development of design. If it is necessary, the construction
manager should send staff to visit the suppliers shop and obtain key engineering information in
advance (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
19. Materials management
Materials management refers to the efficient planning and controlling of all the actions required
to guarantee that materials and equipment are appropriately delivered in terms of quality and
quantity in a timely manner at the places needed (CII: The Game Planner 2004). Adequate
material and equipment availability is indispensable to allow construction progress.
Unavailability of material and equipment are a major source for delays.

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20. Material coordination


The CII recommends delegating staff with the primary or exclusive function of coordinating and
managing material at the jobsite. This person should be responsible for maintaining material
status and reports to allow connection between field and procurement personnel. In addition, this
individual could provide with useful advice in the coordination and management of material
during weekly look-ahead planning meetings to assure material and equipment availability when
required (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
21. Prioritize procurement of material
It is important to establish priorities related to the procurement of important equipment and
materials according to the needs of the project but also considering supplier capabilities to make
sure that the right items are delivered at the right time and in the right place. Sometimes,
coordination of material procurement is improved by having the prime contractor or CM at risk
purchasing materials for subcontractors (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
22. Efficient packaging for transportation
Typically, the handling and transportation of oversized elements and components of
construction involve increased costs and longer delivery times. Considering dimensional
limitations of the available or of common means of transportation including length, width,
height, volume and weight, during design can help in eliminating or minimizing the need for
special transportation and handling (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
23. Material I.D. on purchase documentation
The use of a material identification code system can improve the management of materials.
When possible, it should be requested to suppliers to provide materials with tags containing
identification codes that match purchase orders as well as the working package for which each
item or material is intended. This technique facilitates a better on-site control and routing of
material, minimizing material misplacement or losses. This technique is only applicable to
engineering or tagged items, not to bulk items (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
24. Testing/inspection
It is recommended to perform material and equipment inspection at fabricators or suppliers
shop prior to shipping to minimize testing on site. Deficiencies are also easier to correct in the
shop rather than after delivered (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
25. Multiple suppliers
Suppliers may have problems accomplishing delivery dates when orders are too large. It is
therefore recommended to use multiple suppliers with smaller orders, however too many
suppliers may be difficult to track and coordinate (CII: The Project Managers playbook 2004).

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26. Supplier submittal control


On-time deliveries from suppliers are a vital factor to assure prompt construction delivery times.
To achieve this, the construction manager should develop strict compliance policies regarding
supply dates, submittals and approvals of documents, and shop drawings (CII: The Game
Planner 2004).
27. Field management
Construction processes and schedules can be dramatically accelerated while improved by
providing sufficient resources and staff with the sole responsibility of performing field
management operations (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
28. Safety in workspace
Importance consideration should be given to planning for safety which can be achieved by
orientations on safety and training. Incentive techniques can also be effective in promoting a
safety environment for work. Safety improves workers moral and motivation, improves labor
performance and increases productivity, all of these resulting in potential schedule reductions.
On the other hand, reduced safety increases the likelihood of accidents, which are disruptive and
commonly result in delays (CII: The Game Planner 2004).
29. Aggressive project close-out
Project closing-out should be managed as aggressively as the rest of the project. Developing a
comprehensive list of the items that remain to be completed and a plan on how to complete them
can help in accelerating project delivery and close-out (CII: The Project Managers Playbook
2004).
30. Detailed plan
The development of a detailed plan facilitates the transition to facility operations. The plan
should include procedures, training, certification of operators, and a preventative maintenance
program if required. Accounting for these minimizes transition delays and expedites facility
start-up (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
31. Determine system testing requirements
Determining in advance which systems require testing is important to assure correct functioning
and to eliminate unnecessary testing (CII: The Project Managers Playbook 2004).
32. Zero accident techniques
Safety is fundamental in project close-out and operations start-up. Planning for safety during
transition to operations should be carried out to minimize potential accidents and injuries. Again,
orientation and training on operations start-up as well as incentive programs enable productivity
and better performance. Accidents even in the start-up stage of the project can result into
unexpected delays in the delivery of the facility to the owner (CII: The Game Planner 2004).

17

B. Freezing of Project scope


a. Technique
Freezing of scope is a schedule reduction technique defined as the systematic approach to the
early identification of major decisions and requirements that may affect the project delivery time
(CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction Techniques 1996, pp. 106).
It also focuses attention on scope issues and details that are often omitted, forgotten, or left to be
addressed at later dates. Identification and scoping of such issues can impact the project delivery
time significantly.

b. Implementation
Early freezing project scope aims at defining the project scope before commencement of
detailed engineering. Ideally, early freezing project scopes requires the owner to waive the right
to make scope changes after the owner, construction manager and architect/engineer team have
defined the project scope, unless these changes are in benefit of the project in terms of cost and
schedule. It is recommended too that a date for freezing the project scope should be established
and included in the overall project schedule as a milestone.
The scope should be completed such that all requirements are defined and major decisions made.
Strong attention should be given to details early because addressing them at later stages do not
allow for reducing project delivery time.
The Construction Industry Institute (CII) recommends following a number of strategies for early
freezing of project scope and achievement of radical reduction in project cycle time (CII: The
Projects Manager Playbook 2004):
o Establish a date to freeze project scope. This motivates the project team to early define
requirements and make decisions.
o Identify which deliverables will define the baseline.
o Perform all relevant reviews prior to scope freeze to add to the quality of scope definition
and to minimize potential changes if the reviews were performed after scope freeze. Reviews
can include constructability, environmental/health/safety, maintainability,
operability/reliability, process simplification and value engineering.
o Review to ensure that there is clear alignment of the project scope to the business goals and
objectives prior to freezing the scope.
o If feasible, ask a contractor to review scope documents for clarity and completeness. This
may include documents that a contractor typically would not review.
o Freeze portions of the total scope so that these portions can continue moving forward while
other portions of the scope are being developed.
o Perform an integrated project team review of the scope to ensure completeness and
alignment.
Companies that have experienced major costs and time saving through early freezing of project
scope have adopted a series of common actions.
Developing a work plan at the beginning stages of the project that highlights the projects
objectives, limitations, and deliverables is one technique frequently adopted. The mission and
18

the details of the work plan are then communicated to the end-users and their feedback is
requested to identify aspects related to detailed use, operation, maintenance, etc. that might have
been overlooked by the executive team (CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction
Techniques 1996).
When receiving feedback of the projects objectives and work plan, the handling and
interpretation of such information is very important. End-users do not always have the required
knowledge to understand all the information provided to them. It is also important to identify
their needs from their wants. Having someone from the end-users background to participate in
the exercise of developing the work plan can be very helpful.
The construction manager can then use the feedback to review the work plan and the projects
objectives, limitations, and deliverables, along with the owner and architect/engineer to convey
the users needs. This process engages end-users in the decision making process as needed.
Detailed milestone schedules can also be developed in the early stages of the project, identifying
major tasks, dates and parties involved. All participants involved should be made aware of the
developed schedules from its conception so to obtain their commitment to meet the established
dates. Buy-in of all participants can also be achieved by involving them in the development of
the milestone schedule.
Pre-qualifying vendors and suppliers, and establishing policies for handling substitutions also
commit them to deliver their part of the work as programmed, decreasing changes and delays.
The project mission and work plan should be revised continually by the team and end-users to
stay focused on the planned objectives, limitations and deliverables.

c. Advantages
Early freezing project scope has the potential of reducing project delivery time as major issues
that impact considerably the project schedule are considered from the beginning.
Early freezing of the project scope can also result in fewer do overs which equal fewer change
orders, and reducing change orders also reduces disputes between owner and contractor (CII: An
Investigation of Schedule Reduction Techniques 1996). In addition, early freezing the project
scope allows improved customer satisfaction and the development of partnering relationships
with major customers.
Focusing early attention on scope issues and details that are often omitted, forgotten or left to be
addressed at later dates enable a more effective planning and improved use of capital.
Implementing strategies for early freezing project scope enhances commitment of the team
involved, and commitment drives the team to perform towards project success.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Success factors can be categorized in three different areas: employee related issues, management
related issues, and process related issues (CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction
Techniques 1996).

19

Employee related factors


o Technical skills of individuals have a very important impact in the success of early
freezing of scope to reduce delivery time.
o Team dynamics and experience of key team members are also major determinants of
success as well as people skills and commitment to success.
o High levels of trust between the owner, designer and contractor teams drive to a
smoother implementation of this technique.
Management related factors
o Support from management and team empowerment motivates team members to achieve
results.
o Management willingness to accept the results of taking risks is an important enabler.
o Investment in appropriate training can offer significant pay-offs.
o Management needs to develop a high trusting environment and offer direct and visible
support.
Process related factors
o Early involvement of end-users in the process allows an early identification of major
project requirements.
o The use of information technology is a very helpful tool to establish communication with
end-users.
o Process continuity is also an essential enabler of freezing scoping success.

e. Disadvantages
Research carried out by the CII identifies several barriers that regularly hinder the
implementation of early freezing scope as a technique to reduce overall project duration. These
barriers can be categorized as employee related, management related and process related.
Employee related barriers
o Lack of skills and training
Management related barriers
o Lack of budget
Process related barriers
o
o
o
o

Lack of continuity and frequent interruption


Lack of identifying optimum degree of end-user involvement
Lack of determining cost-benefits ratio
Lack of process understanding

20

f. Applicability and use


In reality, it is rarely possible to identify all major decisions and requirements and to freeze the
scope of a project with such anticipation without forgetting, overlooking or omitting important
issues. In addition, the nature of construction and todays competitive businesses environment
make it impossible to have no changes once project execution has started. Nonetheless,
implementing the actions suggested by this technique allows the owner, construction manager
and all parties involved in project development to consider and address major issues and
requirements that affect delivery time in early stages. It has been vastly proved that the biggest
opportunities for achieving dramatic reductions in project delivery time occur at the early stages
and early freezing of project scope increases its likelihood.

21

C. Constructability review
a. Technique
The CII defines constructability as the optimum use of construction knowledge and experience
in planning, design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project objectives (CII:
Preview of Constructability Implementation 1993, pp. 1). Maximum benefits can be obtained
when people with construction knowledge and experience become involved in the early stages
of the project.
As a general overview, constructability involves a series of steps to determine more efficient
construction methods after field forces have mobilized. This can be realized by allowing
construction personnel to frequently review engineering documents during the design phase,
assigning construction personnel to the engineering office during design progression, and
through the development of a modularization or preassembly program (CII: Preview of
Constructability Implementation 1993).
These activities are an essential part of a constructability effort but the truly effects of
constructability can only be achieved through the effective and timely integration of
construction input into planning, design, and field operations.
Furthermore, the earlier the implementation of constructability in the delivery process, the
higher the potential benefits for cost and time savings. Therefore, the constructability process
has to start with the owners conception of the project, and continue through project planning,
design, construction, and start-up (figure 1).

Ability to influence cost

High

Planning
Design
Procurement
Construction
Start-up

Low
Start

Time

Complete

Figure 1. Ability to influence the final cost over the life of the project (taken form CII:
Preview of Constructability Implementation 1993, pp. 1)

22

b. Implementation
The CII has developed a program aimed at providing the construction industry with a tool to be
used as a guide in the planning, development and implementation of constructability in
construction projects (CII: Constructability Implementation Guide 1993).
This process of constructability implementation consists of three major steps:
o Obtaining constructability capabilities
o Planning constructability implementation, and
o Implementing constructability
1. Obtaining constructability capabilities
Obtaining constructability capabilities involves acquiring and engaging qualified construction
personnel in major management and technical decisions that meet both design and construction
needs, and retaining key personnel throughout the life cycle of the project.
The first step on implementing a constructability program is to define constructability objectives
and measures. Developing a clear understanding of the projects objectives and priorities is
essential in guiding peoples efforts towards the goal, project delivery time reduction in this
case. Once objectives have been identified, all participants in the process should be made aware
of them. Establishing project planning duration, design duration, construction duration and
start-up duration can be adopted as the general objectives of the constructability application.
However, the definition of more specific objectives leads to increased team support and
commitment through the implementation of the constructability program. The following are
examples of specific objectives cited from the CIIs Constructability Implementation Guide
(1993, pp. 37):
-

Use of standardized elements


Use of modules/preassembly
Use of lift equipment
Material laydown areas
Ease of fabrication and erection
Number of field welds
Jobsite accessibility
Develop construction-friendly specifications
Improve constructor/engineer communications
Minimizing construction rework
Minimizing design rework
Minimizing jobsite congestion
Minimizing occurrence of labor disputes

After the construction management along with the project team has identified the goals and
objective of the constructability program, the next step is to establish how these can be
objectively measured. Adopting appropriate measures is important for evaluating the
effectiveness of the constructability intention in project schedule performance. Examples of
performance measures are labor productivity, number of items nonconforming with owners
specifications, design rework work-hours, number of change orders, lost-time incident rate, shut-

23

down duration (hours), personnel and material jobsite accessibility (feet/hour/unit), etc (CII:
Constructability Implementation Guide 1993).
An assessment of the owners available in-house capabilities should be carried out at this point.
The procurement of external design and construction constructability expertise might need to be
considered too. Decisions will depend on different factor including owners objectives,
availability of resources, project characteristics such as project complexity, project size, project
location, construction type, contract type, technical difficulty, among others.
The owners selection of the contracting strategy has also considerable impact in the means and
the extent of early construction input in the project. In the traditional design-bid-build or the
multiple prime contracting approaches, it is not possible to bring the actual constructor to
participate in the planning and design phases. Consequently, under these delivery methods the
use of construction knowledge and expertise from outside should be considered. This input may
come from the design team or an external consultant with the required expertise. However,
construction input from external resources may not be as effective as input from the actual
constructor. Conversely, under the design-build contracting strategy, constructability is better
implemented because there is one design-build contractor who is naturally encouraged to use
constructability in the design phase. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that constructability
applied at the early stages of planning, before the design phase, increases potential schedule
benefits. As a result, executing constructability under each project delivery technique will have
different results due to the timing at which the constructor expertise is available to the project.
After defining where constructability input will be obtained from, the next step is to determine
how to facilitate an early implementation. When constructability is implemented through
external resources, a surrogate construction contractor can provide the necessary construction
knowledge and expertise. When the delivery system allows the early involvement of the
constructor or requires external resources, a constructability program can be included as part of
the prequalification process to guarantee constructors experience and early commitment to use
constructability.
The use of incentives is an option to enhance constructability performance. Incentives can be
related to specific milestones and completion of specific stages. The benefit of incentive
programs increases when incentives are effectively integrated between the design and
constructor players.
2. Planning constructability implementation
Planning constructability implementation should begin as early as possible and be integrated
into the entire project execution plan. It should also include all major project participants to the
maximum possible extent. The development of the constructability implementation plan follows
three basic steps (CII: Constructability Implementation Guide 1993): 1) Creating the
constructability team, 2) Identifying and address project barriers, and 3) Developing
constructability procedures and integrating into project activities.
Creating the constructability team
The constructability team should include as a minimum participants that represent the owner,
designer and constructor teams. However, to increase effectiveness of the program, it is also
recommended to include representatives from subcontractors, vendors and consultants when

24

applicable. The members selected to participate in the constructability team should have
construction experience and knowledge, but also strong interpersonal skills to be able to
cooperate with the team and act as team players. Team members must understand the
importance of constructability and the desired outcomes of its adoption. The construction
manager should also enforce a clear understanding of each individuals specific roles and
responsibilities as members of the constructability team. A coordinator should be selected with
appropriate experience and skills to manage the execution of the program.
Identifying and addressing project barriers
Constructability implementation commonly presents several barriers that make its execution
more difficult. Some are related to owners and participants commitment, such as lack of
constructability awareness, reluctance to provide funding or invest resources; and other barriers
are more specifically related to team members performance or lack of performance thereof, such
as complacency with the status quo, lack of construction experience, lack of designers
willingness to adopt constructors input, adverse relationships between design and constructors,
construction input requested or provided too late to be of value, etc. The last section of this
section presents a list of the most common barriers identified by the CII in the implementation
of constructability. Identification of the potential barriers enables the team to anticipate and be
prepared to overcome those shortcomings.
Developing constructability procedures and integrating into project activities
The development of constructability procedures will depend on the individual circumstances of
the project. However, the CII (CII: The Projects Manager Playbook 2005, CII: Constructability
- A Primer 1986) establishes seven basic constructability concepts that are generally applicable
to the design and procurement phases of any project.
o Design and procurement schedules should be construction-driven.
o Designs have to be configured to enable efficient construction.
o Designs should consider major construction methods when establishing basic design
approaches.
o Design elements need to be as standardized as possible.
o Construction efficiency should be considered in specification development.
o Module/preassembly designs need to be prepared to facilitate fabrication, transport, and
installation.
o Designs must promote construction accessibility of personnel, material, and equipments.
o Designs should facilitate construction under adverse weather conditions.
o Flexibility in designs and specifications should be provided to allow construction to
determine the appropriate means and methods of installation.
o All of the appropriate information needed by construction should be contained on
drawings or specifications or by reference.
o Dual-purpose designs should be considered. These are components that can serve a
function in construction as well as commercial operations.
Constructability procedures and activities should be developed and integrated with the project
schedule. These procedures may include developing a schedule with the timing for the various
constructability studies and design inputs, developing schedules for regular meetings to discuss
constructability concepts, share lessons learned, and provide constructability input to design.
Constructability procedures should also embrace how decisions related to trade-off analysis will

25

be done, and how the constructability program progress will be monitored (CII: Constructability
- A Primer 1986).
Finally, the constructability activities should be integrated into the project activities. One way to
do this is by identifying the what, when and who portions of the process in the
constructability schedule and linking these to the project schedule.
3. Implementing constructability
Adequate implementation of constructability involves (CII: Construtability - A Primer 1986): 1)
applying constructability concepts and procedures, and 2) monitoring and evaluating project
program effectiveness
Applying constructability concepts and procedures
Constructability concepts are nothing more that lessons learned from past projects that have
spread out within the construction industry. CII and other organizations have extensive
checklists of general constructability concepts that can be applied in any given project.
However, developing more specific concepts from individual experience and lessons learned
improves the quality of constructability input during planning and design.
Constructability procedures are actions that have to be implemented by each team member
throughout the design phase in order to generate construction input in design. Thus, each
member should follow procedures based on its role and responsibilities.
Monitoring and evaluating project program effectiveness
The team coordinator should monitor constructability progress in order to measure its
effectiveness and take corrective actions when needed. When the program is failing in meeting
constructability objectives, the coordinator can turn to the list of barriers identified in previous
steps to find possible areas of failure. One common weakness in the process is poor
communication and deficient working relationships among team members. After obstacles and
difficulties have been identified, actions should be adopted to address these. Sometimes it is also
necessary to modify constructability procedures or activities to overcome barriers.

c. Advantages
An appropriate and successful application of constructability in the early stages of project
development provides with the following potential benefits (CII: Constructability
Implementation Guide 1993, CII: Constructability - A Primer 1986):
o Significant schedule improvements
o Earlier project completion
o Significant reductions in overall installed project expenses, being construction savings
the major factor in reducing expenses
o Improvement in project quality, for the most part design and construction quality
o Better productivity
o Improvement of safety during construction
o Savings in project costs while preserving aesthetics

26

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


One of the major determinants of the success of constructability is the timing at which it is
introduced. Hence, in order to explode its potential benefits to its maximum, constructability has
to be implemented at the earliest stages when the project is conceptualizing, and continue
through project planning, design, construction, and start-up.
The construction manager has a critical influence on the success of the projects constructability
implementation. When all the team members are truly committed since constructability
planning, the chances of attaining greatest benefits increase. Therefore, construction managers
efforts must focus on enhancing commitment from team members to establish a supportive
environment and assure constructability success. Commitment however should not be merely
directed implementation of the program itself but also to the results in terms of time expected
from programs implementation. Constructability can be enhanced when the influence it has
over delivery time is emphasized and clearly understood by all parties involved.
The owners selection of the contracting strategy has also substantial impact in the means and
the degree to which early construction input into project planning and design can be achieved.
Establishing the appropriate project delivery technique will therefore contribute to a successful
application of constructability reviews.
Regardless of the source from which constructability input will be obtained, a constructability
program can be included as part of the prequalification process to guarantee constructors
experience on constructability and early commitment to the program. This can be applicable to
situations in which the actual constructor is involved early in project planning and design, or
when external resources or consultants are required.
The use of incentives has the potential of enhancing constructability performance when
incentives are effectively integrated between the design and constructor or constructability
teams. The development of common goals among team members is also a key to developing
joint-work to achieve constructability success.
When selecting members to make the constructability team, several aspects need to be taken in
consideration to enhance team effectiveness. First, it is essential to compose a team of
individuals with extensive experience and knowledge. It may be worth to develop selection
criteria in advance to obtain the minimum level of expertise. Nonetheless, it is also important to
select team players that are willing to cooperate, work in team, and accept other participants
points of views. An environment of open communication supports the development of a
cohesive team with joined objectives which increases thereby commitment to the program.
Finally, the importance of continuity within the team is fundamental to achieve success; team
turn-over must be minimized.
Developing a constructability program based on a forward-looking, integrated planning
philosophy instead of a backward-looking review of completed design increases the quality of
design and decreases the risk of design rework. Developing a schedule which determines the
needed time of constructability studies and design inputs allows for a smoother adaptability to
the process.
Regular meetings of the constructability team enable discussing concepts, sharing lessons
learned, and providing constructability input to design. An appropriate strategy to improve the

27

efficiency of constructability reviews is to perform a final review for completeness and accuracy
of design details on design packages that are ready to be submitted. This approach can prevent
rework when changes in design occurred after initial constructability review.
One way to monitor and evaluate constructability outcomes is by maintaining communication
with the contractor throughout the construction phase of the project. Evaluations also allow
discovering areas of possible improvement in the next stages of the constructability program.

e. Disadvantages
Coordination of the different parties is a major issue when adopting constructability. If the team
is not well managed and coordinated the introduction of other parties into the design stage of the
project can result in adverse relationships hindering project success.

f. Applicability and use


Extensive case studies have demonstrated that constructability applications are investments that
result in substantial returns in terms of project quality, costs and time. The technique presented
herein provides owners, construction managers and other applicable parties with the basic steps
to successfully implement a constructability plan to improve construction performance and
reduce delivery times. The more detailed and more time and effort devoted to implementing
constructability the greater the likelihood of project success. However, taking into account basic
constructability concepts during project design can improve construction performance (CII: The
Projects Manager Playbook 2004, CII: Constructability - A Primer 1986). The following are a
few of these key concepts:
o Design and procurement schedules should be construction-driven.
o Designs have to be configured to enable efficient construction.
o Designs should consider major construction methods when establishing basic design
approaches.
o Design elements need to be as standardized as possible.
o Construction efficiency should be considered in specification development.
o Module/preassembly designs need to be prepared to facilitate fabrication, transport, and
installation.
o Designs must promote construction accessibility of personnel, material, and equipments.
o Designs should facilitate construction under adverse weather conditions.
o Flexibility in designs and specifications should be provided to allow construction to
determine the appropriate means and methods of installation.
o All of the appropriate information needed by construction should be contained on
drawings or specifications or by reference.
o Dual-purpose designs should be considered. These are components that can serve a
function in construction as well as commercial operations.

