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An investigation of the implementation of lean philosophy within a specialty trade Shabehpour, Noushafarin 2016

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AN INVESTIGATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LEANPHILOSOPHY WITHIN A SPECIALTY TRADEbyNoushafarin ShabehpourB.A.Sc., The University of British Columbia, 2013A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF APPLIED SCIENCEinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES(Civil Engineering)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA(Vancouver)December 2016c©Noushafarin Shabehpour, 2016AbstractConstruction projects are dynamic and complex systems; their planning, execution anddelivery involve considerable collective effort and coordination on the part of multiple in-dividual stakeholders that come together to form a temporary project organization (TPO)for a project’s duration. In contrast, traditional construction project management practicesare static. They often rely on inadequate and early assumptions of a handful of individualsin the TPO that try to predict and plan the execution of the project in great detail in theearly stages of a project. To manage uncertainties, contingencies and buffers are introducedinto the planning process. This static approach to construction management often results invariability which leads to waste and loss of value.Innovative tools and approaches such as building information modeling (BIM) and Leanconstruction have emerged over the years and aim to eliminate waste and inefficiency result-ing from current practices in the construction industry. These approaches, however, requiresignificant reconfiguration of the interactions within a TPO, among other things, whichintroduces significant challenges in their adoption and implementation.This manuscript presents the findings of a 16 month action-research project undertakenwith a specialty trade. The research project aimed to investigate the implementation of leanprinciples within the organization and the potential impact on a complex, mixed-use project.Several performance metrics, such as planned percent complete (PPC) and degree of changein scheduled tasks, were utilized to measure and assess the reliability and efficiency of theplanning efforts on the project. Reliance and dependency of following specialty trades oniiupstream trades performance was also analyzed. The findings highlight the challenges a spe-cialty trade faces in shielding their production from upstream uncertainties when they haveno control over the tasks assigned to them or the preceding tasks to their work. The planningefforts undertaken by the project team were also compared to guidelines of the Last PlannerSystem to uncover differences in planning approaches. Suggestions for further performanceenhancement and evaluation such as more collaborative planning and continuous look-backand learning processes are proposed to bridge the gaps uncovered between traditional andnovel approaches to planning.iiiPrefaceA condensed, modified version of the findings presented in this research thesis, particularlythe findings in chapter 3, is intended to be submitted for possible future publications.The observations and interactions described in this document were approved by theBehavioural Research Ethics Board at UBC [H15-02907].The author is responsible for the majority of data collection and analysis presented inthis manuscript with direct supervision and input by Dr. Poirier, the research associate onthe research project, and research supervisor Dr. Staub-French.ivTable of ContentsAbstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iiPreface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ivTable of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vList of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viiiList of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ixList of Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiAcknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiiDedications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiv1 Research Outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2 Research Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.3 Research Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.4 Thesis Outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132.1 Building Information Modeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152.2 Lean Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152.2.1 Lean Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17v2.2.2 Traditional Planning System Vs. Pull Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.3 The Last Planner System R© of Production Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.3.1 Should-Can-Will-Did . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192.3.2 Master Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202.3.3 Phase Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202.3.4 Look Ahead Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202.3.5 Weekly Work Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212.3.6 Metrics and Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222.4 Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243 Research Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263.1 Action-Research Phases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263.1.1 Research Phase 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293.1.2 Research Phase 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293.1.3 Research Phase 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313.2 Data Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333.3 Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344 Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 414.1 Project Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 414.2 BIM Submissions and Process Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 454.3 Scheduling Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 474.3.1 Master Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 474.3.2 Short-Term Schedules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 484.4 Scheduling Complications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 514.4.1 Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 514.4.2 Commercial and Contractual Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 524.4.3 Complexity and Size of the Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 534.4.4 Correlation Between Master Schedule and Near-Term Schedules . . . 53vi5 Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 545.1 Percent Plan Complete (PPC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 545.1.1 Interior Finishing Team PPC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 545.1.2 Houle Electric PPC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 585.2 Percent Plan Complete Per Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 615.2.1 Interior Finishing Team PPC Per Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 615.2.2 Houle Electric PPC Per Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 655.3 Variance Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 705.3.1 Interior Finishing Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 725.3.2 Houle Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 765.4 Degree of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 775.4.1 Interior Finishing Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 775.4.2 Houle Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 785.5 Degree of Change Per Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 795.6 Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 846 Discussions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 867 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93Appendix: Sample Progress Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97viiList of Tables3.1 Breakdown of Weekly Tasks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 405.1 List of Reasons for Variance (vPlanner) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 715.2 Reasons for Variance Used on the Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 725.3 Primary Factors Contributing to Low Plan Reliability . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85viiiList of Figures1.1 Houle’s Implementation of 5S and Visual Control on Site . . . . . . . . . . . 61.2 Phase 2: Parkade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.3 Phase 3: Podium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93.1 Action Research Cycles and Breakdown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283.2 An Example of Lookahead Plans Created on vPlanner for the Parkade . . . . 303.3 An Example of Lookahead Plans Created on vPlanner for the Podium . . . . 