g. Other special characteristics


For a constructability program to be effectively implemented, potential barriers should be
identified and defeated. CII provides a list of typical barriers encountered in the implementation
of constructability programs (CII: Constructability - A Primer 1986). The use of barriers
checklists can assist team participants in assessing whether a particular barrier is significant and
needs more attention and effort to be addressed and overcome. The checklist can also be used
28

periodically to evaluate if identified barriers are being correctly addressed or still need to be
mitigated, and to identify and defeat new barriers that can appear along with the implementation
of constructability.
Some barriers are related to the owner, others the designers or contractors, and some affect all
the parties involved in the project. The following are barriers checklists that affect a particular
party or all of them at the corporate level and at the project level (CII: Constructability
Implementation Guide 1993):
Constructability barriers checklist applicable at the owner corporate level

Complacency with the status quo


o resistance to change
o conservative, non-innovative approaches
o risk-averse attitudes towards trying something new
o no rewards for intelligent risk-taking
o a not invented here syndrome

Lack of documentation and retrieval of lessons learned


o no formal system for documenting lessons learned
o reliance on word-of-mouth and experienced personnel to transfer innovative ideas

Lack of awareness/understanding of the concepts of constructability, no procedural


roadmap is available
o constructability used as a buzzword
o efforts ineffective due to lack of coordination; direction

Perceptions that we do it
o routine design practices fully exploit constructability
o we already pay for it
o we do value engineering; value engineering equals constructability

There are no proven benefits of constructability


o too expensive
o senior management is not convinced of the cost-benefits

Reluctance to invest additional money, effort, and time in early project stages
o inability to acquire additional front-end funding
o inflexible design fee structure/inflexible scope of design services
o expectation of free advice/consulting form contractors and consultants

Lack of genuine commitment to constructability


o constructability is low priority
o no policy statement exists, no champion
o there are higher priorities

29

Constructability barriers checklist applicable at the designer corporate level

Complacency with the status quo


o resistance to change
o conservative, non-innovative approaches
o risk-averse attitudes towards trying something new
o no rewards for intelligent risk-taking
o a not invented here syndrome

Lack of documentation and retrieval of lessons learned


o no formal system for documenting lessons learned
o reliance on word-of-mouth and experienced personnel to transfer innovative ideas

Perception that we do it; very narrow view of constructability

Lack of awareness/understanding of the constructability concepts and/or benefits


o constructability used as a buzzword
o efforts ineffective due to lack of coordination; direction

Lack of construction experience/qualified personnel

Lack of mutual respect between designers and constructors


o resentment of outsiders
o pride of authorship

Contractor or construction input is requested too late to be of value


o belief design personnel can provide construction input during early stages
o reluctance to allow construction into review processes

Constructability barriers checklist applicable at the EPC (Engineer-procur-construct)


corporate level
General organization barriers

Complacency with the status quo


o resistance to change
o conservative, non-innovative approaches
o risk-averse attitudes towards trying something new
o no rewards for intelligent risk-taking
o a not invented here syndrome

Lack of documentation and retrieval of lessons learned


o no formal system for documenting lessons learned
o reliance on word-of-mouth and experienced personnel to transfer innovative ideas

30

Designer barriers

Perception that we do it; very narrow view of constructability

Lack of awareness/understanding of the constructability concepts and/or benefits


o constructability used as a buzzword
o efforts ineffective due to lack of coordination; direction

Lack of construction experience/qualified personnel

Lack of mutual respect between designers and constructors


o resentment of outsiders
o pride of authorship

Contractor or construction input is requested too late to be of value


o belief design personnel can provide construction input during early stages
o reluctance to allow construction into review processes

Constructor barriers

Poor coordination skills; design criticism is often non-constructive or communicate in an


offensive, tactless manner

Constructability barriers checklist applicable at the constructor corporate level

Complacency with the status quo


o resistance to change
o conservative, non-innovative approaches
o risk-averse attitudes towards trying something new
o no rewards for intelligent risk-taking
o a not invented here syndrome

Lack of documentation and retrieval of lessons learned


o no formal system for documenting lessons learned
o reliance on word-of-mouth and experienced personnel to transfer innovative ideas

Poor coordination skills; design criticism is often non-constructive or communicate in an


offensive, tactless manner

Constructability barriers checklist applicable at the project level


General project barriers

Complacency with the status quo


o resistance to change
o conservative, non-innovative approaches
o risk-averse attitudes towards trying something new
o no rewards for intelligent risk-taking
o a not invented here syndrome

31

The right people were/are not available

Owner project barriers

Lack of awareness/understanding of the concepts of constructability; no procedural


roadmap is available
o constructability used as a buzzword
o efforts ineffective due to lack of coordination; direction

Perceptions that we do it
o routine design practices fully exploit constructability
o we already pay for it
o we do value engineering; value engineering equals constructability

Lack of team-building or partnering


o client-contractor relationships/communications are not respected and nurtured
o adversarial relationships are free to develop (expected, accepted, and perhaps even
subconsciously promoted)

Misdirected design objectives and designer performance measures


o mentality is design-driven vs. construction-driven
o design process is design-cost driven
o design process is design-schedule driven

Use of lump-sum competitive contracting, leading to:


o limited opportunity for involvement of construction contractor up-front
o a false sense of economy with a low bid with constructability viewed as an
accessory
o requirement for complete plans and specs, precluding a fast-track approach
o adversarial relationships on changes
o not wanting to give a competitive advantage to reviewers

Reluctance to invest additional money, effort, and time in early project stages
o inability to acquire additional front-end funding
o inflexible design fee structure/inflexible scope of design services
o expectation of free advice/consulting form contractors and consultants

Designer project barriers

Perceptions that we do it; very narrow view of constructability

Lack of awareness/understanding of the constructability concepts and/or benefits


o constructability used as a buzzword
o efforts ineffective due to lack of coordination; direction

Lack of construction experience/qualified personnel

Lack of mutual respect between designers and constructors


o resentment of outsiders
o pride of authorship
32

Contractor or construction input is requested too late to be of value


o belief design personnel can provide construction input during early stages
o reluctance to allow construction into review processes

Constructor project barriers

Poor timeliness of input

Poor coordination skills; design criticism is often non-constructive or communicate in an


offensive, tactless manner

33

D. Cycle time analysis


a. Technique
Cycle time is defined as the duration for accomplishing a preestablished set of activities;
therefore cycle time analysis (CTA) is the formal process of cycle time review to ensure delivery
of exactly what is needed, when it is needed, and the amount needed, while eliminating
unnecessary activities from all functions of an organization (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995, pp.
18).
Applied to the construction industry, cycle time analysis is the systematic process of examining
each and every step in the process of delivering a project with the objective of eliminating
activities and events that add no value to the project aiming at achieving overall project schedule
reduction (CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction techniques 1996).

b. Implementation
Cycle time analysis has been mostly applied to project construction to remove non-value adding
activities in construction processes; nonetheless, the same principles that guide cycle time
analysis during construction can be applied to any phase of the project. Thus, cycle time analysis
applied to planning, design, construction and start-up can lead to reduced delivery schedules by
eliminating those processes that add no value to the project.
There is no recorded formal procedure for implementing cycle time analysis; however, based on
extensive research in combination with case studies, the CII provides the industry with a set of
implementation guidelines (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995):
o Form a cross-functional steering team with representation of key stakeholders under the
leadership of the project or construction manager.
o Select a target process or focus area for the analysis. Examples of target processes can be
inventory reduction, routing and approval procedures of paperwork, just-in-time
manufacturing, minimizing equipment downtime, innovative construction sequences, and so
on.
o Form teams around the selected work areas. For construction cycle time analysis teams
should be developed at the worker level around the selected work areas. Use facilitators and
provide the teams with training in team dynamics and techniques specific to the focus area,
for example, statistical techniques and just-in-time management.
o Map the overall work processes with the use of flowcharts and identify problem areas.
Problem areas may include redundant and unnecessary steps, inconsistent handling of the
same task, same information regenerated at different stages for different purposes by
different groups, lack of uniformity on repetitive processes, excessive waiting times, etc.
Work teams can help in identifying specific issues within their work areas.
o Select performance indicators, execute measurements, and chart and post the process and
results in each work area (e.g., productivity yields, delivery schedule, absenteeism, cost of
poor quality and throughput time, etc).
o Communicate the goals and progress of the analysis to the employees involved with the
process, and provide them with necessary retraining.
o Use technology to provide common databases and automate information transfer and
transactional type activity.

34

c. Advantages
Cycle time analysis implementation has great potential of reducing project delivery time
considerably, while implementation costs are minimal compared to overall installed project
costs and the achievable time savings.
In addition to reducing overall project schedule, other benefits that can be achieved with cycle
time analysis include reduction in operating capital and identification of bottlenecks. Cycle time
analysis also enhances employees sense of ownership, augments productivity, leading to
increased job satisfaction. All these gains generated by this technique ultimately translate into
reduction of total project cost.
The application of cycle time analysis through the formation of teams is important as it
considers input and recommendations from individuals actually involved in the process under
study for compression. This approach triggers employees motivation and enhances commitment
to accomplish schedule reductions. Involvement and input from team members also enable
consensus to be formed considering not only the priorities of the project but also the priorities of
the team, which encourages adherence to the cycle time program. Consensus also promotes an
environment of work team which is always fundamental for achieving common goals.
One last benefit of employing cycle time analysis is that it enables the identification of hidden
problems in disciplines other than time and schedule related. Analysis and involvement of
employees in work processes also encourage innovation.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


There are several important factors that contribute to the success of implementing cycle time
analysis (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995):
o Commitment and support of top management.
o Strong and open communication at all levels of the project, particularly when approaching
problem resolution to avoid adversarial consequences.
o Training of employees in cycle time analysis and problem-solving techniques. Lack of a
structured approach leads to ineffective cycle time analysis and eventual loss of employee
interest.
o Open communication and support to employees. Employees need to feel comfortable with
the process to be willing to recognize and resolve problems, particularly when identifying
bottlenecks, without the fear of job loss.
Cycle time analysis results can be improved if its implementation is combined with other
schedule reduction techniques such as constructability and concurrent engineering.

e. Disadvantages
One particular disadvantage of cycle time analysis is that, to be effective, it requires constant
guidance from management to keep the team focused on the objectives of the techniques
application. Cycle time analysis requires team participants to carry out the functions they usually
perform to achieve project progress but, in addition, to devote time and effort in following and
analyzing processes to recognize wasteful activities that add no value. Consequently, if adequate
guidance and awareness is not constantly provided to team participants, these tend to easily
35

loose focus on objectives hindering successful results from analysis of cycle times. Moreover,
once the areas of waste have been identified and addressed, constant awareness is required to
maintain workers and employees performance aligned with adjusted processes. Participants
commitment can also be easily weakened by lack of genuine motivation. Without the
appropriate support, employees will unconsciously tend to go back to their work routine in
which wasteful activities are allowed.

f. Applicability and use


Cycle time analysis as an approach to schedule reduction has been successfully applied within
the industry. Research proves that this technique can result in dramatic overall cycle time
reductions. However, case studies also demonstrate that a strong motivation for improvement
and for achieving results is important to commit to the process.
The applicability of cycle time analysis highly depends on management commitment and
dedication in terms of time and budget, and most importantly, a willingness to implement the
findings of the cycle time analysis (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995).
To reduce processes durations and therefore project delivery time, this technique can be
successfully implemented in any phase of the project individually, or applied to the phases or
processes that show greater potential for wasteful areas. Examples of phases that may benefit
from cycle time analysis the most are project funding approval, drawing and specification
reviews, and material procurement approvals (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995).

36

E. Concurrent Engineering
a. Technique
The Research Center for Concurrent Engineering defines concurrent engineering as a
methodology for developing new products efficiently by designing the product while
simultaneously considering all aspects such as manufacture, maintenance and support (CERC
2006, CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction Techniques 1996).
In the engineering and construction industry, concurrent engineering is a systematic approach to
include all entities affecting or affected by the subject project in the planning, engineering, and
design of the project (CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction Techniques 1996, pp. 34).
Having multiple parties involved since the early design of a project enables addressing all angles
of a project from project conception and the accumulation of knowledge and information so as
to reduce downstream risks and anticipate constructability, operability, and maintainability
expectations (de la Garza et al. 1994). Concurrent engineering therefore aims at identifying all
project requirements and expectations at the earliest stage possible.
Concurrent engineering forces participants from all phases of the project total life cycle
including owners, designers, construction managers, constructors, suppliers, operations and
maintenance, and end-users, to play an active role from projects conception. The input from
different sources at early stages enables to consider all elements of the project life cycle
including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements (CERC 2006).

Highest 5

Relative contribution

Lowest 0
Pre-planning

Design

Procurement Construction

Start-up

Time (Project phase)

Figure 2. Impact of concurrent engineering over project life cycle (taken from CII:
Schedule Reduction 1995, pp. 13)

37

b. Implementation
Concurrent engineering primarily aims at integrating the development of a product, which is
achieved by the development of multifunctional or interdisciplinary teams in projects early
phases of conception. Projects different phases are thus integrated through the knowledge and
early input of the formed team (de la Garza 1994). The team should consist of experts from both
upstream and downstream phases of the facility to be built.
Traditional project delivery methods entail that certain project activities are completed before
the start of subsequent activities to assure that the information required in the downstream tasks
is accurate and fully available. It is also commonly required under this delivery approach that
the information is reviewed multiple times for approval before being transmitted to succeeding
activities.
Concurrent engineering, on the other hand, requires end-users and other participants to play an
active role in the engineering phase to reduce or eliminate the need of activity review and speed
up the beginning of subsequent activities. New approaches to concurrent engineering go further
with this theory by starting subsequent tasks earlier before all the required information becomes
available leaning on the early involvement of the project team and in ongoing reviews and early
decision-making. Fast-track is one such technique that aims at concurrent engineering principles
seeking acceleration of project completion. Fast-tracking production recurs to the overlapping of
design and construction, thus construction activities corresponding to early stages of a project
are performed when later stages are still under design. Other approaches recur to concurrency
philosophies specifically applied to the design and construction phases separately. Concurrent
engineering applied to design consists of overlapping sequential design activities with the
objective of speeding up design delivery, thus reducing overall project delivery time. The same
approach is adopted in the construction phase. By overlapping sequential construction activities,
the construction schedule can be reduced, leading to reduction in overall project duration. These
and other similar techniques will be discussed in detail in later sections.
The first step to implement concurrent engineering is to establish the members that will form the
design review working group. The team should have representatives from all the disciplines that
compose the project scope. The objective of the team is to be present at the design stage to
identify internal customers and involve downstream users during the design phase. Emphasis
should also be given on obtaining input and involvement of the owner to achieve a strong buy-in
to the design. The team is responsible for identifying during conceptual engineering the critical
activities that make up project duration in order to center major focus and effort on achieving
early completion of these. The team can develop a list of the objectives and improvements
expected with the adoption of concurrent engineering practices, thus management should be
oriented to meet the objectives. The team may also develop a schedule in order to proceed with
the detailed design. A schedule of short-term goals and milestones enhances achieving
objectives in a timely manner, and regular meetings can be helpful for monitoring and
controlling how the objectives are being conveyed, and to develop new short-term milestones
and plans. As the design develops, the team evolves as needed so to provide input with the
required level of knowledge and detail.

c. Advantages
The application of concurrent engineering in the early stages of a project has significant
opportunities of improving and shortening overall project duration. If correctly implemented,

38

concurrent engineering allows great potential for reducing design errors due to the input of
downstream knowledge. Concurrent engineering practices also minimize the need for excessive
drawing revisions, which ultimately leads to shorter design delivery time. The input of different
sources in the engineering phase generates an enhanced design that allows for improvement in
the subsequent phases of the project including construction and start-up. Additionally, since a
higher percentage of the engineering deliverables can be emitted to the field before the
completion of all design activities, the construction phase of the project can begin earlier and
completed faster. Improved design development also generates fewer changes in design, reduced
field rework, reduced project costs, and a better basis for efficient construction planning.
Having multiple parties involved at the design of a project enables knowledge and information
input which reduces potential risks on downstream phases and enhances constructability, and
project operability and maintainability. Moreover, because concurrent engineering is a
philosophy product and market-oriented that encourages input of different disciplines including
owners and end-users in the design phase, its implementation can also be translated into
increased customer satisfaction (CII: An Investigation of Schedule Reduction Techniques 1996).
The different applications of concurrent engineering through activity overlapping also bring
about potential benefits in the design and construction phases of the project in terms of project
delivery time.
Finally, concurrent engineer facilitates a more appropriate allocation and share of risk between
all parties involved in projects overall life cycle.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


To assure and increase the chances of project success, concurrent engineering applications
should be adopted at the very inception of project development and continue during the design
phase. Concurrent engineering practices throughout construction can also lead to improved
operations start-up.
Adopting concurrent engineering practices combined with aggressive schedules increases the
opportunities for reducing project delivery time. Schedules should be demanding, but yet
achievable to encourage the project team to behave under concurrent engineering philosophies
(CII: Schedule Reduction 1995). In addition, demanding schedules enhance teams motivation
and effort to work toward the schedule goals. However if the schedule is not realistic, the lack of
motivation will likely result in poor teams performance, ultimately leading to unfavorable
schedules.
Concurrent engineering success requires the team to operate as a single unit with focus on issues
rather than individuals. Its success depends in common objectives and team work. Team
members need to not only have a clear understanding of the goals expected from the
implementation of this technique, but also to adopt these as common goals and perform
accordingly rather than acting under individual objectives of the group they represent (de la
Garza et al. 1994).
Communication and collaboration are also key factors for team success. de la Garza et al. define
three stages that lead a team to truly collaboration. These stages are: to define a common
vocabulary, agree on a common purpose, and agree on individual priorities (de la Garza et al.

39

1994). Adopting these concepts from the inception of the project increases the chances of team
success.
The capabilities and compatibility of the individuals assigned to the team also have significant
impact on the success of the concurrent engineering implementation. Experience and
interpersonal skills are important in project participants to interact with each other and achieve
collaboration. Team members also need to have communication skills and to be flexible to adopt
other participants views. Involvement of open-minded individuals that are willing to support
new practices, even though it may mean changing the way they had done things in the past, also
increases the likelihood of team success. Finally, team participants should be willing to accept
responsibility for making decisions and should take an active role towards common goals.
Locating the project team at a common site enhances face-to-face communication. Information
technologies are also an important enabler of communication to link all participants. The
generation of an appropriate communication infrastructure promotes faster and improved
exchange of ideas, processes, and integrated design, and it also supports feedback from endusers (de la Garza et al. 1994).
Management support is very important to keep the project in progress as project team members
constantly face decision-making based on partial or incomplete data. Decision making requires
risk-taker managers, yet, decisions should also be taken prudently.

e. Disadvantages
Concurrent engineering beliefs support the simultaneous execution of subsequent tasks, where
the downstream activity is carried out before the preceding activity has been completed. The
decision of beginning subsequent components without the required information is completed
introduces potential risks of project changes and rework. Poor planning and lack of prudence can
drive to poor decisions based on wrong assumptions, all of which can have negative impacts in
project execution leading to rework and delays, and ultimately to increased costs.

f. Applicability and use


Concurrent engineering principles are effective tools to achieve project delivery time reduction
and to improve overall project performance. The greatest potential for project reduction however
is for large, complex projects, where input from many sources is a must to develop and
implement the project (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995).
Major benefits can be obtained from applying concurrent engineering practices in the design
phase, nevertheless, opportunities for its use can also be found within projects concept
development, procurement, and construction phase (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995).
The potential for properly allocation and share of risk that concurrent engineering allows
enhances its applicability as a tool to reduce project delivery time (CII: Schedule Reduction
1995).

g. Other special characteristics


The CII has devoted effort and time in the research of concurrent engineering as a technique for
project delivery time reduction. Within its research, the CII identifies a series of common
40

barriers to the successful implementation of concurrent engineering which include (CII:


Schedule Reduction 1995):
o Management reluctance to delegate authority and responsibility to team members in the
decision-making process.
o Resistance to integrate suppliers before the design has been completed, which hinders their
input into initial designs.
o Inadequate training for those who need knowledge in concurrent engineering processes.
o Lack of measure to track the impact of concurrent engineering implementation.
o Aversion to the risk associated with the decision-making based on partial or incomplete data.
o Failure to make proper allowances for changes after decisions have been taken.
o Lack of human resources to implement concurrent engineering at the beginning of the design
phase.
In contrast, the willingness to share risk between owners, construction managers, designers,
suppliers, and contractors have contributed to the adoption of concurrent engineering as a tool to
reduce project delivery time (CII: Schedule Reduction 1995).

41

F. Overlapping sequential design activities based on concurrent engineering


a. Technique
Overlapping sequential design activities is a strategy developed based on concurrent engineering
principles that allows reducing the time usually required to complete project design. Reducing
design delivery time allows construction to start sooner, thus leading to reduction of overall
project delivery time. One way to reduce overall project delivery time is by adopting concurrent,
overlapped design processes by overlapping dependent activities instead of following traditional
sequential processes.
Following concurrent engineering practices, overlapping strategies resort to reducing or
removing information dependencies among activities by altering their existing characteristics to
create a more favorable environment for activity overlapping. The extent to which two activities
can be effectively overlapped depends on the relationship between them. Prasad identifies 4
possible types of relationships between activities (Prasad 1996): 1) dependent activities, 2)
semi-independent activities, 3) independent activities, and 4) interdependent activities. When
two activities are dependent, the downstream activity requires information from the upstream
task before the downstream task can begin. Semi-independent activities require only partial
information from the upstream activity before the downstream activity can be started.
Independent activities require no information from one activity before the other activity can
begin. Interdependent activities require a two-way information exchange between them before
either can be completed (Prasad 1996).
Independent activities can be overlapped without any risk of delay or rework because the
upstream activity does not require information from the downstream activity to begin.
Dependent activities, on the other hand, carry risk when overlapped. When overlapping
dependent activities, the downstream activity begins before all the information from the
upstream activity is available, thus, the downstream activity begins with incomplete, nonoptimal, or non-final information (Bogus et al. 2005). Changes in the upstream activity can also
impact the downstream task, resulting in potential delays and/or rework. Because of this risk
involved in overlapping dependent activities, this technique focuses on developing strategies to
reduce the dependencies between these.
The degree to which dependent activities can be overlapped is determined by the nature of
information exchange between them. The information exchange between an upstream activity
and a downstream activity can be described in terms of the natural rate of information evolution
in each activity and the sensitivity of the downstream activity to changes in upstream
information (Bogus et al. 2005). Thus, activities characteristics of evolution and sensitivity are
used to determine appropriate strategies for achieving overlap to reduce design delivery cycles.
Information evolution
The natural evolution characteristics of an activity determine the rate at which information is
generated when no time constraints or pressures are applied. In a traditional design process,
work is performed following the natural evolution characteristics of activities; therefore,
activities are carried out only when all upstream information is available. However, traditional
approaches do not always allow for the most effective design delivery process in terms of time.
Hence, evolution characteristics can be used in project scheduling decisions to identify potential
opportunities for overlap to reduce design time.

42

According to Bogus et al.s research work, there are four essential determinants of an activitys
evolution (Bogus et al. 2005):
o
o
o
o

Design optimization
Constraint satisfaction
External information exchange
Standardization

Design optimization refers to the level of optimization achieved by design elements or the
number of design alternatives evaluated. For example activities that require the evaluation of
many alternatives will have slower evolutions than those that require only one or a few
alternatives. Constraint satisfaction refers to the flexibility of design elements in satisfying
constraints such as physical limitations. External information exchange refers to the amount of
information received from or reviewed by external sources. Activities that require information
from external sources may result in multiple iterations of design. These activities will have a
slower evolution than activities that do not require external information exchanges.
Standardization describes the level of standardization in the design product and/or the design
process. Standardization allows activities to have faster evolutions (Bogus et al. 2005).
Information Sensitivity
Sensitivity refers to the amount of rework that a downstream activity will have to go through if
information on the upstream activity changes. So, a highly sensitive activity will require a larger
amount of rework if upstream information changes even when the change is minimal.
Bogus et al. define the following as the main determinants of sensitivity in design activities
(Bogus et al. 2005):
o Constraint sensitive
o Input sensitive
o Integration sensitive
Activity sensitivity can be determined by the proximity of the downstream design to boundaries
or constraints. When a downstream design element is near a certain type of constraint, such as a
maximum or minimum capacity performance, the changes in upstream information can lead to
significant rework in the downstream activity. Input sensitive refers to the level of dependence
of downstream tasks on specific inputs from other activities. Integration sensitive involves the
ability of downstream design elements to be separated from the entire system (Bogus et al.
2005).

b. Implementation
Based on activities characteristics of evolution and sensitivity, Krishnan et al. define
overlapping in four possible situations (Krishnan et al. 1995). The first one is given when
evolution of the upstream task is fast and the sensitivity of the downstream task is low. This is
the most convenient situation for overlapping, which is highly recommended through exchange
of preliminary design information and early finalization of the upstream design. This strategy is
termed distributive overlapping. The second situation is given when activity evolution and
sensitivity are both low. Under these circumstances overlapping is recommended only through

43

the exchange of preliminary design information, called iterative overlapping. When evolution is
fast but sensitivity high, only early finalization of upstream information is recommended,
referred to as preemptive overlapping. Finally, when evolution of the upstream activity is low
and sensitivity of the downstream task is high, overlapping should occur to the least degree
possible. In this situation, the strategy recommended is to decompose activities into subactivities or packages known as divisive overlapping (Krishnan et al. 1995).
Upstream activities with fast evolution and downstream activities with low sensitivity represent
the better combination for effective overlapping. Thus, overlapping strategies should aim at
changing the evolution upstream activities from its natural state to a faster state to speed up the
design process of the activity. Sensitivity characteristics are more likely to be affected by the
design situation; in consequence, unlike evolution there are no natural characteristics that
determine the sensitivity of downstream tasks to upstream information changes. Once activities
characteristics of evolution and sensitivity have being defined and characterized, adequate
overlapping strategies can be applied to speed up activities evolution and reduce activities
sensitivity. Bogus et al. suggest the following (Bogus et al. 2005):
Strategies that speed up evolution
Early freezing of design criteria
Early freezing of design criteria consists on releasing information from an upstream activity to
the downstream activity before the upstream design is complete. This strategy requires project
participants commitment early in the design process to generate the specific required design
criteria as soon as possible.
Advantages
By early freezing design criteria, some of the uncertainty on downstream design is reduced by
eliminating the likelihood of changes in upstream information when downstream activities have
already begun.
Disadvantages
Early freezing design can lead to increased project costs due to lack of design optimization.
There is also risk that the pre-established criteria may not be feasible in all situations, therefore,
the risk of rework in downstream activities that have already begun based on the initial design
criteria increases.
Design quality and final products may also be affected by the loss of information quality in the
upstream activity at the time of freezing.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
Early freezing of design criteria is recommended only when the upstream activity is fast
evolving.

44

Early release of preliminary information


Early release of preliminary information from the upstream activity also enables the downstream
activity to begin before the upstream activity is completed.
Advantages
This strategy allows downstream activities to begin faster than traditionally based on
preliminary information, resulting in potential reduction of overall design delivery time.
Disadvantages
The risk associated with the early release of preliminary information is that this information
might change as the upstream activity is finalized. If changes happen, the downstream activity
may require rework, resulting in extra costs and delays. The impact that changes in the upstream
design have on downstream activities is directly related to the amount of overlapping between
activities; thus, the more the overlap, the greater the impact that upstream design changes have
on downstream activities, and the higher the amount of rework.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
This strategy is only recommended when the downstream activity has low sensitivity to changes
in upstream information.
Prototyping
Prototyping is the process of quickly compiling preliminary upstream design information into a
working model of the ultimate system (Bogus et al. 2005). This model is a preliminary prototype
which serves as a basis for discussion and revision among project designers to produce the final
product based on the preliminary prototype.
Advantages
Prototype models allow the downstream activity to proceed when the working model is finished,
before the actual upstream activity is finalized. Prototyping is very suitable for complex
systems, where there are many pieces of information to pass to downstream activities.
Disadvantages
Prototyping is based on early criteria which typically require substantial revisions before the
activity can be completed. This introduces a high risk of significant rework on downstream
activities and the related costs and delays.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
This strategy is only recommended when the downstream activity has low sensitivity to changes
in upstream information.

45

No iteration or optimization
This strategy is applied to activities with a naturally slow evolution, where iteration or
optimization delays the availability of upstream information to downstream activities. Thus, this
overlapping technique recurs to placing time constraints by limiting the number of iterations
allowed in an upstream activity before passing the information for downstream design.
Advantages
Limiting iteration or optimization speeds up the evolution of a slow evolving activity, which
allows information to be passed to downstream tasks earlier. Through this strategy, downstream
activities start faster to reduce project design cycles.
Disadvantages
The lack of design optimization introduces substantial risks of significant rework on the
downstream activity leading to increases in project costs and potential delays.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
By definition, this strategy is only applicable to upstream activities with a slow evolution.
Standardization
Standardization refers to the adoption of design practices to be used repetitively on a project
(Gibb 2001). This technique aims at the adoption of standardized products, components or
designs to accelerate the natural evolution of an upstream activity so information can be released
to the downstream activity earlier.
Advantages
Standardization expedites the transmission of upstream information to the downstream task,
reducing design delivery time. If properly applied, standardization may also decrease project
costs by eliminating sub-optimal designs (designs in which only one designer has optimized its
part) and by increasing constructability (Bogus et al. 2005).
Disadvantages
Similar to other strategies, standardization involves the risk of project cost increases and delays
due to possible rework as a result of lack of design optimization.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
Again, this strategy is only applicable to upstream activities with a slow evolution by definition,
as fast evolving activities are already standardized.

46

Strategies that reduce sensitivity


Overdesign
Overdesign relies on the adoption of conservative assumptions. By making conservative
assumptions, it is possible to work in the downstream activity before the upstream activity is
completed, and in some cases, before the upstream activity has even begun.
Advantages
Starting downstream activities before the upstream activity is completed or has begun allows
starting activities faster, reducing thus overall design delivery time.
Disadvantages
The risk involved in overdesigning is that the assumptions made might not be conservative
enough leading thus into having to redesign and rework on the downstream activity. Therefore,
overdesigning presents the risk of increasing project costs and delays because of rework.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
The extent to which sensitivity is reduced depends on the quality of information used for
overdesign in the downstream activity. In consequence, faster evolving activities are, by nature,
more likely to provide better information to develop overdesign assumptions for downstream
design. Nonetheless, overdesign is also recommended to upstream activities with slow
evolution as this strategy based on conservative assumptions for design. However, more risk is
taken when applying overdesigning strategies with slow evolving upstream activities.
Set-based design
This technique refers to the parallel development of multiple upstream designs to decrease the
sensitivity of downstream activities. In a set-based design, a designer develops a set of solutions
for one component in parallel with designers of other components. As design progresses, the set
of solutions are gradually narrowed. However, designers agree to stay within a narrowed
predetermined group of solutions; therefore the final design represents a final integrated solution
of the individual designs that falls into the pre-established solution set.
Advantages
Set-based design allows designers to develop downstream design sets at the same time that
upstream activities are designing their sets, which reduces the sensitivity of downstream
activities to changes in upstream activities. Design delivery time is reduced because downstream
design is developed earlier in the process.
Disadvantages
This strategy presents a major disadvantage. Developing multiple designs for each activity or a
more conservative single design increases design costs.

47

Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Set-based design is best applicable when the upstream activity has a slow evolution as the
strategy assumes the development of multiple alternative upstream designs.
Decomposition
This strategy consists on the decomposition of one activity into smaller packages of activities
with faster evolution characteristics. Decomposition can also be applied to downstream activities
to reduce their sensitivity. The objective of decomposition is to create new activities that can be
overlapped using any of the previously mentioned overlapping strategies.
Advantages
Decomposing one activity in smaller packages create new upstream activities with faster
evolution and new downstream activities with lower sensitivity which create better opportunities
for overlapping by reducing the risk of rework and delay.
Disadvantages
Decomposition involves re-analysis and double overlapping work of the new activities created.
Key elements to ensure a high degree of success
This strategy is only recommended when no other overlapping strategy is effective as it involves
double overlapping work.
Enhanced overlapping strategy framework
Choosing the most appropriate strategy depends on the evolution and sensitivity characteristics
of design activities but also the specific project conditions. Aligning strategies at the determinant
level provides information about which of the strategies are most appropriate for a given
context. Figure 3 is a basic framework that presents the appropriate strategies to be applied
depending on the evolution and sensitivity characteristics of a pair of dependent activities
(Bogus et al 2005).

48

Evolution
Fast

Low

Overdesign
Early release of preliminary info
Prototyping
No iteration/optimization
Standardization
Set-based design

Early freezing of design


Overdesign
Early release of preliminary info
Prototyping

High

Overdesign
No iteration/optimization
Standardization
Set-based design
Decomposition

Sensitivity

Slow

Early freezing of design


Overdesign

Figure 3. Basic overlapping strategy framework


(taken from Bogus et al. 2005, pp. 19)

c. Advantages
The major advantage brought by this technique is the potential reductions in design delivery.
Overlapping sequential dependent design activities allows reducing the time normally required
to complete project design, which therefore allows earlier design releases for construction
execution. By adopting concurrent and overlapped design processes, construction can be
expedited resulting in overall project schedule acceleration.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Overlapping strategies always involve some level of risk. Therefore, its implementation has to
follow a systematic analysis and thorough process to identify which overlapping strategies
should be adopted and when these should be implemented to minimize the risks of delays and
rework. The project or construction manager also needs to be aware and prepared to quickly
respond if the overlapping strategy fails and take effective actions to mitigate any problems.

e. Disadvantages
In general, overlapping strategies for reducing project delivery time involve a certain amount of
risk. The risk depends on the assumptions in which the decisions of beginning the downstream
activity are based and the sensitivity of the downstream activity to changes on the assumptions
made when all upstream information is finalized.
As discussed before, activities with low sensitivity can be overlapped with lower risk of delay
and rework than activities with high sensitivity. However activities with low sensitivity are not
completely free of risk. It is not always possible to speed up the evolution characteristic of an
activity as desired, and starting a low sensitive activity before all upstream information is
complete also involves a certain degree of risk of delay and rework if the upstream information
changes.

49

The most common dependencies among design activities are information and resources. The
overlapping techniques presented focuses on information dependencies and the sensitivity of
these dependencies to changes in upstream information. Thus the technique assumes that there
are enough resources available to eliminate resource dependencies between activities, which is
seldom the case in real life.
Other risks and costs associated with overlapping include lack of design optimization and
coordination, increased materials wastage, frequent change orders, inadequate coordination
between design and construction, and inadequate scheduling of the work package interfaces.
Other consequences include increased costs because of increased coordination loads in terms of
the volume and frequency of communication between project team members. And, as
concurrency increases on a project, the coordination requirements also increase along with its
related coordination costs (Fazio et al. 1988, William 1995).

f. Applicability and use


There are a few steps that can be followed to enhance overlapping strategies applicability.
The first step is to develop a critical path network schedule for the design process without
considering any overlap between activities. The critical path schedule provides a basis against
which time savings from overlapping strategies can be measured.
Next, activities that belong to the critical path should be identified, along with the evolution and
sensitivity characteristics of each one. This step can be accomplished by using the key
determinants of evolution and sensitivity suggested earlier. Time savings are achieved only
when activities on the critical path are overlapped.
Once the evolution and sensitivity characteristics of dependent activities on the critical path have
been identified, the third step is to determine the possible overlapping strategies for each pair
using the framework provided in figure 3.
Finally, the identified strategies are evaluated based on the potential consequences of their
application. The decision of adopting a specific strategy for overlapping will depend on different
factors including individual project circumstances, projects costs, design costs, and potential
consequences of the selected strategy. Potential consequences of activity overlapping include
increased costs due to lack of design optimization, increased materials wastage due to
overdesign, increased costs and delays due to rework, among others. Therefore, the final
decision on which activities to overlap and what strategy to employ will constitute a decision
based on the trade-off between the potential time savings and the increased overall cost and
potential rework.

g. Other special characteristics


One major consideration in the process of overlapping sequential activities is the decision of
when, how and how much to overlap pairs of sequential activities. This can turn into a very
complex process because of the amount of information that must be considered. Adopting
analytical approaches can help to better process the information in order to make a good
overlapping decision. The three major types of analytical procedures are optimization,
simulation, and basic decision algorithms (Bogus et al. 2005).

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Optimization approaches are mathematical models that use sequencing algorithms, such as the
design structure matrix, and metaheuristics. Simulation approaches such as Monte Carlo
simulation, Petri nets, and other dynamic simulation models also are used to answer the question
of activity overlapping. The third approach is a basic decision algorithm which include of a
series of heuristics. The process consists of a series of iterations until all activities in the critical
path are reduced the maximum possible. This technique is the simplest one to implement,
however it does not guarantee optimal solutions.
Overlapping decision algorithm
Bogus et al. propose a decision algorithm that addresses overlapping decisions and strategies
and reduces project schedule while minimizing cost increases (Bogus et al. 2005).
The process consists of the following steps:
1. Identify the activities that form the critical path in the non-overlapped schedule.
2. Identify the evolution and sensitivity characteristics of each activity on the critical path.
3. Evaluate the cost per day of overlapping for each strategy (or other appropriate time
measure).
4. For each activity pair, select the strategy and overlap amount that results in the least cost
increase.
5. Select the activity pair that has the lowest cost of overlapping and overlap that pair using
the strategy elected in step 4 (in the case that two activity pairs result in the same cost, it
is recommended to select the activity pair that is furthest upstream).
6. Re-run the schedule.
7. Repeat the process starting at the first step if more time savings is desired.
Different views of this algorithm suggest different approaches to determine which pair of
activities to overlap first. The most conservative school recommends selecting the activity pair
that is earliest in the schedule, so that if the overlapping is not successful and results in rework,
then there is more opportunities at the end of the project to make up for that extra time of
rework. Other schools suggest overlapping first the activity pair that offers the most time
savings. Lastly, activity pairs can be selected based on their possible risk of rework.
One important consideration for the success of the algorithm is the input of data requirements.
For example, the minimum cost approaches depends on the availability of data on the costconsequences of each overlapping strategy and overlap amount. The time-cost relationship of
overlapping can be done by comparing projects that have employed overlapping strategies with
projects that have not. This technique may not be the most applicable due to the lack of projects
in which overlapping strategies have been proven and the lack of recorded information. Another
approach to determine time-cost relationships is through the experience of project engineers and
construction managers.
Thus, the decision algorithm for determining the minimum cost overlapped schedule presents a
simple process to solve the questions of when to overlap, how much to overlap, and how to
overlap sequential activities. Nonetheless, the input information requirements can be difficult to
obtain and involve additional work.

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G. Lean design
a. Technique
Lean design is the application of lean production principles, to eliminate waste and non-value
adding activities in the engineering and design process of project development. Lean design
considers three perspectives to describe the design process: conversion, flow, and value
generation (Freire and Alarcon 2002). Each of these conceptualizes the design process
differently.
The conversion view focuses on identifying the tasks and activities that are needed in a design
job. However, conversion does not consider how to improve the use of resources (minimize
unnecessary use), or how to guarantee that customers requirements are met in the best way.
Consequently, the conversion perspective leads the design industry to develop a work directed
only to meet its business purpose.
Under the flow perspective, the design process is seen as a flow of information that aims at
reducing waste by minimizing the amount of time where information is not been used, such as
the time spent inspecting information for conformance with requirements, the time spent
reworking on information to realize conformance, and the time spent on moving information
between the different members and disciplines involved in the development of the design. By
conceptualizing design as a flow, integration of design with supply and construction is also
improved (Ballard and Koskela 1998).
Finally, modeling design from a value point of view focuses on customers requirements. In
other words, the design process is directed towards lack of defects and product performance as
valued by end-users.
An effective design process involves the three views by generating activities that compose the
total flow of design considering as well customer requirements in the process. Nonetheless, the
conversion conceptualization has traditionally dominated over design scope, leaving aside the
flow and value concepts of design. Lean design approaches design by integrating the three views
(Freire and Alarcon 2002).

b. Implementation
Freire and Alarcon developed a methodology that applies lean design principles to the design
and engineering process of a project with the objective of improving the internal design process
and thereby facilitate project construction and start-up (Freire and Alarcon 2002). The technique
consists of four parts:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Diagnosis and evaluation of design


Changes implementation
Control
Standardization

Diagnosis and evaluation of design process


The main purpose of this phase is to evaluate how the design process is performing in terms of
the flow and value concepts by identifying waste and non-value adding activities. A number of
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actions can be taken to determine the degrees of waste in the process and to find its major
causes; these include performance indicators, process time distribution, value stream mapping
and interviews. Common causes of activities that add no value to the design process or that
result in waste are lack of knowledge of client requirements, interdisciplinary coordination,
bureaucracy, and information unavailability (Freire and Alarcon 2002).
Performance indicators
Performance indicators can be used to obtain objective measures of design product quality in the
process. The most common type of performance indicators are the total number of changes and
the total number of errors and omissions in design drawings and/or documents. The total number
of changes in design delivers the magnitude of changes in a project due to design changes. The
second allows measuring the quality of the design.
If design is released in packages, indicators can be applied to each package by measuring the
number of changes and errors/omissions per package. Different packages that apply to different
areas of construction may have different performance levels. Special attention should be given
when measuring and comparing performance indicators in different environments.
Time distribution in the process
Not only it is important to know the time needed to develop a design, but also to determine how
this time is distributed internally along the entire design process. In other words it is essential to
identify the portion of time compared to the total design delivery duration that takes to complete
each facet that makes up the design process. A design process is usually composed of data
recollection, design, review, correction, release and distribution. During the entire process only
some activities add value in design and the rest are usually waste that should be reduced or
eliminated in order to speed up design delivery. Waste can be measured by obtaining the
number of work days elapsed between the beginning and end of a drawing or document (Freire
and Alarcon 2002).
Value stream mapping
Value stream mapping can be very useful for visualizing how the entire process works and to
recognize the different activities and how they are involved in the process. Value stream
mapping also permits identifying how time is distributed in each design stage (data recollection,
design, review, corrections, release, and distribution).
Interviews
Because individuals are the ones involved in the process, their input can very helpful to identify
possible areas of waste and its causes. Interviews can also be used to confirm and clarify the
findings obtained with the other methods.
Changes implementation
This phase focuses on implementing changes based on the results obtained in the previous stage.
Improvement actions in the design process can be applied in five different areas: client,
administration, project, resources, and information. Examples of improvement actions include
interactive coordination, intranet, checklists before design, checklists after design, value stream

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mapping, and training. Improvement tools are considered and applied according to specific
needs, and also based on the resources and individual conditions of the project.
Interactive coordination refers to the simultaneous design and review of drawings by the
different disciplines concerned to avoid interruptions and reduce the cycle time in each drawing.
Typically, drawings spend more time waiting to be reviewed by each discipline before going
back to the original designer. Parallel designing and reviewing drawings appreciably reduces
time that adds no value to the design process. It also diminishes the amount of later corrections
and interruptions. Effective means for achieving this can be the use of computer programs.
One of the major causes of waste is information not available. Intranet is an effective means that
allows a faster distribution of information which reduces the time spent searching for needed
information not available. Data recollection for example is an area that presents great amounts of
waiting times for information; intranet can reduce this and other waits.
Checklists are an effective source for monitoring and control. Their main purpose is usually to
review design. However, it can be of equal importance to use checklists before and during the
design process as reminders and guides to keep in mind important considerations throughout
design development. Checklists are tools that allow controlling final product characteristics and
thereby reducing the number of errors.
Value stream mapping allows recognizing alternative methods to improve information flow. The
development of ideal value stream maps helps to visualize how the improved process should
look like, which in consequence allows identifying the areas of waste and interruptions of flow.
Training on lean principles permits resources to better understand the implementation process
and the desired objectives so that their actions are properly directed towards project goals.
Control
After changes have been implemented, the next step is to evaluate performance aiming at
achieving better control of results. Control can be achieved by measuring the new performance
indicators and time distribution in the process where changes have been implemented and
comparing the results with the performance indicators and time distributions obtained before the
implementation of the changes.
Standardization
The objective of this phase is to introduce permanent improvements in the work methods by
formalizing the changes that proved effective in eliminating waste and interruptions and in
enhancing value-added activities in the design process. In other words, this phase standardizes
the adoption of lean practices that consider flow and value in the design process. Standardization
aims at maintaining the efficiency in what is left of the design development.

c. Advantages
As shown, the implementation of lean design practices drives to the reduction and elimination of
activities and processes that add no value to the design process. Methodologies that follow lean
principles also allow the identification of activities that generate value in design. By knowing

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which activities add value to the process, more effort and work can be placed on them to exploit
their significance and add value to the whole process.
Identifying the internal time distribution of the design process helps to distinguish where time is
being wasted and which activities have no added-value in the design development in order to
reduce or eliminate them. However, identifying the process time distribution also shows which
activities are the major factors that determine the total process duration. Strategies can be
adopted to shorten the time required or to speed up the work on the identified critical design
activities.
A successful application of lean principles in the design process of a project improves the
engineer process by reducing the number of design errors, cycle times and non-value adding
activities. These improvements also result in increased productivity and reduced waste costs,
ultimately translating into improvements in design delivery time and reduction of overall design
costs.
Finally, improved design processes deliver better quality products to construction. The
improved design reduces the amount of changes and errors enabling construction to progress
smoothly. Therefore, an improved design process improves construction processes too.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Several elements are important in order to implement changes successfully (Freire and Alarcon
2002):
o Teamwork: The design process is a work of multidisciplinary teams that may include the
designer, client, construction manager, constructor, and even suppliers and vendors;
therefore teamwork is very important in the success of design.
o Flexibility: Because the application of lean design is not common to the design process,
changes will be introduced that will require flexibility in the team.
o Early implementation of changes: Implementing changes in the early phases of design offer
more benefits because they are cheaper while changes in later phases usually involve
extensive rework in engineering.
o Constant control: Because the team is not used to focusing on the importance of flow of
activities, they should be constantly controlled.
o Awareness: An essential factor to achieve a successful implementation of lean design
practices is to constantly create awareness in the people involved in the process because
people tend to go back to work under old habits (the conversion model). In addition, the
team has to understand the importance of the lean design application and the expected
outcomes so team members can commit and act accordingly.
o Feedback: Giving team members feedback about the lean design process and allowing them
to be aware of the results also decrease resistance and enhance commitment to adopt the
correct actions to take the process to success.

e. Disadvantages
The introduction of lean design principles in the design phase can be complicated and long.
Diagnosing and identifying the level of waste in the process and the causes usually take
extensive periods of time and effort. In addition, during this stage no actions are been taken yet
towards delivery time reduction.

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The second phase in which changes are being introduced and implemented can also turn into a
challenging process as people may perceive that introducing the change and working under new
practices can take more time than working under old and well-known methods. Furthermore,
because the implementation of new procedures involves extra work, people may not recognize at
the moment the potential pay-offs of the changes. Reluctance is even increased when changes
are perceived as extra-work.
Even after overcoming peoples resistance, the implementation of changes in the process
requires team members to work different from what they are used to. Adopting new practices
and performing different from traditional entails a learning curve that requires certain time
before people achieve an efficient stage of work.
In order to validate the results of the control phase, performance measures and results have to be
monitored for a suitable period of time before standardizing the processes. This step adds time
that is not always available, particularly in the case of short projects.

f. Applicability and use


Lean design practices are effective in improving design delivery in terms of time, costs and
quality. However, the process requires substantial work, effort and time. Consequently, the
required investments on lean design implementation in projects of small size and short duration
may become too high compared to the actual achievable benefits. Conversely, in large and
complex projects the investments in lean techniques in the design stage can be vastly offset by
the attainable improvements in the design and construction phases, and the potential reductions
in overall project completion and costs.

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H. Value engineering
a. Technique
Value engineering is defined as an analysis of the functions of a program, project, system,
product, item of equipment, building, facility, service, or supply of an executive agency,
performed by qualified agency or contractor personnel, directed at improving performance,
reliability, quality, safety, and life cycle costs (DOD 2006). In construction, value engineering is
a formal, logic and analytical process that searches for the best balance between projects
required functions and its life cycle cost, while maintaining or improving projects value
(CMAA 2006).
Nonetheless, improved value can be represented in a series of different ways depending on the
specific needs of the project. Thereby, as a schedule reduction technique, value engineering
should focus in obtaining the maximum optimization of time. Value engineering is introduced in
the design phase of construction projects to identify the best selection of design features,
systems, equipment, and materials with the purpose of accomplishing schedule optimization at
the lowest life cycle cost while maintaining the required performance, quality, reliability and
safety. Value engineering in the early stages of design allows the consideration of alternative
design ideas and solutions seeking at cost and time optimization over all phases of the project
while enhancing its lifecycle performance.

b. Implementation
The implementation of value engineering relies on a multi-disciplined team and contractors
know-how and ability to propose changes that cut costs and minimize schedule duration while
enhancing or as a minimum maintaining quality, value, and functional performance (GSA 2006).
Therefore, value engineering implementation is typically structured and applied in the design
phase, and can be continued in the construction phase basing its foundations in the value
engineering team and contractors initiatives, commitment and support. Its effectiveness is
enhanced even more when value engineering assessments continue throughout the life of the
project including conceptualization and planning, design, construction, and operation and
maintenance phases (CMAA 2006).
Value engineering at early stages
Value engineering analysis is usually introduced at the project conception phase or at the outsets
of the engineering phase. The owner or construction manager brings the input of a multidisciplined team, or a value engineering/construction consultant. If the design and construction
of the project are carried out by one same entity or a joint-venture, the actual
contractor/constructor is brought into the value engineering team. Contractors input in design
and engineering enables the identification and evaluation of alternatives and changes in design
that can add functional value in the construction and use of the completed facility while reducing
construction, and operation and maintenance costs. The same type of evaluation during
engineering and design development can be used to identify areas where construction means can
be optimized and activity durations reduced.

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Value engineering in the construction phase


The application of value engineering in the construction phase is formally known as value
engineering change proposal and it involves contractors evaluation and proposal of changes
that will enhance construction and overall project value (CMAA 2006). Thus, the contractor is
encouraged to identify and suggest value engineering changes as its knowledge and expertise
allow for generating valuable opportunities for savings in time and money. Through its
experience and understanding of construction processes, contractors can realize potential value
engineering alternatives related to construction requirements, materials, or methods that lead to
optimizations in project delivery time and overall costs. Nonetheless, it is also important to
make the contractor aware of the importance of not only preserving but enhancing facility
performance, design quality, safety, and operability and maintenance. The changes proposed by
the contractor should be evaluated by the construction manager or by the owner with the
assessment of the construction manager to determine the possible benefits or effects in project
time, performance and overall cost outlays. If the changes are approved, they should be then
incorporated into the contract. The contractor receives an incentive payment, usually 50 percent
of the construction cost savings (GSA 2006).

c. Advantages
The value engineering methodology creates an environment of collaboration and cooperation
among the multi-disciplinary team and provides it with the tools to find creative and effective
solutions to improve the project in terms of its schedule, costs and performance.
The major benefit that can be obtained through an appropriate implementation of the value
engineering program is the reduction in overall costs while the value and performance of the
final product are enhanced (Palmer et al. 1996). Value engineering applied in the design phase
promotes design effectiveness regarding project final cost, functionality and schedule. Thus, this
technique allows the construction manager to take advantage of potential opportunities for
delivering an improved project in shorter time.
Value engineering approaches also enhance management decision-making capabilities as they
present different alternatives for design, or different solutions to a problem when applied in
phases other than engineering. Value engineering allows as well an improved management of
change within the project team.
The involvement of the value engineering team and particularly contractors input in the design
and engineering chapters of the project can also lead to superior constructability, enabling
improvements in construction processes and performance. In addition, through their
contribution, engineering errors and omissions can be minimized, reducing thereby changes and
interruptions in construction. Constructability and operability input also enhance construction
quality and safety.
Finally, value engineering techniques provide better alignment between design, construction and
customer needs. It also promotes creativity and inventiveness to think outside-the-box, which
can result in potential improvements in all the areas that comprise the development of a project.

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d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Value engineering should be implemented in the early stages of project design because design in
its conceptual stages allows higher flexibility to introduce changes and, if needed, to modify the
direction of design. Typically, the level of influence of decision decreases after conception of
the engineering phase because decisions made in the early stages of the project allow higher
commitment of resources (CII: Input Variables Impacting Design Effectiveness 1987). In
addition, introducing construction consultants knowledge and experience at the beginning
stages facilitates early reviews of design with greater potential for identifying the opportunities
for improving project lifecycle performance and duration. The likelihood of optimizing project
costs also increases when changes are introduced in an early manner.
The quality of the team is also a key to the success of the value engineering implementation.
Members that form the value engineering team must have the required experience and
qualifications to successfully execute the value engineering program. Management is crucial as
well to support and lead the team.
Good organization and management support in the design phase is fundamental again to allow
an effective execution of engineering changes aiming at improving project performance, costs
and delivery time while maintaining or enhancing design productivity. Design productivity
refers to the cost, schedule, and efficiency of the design function itself (CII: Input Variables
Impacting Design Effectiveness 1987).
It is of vital importance that the construction manager monitors the effectiveness of the applied
engineering changes by comparing the expected outcomes and savings to be achieved from
value engineering implementation to the actual results. Constant control allows the construction
manager to evaluate the impact and value of the changes introduced, and to take corrective
actions and redirect value engineering teams efforts when the changes are not generating the
anticipated outcomes.
The performance of value engineering implementation, particularly value engineering change
proposal at the construction phase, has better results when it is combined with effective
contractors incentives (CMAA 2006).

e. Disadvantages
The objectives and expected results from value engineering implementation can be wrongfully
understood leading to an improper application of the technique. Value engineering has the
potential to be incorrectly used as a technique to cut costs without considering project quality
and functional performance over its entire lifecycle. Thus, engineering changes may be
erroneously focused in solely reducing project costs at the price of sacrificing performance in
other aspects of the project such as facility functionality, quality, operability, appearance and
maintenance, among others.

f. Applicability and use


Presently, value engineering is a technique implemented in the development of projects in a
frequent basis. This technique was first applied during construction in the form of value
engineering change proposals to reduce overall construction costs. Nonetheless, the construction

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industry now realizes that greater benefits can be obtained when value changes are introduced
earlier in the conception and engineering stages of project development.
Its application in the design phase is usually made on a consultancy basis. Its applicability is
enhanced because many institutions offer private value engineering services, and the agency
costs are easily offset by the savings attained in latter stages of the project.
In the construction phase, value engineering is also a viable tool to identify potential
opportunities for improvements. Its success relies directly on the contractors ability and
initiative to propose value engineering changes, which is also highly dependent of the contract
provisions and incentive payments to the contractor.
Value engineering programs are currently vastly used in the construction industry, and its use
will continue to evolve as the industry realizes that its implementation rewards the entire
construction community from owners, designers and engineers, contractors, subcontractors and
suppliers, to end-users.

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I. Four-dimensional visualization of construction scheduling


a. Technique
Technology is another tool that is available to todays construction managers. Research has
shown that several new technologies have been developed that improve project performance in
terms of schedule and acceleration. One such technology is the development of four-dimensional
(4D) visualization of construction scheduling. This technology helps optimize construction
operations, ultimately aiming at minimizing time and cost of the overall project.
One of the first applications of 4D occurred at Virginia Tech in 1990. A system that combined
scheduling networks with three-dimensional (3D) computer models was created to form a Visual
Scheduling Simulation (VSS), aiming at enhancing traditional planning and scheduling
techniques through the use of CAD technologies. The system generated a visual simulation of
construction activities so that construction processes could be viewed over specific periods of
time (Skolnick et al. 1990). This initiative introduced a new use of CAD technologies in the
construction phase. Today, 3D and 4D animation tools are extendedly used with effective
applications in the design and construction phases of projects.
4D planning models integrate 3D geometrical models with the fourth dimension of time by
incorporating the associated project activity schedule. The result is a program that enables users,
and particularly project and construction managers, the visualization of prospective scenarios
where alternative construction sequences can be tested at any time. By visualizing different
scenarios, logistics problems can be identified and therefore eliminated before they happen. In
addition, 3D models linked to the schedule allow the analysis of resource requirements for each
activity, material layout planning, and cost breakdown. 4D graphical visualization can also be
used by construction managers for fast and efficient decision making or short term replanning.
4D technologies can be used as well by designers and engineers during design for checking
constructability and improving construction performance through design. Thus, 4D visualization
models represent an efficient tool to improve overall management and planning during design
and construction. (Chau et al 2004).

b. Implementation
4D models are composed of different tools that enable the interchange of data and allow the
integration between the 3D geometrical model and the project schedule. Generally, this type of
models employ AutoCad as the graphics tool and typical project scheduling programs such as
Microsoft Project or Primavera as the scheduling tool. A data warehouse is also used to store the
large amounts of data and information that the graphics tools and the scheduling program
retrieve.
The 3D design model is developed in AutoCad following regular design procedures. Design
components are introduced in the program, and they are categorized according to the function
they have in the actual construction. Typically, components can be divided in three categories:
structural elements, operational objects, and temporary facilities. Structural elements can be
further classified under subclasses of building elements such as floor, beam, column, slab, wall,
and so on. The second component, operational objectives, allows the graphical representation of
construction activities that are in progress for a particular structural component. These can be
formwork erection, falsework installation, steel work and concrete work. Each of these is
represented in the 3D model. Other features such as temporary facilities can also be included
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because they occupy space even though they are not part of the permanent structure under
construction (Chau et al. 2004).
The schedule is developed in the adopted project scheduling program. Basic scheduling
information is sufficient to develop the schedule and link it with the 3D model. Basic scheduling
information includes activity durations, start dates and finish dates for each activity, and activity
sequencing.
The data warehouse stores the data generated by the 3D model and the schedule. It also enables
a bi-directional flow of information between both features.
Once the 3D model and the schedule have been completed, they are linked to generate the 4D
representation. Through the 4D model, the user can specify different planning actions and view
the output results from the system. For example, the user can play with the sequence of activities
for a given construction planning stage, alter the duration of activities, add new scheduling data,
and so on, and the system returns a visual representation of the product of the changes.
Depending on the level of sophistication of the model, some may automatically add temporary
facilities to the layout plan if needed. The results generated by the system follow a series of
knowledge modules stored in a knowledge database that works under certain heuristic rules on
construction technology. The 4D visualization model can also be altered directly. However,
these modifications usually have to be again manually introduced in the schedule because most
models do not automatically translate changes from the 4D model into the schedule. Research is
still underway to improve this interface.

c. Advantages
4D is a tool that has the potential to improve project performance through its application in the
different stages of project development in different ways.
During project design, 4D models can be used as a tool to improve design and construction
performance. Construction visualization at this stage provides designers with a tool to analyze
different alternatives for design and assess how each of these may affect construction. 4D
representations can also be used to check and improve construction constructability.
In the construction stages of the project, the construction manager can specify different planning
actions and view the output results of the different tested alternatives through the 4D model.
Thus, 4D provides construction managers with a tool to improve construction management
decision-making as it facilitates the performance of what if scenarios on specific sections of
construction.
4D representations also allow the development of improved construction sequences to reduce
project durations. Problems associated with construction sequencing, temporary facility
interferences and congestion can also be identified before they happen and properly addressed.
As a result the schedule becomes a more accurate and achievable instrument, and the confidence
among all teams and employees increases.
Site management is also improved through the use of 4D visualization models in different ways.
4D generates different site facility layouts which permits the analysis of production flow and
workspace utilization. 4D models visually integrate building elements, construction methods and
trade space occupation requirements which provide the construction manager with the means to

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improve sequencing and coordination of construction trades (Tan et al. 2005). 4D applications
also allow the evaluation of site access such as access for the installation and use of large
equipment and construction items. Further benefits to site management can be obtained by
sharing the 4D representations of the project with subcontractors and particularly suppliers.
Through the visualization of site layout, subcontractors and suppliers can plan better their work
accounting for actual site access and availability of workspace. Through efficient
communication and integration between the construction manager and subcontractors and
suppliers along with the use of the 4D model, coordination problems can be eliminated resulting
in fewer interruptions, enhancing thereby schedule performance.
Assessment and better planning of situations that can be physically hazardous is another
advantage of graphically visualizing the site. Other management tasks are also improved
including operations and maintenance planning, and construction progress control and
monitoring (Chau et al. 2004).
The scheduling feature of the model along with the 4D technology enhance typical management
functions such as the analysis of resource requirements for the activities under each different
scenario including labor, material and equipment requirements. Estimation of quantities of
construction materials can also be calculated as well as the estimation of costs. Thus, the model
can assist the construction manager in the planning process by reducing waste costs.
Under unexpected circumstances, site planning visualization enables the making of construction
management decisions faster and more efficiently, resulting in better short-term planning or
replanning. Additionally, visualization enhances communication and understanding among all
parties involved.
Consequently, planning visualization combined with construction scheduling tools enables
improved planning and optimization of construction operations, which ultimately results in
overall reduction of project delivery time and costs.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


The development of 3D and 4D applications require extensive knowledge and expertise. In order
to develop the 3D model and link it to the time feature, technical knowledge in the use of
AutoCAD or the selected graphic tool is indispensable. Designers and contractors normally have
the essential levels of familiarity in the application of 3D technologies, however, further training
may be required to effectively link and make use of the 4D design.
In addition, high levels of knowledge in 3D and 4D are also expected at the management level.
Managements involvement with the 4D representation is imperative to successfully take
advantage of its features. Therefore, training has to be implemented at the management level as
well.
3D and 4D technologies are tools that have no use if they are not properly communicated to all
the parties involved in the project team. Constant and efficient communication is crucial to allow
all parties under the different disciplines that comprise the construction process understand and
take advantage of the 4D model. As mentioned before, 4Ds use can be further exploited when
projects 4D layouts are shared with subcontractors and suppliers, as it improves overall site
coordination and management, leading ultimately to improved construction performance.

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e. Disadvantages
4D is a technology tool that offers construction managers vast opportunities for construction and
site management improvements; nevertheless, its application is associated with high
implementation costs. In addition, the development of 4D models is a process that requires
users knowledge and expertise. The use of 4D technologies without the proper knowledge and
tools can turn into a time-consuming and eventually unfeasible venture.

f. Applicability and use


In the past years, 4D techniques have been adopted in construction projects mostly as pilot
models for experiencing its use and potential benefits. However, the construction community
has begun to recognize the attainable improvements that 4D visualization allows in design and
construction performance. The use of this technology within the industry is fairly increasing,
particularly for improving the design and construction of large-sized and complex projects like
the development of nuclear plants and such. Nonetheless, the high investments involved with its
implementation have limited 4Ds adoption in medium or small-sized projects. It appears that
the benefits offered by 4D and similar technologies are maximized when implemented in large
projects where the inversion in the 4D tool and the potential benefits can be offset by the usual
incurred costs associated to projects of this complexity and size. In addition, the development of
large and complex projects typically involves, by nature, other high technologies and resources
with experience and knowledge in high technologies which enhances 4Ds adoption success.

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J. Overlapping sequential construction activities based on concurrent


engineering
a. Technique
Reducing construction schedules is one effective way of reducing project delivery times.
Another application of concurrent engineering to reduce project delivery time is the overlapping
of dependent sequential activities during construction. By performing construction tasks
concurrently, the construction schedule can be substantially accelerated, leading to earlier
project completion. Activity dependencies determine the sequence of construction work in a
project, and the critical path defines the completion time of a project. In a traditional approach
downstream activities cannot be started until upstream activities are completed. Overlapping
dependent sequential activities that are in the critical path, however, has the potential of
reducing project delivery time by allowing activities to be performed concurrently (Bogus et al.
2005).
Activity overlapping relies on decreasing or even removing the dependencies between activities
to allow activities to proceed concurrently or out of sequence to reduce construction time.
Construction activities dependencies are determined by different factors including information,
resources (equipment, materials and labor), permissions, and physical constraints, but typically
physical and resource constraints have the most influence in activity dependencies (Bogus et al.
2005).
The technique presented herein considers only physical dependencies among activities by
assuming that the design is complete, and that resources and permissions are provided as needed
in order to eliminate resource and permissions constraints in dependencies among activities.
The first step for implementing overlapping is to identify and classify activity dependencies as
they are the main feature that determines schedule sequencing and thus construction delivery
time. Dependencies among construction activities can be classified in four categories: physical
relationships among building components, trade interaction, path interference, and code
regulations (Echeverry et al. 1991). Physical relationships include building components that are
spatially restricted, weather protected, or gravity supported by other components. Trade
interaction refers to the different ways in which trades affect each other during the construction
phase. Path interference relates to building components that must be moved around the jobsite in
order to be installed. Finally, code regulations determine the sequencing of activities because
these have to meet construction safety regulations.
Physical relationships which include building components that are spatially restricted, weather
protected, or gravity supported by other components can be further broken down into subcategories: building components that are supported by another component, covered by another
component, embedded in another component such that combined may or may not generate a
structural function, and weather protected by other component(s). Physical constraints can also
take the form of the relative distance of two components to a third support and the flexibility of
installation, or the relative distance to access a workspace (Echeverry et al. 1991).
Similarly, trade interactions can also be divided in sub-categories such as space competition,
resource limitations, unsafe environmental effects (when one crew may create an unsafe
environment that limits other crews work), requirement of service (if a crew requires a specific
service to perform its work such as electricity), among others.
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Physical constraints can also be classified as flexible and inflexible. Inflexible constraints
include support by, covered by, embedded in that contributes to structural functions, requirement
of service and code regulations, while the rest are considered flexible.
Because physical constraints are a major determinant of activity dependencies, and activity
dependencies dictate the schedule sequencing, it is important to identify and classify them
before applying any overlapping technique.
The extent to which two activities can be effectively overlapped depends upon the relationship
between them. Commonly, these can be of four types: 1) dependent activities, 2) semiindependent activities, 3) independent activities, and 4) interdependent activities. When two
activities are dependent, the downstream activity requires information from the upstream
information before it can start. Semi-independent activities refer to the situation when only
partial information from the upstream activity is required before the downstream activity can
proceed. Independent activities do not require information from each other in order to begin.
Interdependent activities involve a two-way information exchange between the activities before
either can be completed (Prasad 1996).
Overlapping independent activities do not involve any risk of delay or rework as they do not
require information from each other to begin. Alternatively, dependent activities introduce risk
when overlapped. Dependent activities rely upon information from upstream activities to
proceed, and when two dependent activities are overlapped, the downstream activity starts
before upstream information is complete. As a result, possible changes from upstream
information may impact the downstream task resulting in possible delays and rework.
In addition, the degree to which two dependent activities can be overlapped relies on the nature
of information between them. This information exchange can be expressed in terms of the rate
of evolution at which design information is generated by the upstream activity and the
sensitivity of the downstream activity to changes in upstream information. Both characteristics
are used to determine which strategies are the appropriate for achieving overlapping to
accelerate construction and reduce overall project delivery time (Bogus et al. 2005).

b. Implementation
In construction, physical dependencies are practically related to workspace because any given
construction task requires an available workspace. Hence, the extent to which dependent
construction activities may be overlapped is directly related to the nature of the workspace
exchange between the activities. Consequently, the rate of evolution of an upstream activity can
be described in terms of the availability of upstream activities to release workspace and the
sensitivity of downstream activities is described as the risk of delays and rework in downstream
activities that start before upstream workspace is completed. Thus, when the upstream activitys
workspace evolution is faster, overlapping becomes less risky (Bogus et al. 2005).
By addressing workspace problems, it is possible to reduce or remove physical dependencies
between activities so that overlapping can be successfully achieved without the risk of rework
and delays, decreasing thereby constructions cycle time. Thus, strategies should be adopted to
speed up the evolution of workspace use in upstream activities and to reduce the sensitivity of
downstream activities to workspace availability. Bogus et al. suggest workspace subdivision as
one strategy that speeds up evolution of workspace as it allows releasing sub-areas to perform

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downstream tasks before the entire workspace becomes available (Bogus et al. 2005). Another
recommended strategy is the construction of temporary work structures or supports.

c. Advantages
If correctly applied, overlapping sequential activities in the construction phase provide great
opportunities for dramatically reducing the time required to complete the construction of any
given facility, ultimately reducing overall project delivery time.
In addition, by allowing construction activities to occur concurrently, overlapping strategies
minimizes resources waiting times. When activities are executed in sequence, the downstream
activity cannot start until the upstream task has been completed. This entails that, once the
resources required to perform the downstream activity are free to do the downstream work, if the
upstream activity has not been finalized yet these resources will have to remain idle until the
downstream task can proceed. Typically, the project or construction managers will assign shortterm or minor activities to these resources until the actual activity for which they are intended is
ready to begin. This and other similar actions have a significant impact in construction
productivity. Overlapping, in the other hand, allows activities to happen concurrently,
optimizing resources availability and in consequence improving construction productivity. In
addition, construction costs related to resources usage can also decrease.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Based on activities characteristics of evolution and sensitivity, overlapping can occur under
different conditions (Krishnan et al. 1995). The first one is given when evolution of the upstream
task is fast and the sensitivity of the downstream task is low. Dependent activities under these
conditions represent the best opportunities for achieving overlapping with the least risk of delays
or rework. When activity evolution and sensitivity are both slow, or when evolution is fast but
sensitivity high, overlapping involves a fair degree of risks of delays and rework. Finally, when
evolution of the upstream activity is low and sensitivity of the downstream task is high,
overlapping should occur to the least degree possible (Krishnan et al. 1995).
In any case, overlapping sequential dependent activities is a strategy that involves some degree
of risk. Therefore, its implementation has to follow a systematic and thorough analysis to
determine the best opportunities for overlapping with the minimum risk, and to be aware of the
risks involved. It is also fundamental for the project or construction manager to be alert and
prepared to effectively respond if the overlapping strategy fails and take rapid actions to mitigate
possible consequences.

e. Disadvantages
Overlapping strategies have a high risk of rework and delays when the assumptions regarding
upstream activities used to begin the downstream activities change. The risk of rework and
delay increases when there is a higher degree of overlapping between activities.
Activities with low sensitivity can be overlapped with lower risk of delay and rework than
activities with high sensitivity. However overlapping activities with low downstream sensitivity
do not offset completely the risk of rework. Sometimes, it is not possible to speed up the
evolution characteristic of an activity as desired and starting a low sensitive activity before all

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upstream information is complete can still result in delays and rework if the upstream
information changes.
As mentioned the major factors that create dependencies of construction activities include
information, resources including equipment, materials and labor, permissions, and physical
constraints, being physical constraints and resources as the most common ones. The overlapping
technique presented to reduce construction delivery time of a project solely considers physical
dependencies among activities and assumes a complete design and unlimited availability of
resources and permissions, which is seldom the case in real construction environments.
Overlapping strategies may compromise the quality of construction because of the use of
upstream information when the upstream task in not complete. The percentage of defects can
also increase, particularly when the strategy is adopted with sequential operations (Bogus et al.
2005).
One key disadvantage associated with overlapping strategies applied to the construction phase is
the potential increase in construction costs. Other risks and costs related to overlapping
sequential construction activities include lack of coordination, increased materials wastage and
inadequate scheduling of the work package interfaces. Other consequences include increased
costs because of increased coordination loads in terms of the volume and frequency of
communication between project team members. And as concurrency increases on a project, the
coordination requirements also increase along with its related coordination costs (Fazio et al.
1988, William 1995).

f. Applicability and use


The first step for overlapping is to develop the critical path network schedule without
considering any overlap between activities. The next step is to determine the critical path and the
activities that belong to the critical path. Only overlapping activities that belong to the critical
path will result in reduction of the overall construction schedule. Once the activities that belong
to the critical path have been identified, the next step is to determine the evolution and
sensitivity characteristics of each one. After this, the fourth step is to identify possible
overlapping strategies for each pair of dependent activities. As mentioned before, one possible
overlapping strategy is the subdivision of workspace to speed up the evolution of workspace to
release sub-areas to downstream activities before the entire workspace is fully available.
Finally, the identified strategies are evaluated based on potential consequences of their
application. The decision of adopting a specific strategy for overlapping will depend on different
factors including individual project circumstances, projects costs, construction costs, and
potential consequences of the selected strategy such as risk of rework and delay. Therefore, the
final decision on which activities to overlap and what strategy to employ will be made based on
the trade-off between the potential savings in time and the increased cost or rework.

g. Other special characteristics


The decision of when, how and how much to overlap pairs of sequential activities when
adopting overlapping strategies can turn into a very complex process because of the amount of
information that has to be processed. The information that has to be considered in the
overlapping decision comes from different levels within the organization or the project. Several
analytical approaches have been suggested help to better process the information and therefore

68

improve the overlapping decision process. The three major analytical approaches involve
optimization, simulation, and basic decision algorithms.
Optimization approaches are used to help the overlapping decision making with the use of
mathematical models comprised of sequencing algorithms, such as the design structure matrix,
and metaheuristics. Simulation such as Monte Carlo simulation, Petri nets, and other dynamic
simulation models are tools that model complex situations to help answer the question of
activity overlapping. One last approach is a basic decision algorithm that includes of a series of
heuristics. The process consists of a series of iterations until all activities in the critical path are
reduced the maximum possible. This technique is the simplest one to implement, however it
does not guarantee optimal solutions.
Overlapping decision algorithm
The decision algorithm is a basic solution to the overlapping question when the objective is to
reduce the construction schedule while minimizing cost increases. The basis of the method is to
standardize the decision process and consists of the following steps (Bogus et al. 2005):
1. Identify the activities that belong to the critical path in the non-overlapped schedule.
2. Identify the evolution and sensitivity characteristics of each activity on the critical path.
3. Evaluate the cost per day of overlapping for each strategy (or other appropriate time
measure).
4. For each activity pair, select the strategy and overlap the amount that results in the least
cost increase.
5. Select the activity pair that has the lowest cost of overlapping and overlap that pair using
the strategy elected in step 4 (in the case that two activity pairs result in the same cost, it
is recommended to select the activity pair that is furthest upstream).
6. Re-run the schedule.
7. Repeat the process starting at the first step if more time savings is desired.
In addition to the minimum cost increase approach, there are other perspectives in the decision
of which pair of activities to overlap first. One approach recommends to select the activity pair
that is earliest in the schedule so that if the overlapping is not successful and results in rework,
then there is more opportunities at the end of the project to make up for that extra time of
rework. Other approaches suggest overlapping first the activity pair that presents the most time
savings or the least risk of rework.
The success of the decision algorithm also depends on the input of data requirements.
Specifically, the minimum cost approach depends on the availability of data on the cost
consequences of each overlapping strategy and overlap amount. The time-cost relationship of
overlapping can be determined by comparing projects that have employed overlapping strategies
with projects that have not. However this technique might not be the most applicable because of
the lack of projects in which overlapping strategies have been applied and outcomes recorded.
A more applicable way to define time-cost relationships is through the expert judgment of
project engineers and construction managers based on knowledge and experience.
Even though the decision algorithm for determining the minimum cost overlapped schedule
seems as a simple approach to solve the questions of when to overlap, how much to overlap, and
how to overlap sequential activities, the input information requirements can be difficult to

69

obtain. In addition, attaining accurate input information involves extra work in addition to the
work involved in determining the selection strategy.

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K. Fast-track
a. Technique
Fast-track is a technique that sets its basis in concurrency principles to achieve the simultaneous
performance of product design and construction. It recurs to the overlapping of project design
and construction, thus, early phases of the project are correspondingly under construction while
later stages are still under design. This procedure of overlapping the design and construction can
substantially reduce the total time required to reach project completion (Clough et al. 2000).

b. Implementation
Much of the information on this schedule acceleration technique is merely anecdotal because
there is no formal process to fast-track a project. However, there is a series of general actions
that can be taken to improve its implementation.
Fast-tracking is generally defined as the compression of the design and construction schedule
through overlapping activities or reduction in activities duration (Bogus et al. 2002). The typical
fast-track process is to divide design activities into work packages. As design progresses and
different phases are finalized, the work is released in packages for construction; hence
construction is started before the entire design is complete. This process is also defined as
phased construction. In some cases, fast-tracking involves starting construction on a work
package before its design is completed.
Fast-track implementation can begin by creating a viable phasing plan. This can be done with
close input and coordination from members representing the design and construction phases, in
addition to owner representatives and the construction manager. Input from design and
construction members helps in identifying how the work should be divided into feasible
packages for work. Once the design of each package is completed, it is immediately released for
construction. Detailed construction schedules are developed as design packages are received.
Nonetheless, an overall plan for construction can be developed following the phasing plan.
Thus, dates and milestones determined in the phasing plan for design information release are
used to develop construction planning in general terms.
The process of fast-tracking, in addition, generates important flows of information that need to
be effectively managed to allow design and construction progress satisfactorily. In order to
speed project delivery time, design information needs to be released as quickly as possible for
construction to proceed. This process involves increased flows of information, not only from
upstream design to downstream construction, but design also requires feedback from
construction outputs in order to improve the generated upstream information. Hence,
construction performance with uncompleted design information generates outputs that have an
important impact on design. It is crucial then to create an effective system for delivering
outputs feedback from construction to design in a promptly and accurate manner (Elvin 2003).

c. Advantages
Fast-tracking and phased construction can offer attractive advantages to the owner in terms of
project time. Beginning project construction when design is still under execution can
appreciably reduce project delivery time.

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Additionally, overlapping project design and construction involves the need of integration and
constant interaction between the design and construction teams. Thus, the input arriving from
construction production through constant interaction allows engineers and designers to come up
with innovative methods for speeding the design-construction process both related to the design
itself and in the interdisciplinary relationship between project team members. The involvement
of engineers and designers in the actual construction offers as well significant input in
construction performance and design advance.
Lastly, integration between the design and construction phases gives the opportunity for team
collocation. Intellectual capital at the beginning stages of the project can derive into superior
quality, improved constructability, and better means for construction, eventually leading to cost
reduction, particularly project life-cycle costs.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


The following are key factors that enable the implementation of fast-track production to
successfully reduce project delivery time:
Communication
The increased integration of different participants and schedules between design and
construction generates higher levels of information. Effective communication is indispensable to
effectively manage the increased information flows in the best interest of the project. When
information is amplified and the means of communicating and transmitting information are not
efficient, this can be translated into noise generation impossible to be understood and properly
used by the end-users. Lack of effective and rapid means of communication between the
different disciplines involved hinders fast-tracks intention of speeding up project completion.
Moreover, incorrect, overloaded or delayed information increase the schedule because extra time
is spent in revisions, and improperly sacrificing revision time can have negative impacts in
quality and increase the risks of rework. Strategies for overcoming these obstacles in an
integrated project environment include developing a shared project language, enhancing
iteration and feedback, and ensuring early input of downstream information-users, strategies that
are discussed more in detail below (Elvin 2003).
Building a shared language improves communication among the different parties. Face-to-face
meetings allow developing a common language, but information technologies are also good
tools to link all participants, and to allow faster and efficient information flow. Technology
allows the capturing, storage, and retrieval of project knowledge and information, resulting into
a valuable means of integration. Extranet is one such technology that supports an environment of
constant communication and shared information. It allows the exchange of design information
and documentation among team members at any time disregarding of their location. Extranets
can also enable project members to optimize schedules by diminishing the time required for
information exchange between the activities that add value to design and construction, reducing
thus waste and elapsed time that add no value to the project.
Iteration and feedback
Iteration and feedback are very important aspects in fast-tracking projects. The overlapping of
design and construction results in an iterative process in which not only the design process
generates information input to construction, but construction also creates information that affects

72

design. Therefore, the project team has to develop a communication system with the capability
of capturing feedback between activities as construction output becomes an important input that
has to be properly delivered to improve design.
Early downstream information user input
As just mentioned, in projects undertaking fast-track approaches construction activities generate
information that must be used by the designer, however, because of the traditional design
process, designers do not always have the knowledge on how to extract and organize
information that arrives from construction. In consequence, designers need to know how to play
their new role of users of construction outputs information in order to pull out the proper
information that allows improving design. Conversely, constructors need to be aware and inform
designers of their own information needs so that proper design information is released to
construction and within construction time requirements (Elvin 2003).
Communication between designers and constructors enhances designers knowledge regarding
the construction process, which can lead into increased innovation. Thus, communication is very
important to improve and speed up design, but also to create a design that improves and speeds
up construction as well.
The release of smaller packages of design information reduces the risk of rework and cost
overruns, and they also allow a process where mutual feedback becomes less complex as the
information to be exchanged is reduced. Small batches of information also allow a more flexible
and rapid process, as a result, faster and better integration between design and construction can
be achieved. Nonetheless, extremely small design batches can interfere with workflow and
negatively affect productivity.
Team Building
Team building is indispensable in the adoption of fast-tracking. Engineers and contractors have
to learn to work out their differences in a team approach, and create an environment in which
objectives are team and project oriented. Direct experience supports the development of a shared
understanding of the projects goals. Again, communication, common goal definition, effective
rewards and shared responsibility can lead to effective teamwork. In addition to these, goal
consensus, team autonomy, team-based rewards, and building trust among members multiply the
potentials for fast-track success (Elvin 2003).
Flexible project organization
Flexibility is crucial to achieve integration. Individuals need to be flexible and open-minded to
interact with the team and work in ways different from what they are habituated. Flexibility is
also important to integrate design and construction activities. It should be provided not only in
an individual level, but also in the project organization level. A fully integrated project
environment supports collaboration among engineers, construction managers, and contractors.
Flexibility also allows reducing overhead, smooth workflow and easing scheduling.
Team collocation
Team collocation is the share of intellectual capital at the beginning stages of the project to
derive innovative and improved methods of construction and use of new materials.

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Collocation can improve fast-track performance in different aspects. In a fast-track production,


designers produce a series of information that are then passed to the constructors and
transformed into work. If constructors are linked to designers through collocation before the
information is produced, the data created in the information flow can be structured taking into
consideration downstream needs. Additionally, collocation supports the creation of feedback
loops between the design and construction phases. Collocation is also a great enabler of
constructability.
Planning
Under traditional systems, construction is planned based on completed design specifications and
documents. Fast-tracking forces overlap between the construction and design phases, where
construction begins before design is complete; therefore not all the required information is
available for construction planning. Thus, accurate and efficient planning becomes even more
important as it has to consider concurrency in design and construction activities and still enable
workflow during the construction phase. In fast-tracking projects, team work between designers
and constructors is very important to generate the grounds for efficient and integrated planning.
Flexible project definition
Because fast-tracking increases the level of uncertainty in a project since construction is
performed with uncompleted design information, it is important that the planning becomes
project oriented and product oriented rather than detailed oriented, defining quality in terms of
the finished product and the outcome and not based on the details of its configuration. This
implies that specifications should give the construction team an agreed-to-measure for
evaluating project performance, without committing to intricate design details too early in an
environment of constant design changes (Elvin 2003).
Synchronized workflow planning
Under traditional project delivery approaches, the different phases of a project are fragmented
leading to an outcome that is product of separate processes only linked together at one point.
Under this perspective, workflow is mainly considered only during the construction phase. Fasttracking however requires the consideration of workflow throughout the integration of design
and construction. Design and construction activities are reciprocally interdependent because
information from one is an input in the other and the result of that input becomes an important
input in the first. Therefore, planning has to consider workflow along the whole integrated
process instead of pulling design and construction workflow apart. Efficient workflow planning
between design and construction is better achieved through work packages. However, effective
teamwork is also required to allow smooth integration and workflow between packages to
maintain overall process workflow.

e. Disadvantages
As fast-tracking can offer significant opportunities for shortening project schedule, it can also be
the source of coordination problems. Fast-tracking projects can be very sensitive to poor
coordination and planning, which can consequently result into poor construction performance
and increased rework, ultimately translating into project delays and increased overall costs.

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Implementing fast-track to reduce project delivery time has the risk of affecting the quality of
the final product. First, engineers are forced to release design information faster than
traditionally, therefore they have to take less time in developing drawings and specifications
which pushes designers to decrease revision time. Design deficiencies are more likely to pass
overseeing when revisions are wrongly expedited. So, in addition to having to perform
construction under the uncertainties involved with having incomplete information, deficiencies
in design revision also increase the risk of construction rework and overall delays.
Fast-tracking, by nature, forces designers to give less consideration to details, and because
construction is performed based on information not complete, the lack of it is frequently
replaced by assumptions. Lack of detail and erroneous assumptions can also compromise project
quality, and introduce risks related to the safety functionality of the facility.
Another potential disadvantage from fast-track projects is that compressed schedules do not
always allow engineers to optimize every design. Because decisions are made under time
pressures, there is not much time to consider and analyze different alternatives to find the most
appropriate. Decisions have to be made with the information available at the time. Moreover, to
speed up design delivery, facility performance is built to only meet a specific criterion, which
hinders opportunities for optimization. This can equally create a negative impact on quality
(Elvin 2003).
The feedback processes that are caused by uncertainty make the construction process more
dynamic and unstable, which can create a negative effect on project performance. When a
project under fast-track is not properly planned, those feedback processes can cause disruptions
affecting workflow which eventually will cause an adverse impact in productivity.
Overhead expenses are increased under fast-track adoption too. The increased need for
coordination and integration requires more people to be involved in the management and
coordination of the project team. Additionally, site office facilities which are added to bring
designers and constructors together successfully execute the fast-track project are typically
associated to increased overhead expenses.

f. Applicability and use


Much of the applications of fast-track design and construction have been conducted within the
design-build domain. Because under the design-build project delivery method both design and
construction activities are included under a single contract, where design and construction are
performed by the same organization, or a joint venture is agreed between a design and
construction firms, the work can easily be divided into work packages and overlapped to reduce
project duration (Barrie and Paulson 1992, Bogus et al. 2002). In addition, because the
responsibility of both design and construction phases of the project fall under one party, there is
more opportunity for design and construction integration.

g. Other special characteristics


One strategy for reducing project delivery time within fast-tracking is the overlap of design and
construction activities. Bogus et al. (2002) have developed a methodology to reconfigure the
design-construction interface for fast-track projects. The methodology aims at creating a process
for overlapping design and construction activities with the objective of integrating designconstruction activities to reduce overall project delivery time.

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The extent to which sequential activities can be overlapped is defined by the nature of the
information exchange between those activities. This information exchange between activities
can be described in terms of the natural rate of information development in the upstream task
and the sensitivity of the downstream activity to changes in upstream information. The natural
rate of information development in upstream activities is known as its evolution (Bogus et al.
2002).
Within a project and generally speaking, upstream activities include project conception,
specifications and design, while construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning
compose the downstream activities (de la Garza et al. 1994, Bogus et al. 2002). Only activities
included on the critical path and activities with a high duration variance should be overlapped to
achieve overall project schedule reduction.
The degree to which two activities can be effectively overlapped depends on the relationship
between them. Four types of relationships are possible between activities: 1) dependent
activities, 2) semi-independent activities, 3) independent activities, and 4) interdependent
activities. When two activities are dependent, the downstream activity requires information from
the upstream activity before it can be started. Semi-independent activities are characterized by
one activity requiring only partial information from the other activity to proceed. Independent
activities require no information from other activities before they can be completed.
Interdependent activities require a two-way information exchange between them before each can
start (Bogus et al. 2002).
Only independent activities can be overlapped with no risk of delay or rework. The other three
types of relationships present a risk when overlapped. Overlapping semi-independent activities
present the least risk, because the downstream activity requires only partial information from
upstream tasks. Therefore, the downstream activity can start as soon as the required upstream
information is released with little o no risk of delay or rework. In contrast, overlapping
interdependent activities will always involve risk of delay or rework regardless of the degree of
overlap, as both activities need a two-way information exchange. Dependent activities involve
the highest risk of delay. When two activities are dependent, the downstream activity relies on
information from the upstream activity to be completed. However, when two dependent
activities are overlapped, the downstream activity has to start with uncompleted upstream
information. Consequently, the potential risk of delay and rework is increased (Bogus et al.
2002). The present method for overlapping design and construction activities only considers
independent and dependent activities.

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Methodology for overlapping design and construction activities


Figure 4 presents an overview of the methodology.

Project
decomposition

Activity
characterization

Project database

Activity
relationships

DSM algorithms

Presumptive
schedule

Network scheduling
program

Enhanced DSM

Overlapping
opportunities

Shared databases

Ideal
overlapped
schedule

Network scheduling
program

Figure 4. Proposed methodology


(taken from Bogus et al. 2002, pp. 263)
Project decomposition
The first step is to decompose the project into design and construction activities or tasks. The
purpose of dividing the project into activities is to form smaller packages of work that can be
characterized and potentially overlapped. This decomposition can be quite general. The project
is decomposed in design and construction activities. An alternative to decompose the work in
smaller units is to identify similar work that can be done by one person or group. For example, a
design activity can consist of the structural design of a certain component, and a construction
activity can be the work on one element such as a wall, floor, foundation, etc. Design and
construction activities can be divided into more detailed activities if desired.
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Activity characterization
The objective of this step is to identify the information generated by each design and
construction task and the information required to begin subsequent design and construction
tasks. In addition to identifying information requirements by the activities and the information
produced, it is also important to identify when the information is produced and when it is
required by each activity. This information is then used to characterize activities in terms of their
evolution and sensitivity to upstream changes. Activity characterization allows the
identification of appropriate overlapping strategies.
Design activities can be characterized in terms of their internal iterations that evaluate multiple
parameters or designs until eventually a final value or design is reached. Thus, evolution of
design activities is defined in terms of the rate at which the initial range of possible design
alternatives converge into the final design. In construction, an activity is a linear process in
which the final output is already known before the project starts. Therefore, evolution of a
construction activity can be defined in terms of the rate of production for that activity.
Evolution of design activities ranges from fast to slow. An activity with fast evolution generates
early a preliminary estimation of the final design. Conversely, a design activity with slow
evolution has a large range of possible values for the final design and this range is not narrowed
until the activity is almost completed. Design evolution can infinitely range among this two
ends.
For construction activities, Pea-Mora and Li define evolution as the task production rate
defined by the progress curve for that task, which shows the percent complete of the work on the
task versus time (Pea-Mora and Li 2001, Bogus et al. 2002). Thus, construction activities
evolution can also range from fast to slow, and can be characterized in terms of its production
rate.
Sensitivity in both design and construction activities is given by taking the difference in percent
progress on the activity divided by the perceived progress after a change is introduced in the
activity due to a change in upstream information (Pea-Mora and Li 2001, Bogus et al. 2002).
Both design and construction activities can have different ranges of sensitiveness. For instance, a
downstream activity can be highly sensitive to changes in upstream information, so that the
downstream activity cannot start until it receives the values from upstream task. Conversely, a
downstream task can be very low sensitive to changes in upstream information so that most of
the activity can be done without upstream values.
The information needed to characterize activities in terms of their evolution and sensitivity can
be collected from reviewing design and construction documentation for the project. Interviews
with designers and constructors are also a suggested source to compile useful information. At
this stage information technologies can become very handy to store the collected information in
a project database and feed information as described in the following steps.
Activity relationships
After characterizing activities the next step is to define the type of relationships between
activities. These can be independent, dependent and interdependent. The type of relationships
will determine the overlapping strategies that are more appropriate to reduce project duration.

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Accordingly, independent activities can be overlapped with no negative impact. Dependent


activities can be overlapped with certain risk of delay and rework depending on the
characteristics of the activities being overlapped and the amount of overlapping. However, in
order to obtain project delivery time reduction, the overlapped activities have to be in the critical
path.
Bogus et al suggest a design structure matrix to identify activity relationships. The use of
graphical methods is also recommended to represent the flow of information between activities
(Bogus et al. 2002). The matrix will consist of the upstream and downstream activities listed in
chronological order (upstream activities listed first) starting at the top and left-hand side of the
matrix. Every time two activities are related, it should be marked in the matrix.
The next step is to partition the matrix. The matrix is partitioned diagonally, and all the
identified marks below the diagonal represent sequentially dependent activities as showed in
figure 5. Partitioning is used to sort the activities in the matrix so to minimize the backward flow
of information (Bogus et al. 2002). Because this methodology does not consider interdependent
activities, these activities should be grouped to remove interdependencies.
Activity
A

A
B

C
D

X
X

Figure 5. Partitioned design structure matrix (taken from


Bogus et al. 2002, pp. 267)
Presumptive schedule
Using the partitioned design structure matrix, a presumptive schedule can be developed for
design and construction activities. This schedule should be based on activity durations
determined during the activity characterization, and start-to-finish relationships for dependent
activities. Thus, under this schedule, all the required information is available for each activity to
begin. Network scheduling tools can be used to develop the presumptive schedule.
Enhanced design structure matrix
The next step is to modify the presumptive schedule using an enhanced design structure matrix.
The enhanced design structure matrix is obtained based on the found characterizations for each
activity covered in previous steps. Potential characterizations of fast or slow for evolution, and
high or low for sensitivity have to be incorporated to the portioned design structure matrix to
generate the enhanced design structure matrix. The proposed way to incorporate these attributed
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in the matrix is by replacing the marks previously recorded by a number from 1 to 4 as showed
in figure 6. These numbers correspond to the following characteristics (Bogus et al. 2002):
Number

Characteristics

Fast evolution of upstream task and low sensitivity of downstream task to


changes in upstream task

Fast evolution of upstream task and high sensitivity of downstream task to


changes in upstream task

Slow evolution of upstream task and low sensitivity of downstream task


to changes in upstream task

Slow evolution of upstream task and high sensitivity of downstream task


to changes in upstream task

Activity
A

A
B

C
D

2
2

Figure 6. Enhanced design structure matrix (taken from


Bogus et al. 2002, pp. 268)
Overlapping opportunities
Based on the natural characteristics of evolution and sensitivity of activities, overlapping could
be implemented after one of the following four strategies (Bogus et al. 2002).
o If the upstream activity has slow evolution and the downstream activity has low sensitivity,
overlapping through the exchange of preliminary design information is suggested.
o If evolution in the upstream activity is fast, and sensitivity in the downstream activity is low,
overlapping is recommended through exchange of preliminary design information and early
finalization of the upstream design information.
o If evolution in the upstream activity is slow and sensitivity in the downstream is high, then
overlapping involves the highest risk and therefore it should be done by decomposing the
activities into subactivities.

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o If the upstream activity is characterized by fast evolution and the downstream activity by
high sensitivity, the best situation for overlapping is by early finalization of upstream
information.
Bogus et al. suggest that the use of information technology tools allows altering the
characteristics of evolution and sensitivity in activities (Bogus et al. 2002). For example,
information technologies such as databases allow a rapid transmission of preliminary design
information and of changes in design information to others affected in the process. Thus, the
effective exchange of information through the use of information technologies presents
opportunities for reducing the sensitivity in downstream construction activities. Equally,
computerized tools allow designers to speed up the evolution of upstream design activities
(Krishnan 1996, Bogus et al. 2002). In addition, activities characterization can also suggest the
appropriate degree of overlap. Pea-Mora and Li suggest overlapping amounts that vary from 75
percent of overlap to no overlap at all (Bogus et al. 2002, Pea-Mora and Li 2001).
Ideal overlap schedule
The final stage in the implementation of the proposed methodology is to develop an ideal
overlapped schedule based on the presumptive schedule developed in previous steps. The finishto-start relationships identified in the presumptive schedule are modified to start-to-start
relationships with a specific overlap, which is determined based on the individual
characterizations of evolution and sensitivity for those activities and the overlap rules discussed
above. For instance, for a pair of activities with an evolution and sensitivity number 1, one
possible strategy would be an overlap of 50 percent. For activities with evolution and sensitivity
number 2 or 3, the overlap can be of 25 percent. Activities with number 4 evolution and
sensitivity should not be overlapped.
Finally, the appropriateness of overlapping strategies should also be determined considering
their impact on cost, risks, and quality of the final product.

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L. Just-in-time delivery
a. Technique
This technique is directly applied in the construction phase of a project. The intend of this
concept is to deliver construction materials and equipment to the workplace just in time when
they are needed without having to go to onsite storage before being used or installed. By
minimizing storage on the field material and equipment, handling is also minimized, which
consumes time and puts the material and equipment in more risk of damage (CII: The Project
Managers Playbook 2004).

b. Implementation
Executing just-in-time delivery requires extreme planning, coordinating, and expediting action
because any failure in the delivery process can impact the planned schedule or change the
planned schedule sequence, resulting in delays. In addition, delivery must be accurate and
precise because interruptions in the process can disrupt flow reducing worker productivity.

c. Advantages
One important benefit of just-in-time delivery is the elimination of double handling of
equipment and material on site, which therefore reduces the amount of work-hours. Minimizing
double handling also minimizes the risks of material and equipment loss and damage.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


The most important element that compels the technique to success is the coordination and the
precision of delivery.
Commitment from fabricators and vendors to meet established dates and schedules is also a key
to successfully carry on just-in-time deliveries.
Frequent communication is also essential in the planning and coordination of the delivery of
equipment and materials. Information technologies allow faster and improved communication
among the different parties involved, enabling improved coordination.

e. Disadvantages
This technique is very vulnerable in the sense that any minimum failure or interruption in the
delivery process can have strong impact in the schedule causing delays. Equally, when the
delivery process does not reach continuity, interruptions may have an impact in workflow
ultimately resulting in loss of productivity.

f. Applicability and use


Just-in-time delivery involves increased efforts in planning and coordination, otherwise the
consequences of delivery failures can result into significant delays. Traditional tendencies in the
construction industry prefer having equipment and materials stored onsite with anticipation to
avoid the risks and consequences of delayed delivery. One way to make use of this technique

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and take advantage of its benefits while reducing the risk of potential schedule impact if the in
time delivery fails is to employ just-in-time delivery on equipment and material for activities
that do not belong to the critical path. Equipment and material for critical path activities can be
delivered on site prior than required following regular delivery approaches (CII: The Project
Managers Playbook 2004).

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M. Lean construction
Lean construction refers to the application of lean production principles to construction. Lean is
a production management strategy for achieving significant, continuous improvements in the
performance of the total business process of a contractor through the elimination of all wastes of
time and other resources that do not add value to the product or service delivered to the customer
(Shrier 2004). Thus, lean production focuses on the value of a product as perceived by the
customer.
Lean production recognizes two types of activities: conversion activities, which add value to the
material or piece of information being transformed into a product, and product flows (inspection,
waiting, etc.), through which the conversion activities are bound together, but which do not add
value (Alarcon 1997).
In construction, it can be said that value is determined by the client at the start of a project and
described in terms of scope, cost and schedule. Alarcon explains that, in construction,
management attention has focused mostly on improving the efficiency of the conversion
processes; while flow of and between activities have not been much improved, resulting into
uncertain and divergent flow processes, expansion of non value-adding activities and reduction
of output value (Alarcon 1997).
In consequence, the application of lean concepts to construction processes seeks at reducing the
variability of workflow through the elimination of waste and activities that add no value to the
construction processes, aiming ultimately at improving labor performance and productivity, thus
improving overall project performance in terms of quality, schedule and costs (Thomas et al.
2003). Recent proponents of lean construction have proposed several methods to reduce
variability in the construction process to improve the reliability of workflow and thereby
improve productivity and project performance. The Last Planner methodology and the use of
buffers are two applications of lean construction philosophies that can be implemented by the
construction manager at the construction phase to achieve better productivity and improve
construction performance, leading to overall improvements in project quality, and significant
reductions in construction time and costs.

1. The Last Planner: Shielding production through weekly work plans


a. Technique
Ballard and Howell propose that performance to meet commitment plans during the construction
phase can be improved by improving the quality of work assignments. Developing quality work
assignments shields production units from work flow uncertainty, enabling those units to
improve their own productivity, thus improving the productivity of the production units
downstream. The associated reduction in task durations can lead to shorten overall project
duration. Improvements in workflow through quality work assignments can also reduce the
buffers previously needed to accommodate flow uncertainty, achieving further reductions in
project time (Ballard and Howell 1998).
Construction production control systems at the project level routinely consist of three stages:
initial planning, look-ahead planning, and commitment planning. Initial planning involves the
definition of the schedule in terms of the activities and the work that should be done prior the
start of construction and the project budget. The look-ahead planning introduces resources in a
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more detailed and adjusted schedule. Finally, commitment planning evaluates what should be
done against what can be done based on actual availability of resources and completion of
prerequisite work in order to commit to what can be done (Ballard and Howell 1998).
Under current construction management practices, initial planning is the actual tool used to
coordinate construction and drive work to completion of the project. Under initial planning,
activities are identified, sequenced and scheduled to meet project objectives. In real practice,
those doing the work are usually being committed by management to follow the initial schedule.
The problem with this approach is that work is performed under a plan that only considers what
should be done based on anticipated resource availability and not what can actually be done
based on resource availability at that specific point in time. Actual resource availability can
differ significantly from anticipated at initial planning. If that happens, crews are forced to
deviate from the original schedule, and initial planning cannot produce the level of detail that is
required to optimally perform and control production.
To avoid these divergences, resource availability should be verified before starting work,
because ability of getting the work done depends on the availability of resources. Traditional
approaches to scheduling fail in considering this view. Inconsistencies between anticipated,
actually needed, and actually available resources generate a series of uncertainties (ambiguities
in design drawings, errors in take-off, fabrication errors requiring rework, delays in shipment,
damage during handling, etc.) that affect the flow of resources before being used (Choo et al.
1999). Protecting field workers from those uncertainties through adequate planning can
minimize the adverse impact they have on productivity. Thus, improved productivity allows
construction to proceed faster resulting in shortened construction schedules and ultimately
shortened project delivery time.

b. Implementation
Choo et al. propose a system for work planning named The Last Planner, which adopts a
shielding method to overcome uncertainties encountered in construction processes (Choo et al.
1999). Their work is further supported by the implementation of a database application called
WorkPlan that allows the creation of quality work plans.
The Last Planner
The Last Planner consists of the development of weekly work plans a reasonable time before the
related work is performed. The key characteristic of these work plans is that they considering
what part of the work that is planned to be done can actually be done, and then compel the
project team to commit to do that work. Choo et al. suggest that choosing what work field
workers will perform in the weekly plan from what they can perform should be made based on
quality assignments, because weekly work plans are effective only when assignments meet
specific quality requirements for definition, soundness, sequence, size and learning. Each of
these is described below (Choo et al. 1999).
o Definition: Are assignments specific enough that the right type and amount of materials can
be collected, work can be coordinated with other trades, and at the end of the week it can be
determined whether the assignment was completed?
o Soundness: Are all assignments sound, i.e., are all materials on hand? Is design complete? Is
prerequisite work complete? Note that make-ready work will remain for the foremen to do
during the week, i.e., coordination with trades working in the same area, movement of

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materials to the point of installation, etc. Nonetheless, the intent is to do whatever can be
done to get the work ready before the week in which it is to be done.
o Sequence: Are assignments selected from those that are sound in priority order and in
constructability order? Are additional, lower-priority assignments identified as workable
backlog, that is, are additional quality tasks available in the case assignments fail or
productivity exceeds expectations?
o Size: Are assignments sized to the productive capability of each crew or sub-crew, while still
being achievable within the plan period?
o Learning: Are assignments that are not completed within the week tracked and the reasons
for deviation identified?
Quality assignments shield production from workflow uncertainty. Failure of making quality
assignments when planning for work leads production to nonproductive delays such as looking
or waiting for resources, doing multiple stops and starts, proceeding under inefficient
construction sequences, resulting in overall delays and rework. In addition, mismatch between
labor capacity and workload leads to further adversely effects in productivity, decreasing
performance and extending schedule durations (Ballard and Howell 1998).
The Last Planner methodology helps generating assignments that meet quality criteria when
developing the weekly work plans. WorkPlan is a constraint-based database that supports
weekly work package scheduling taking into account the achievement of quality assignments of
what can be done (Choo et al. 1999).
Work Package Scheduling
Work packages should be determined by a definite amount of similar work or a group of
activities to be done in a well-defined area, using specific design information, material, labor,
equipment, and with completed prerequisite work. Grouping similar work allows preserving
flow of resources when crews move from one work area to the next, thus minimizing
interruptions. It also enables a learning process in field workers as the same resources perform
similar work, increasing thereby productivity (Choo et al.1999).
To avoid multiple mobilizations and demobilizations, operations should not start unless they can
be finished without interruptions. Operations that take more than a week should be divided in
smaller units that can be completed in a week or less than a week, which allows statusing the
work that has been completed at the end of the week, and subsequent work packages have to be
appropriate sequenced to maintain continuity of the operation.
The WorkPlan constraint-based database automates the development, and allows monitoring and
controlling of work packages so that these are planned and performed under the Last Planners
concepts of production planning through quality assignments (Choo et al.1999).
Work Package Features
Every work package will have constraints that have to be satisfied in order to perform without
interruptions. In general, construction work constraints can be categorized in five classes:
constraints on contract, engineering, material, labor, equipment, and prerequisite work (Choo et
al. 1999).

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o Contract: Is this work package in the contract? Is it the result of a newly issued change
order? Has the client approved this work? Has all coordination information been confirmed?
Has the subcontract been issued?
o Engineering: Have all submittals been turned in? Have all submittals been approved? Have
all shop drawings been turned in? Have they all been approved? Are there any outstanding
requests for information (RFIs)? Have all methods and procedures been decided? Have
special permits that may be required been secured? Have assembly drawings been received?
o Materials: Have all fabrication drawings been produced? Have all material requirements and
sources for procurement been established? Have all requests for quotation (RFQs) been sent?
Have all materials been purchased? Have all materials been fabricated? Have all the
materials been delivered? Have all the materials been allocated?
o Labor and equipment: Has the work package been scheduled? Are the required laborers
available for the duration of the work? Is the required equipment available for the duration of
the work?
o Prerequisite work and site conditions: Has all prerequisite physical work been completed?
Have all work areas been cleared so that the work package can begin? Is adequate storage
space available to stage materials? Is the site readily accessible? Are weather forecasts
compatible with work requirements?
All work packages have to meet their constraints before they can be executed. If a work package
does not meet any of the constraints specific for that work package, it should not be released for
construction because its execution will likely be slowed down, delayed or interrupted (Choo et
al. 1999).
Implementation of WorkPlan
WorkPlans database management system was developed using Microsoft Access 7.0 and can be
run using any version of Access. It allows the user to go step by step in the process of creating
work packages, identifying constraints, ensuring constraint satisfaction, releasing work
packages, and assigning resources. The program also allows collecting data related to the
progress of work packages at the end of the week for monitoring and control (Choo et al. 1999).
To begin, the user introduces into the database general information about the availability of
resources at the project level and specific information of the work packages to be carried out.
Because this information is traditionally found in the way of spreadsheets and word processor
files, WorkPlan allows the capture and management of information in any of these electronic
formats.
A work package entry form allows the users to enter information related to the work package
including work packages number, project number, description, duration, and budget cost. The
user is also required to introduce input information about labor and equipment. For each work
package input, the system generates five categories of constraints by default. These constraints
relate to contract, engineering, materials, labor and equipment, and prerequisite work. The user
can enter specific problems and solutions for each category. A preloaded list of problems is
provided by the system, the user can also enter a new item if it is not in the preloaded list or if it
needs to be recorded in more detail. If the problem is solved it can be unchecked and recorded
for future reference.
A resource assignment screen allows the user to schedule a released work package for execution
and to assign resources to it. The user can introduce data related to the assigned recourses like

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the number of hours that each resource will work on the specific work package. The system
reports any scheduled overtime for the assigned resource and the additional charges. The user
can also rework in the work package that reported resource overtime to try to balance it out.
Once all constraints for a work package are satisfied and resources introduced, the work package
can be released for construction. WorkPlan allows the user unreleasing a work package that has
already been released if a constraint is not satisfied as expected.
A remaining work feature provides the user with the estimation of the total cost of the work
package based on the expected unit cost and the quantity of work that remains to be done. This
estimated cost can be updated at anytime. By estimating the total cost of each work package, the
construction manager can control and monitor project costs.
The resource assignment screen can also be printed out for use in the field. Once the work
associated with a work package has been completed, the actual number of hours completed by
the crew on each specific assignment should be recorded. In the same way, work that was not
completed as planned should also be recorded. This data is then introduced into the database to
calculate work package completeness and costs. The system also requires the input of reasons
why actual work did not meet the work planned which along with package percent completeness
and actual costs can be used to measure reliability of the planning system.

c. Advantages
Advantages of weekly work planning based on quality work assignments
Shielding production units from workflow uncertainty enables better productivity of the
production unit that is shielded which thereby improves productivity of downstream processes.
The result is reduction in task durations which leads to lower project costs and shorter overall
durations. For instance, quality work assignments through weekly work plans allow
minimization of redundant resources, avoidance of multiple stops and starts of operations which
are best performed as a whole, efficient sequencing of activities, and so on, all of which have a
considerable impact in project cost and duration (Choo et at.1999). Project duration can be
further reduced from shortening the buffers previously needed to accommodate flow
uncertainty.
Improving the quality of assignments, in addition, add several advantages to the construction
processes. Quality of construction is improved because resources including labor, material and
equipment are available to have the work properly done. In addition, generating quality
assignments increases the reliability of information which is indispensable for anticipating
potential problems and enabling better planning.
Work packages group similar work together which supports an environment of continuous flow
of resources leading to fewer interruptions. This process speeds up workers learning curve
enhancing better productivity.
Traditional control systems forecast work to be completed based on the actual cost to date or the
actual completed work to date. Then the forecasted work to be completed is calculated as an
extrapolation of the average progress throughout the project or throughout the period of time
being measured. Under this approach, future work plan tends to be based on how progress is

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measured. On the other hand, weekly work plans based on quality assignments allows
optimizing actual availability of resources to the maximum extent.
Advantages of the use of WorkPlan
WorkPlan management database can be run and used with any version of Microsoft Access,
which facilitates its implementation as Microsoft Access is a program commonly found in the
industry.
Generating a weekly work plan on a computer saves time and also prevents errors. Additionally,
automating the process through a database makes it possible to identify scheduling errors and
defects, and these can be rectified before the work is performed.
The programs different features facilitate quick planning to the user. WorkPlan makes the
definition of constraints for each work package an easier and more accurate process. By having
a pre-loaded list of constraints to check from, it is more certain that the work package will be
released when it is ready to be worked on properly and without interruptions. WorkPlans
provides a real-time cost generation function that allows the evaluation of alternatives for
resource allocations and a cross-allocation checking function that facilitates the detection of
resource conflicts before they happen on the site. Both functions enable the improvement and
optimization of resource management and planning. The resource assignment feature, in
addition to providing the construction manager with a tool to correctly assign resources, also lets
it play with the assignment of resources to fit into the work while minimizing the use of
overtime.
WorkPlan facilitates analysis and comparison between the work that was planned to be
performed under a work package and the work that was actually completed. This attribute permit
the construction manager to monitor and control project costs and, more importantly, to measure
the reliability of the scheduling system. The reports on percent complete that the program
provides can be used to see occurrences and detect key areas where to focus management
attention in order to improve the reliability of the planning system.
Finally, the system supports constant documenting, updating, and reporting of the status of the
process of the work. This can be shared with all the parties involved, so that each person knows
what others do and understand the implications of their own work in the performance of the
work package and in the output of the entire construction process.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Implementing weekly work plans is a practice that requires high levels of commitment, not only
at the management level but also at the field level. The development of work plans for every
week can be time consuming, which may hinder commitment from field workers. In addition,
field workers may not be used to a formalized process for planning the work for the following
week; therefore they might not appreciate its importance at the beginning of its implementation.
Management support is very important in coordinating and guiding planning.
Commitment and support from suppliers of information is also a key to the successful planning
of quality work assignments. Achieving quality work assignments requires information from
areas and parties not always directly related to the planning process. In order to satisfy
assignments for definition, soundness, sequence, size and learning, it is important to gather

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information related to different areas and to satisfy questions like is material availability enough
for the work to be planned, is the design complete, are the prerequisite works completed, what
are the crews available, and such (Choo et al. 1999). Furthermore, it is essential to scatter
awareness of the importance of their input in people whose contribution may have a significant
impact in work planning.
The purposed methodology can be further improved by increasing the visibility of work flow.
By involving supplier processes in the development of the work plans, work flow uncertainties
can be reduced even more. This reduction of work flow uncertainty increases the reliability of
work plans and the predictability of flow. In addition, with improved integrated production
control systems, unavoidable delays and changes can be accommodated with minimum impact
on the total project (Ballard and Howell 1998).

e. Disadvantages
One important disadvantage of lean construction practices is its reduced applicability. Most
existing project management tools are usually based on critical path methods (CPM) which
automate and facilitate project planning. However, most CPM based tools usually do not provide
the appropriate support to field workers in production scheduling (Chua et al. 2003). Typical
CPM models consider a limited number of constraints: activities sequencing based on
precedence requirements and resource availability as anticipated when planning, failing in
providing the means to effectively deal with the real availability of resources and information.
As a result, CPM methods become useful only for project preplanning or planning before
construction but not during actual construction. In consequence, scheduling tools available to
construction and project managers make it difficult the implementation of accurate look-ahead
planning, indispensable for reducing workflow uncertainties and for improving construction
production.

f. Applicability and use


The attainable improvements in construction performance and production with the
implementation of look-ahead planning through weekly work plans depends on the capabilities
of the construction and project managers to plan for what can be done instead of what should be
done. This is only achievable with scheduling tools that support the planning of quality
assignments by allowing the identification of constraints including resource and information
related, checking constraint satisfaction, allocating resources according to its availability,
collecting field progress data, among others. As just mentioned, CPM methods usually provide
the means for project pre-planning, but do not facilitate weekly work planning. As a result, this
techniques applicability may be hindered by the lack of availability of the adequate scheduling
tools and the lack of knowledge on how to properly make use of the available tools for
improving look-ahead planning reliability.

2. Improving labor flow reliability for better productivity through the use of
buffers
a. Technique
As previously mentioned, lean construction principles suggest that improving the reliability of
flows in the construction process results in better labor and cost performance. In lean systems,
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workflow refers to the movement of materials, information, and equipment through a system.
Smooth workflow refers to the minimization of work interruptions and obstructions which can
be achieved by having reliable material, information, and equipment available (Thomas et al.
2003). Variability leads to waste that hinders workflow and delays progress.
Efficient management practices and better management of workflow is essential to eliminate
waste, and enhance better productivity and performance, which can significantly impact project
costs and schedule (Thomas et al. 2003).
Horman and Thomas propose that one way to effectively manage the uncertainty and variability
commonly found in construction processes is through the use of buffers. Buffers work to
provide a cushion or shield against the negative impact of disruptions and variability. When
buffers are properly used, they not only provide shield but they also have the ability to
efficiently respond to conditions of variability enabling enhanced workflow and superior
performance (Horman and Thomas 2005).

b. Implementation
There are different mechanisms that can operate as buffers, and different strategies can be
implemented to manage buffers in order to achieve the appropriate levels of responsiveness. For
example, additional money can be included in the budget to provide a buffer for budget
contingencies. This type of buffer allows the project team to respond to unforeseen events
minimizing possible negative impacts.
Some buffers can be converted into a useful form faster than others. The readiness of this
conversion defines the responsiveness of the buffer (Horman and Thomas 2005). For example,
material and labor onsite can be effective mechanisms to rapidly respond to uncertainties and
variability, while budget contingencies may take more time. Consequently, buffers have the
ability of improving the efficiency of construction operations by absorbing the variability that
construction conditions naturally generate. If properly applied, buffers not only provide
responsiveness to variability issues but also can shield productivity from uncertainties in
workflow maintaining thereby high performance
There are many types of buffers at the work level. The most common ones are inventory, time
lags and capacity buffers (Horman and Thomas 2005). Inventory buffers may include material
stockpiles and work in progress. Time lags, also known as lead times, consist of time buffers.
Capacity buffers refer to the use of additional equipment and craftsmen.
Prior to the implementation of any kind of buffers, effective planning is indispensable to reduce
variability as much as possible. However, because of the uncertainty and complexity of some
construction projects, it is not always possible to eliminate all variability through only planning.
Construction managers can recur to the adoption of buffers in combination with planning to
better manage situations where uncertainty and variability have not radically been eliminated.
Equally, if planning has effectively reduced variability and in so doing enabled workflow, the
size of buffers can be reduced.
Construction managers have to study the specific conditions of the project, the functions of the
different types of buffers and the impact they may have according to the conditions of the
project, to decide how to best locate and size buffers to achieve the seek improved performance.

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Material stockpile buffers


Materials buffers can be provided by producing more material between steps in an operation
than what is right away needed in the next step. Material buffers in the form of stockpiles or
inventory feed the next step and allow activities to proceed independently of any problem
encountered in previous steps. These buffers allow construction processes to have continuity,
improving workflow.
The size of material stockpile buffers is very important and needs to be managed very carefully
in order to achieve better production and increased labor performance. When buffers are
oversized, they can become wasteful and impede effective performance and workflow. For
example, if buffers are too large, productivity in operations can be hampered because workers
may spend more time finding the right material or the area of work may become more congested
and chaotic impeding efficient performance. However, if material stocks are too low, the
consequences can be slowed and disrupted performance leading to reduced production.
The relationship between the amount of material onsite and labor performance will depend on
the conditions of the project, the work being performed and the productivity of the crews
(Horman and Thomas 2005).
Time lag buffers
A time lag acts as a buffer when it is inserted between steps in an operation. Time lag buffers
can be used to increase the starting certainty of an activity regarding of the conditions of
previous activities. The use of time lags as buffers can also generate material stockpiles
between steps, but the amounts generated tend to be minor and they are not likely to produce
major impacts in workflow (Horman and Thomas 2005).
Different conditions will have different time lag buffer requirements, and the decision of what is
the appropriate time between tasks will depend on the construction managers experience and
judging based on the project conditions and needs.
Capacity buffers
A capacity buffer is produced when additional labor and equipment than the required are
provided to complete an activity (Horman and Thomas 2005). Capacity buffers are not always
recommended and their necessity can be avoided by effective management and planning.
However, when these strategies fail and there is the likelihood that project complexity and
uncertainties may affect project performance, capacity buffers provide the ability to quickly
respond to unexpected circumstances. For that reason, additional capacity may be needed to
provide the project with the capability of rapid responsiveness.
Research has shown that if used correctly, capacity buffers can reduce project schedule by up to
35% and cost by up to 8% (Horman 2000, Horman and Thomas 2005). Nonetheless, the
management of capacity buffers has to be done very carefully in order to produce advantages to
the project instead of negative impacts. Buffers whose size is greater than required have the
potential to convert into obstructions to productivity and project performance. For example,
excessive labor in the form of schedule overtime and overmanning, if not properly applied, can
alter labor productivity leading to poor project performance, increased delays, and increased
costs.

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Relationship between inventory and time lag buffers


Research suggest that the decision of whether adopting inventory buffers and time lag buffers
will depend on the priorities and needs of the project. Inventory buffers provide better continuity
of work, while time lags increase the certainty of starting the next operation. In addition, the
application of inventory buffers can sometimes produce time lags, just as time lag buffers may
cause the generation of material stockpiles. Management strategies should focus on supplying
the appropriate combination of inventory buffers and time lags to enhance continuity and
certainty to improve workflow. The correct use of material buffers, time lags, and capacity
buffers can result into smooth workflow and increased productivity, leading to significant
reductions in project schedule and cost.
In an analysis of the relationship between inventory (buffers) and construction labor
performance conducted by Horman and Thomas, data collected from three commercial projects
showed that the best labor performance occurred when inventory buffers were in a range of 4 to
5.5% and time lags ranged around 4 to 5 days (Horman and Thomas 2005). Results in the same
study suggest that when time lags are too small, there seems to be a disruptive effect that
adversely affects productivity. Howell et als (1993) contend that when activities are tightly
linked between each other, they are more susceptible to be affected by disruptions and
variations. Results on the same analysis (Horman and Thomas 2005) confirm that when
inventory buffers sizes are beyond specific levels, the effect can be disturbing in project
performance. The appropriate size will vary from project to project, and from work to work.
Management should evaluate projects particular circumstances in terms of, among others, the
productivity of the crews and the work to be done, in order to implement the appropriate size of
buffers to achieve satisfactory workflow.

c. Advantages
The most important characteristic of buffers is that they are a mechanism that provides rapid
responsiveness to unforeseen and unexpected circumstances. Buffers ability to quickly respond
to the variability of construction processes allows continuity and workflow while maintaining
high productivity, enhancing therefore project performance. If used correctly, buffers can
provide an environment that allows efficient operations by absorbing the fluctuations and
variations in the traditional conditions of construction. For instance, buffers can absorb
variations in production rates, problems with defective design, fabrication errors, poor
workmanship, adverse weather, and such (Horman and Thomas 2005).
Buffers can also be used in conjunction with efficient work planning, and hence enhance the
reliability of workflow. Efficient planning plus the continuity of performance enabled with the
use of buffers increases the chances for improved productivity which has the potential for
significant impacts in project quality, cost and delivery time.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


The size of buffers is extremely important to assure successful results in productivity and labor
performance. Buffers need to be of the appropriate size because if they are oversized they can
generate congestions and disruptions impeding proper performance. On the other hand,
continuity and production can be stopped, disrupted and slowed if buffer sizes are too low. Some
research supports that schedule buffers should be placed at the end of unpredictable process, and

93

the buffer size should be determined based on the degree of uncertainties involved in the process
(Ballard and Howell 1995, Park and Pea-Mora 2004).
The implementation of buffers has a higher potential of successfully managing variability when
used in combination with efficient work planning. Buffers by themselves have the capacity to
provide quickly responsiveness to unexpected events. However, when planning is not effective,
uncertainties and variability in the construction processes may increase the amount and size of
buffer requirements, which can result into increased project costs and duration, and poor
construction quality. Conversely, with improved planning of construction processes and
workflow, variability can be partially or totally removed, reducing the size of buffer
requirements. Efficient planning enhances the usefulness of buffers, leading to better project
quality, and decreased project cost and time.

e. Disadvantages
One disadvantage generated by the use of buffers is found in their capacity to be reverted into a
valuable form. Some buffers can be converted into a useful form more readily that others, and
this readiness defines the responsiveness of the buffer. However, the more responsive the
mechanism the more difficult it is to revert it to a valuable form if not completely consumed. For
example, budget contingencies may not have a quick responsiveness under conditions of
variability, but if the money is not spent it can easily be returned to the project team, the owner,
or the applicable party. In the other hand, material stockpiles used as buffers provide fast
responsiveness but when not used they can not easily revert into a useful form (Horman and
Thomas 2005).
Inappropriately sized buffers can worsen overall productivity in operations. When buffers are
too low, performance can be slowed, interrupted and even stopped, but when they are oversized,
buffers can be wasteful, and they can also impede workflow and hinder productivity.
Capacity buffers not correctly used can also have counterproductive consequences into work
performance. For example, when additional manpower and equipment is employed in the form
of overtime and overmanning to accelerate the project, the excess manpower may be involved
only during certain periods of time, and for different types of work, which can bring
discontinuity and disruptions to other workers performance.
There is no precise rule of what consists of an appropriate size and correct use of a buffer.
Because of the variability of constructions nature, it is to the judge and experience of the
construction manager to define the appropriate use of buffers and the size that better serves its
purposes. Nevertheless, this is not an easy task because the use and size might also change from
task to task. Therefore, if the construction manager does not have experience and knowledge to
properly manage the use of buffers, the effects to project performance can be unfavorable, and
moreover, it might be difficult to clearly recognize and define the adverse consequences and its
causes.

f. Applicability and use


Buffering is a common practice in project planning and execution. Time lag buffers are
traditionally used in project schedules as contingencies to guarantee activity and project
completion on time. Inventory and capacity buffers are also frequently used to minimize work
disruptions allowing construction processes to have continuity, and thus improving workflow.
94

However, the applicability and use of reliability buffers often present shortcomings related to
how to plan and identify for the correct buffer placing and sizing. Buffer placing and sizing are
typically decided and planned based on the experience and knowledge of the construction or
project manager responsible for project planning and management. This strategy however is
very dependable on the familiarity of the construction or project manager with the use of buffers
and in their experience with managing same type of projects. To address this issue, different
strategies to allow better planning for buffers and optimize their use are currently under
research. One such strategy proposed by Park and Pea-Mora consists of the use of simulation
technologies that integrate the simulation approach with the scheduling approach. This research
supports that buffer reliability can be improved by pooling, resizing, relocating and
recharacterizing contingency buffers through the dynamic project model. However further
validation of this technique is needed (Park and Pea-Mora 2004).

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N. Optimization of construction operations through simulation and genetic


algorithms
a. Technique
Another tool available to construction managers to accelerate project completion is the use of
simulation. Simulation optimization is defined as the process of maximizing information
retrieval from simulation analysis without carrying out the analysis for all the combinations of
input variables (Carson and Maria 1997, Marzouk and Moselhi 2004). Computer-based
simulation is one technique that has been lately used to model uncertainties associated with
construction operations, particularly earthmoving operations, with the objective of optimizing
construction processes to reduce construction costs and delivery time.
Discrete-event simulation has been used to analyze and design construction operations for over
three decades (Martinez and Ioannou 1999). General-purpose simulation tools and languages
have been developed with the intention of targeting a very broad domain and to be used with
almost any type of operation. Conversely, special-purpose simulators are tools that have been
designed for specific construction operations, targeting thus a narrower domain. In addition,
frameworks such as modeling paradigm or simulation strategy and others have also been created
to guide users in the development of simulation models (Hooper 1986, Balci 1988, Martinez and
Ioannou 1999).
The most important characteristics of simulation tools are their simulation strategies and their
level of flexibility. Most simulation systems use two strategies: process interaction (PI) and
activity scanning (AS). However, other models have also been implemented combining event
scheduling (ES) with PI or AS. Flexibility refers to the capability of the simulation tool to model
complex situations and to adapt to different application requirements. Thus, simulation systems
can be very flexible and programmable, and allow for modeling complex and detailed
construction operations; other systems can be very simple and non-programmable tools with
limited modeling capabilities which therefore allow only for modeling simple construction
operations. However, simple simulation systems still generate efficient results and are easier to
learn.
The difference between PI and AS strategies is given in the viewpoint from which they are
written. PI models are written from the point of view of the entities or transactions that flow
through the system. This strategy is intended for modeling operations where the moving entities
have several attributes and the resources (including machines) that serve these entities have few
attributes or interactions (Hooper 1986, Martinez and Ioannou 1999). AS strategies, on the other
hand, are written from the point of view of the various activities being performed. AS models
focus on identifying these activities and the conditions under which they take place. Whether a
simulation tool is PI or AS-based has an important impact on the way the system is modeled and
the way it is presented to the computer (Evans 1989, Martinez and Ioannou 1999). Some
researchers argue that one strategy is superior to the other; nonetheless most available research
agrees that both strategies have equal power and its usefulness depends rather in the system they
are intended for. IP systems are more suitable for manufacturing purposes in which materials
undergo a fixed pattern after they arrive to the system, and only leave as final products. In
contrast, AS are more appropriate for modeling construction operations which involve many
interacting resources that can perform in different states and where different conditions are
required to carry out activities (Martinez and Ioannou 1999). Most models are also represented

96

using activity cycle diagrams (ACDs), which are networks that naturally describe three-phase
AS models.
Several general-purpose simulation systems have been developed specifically for modeling
construction operations based on some form of ACDs and AS or three-phased AS strategies.
Some of these include CYCLONE (Halpin and Rigs 1992), REQUE (Chang 1986), COOPS (Liu
1991), CIPROS (Odeh 1992), STEPS (McCahill and Bernold 1993), and STROBOSCOPE
(Martinez 1996).
Marzouk and Moselhi propose a framework called SimEarth that specifically allows the
optimization of earthmoving operations through the use of computer simulation and genetic
algorithms (Marzouk and Moselhi 2004).
The optimization process uses computer simulation and genetic algorithms to search for a nearoptimum fleet configuration, taking into account their availability to contractors. The genetic
algorithm considers a series of qualitative (i.e. type of resources and their combinations) and
quantitative (i.e. quantity of each resource used) variables that determine the production of
earthmoving operations. The simulation tool allows for estimating the time and cost of these
operations which enable efficient planning of earthmoving operations (Marzouk and Moselhi
2004). By optimizing earthmoving operations, the time and cost of performing these can be
minimized, reducing overall project schedule and costs. In addition, the framework allows for
time-cost tradeoff analysis and the performance of what if scenarios with respect to fleet
configurations.

b. Implementation
The SimEarth framework was developed and implemented in Microsoft environment, and
consists of the following components: Earth Moving Simulation Program (EMSP), Equipment
Cost Application (ECA), Equipment Database Application (EDA), Haulers Travel Time
Application (HTTA), Earth Moving Genetic Algorithm (EM_GA), and Output Reporting
Module (ORM) (Marzouk and Moselhi 2004).
ECA is a spreadsheet application developed to provide the user with the total hourly owning and
operating costs and their respective breakdown. The application was design to be fully
compatible with the Caterpillar performance handbook to enhance its applicability in the
industry. EDA is a database that contains essential equipment characteristics such as haulers
allowable speeds, and it supplies the entire system with the information to be used in the
simulation process. HTTA is a fuzzy clustering model that estimates haulers travel time
(Marzouk and Moselhi 2004).
Earth Moving Simulation Program is the simulation tool that performs replications of
earthmoving operations based on a predefined set of resources and entities. The program utilizes
discrete event simulation and object-oriented modeling which facilitates the modeling of
construction operations. EMSP contains the main activities of earthmoving operation which
include loading, hauling, dumping, and returning. These are also classified into two types:
bound-to-happen and conditional activities.
The simulation program uses a three phase simulation approach by tracking activities in 3
phases. Thus, in phase one, the first activity is removed and the simulation time is advanced to

97

the next time. In phase two, all due bound-to-happen activities are carried out, and, in phase
three, all possible conditional activities are performed.
Earth Moving Simulation Program receives its input from the framework in two different ways,
through parameters that are passed through its main function and by reading from external files.
EMSPs main function passes different types of parameters including simulations performed
either in a test manner or an analysis manner, interactions among equipment in the fleet under
consideration, selected fleet scenario for simulation analysis, presence or use of second hauler,
selected set of activities involved in the simulation process, number of simulation runs, and
conditions for simulation analysis termination. The external files, on the other hand, feed the
program with external information related to soil type, scope of work, equipment characteristics,
and possible durations of the involved activities represented in the form of probability density
functions (Marzouk and Moselhi 2004).
To start the simulation analysis, the construction manager or the applicable user is required to
specify the type of secondary activities involved in the project and the associated fleet scenario
to be tested. Secondary activities can include spreading, compacting, and such. The main
activities of loading, hauling, dumping and returning are selected by default. Then, the user has
to specify the type of equipment available in the project to perform all main activities and the
equipment available for each identified secondary activity and its corresponding model. After
the equipment for both primary and secondary activities has being selected, the user introduces
into the program all the relevant physical characteristics of the system such as characteristics of
the material to be hauled, and any other that may impact any activity. Once all physical entities
of the system have been established, these are mapped by their representative classes. For
example, for the main activity of hauling, the class that represents this object contains the
characteristics of the hauler unit including unit type, model, payload, and hourly owning and
operating costs. These characteristics are the data member variables of that particular class.
The frameworks optimization module uses a genetic algorithm called Earth Moving Genetic
Algorithm and Pareto optimality. The genetic algorithm contains two measures of fitness that
allow the calculation of project duration and project total cost. These measures are obtained
based on the pilot runs carried out by the simulation engine. Thus, based on the information
contained in the database and inserted by the user, the simulation program runs a series of
replications of the earth operation processes under different pre-established scenarios, and the
generic algorithm calculates the time required by each piece of equipment to complete its task.
The total cost is also calculated based on direct and indirect costs. The direct costs are estimated
based on the time equipment is assigned to the project, and its associated owning and operating
costs. The indirect costs, on the other hand, can be of two types, time related and time
independent. The user is thereby able to define the types of indirect costs that are to be applied
according to project characteristics.
The following example illustrates the use of the program in selecting the most appropriate fleet
configuration to optimize earthmoving operations. Three different fleet scenarios are considered
as shown in table 3 to find the near-optimum fleet configuration through simulation techniques.
The example involves moving a specific amount of earth from a certain distance. It is necessary
to know specific characteristics of the soil such as loose and bank densities. All these
parameters, along with the characteristics of each fleet scenario are introduced into the
simulation system. The user is also required to introduce the probability distributions associated
with the duration of the main and secondary activities which in the example are spreading and
compacting.

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Equipment characteristics
Loaders
Type
Bucket capacity (m3)
No. of passes
Hourly owning and operating cost
(dollars/h)

Haulers
Type
Payload (ton)
Hourly owning and operating cost
(dollars/h)

Dozers

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

Range (1-10) for scenarios


CAT 992G
12.3
4

CAT 990SII
9.2
3

CAT 988F
6.9
3

250

175

CAT 773D
45.8

CAT 769C
33.46

160

130

300
Range (15-20) for scenarios
CAT 777D
81.7
215
Range (1-10) for scenarios

Type
Cycle production (m3)
Hourly owning and operating cost
(dollars/h)

Soil Compactors

CAT D8R
27
150
Range (1-10) for scenarios

Type
Cycle production (m3)
Hourly owning and operating cost
(dollars/h)

CAT CS-583C
19.1
90

Table 3. Characteristics of fleet scenarios


(taken from Marzouk and Moselhi 2004, pp. 111)
Based on the inputs made by the user, the simulation engine carries out a series of pilot runs, and
the generic algorithm calculates the required measures of fitness of project total duration and
project total cost. The system then returns the calculated total project duration based on entered
information related to the total quantity of earth to be moved, the daily production, and the
scheduled hours per day; and it calculates project total cost from the scheduled hours per day,
the equipment hourly cost, the number of equipment associated to each scenario, the total
quantity of earth to be moved, daily production, scheduled working days per month, time-related
indirect cost, and time-independent indirect cost (Marzouk and Moselhi 2004).
Ultimately, the system provides the construction manager or the applicable user with two
solutions. The first one contains the minimum calculated cost and its associated duration, and
the second solution provides the minimum calculated duration and its associated cost. Thus, the
construction manager can perform time-cost tradeoff analysis and select the fleet configuration
that best minimizes operations duration.

c. Advantages
Computer simulation and genetic algorithms have been extendedly applied within the
construction industry because they are an efficient tool to optimize construction operations. By
optimizing construction operations, the time and cost of carrying them out is minimized.
Optimization of construction operations also enhances the efficiency of construction processes.
The framework presented allows the identification of a near-optimum fleet for earthmoving
operations while it presents a series of useful features. It develops efficient optimizations as it
takes into account both qualitative variables such as the type of resources and combinations

99

used, etc., and quantitative variables such as the quantity of each resource used, etc. In addition
the model considers and accounts for actual availability of equipment. Finally, it allows users to
consider and evaluate what if scenarios related to fleet configurations and time-cost tradeoff
analysis. All these features allow the construction manager to efficiently reduce the uncertainty
associated with construction operations and therefore improve construction planning.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


The implementation of technologies involving simulation and the use of genetic algorithms
require knowledge and expertise. Therefore, training is substantial for a proper implementation
of these techniques.
During experimentations with simulation technologies, the construction manager or engineer
changes the different parameters in the model or the logic of the operations. Therefore, it is also
important that the construction manager or the engineer learns how to properly enter the needed
inputs and how to control the different permitted options that the program allows in order to
obtain adequate results.
Despite of its powerful features, the simulation system is only a tool that allows the engineer to
find optimality searches related to construction operations, or the near-optimum fleet in the case
of the framework presented. The search for this optimality is modeled by the simulation program
but it has to be guided by the knowledge and experience of the engineering and construction
manager. Therefore, knowledge and understanding of the operations under analysis is also vital
for the users to be able to efficiently employ simulation and optimize construction operations.
The development of complex simulation models can also be substantially enhanced when
combined with 3D models. Simulation modeling and 3D visualizations can be very helpful in
designing complex construction operations and making optimal decisions. A visualized
simulated representation of the construction operation is a more realistic tool which provides the
user with comprehendible feedback, indispensable for adequate analysis. In addition, the 3D
visualization tool can provide valuable insight into the details of construction operations that are
usually hard to perceive and therefore disregarded (Kamat and Martinez 2001).

e. Disadvantages
Typically, the effort and knowledge involved in the development and implementation of
simulation models tend to limit the use of simulation in construction (Mohamed and AbouRizk,
2005). Building and utilizing simulation applications require experience, technical knowledge
of the construction system and of the simulation technology, and substantial investments in time
and money, and given the relatively short duration of a projects construction process, the
potential achievable benefits may not always be perceived as to be worth the associated costs of
implementation. Furthermore, without the proper expertise and tools, modeling the simulation
system can become a time consuming and ultimately worthless investment (Mohamed and
AbouRizk, 2005).
Once the model has being built, its utilization is not a trivial process. Carrying out simulation
runs and experimentations typically involve modifications in the topology of the model which
again requires more effort, knowledge and expertise (Mohamed and AbouRizk, 2005).

100

f. Applicability and use


There is an increasing number of simulation and genetic algorithm applications within the
construction industry that have been developed aiming at optimizing operations during
construction with the intention of minimizing the total duration and costs of these. Because of
the potential benefits and advantages that simulation tools offer in the analysis and planning of
construction, its adoption has been slowly gaining acceptance within the industry.
However, there are also a series of important factors that have hindered a broader
implementation of simulation technologies. First, as most technologies, implementing
simulation models require high investments substantially increasing construction costs. Then,
effort, time, knowledge and experience are also prerequisites not only to build the simulation
model but to run it as well. Finally, because of the uniqueness of construction projects, the
development of the simulation representation is a time-consuming task compared to overall
construction duration. All of these issues have contributed to a limited applicability of
simulation and such technologies (Mohamed and AbouRizk, 2005).

101

O. Time-cost trade-offs
a. Technique
The process of accelerating the duration of a project based on time-cost trade-offs is usually
known as crashing. Crashing refers to the reduction of activity durations in the construction
phase of a project with the objective of reducing construction schedule duration (Callahan et al.
1992). Crashing is a systematic and analytical process that examines all the activities in the
schedule and focuses particularly in those activities on the critical path in order to achieve
overall reduction. The crashing process uses an assessment of activity variable cost with time
which allows identifying which activity durations should be reduced to economically minimize
the cost of accelerating construction duration (Callahan et al. 1992). There are several ways to
reduce activity durations, and many combinations of activity durations and costs that have to be
considered and analyzed to achieve duration reduction for the minimum cost. Crashing therefore
enables the construction manager to reduce overall project completion by accelerating
construction delivery time while minimizing the added costs of acceleration.

b. Implementation
Activities on a project can be crashed in one of the following ways (Callahan et al. 1992):
o
o
o
o
o
o

Extended workdays or overtime


Multiple-shift work
Increasing the number of craftsmen or overmanning
Using larger or more productive equipment
Using materials with faster installation methods
Using alternate construction methods or sequences

Extended workdays or scheduled overtime refers to the planned decision by the project or
construction manager to accelerate the progress of the work by scheduling more than 8 hours per
day or 40 hours per week for an extended period of time for much of the crafts workforce
(Thomas and Raynar 1997). The intention of extending workdays through scheduled overtime
is to reduce the total time required to complete an activity. Overtime can occur in different
schedules: 5 days of 10 hours per day, 7 days of 8 hours per day, 6 days of 10 hours per day, or
7 days of 10 hours per day, which can decrease activity durations by up to 33 percent (Callahan
et al. 1992).
Project duration can also be reduced by accelerating construction progress through the use of
additional work shifts. Shift work is defined as the hours worked by a second group of craftsmen
whose work on a project is performed after the first or primary work force of the same trade has
retired for the day (Hanna et al. 2005). The use of multiple shifts is an effective tool to achieve
the completion of activities in fewer days as it approximately doubles the amount of work hours
per week. Consequently, working one or two additional shifts can lead to large reductions in
activity durations, ultimately resulting in acceleration of overall construction and project
delivery time.
Increasing the number of craftsmen is another technique to accelerate construction schedule in
order to achieve faster project completion. Increasing the amount of workers is usually known
as overmanning. Overmanning can be understood in two different ways. First, it can be referred
to the increase in crew sizes in an amount that exceeds the optimal crew size. The optimal crew
102

size is the minimum amount of workers required to complete a task in the assigned period of
time. Overmanning can also be defined as an increase of the peak number of workers of the
same trade over actual average manpower during project (Hanna et al. 2005). Both approaches
of increasing the amount of craftspeople allow progressing at a faster rate to diminish the time it
takes to complete activities.
Finally, the use of larger or faster equipment, the use of materials with faster installation
methods and the use of alternate construction methods or activity sequences can also enable
reductions in project duration.
The adoption of any of these techniques will lead to substantial reductions in construction
duration, but with an increase in project costs. It is therefore important to determine how much
the duration of each individual activity can be reduced and at what cost. Determining how much
an activity can be reduced and the costs involved requires scheduling and estimating experience
and knowledge. Once the construction manager has evaluated and determined the best approach
to reduce activity durations, a time-cost analysis can be used to establish the alternative
durations and costs that should be crashed for minimizing the cost of accelerating total project
completion.
Time-cost analysis
Following the traditional steps to develop a schedule of construction activities, the first step in
the crashing process is to determine the relationship between duration and cost for each activity
based on basic planning and estimating information. There can be several possible
combinations of duration and cost for any given activity. Based on these possible combinations,
the construction manager develops a duration-cost relationship for each activity. The
construction manager then evaluates the options available and defines the durations for each
activity to be used in the construction schedule. The schedule produced with these activity
durations will be used as the baseline schedule for crashing.
Once the schedule baseline has been generated, the construction manager can start the time-cost
analysis using the duration-cost relationship previously identified. The relationship can be
represented in a graphic form as shown in figure 7. Point I represents the point of minimum
activity duration and maximum activity cost; this point is a limiting point for the duration. Point
II represents the minimum activity cost and the associated activity duration corresponding to that
cost. Point I is often referred to as the crash cost and point II represents the normal duration.
Similarly, point I also establishes the crash duration and point II the normal cost (Callahan
et al. 1992).

103

Activity Cost ($)

CC

CC = Crash cost
NC = Normal cost
CD = Crash duration
ND = Normal duration

NC

II

CD

ND
Activity duration (days)

Figure 7. Durationcost relationship


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 261)
Although figure 7 is represented by a straight line, the relationship between the duration and cost
of an activity is seldom linear. However, an approximation can be obtained by assuming a linear
relationship between durations and costs resulting into a straight line. In the cases in which the
relationship is not close to linear, the different duration-cost points can be connected by drawing
a line between the points in the graph resulting in various linear segments as shown in figure 8.
The slope of the graphic or the slope of the segments is used to determine what activities and
durations will be selected for use in crashing the overall schedule. As it will be shown later, the
same slope is used to determine the impact that the reduction of schedule duration has on project
costs. The slope of the line can be mathematically calculated by using the coordinates on the
duration-cost graph.

34,750

Activity cost ($)

34,500
34,250

S1

34,000
33,750
33,500

S2

33,250
35

40

45

50

Activity duration (days)

Figure 8. Durationcost relationship of a particular activity


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 263)

104

55

Since a close approximation has been made by a straight line between the crash cost and the
normal duration points of any given activity, the cost-per-day can be calculated by calculating
the slope using the following formula (Callahan et al. 1992):
S = (CC NC) / (ND CD)
where,
CC = crash cost
NC = normal cost
ND = normal duration
CD = crash duration
S = slope
Figure 8 illustrates the duration-cost relationship of a particular activity. The crash-cost slopes
for this activity are:
S1 = ($33,936 - $33,250) / (51-42) = $76.22 / day
S2 = ($34,632 - $33,946) / (42 37) = $139.20 / day
Following this process, the cost-per-day for each activity considered for crashing can be
obtained. An example is used next to illustrate the process of crashing a project schedule. Figure
9 shows the construction network for a given project. Table 4 shows the duration-cost
relationships for the activities identified in the construction network.
A
120

B
20

C
40

D
30

E
50

F
60

Figure 9. Example project network (taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 264)

Activity

Normal
Duration (days)

A
120
B*
20
C*
40
D*
30
E*
50
F
60
* Critical path activity

Crash
Duration (days)
110
15
30
20
40
45

Normal
cost
$12,000
$1,800
$16,000
$1,400
$3,600
$13,500

Crash
cost
$14,000
$2,800
$22,000
$2,000
$4,800
$18,000

Table 4. Duration-cost relationship for the activities in the example project network
(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 264)
105

Assuming that the duration-cost relationship for each activity is linear, the crash-cost slope for
each activity is determined using the crash cost (CC), normal cost (NC), normal duration (ND)
and crash duration (CD) of each activity as follows:
S = (CC NC) / (ND CD)
SA = ($14,000 - $12,000) / (120 100) = $100/day
SB = ($2,800 $1,800) / (20 15) = $200/day
SC = ($22,000 - $16,000) / (40 30) = $600/day
SD = ($2,000 - $1,400) / (30 20) = $60/day
SE = ($4,800 - $3,600) / (50 40) = $120/day
SF = ($18,000 - $13,500) / (60 45) = $300/day
The normal cost for the project is the sum of the normal cost for each activity, and the normal
duration is the duration of the activities in the critical path for the given normal costs. The
normal cost for the example project is $48,300 and the normal duration is 140 days. The
duration of each activity has to be crashed one by one in order to crash the total duration of the
schedule. The first activities to be crashed are the ones that fall into the critical path and add the
least cost to the overall project cost. The cost that any crashed activity would add is given by the
least cost slope, and its duration can be reduced only to its crashed duration and as long as the
critical path does not change or a new critical path is created. In the example, the first activity
that should be crashed is activity D because it is in the critical path and its cost is only $60 per
day. Crashing activity D by its crash duration of 20 days leads to an overall schedule reduction
of 10 days from its previous completion time of 140 days, resulting into a new completion
length of 130 days. The revised network is shown in figure 10. The cost of crashing activity D is
found by multiplying its cost per day by the number of days crashed. Activity D increases the
total cost of the project by $600 ($60 per day times 10 days), from $48,300 to $48,900.
A
120

B
20

C
40

D
20

E
50

F
60

Figure 10. Network after one step of compression


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 265)

The next activity to crash would be activity E because it belongs to the critical path and has the
least cost per day. If the critical path changes, the next activity to crash is the one with the leastcost slope that falls into the new critical path. In the example, activity E is the next activity in the
critical path that adds the least cost to the project. This activity can be reduced from 50 to 40
days, reducing the project schedule by 10 days. By reducing project duration by 10 days, activity
E increases the cost of the project by $120 per day or $1200. Therefore, the new total project

106

duration is 120 days with a cost of $50,100. After crashing activity E, the revised project
network has now 3 critical paths (A, B-C-D-E, and B-F-E) as illustrated in figure 11.

A
120

B
20

C
40

D
20

E
40

F
60

Figure 11. Network after two steps of compression


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 267)

Since the network has now multiple critical paths, it is necessary to crash one activity on each
critical path to achieve overall schedule reduction. The activity from each path that gives the
most reduction for the least cost is selected for crashing. The combination of cost slopes of each
activity is used to calculate the total cost increase per day. Activity A ($100/day) and activity B
($200/day) are the next activities crashed and combined add $300 per day to the project cost.
This combination crashes the project schedule from 120 days to 115 days for the least cost,
resulting in a new total project cost of $51,600. The last activities to crash are activity A
($100/day), activity C ($600/day), and activity F ($300/day) which shorten the schedule by 10
days for a combined cost of $1000 per day or a total of $10000. The crashed schedule has now
105 days of duration (figure 12), 35 days shorter than the original schedule, for an increased cost
of $13,300 giving a total project cost of $61,600.

A
105

B
15

C
30

D
20

E
40

F
50

Figure 12. Network after three steps of compression


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 267)

107

Total project cost analysis

Indirect costs ($)

The costs used to determine the cost-duration relationship for each activity consider only the
direct costs for performing those activities. However, total project costs include direct costs and
indirect costs. As seen in the example, direct costs are inversely related to project duration, thus
direct costs decrease when project duration increases, and vice versa. Conversely, indirect costs
increase with project duration. Indirect costs usually increase faster at the beginning of the
project, and then remain constant over the course of the project. For crashing purposes, the usual
assumption is that there is a relatively constant indirect cost profile for a project. The indirect
cost profile is shown in figure 13 as a linear function. The slope of the line is the value of the
constant indirect profile (Callahan et al. 1992).

Project duration (days)

Figure 13. Duration-indirect cost relationship


(taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 269)

The same example will be used to illustrate how to include indirect costs into the crashed
schedule. Indirect costs for the project shown in figure 9 include job overhead of $250 per day
throughout the project, additional support services which cost $100 per day from day 20 to day
90, and general overhead related to the staffing size of the project and duration of $150 per day.
The cost profile for indirect costs must be developed first. The indirect cost profile includes two
parts. The fist part consists of the constant piece of the indirect costs which include the job
overhead ($250/day) and the general overhead ($150/day) for a total of $400 per day. The
second portion consists of the additional support services from day 20 to day 90 with an
additional cost of $100 per day. Figure 14 shows the profile for the total indirect costs which is
obtained by adding both the constant and variable portions of the indirect costs. Finally a cost
profile for total costs is generated by adding direct and indirect costs as illustrated in figure 15.
The minimum-cost point represents the optimum duration-cost schedule. Table 5 lists the total
direct and indirect costs for the several possible durations.

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Indirect cost ($/day)

Variable indirect
costs

Constant indirect costs

MD

Time (calendar days)

(Minimum
duration)

PD
(Project
duration)

Total cost ($)

Figure 14. Indirect cost-time relationship (taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 269)

120.000
116.000
112.000
108.000
104.000
100.000
196.000

100

105

110

120

130

140

Duration (days)
Figure 15. Total cost profile (taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 271)

Project
duration
(days)

Project
direct
cost

Project
indirect
cost

Total
cost

140
130
120
115
105

$48,300
$48,900
$50,100
$51,600
$61,600

$63,000
$59,000
$55,000
$53,000
$49,000

$111,300
$107,900
$105,100
$104,600
$110,600

Table 5. Total project costs (taken from Callahan et al. 1992, pp. 272)

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c. Advantages
The use of any extended workdays, multiple shifts, overmanning, or the use of larger or more
productive equipment, the use of materials with faster installation methods, and alternate
construction methods or sequences present great potential for the construction manager to
accelerate the progress of construction and reduce overall project delivery time. However, the
construction manager should select the appropriate approach to accelerate the schedule
considering the different advantages and benefits that each technique may offer to the particular
project under construction.
The use of overtime to reduce project schedule is sometimes chosen over additional work shifts
and overmanning because it can produce a higher rate of progress without the coordination
problems involved in managing additional crafts of workers (Hanna et al. 2005). Overtime
requires workers to work extended periods of time, nevertheless, it does not require the
implementation of additional craftspeople. In consequence, it can be preferred over work shift
and overmanning when obtaining extra labor is not desired or is not a viable option.
On the other hand, second shifts are occasionally selected over overtime because they do not
present the same degree of inefficiencies from physical fatigue caused by working extended
scheduled hours. In addition, the cost of additional shifts is typically lower than that of overtime.
The use of additional shifts is also advantageous in accelerating activity progress while
minimizing the congestion problems associated with overmanning. Some research support that
the use of various work shifts may generate competition between shifts that can actually increase
overall productivity (Horner and Talhouni 1995, Hanna et al. 2005).
The advantage of overmanning over overtime is that higher production rates may be achieved
because workers do not experience the fatigue problems associated with overtime. Overmanning
may also be preferred instead of shift work to avoid the coordination problems experienced with
working different shifts.
Finally, the use of larger or faster equipment, alternate construction methods or sequences, and
materials with faster installation methods offers substantial opportunities for improving
efficiency and activities duration without the risk of losing labor productivity.

d. Key elements to ensure a high degree of success


Most available research findings suggest a large inverse relationship between productivity and
scheduled overtime. Thus, in the first few weeks of scheduled overtime total productivity can be
higher than the productivity achieved in a regular 40-hour week. However, after several weeks
of overtime work, it is very unlikely to attain the same levels of productivity, and it will continue
to decrease as overtime schedule continues. Therefore, as part of the schedule acceleration
technique, the use of overtime should be considered for no more than three or four weeks
(Hanna et al 2005).
Management support is also another element that has strong impacts in the success of overtime
implementation. Because it is expected that overtime schedules will lead to loss of productivity,
effective management control is crucial to detect how much improvement in progress rates can
be achieved by extending work days, and when the adverse effects of working overtime begin to
affect labor productivity. Finally, other management supports such as engineering and design
support, material availability, and supervision are also important factors that can help mitigate

110

the potential negative effects that scheduled overtime may have in productivity and labor
performance.
Management support and supervision is also important to successfully achieve project schedule
reduction through the use of work shifts. The following management techniques can help reduce
productivity losses and improve the performance of labor working additional shifts (Hanna et al.
2005):
o Overlapping management: Management should overlap both shifts with the objective of
making the arriving crews aware of the work that has been completed by the previous crews.
One way to achieve this is by requiring the foreman of the first shift to stay 1 or 2 hours
longer and the foreman from the previous shift to arrive 1 or 2 hours earlier.
o Selection of work assigned to a second shift: Assigning completely different tasks to the
second shift or third shift can improve work performance. This can include assigning
independent tasks from the previous shifts that involve different materials and tools.
o Be selective on the work assigned to a second shift: Because of the reduced availability of
management and engineering support, it is recommended to assign the second shift tasks that
do not require much engineering and design support, and relatively small scope of work. A
smaller scope allows improved coordination, planning, and supervision of the second shift.
o Material requirements: Management should anticipate the material requirements of the tasks
assigned to the second and third shifts, and if possible assign tasks that require the minimum
material requirements, to enhance high performance of second shifts.
o Avoid congestion: The use of different work shifts is more effective when the
implementation of overtime or additional craftsmen and trades can generate increased
congestion.
o Sufficient amount of artificial lighting: Providing night shifts with sufficient artificial
lightning is essential to enable shifts perform efficiently and to enhance safety.
Overmannings intentions of reducing project duration, on the other side, can be enhanced
through the availability of adequate work space to accommodate the increased number of
workers at the job site. The loss of productivity involved with overmanning can also be
minimized by adopting skilled labor and increased, resourceful and well-organized supervision.

e. Disadvantages
Scheduling extended hours to reduce the duration it takes to complete activities and therefore
shorten construction delivery time involves several important factors that have to be taken into
consideration.
Extending workers working hours require employers to pay an overtime rate which is typically
1.5 times the normal wage for any work beyond 8 hours per day, and it can go up to 2 times the
normal wage, particularly if overtime is scheduled in weekends. In addition, the extended work
hours generated by scheduled overtime include other extra costs for support services. All these
additional costs have to be considered in the cost-duration trade-off analysis to decide to what
extent and at what cost the construction manager is willing to accelerate the project (Callahan et
al. 1992).
Labor productivity can also be negatively affected when overtime is implemented to accelerate
the project, particularly when overtime is scheduled for several weeks. Overtime is an indirect
factor that has the potential to cause disruptions in the work environment. By itself, overtime

111

does not lead to productivity loss; however, it can activate other factors that can lead to poor and
inefficient productivity. For example, the construction or project manager decides to accelerate
the progress of certain activities by extending weekly work hours from four 10-h days to six 10h days. Labor work hours are therefore increased by 50%. In theory, to maintain workflow and
work efficiency to finish the work earlier the entire system should respond to the increase in
work hours. Thus, materials should be made available 50% faster, tools and equipment should
be used 50% more, information also has to be made available faster, project staff support should
also increase, and so on. However, that rarely happens, and the lack of resources (materials,
equipment, tools and information) or mismatch between the demand of work from increased
labor and the availability of resources to support increased demand can result into recurrent
interruptions which adversely affect labor productivity and work efficiency.
Thomas and Raynar suggest that, on average, interruptions caused by overtime cause short-time
productivity losses of about 10 to 15 percent (Thomas and Raynar 1997). In addition, projects
that are already behind schedule or experience disruptions caused by other factors, such as
incomplete design, numerous changes, etc., are more likely to experience greater losses in
productivity. Similar studies suggest that it is possible to work overtime for three or four weeks
without losses of productivity; however the likelihood is very small (Thomas and Raynar 1997).
Overtime scheduled to last for more than a few weeks will result into productivity losses caused
not only by interruptions but also by mental and physical fatigue. Research also suggests that
there is a direct relationship between the number of work days per week and the level of
productivity loss. When the work days per week increase over regular schedule, it is more
difficult to provide labor with resources at an accelerated rate, leading to increased interruptions
with a negative effect in productivity (Thomas and Raynar 1997).
Other problems associated to overtime and the resultant productivity loss include mental and
physical fatigue, increased accident rates and reduced safety, increased absenteeism and low
morale (Hanna et al. 2005). Finally, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, when the
hours of work increase workers tend to pace themselves for the extended day or week, thus they
adjust their pace to accomplish about the same amount of work in an extended workday or
workweek as what they would accomplish in a straight time workday (U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers 1979).
All the problems introduced by scheduled overtime reduce productivity and increase the cost of
construction. Hanna et al. suggest that the premium cost of overtime and the reduced labor
productivity result in a combined increased hourly cost of an average of 300 percent more than
the normal straight time hourly rate (Hanna et al. 2005).
Working multiple shifts also introduce additional costs to the project including additional
administration personnel, supervision, quality control, safety, and support services such as
lighting, hence the cost of operating under multiple shift works is higher than operating under
normal circumstances.
Other problem associated with working additional shifts is that there is no single point of
responsibility for progress and quality. Sometimes it is also necessary to have periods of overlap
between shifts to smooth the changeover. The changeover among shifts requires extensive
coordination due to little communication and cooperation between shifts and inconsistent
operating procedures across shifts. Performance of shifts can also be hindered by the
unavailability of timely administrative decisions because of the absence of management support

112

in hours other than business hours (Penkala 1997, Hanna et al. 2005).
A major problem involved with working additional shift work is the impact it has on workers
sleeping patterns and the problems associated to getting the body adjusted to the new schedule
and cycle. Studies show that it takes around 7 to 12 days to get the body used to a new work and
sleep cycle (Costa 1996, Hanna et al. 2005). Other studies suggest that 24 to 30 days are needed
to achieve the same levels of performance (Fly 1980, Hanna et al. 2005). Working in different
schedules can have important impacts in workers performance as well as in their health.
Workers that work at night usually have less hours of sleep than workers working during the
day, which can lead to lower levels of performance. Additionally, the changes in laborers
internal work and sleeping cycles may affect important processes such as motivation, alertness,
and judgment (Hanna et al. 2005). All these consequences can lead to loss of labor productivity.
Work safety is another important factor that can be affected by working multiple shifts. The
sleeping shortage experienced by labor working night shifts and the related effects in workers
alertness and judgment, along with the associated physical fatigue can lead to increased rates of
accidents and reduced safety. Moreover, during second shifts, supervision and management
support is reduced, which along with the poor conditions of work such as poor lighting, can also
have a negative effect in workers performance and safety. Research indicates that work
performed by night shifts usually produce more errors and accidents (Costa 1996, Hanna et al.
2005).
The major disadvantages associated to the use of increased number of workers include
inefficiencies related to physical conflict, high density of labor, and congestion. Efficient
management and supervision can also be impeded because of the enlarged amount of
craftspeople. In addition, the demand for engineering questions and requests for clarification can
also increase with the likelihood of not been responded in a timely manner. The availability of
materials, equipment and tools may be deficient as well due to the increased number of workers,
hindering efficient productivity. The need for large amounts of labor may bring in less
productive workers impacting overall productivity.
Lastly, the major disadvantage of bringing into play larger or faster equipment, materials with
faster installation methods, and alternate construction methods or sequences is that although
these enable dramatic reductions in project duration, the increase in project costs are typically
dramatically elevated.

f. Applicability and use


Determining which technique is the best to adopt to successfully accelerate the progress of
construction requires knowledge and experience of the construction manager, and careful
analysis and planning. Once the most appropriate and suitable approach for increasing the
progress rates of activities has been selected, the difficulties involved in accelerating a project by
crashing the activities in the schedule are not in the application of the technique itself but rather
in determining how much each individual activity can be reduced and the cost of this reduction.
Determining how much an activity can be reduced and the cost of reduction also requires
experience and knowledge not only in scheduling but in cost estimating too. Knowledge and
experience can also aid the construction manager or project scheduler to know intuitively which
activities can be reduced and how far these can be reduced at the least cost.

113

IV. Summary
Construction management is the practice of professional management services targeted to the
planning, design and construction of a project aiming at improving projects performance in the
best interest of the owner. Construction management professional services can by applied under
any delivery method either in an agency basis or through construction management at risk as a
separate delivery system. Through both approaches, the Construction Manager can support
owners by using effective strategies to enhance project planning and management, and deliver to
the owner better projects, on time and within budget.
However, controlling costs and schedule overruns in construction projects with their associated
aggressive schedules and budget limits present construction managers with challenges that are
further augmented when the project schedule has to be further accelerated (Mashalen and
Chasey 1999). Various schedule acceleration techniques that allow the construction manager to
better control project time and accelerate schedules in order to reduce project delivery cycles
have been recompiled within this document.
These schedule acceleration techniques can be applied by the Construction Manager depending
on the project delivery method adopted. Some of these techniques are simply good management
practices which can be applied to every project under any circumstances to improve overall
performance including schedule performance. Others are techniques commonly applied within
the industry in situations where project completion needs to be accelerated for different reasons.
Innovative techniques that are relatively new to construction are also gaining acceptance
because of their proven results in terms of project performance and time. Each technique has its
individual characteristics in terms of potential advantages to project success and disadvantages
or trade-offs that they may entail. Different techniques may also have different levels of
applicability and influential factors that can lead to a successful implementation.
Overall, three main concepts stand out in most if not all techniques. First, planning has proven to
be a key in allowing effective implementations and results from schedule compression
techniques. Second, an environment of teamwork facilitated by management support establishes
adequate grounds for properly performing under environments of acceleration and schedule
pressures. Finally, systems that enhance efficient communication are core for enabling good
planning and teamwork, and consequently, driving any intention of schedule acceleration to
succeed.

114

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