323.4 Complex Design and Close Proximity Between HVAC Systems, Coving andElectrical Cable Trays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 384.1 Building Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 424.2 Structural Steel Temporary Placement due to the Crane Location- All MEPServices Had to be Relocated/ Re-routed as a Result . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444.3 Mechanical Ducting and Plumbing Clash with Electrical Conduits and CableTrays- Progress Model Screen-shot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464.4 Building Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 484.5 Area Divisions in the Podium Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 494.6 Look-ahead Planning Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 504.7 Look-ahead Plans Created on Microsoft Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515.1 Interior Finishing Team PPC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 555.2 Weekly PPC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 575.3 Houle Electric PPC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 585.4 Weekly PPC for Houle Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60ix5.5 Interior Finishing Team Weekly PPC Per Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 625.6 Stacked PPC Over 10 Weeks of Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 645.7 Temporary Structures and Scaffolding on Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 655.8 Weekly PPC Per Area (Houle Electric) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 675.9 Stacked PPC Over 10 Weeks of Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 695.10 Reasons for Variance(Interior Finishing Team) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 735.11 Excess Material Storage on Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 745.12 Coordination Issue Between Trades on Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 755.13 Reasons for Variance for Houle Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 765.14 Percentage of Change Per Week (Interior Finishing Team) . . . . . . . . . . 785.15 Percentage of Change Per Week (Houle Electric) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 795.16 Weekly Degree of Change Per Area for the Interior Finishing Team . . . . . 815.17 Examples of Degree of Change Observed Per Area Per Week . . . . . . . . . 83xList of AbbreviationsAEC Architecture Engineering ConstructionBIM Building Information ModelCPM Critical Path MethodDBB Design-Bid-BuildGC General ContractorGMP Guaranteed Maximum PriceJIT Just in TimeLCI Lean Construction InstituteLPS Last Planner System R© of ProductionMEP Mechanical Electrical PlumbingNBIMS National Building Information Modeling StandardPMI Project Management InstitutePPC Percent Plan CompleteRFI Request for InformationSI Site Instructions or Supplementary InstructionsTPO Temporary Project OrganizationWLA Week Look Ahead (eg. 3WLA= 3 Week Look Ahead)WWP Weekly Work PlanxiAcknowledgmentsI would like to start by expressing my profound appreciation and gratitude to my amazingsupervisor, Dr. Sheryl Staub-French for all the support, guidance and encouragements alongthe way. For accepting me into your research group, for believing in me and being the lightdirecting me to the right path whenever i felt lost.My extraordinary mentor, Dr. Erik Poirier, for his enthusiasm, encouragement andinsightful comments. I am grateful for your valuable input and support throughout thisproject.I would like to sincerely thank my parents for their unwavering love and support throughevery chapter of my life. I thank you for dedicating your life to us, believing in our abilitiesand trusting and guiding us through life. I thank my brother and sister for always believingin me, for lifting me up when i feel down and motivating me to be a better person.I would like to thank my amazing friends and colleagues. I returned to UBC to pursuea master’s degree with no expectations for what the future held, moderate ambition andminimal excitement. You motivated me every day, encouraged me and inspired me to stepoutside the comfort of the box I had created of my life and follow my passion. I have hadsome of the best, most memorable and rewarding moments of my life in the past two yearsbecause of you.And lastly, I would like to thank each and every person I have encountered over the pasttwo years; the staff at UBC’s Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability, my secondhome over the past two years, the knowledgeable and supportive staff at Houle Electric forxiigiving me an opportunity to learn and develop my knowledge as part of their team, and themembers of the BIM TOPiCs Lab for their support and friendship.My life will never be the same because of you; I leave UBC this time feeling accomplished,motivated and excited for the next chapter and what future has in store.Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.xiiiDedicationsI dedicate this thesis to those close to my heart; my friends and my family. I thank eachand every one of you for challenging me, inspiring me and motivating me to be the personI am today. This journey would not have been possible without all your support, love andguidance.xiv“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”- AristotlexvChapter 1Research Outline1.1 IntroductionConventional construction project management is notoriously wasteful and inefficient (Bal-lard 2000 and Koskela 1992). Projects are often behind schedule and over budget. Manyscholars (Koskela and Greg Howell 2002) argue that the underlying theory of project man-agement is obsolete and that there is no explicit theory defined for project management.Traditional project planning and control techniques are static and are often based on limitedinformation and inadequate assumptions (Koskela and Greg Howell 2002). Often the projectparticipants try to predict the details of project execution based on these early assumptionsand include contingencies to overcome uncertainties. These contingencies all too often resultin waste and reduce potential value to a construction project. Novel practices, such as leanconstruction, aim to eliminate this waste while maximizing the value generated to the clientby continuous and consistent planning and control.These uncertainties are more pronounced for the specialty trades operating in the con-struction industry. Specialty trades are responsible for delivering projects in a strict timeline,within budget and meeting quality requirements set by owners. In conventional projects,the specialty trades, especially following trades, such as electrical and mechanical contractors1take on much of the risk of delivering the projects even though they are far removed fromthe decision-making process in the project conception and planning.This thesis presents the results of a year-long study carried out as part of an action-research project conducted on a major commercial project currently under construction indowntown Vancouver, Canada. The research focuses on how implementing lean constructionprinciples impacts specialty trade contractors’ performance in a construction project. In thisdocument, the planning processes and efforts throughout the research project are evaluatedbased on the guidelines and metrics of the Last Planner R© system of production. In addition,the impact of the planning processes on the specialty trade’s ability to shield their productionon site is evaluated. Factors impacting the performance of a specialty trade performing on aconventional project is identified and a theoretical comparison between the observed effortsand those of a collaborative lean process is carried out. Finally, limitations of the researchare explored and future works are suggested.1.2 Research ObjectiveThe objective of this research project is to investigate how adaptation and implementationof lean construction principles and philosophy can impact the performance of a specialtytrade in a traditional construction project. Through an action-research approach, and closecollaboration with the partner organization, the research team aimed to uncover the benefits,limitations and barriers to the implementation of lean construction principles on a conven-tional project in the current state of the construction industry and aim to inform the bestpractices for developing and integrating these novel approaches in the partner organizationspractices. To gain a better understanding of the current state of project management onthe case study project and achieve the overarching research objective, the following sub-objectives were introduced:• Investigate traditional planning means and methods on a complex commercial project2from an electrical contractor’s perspective to understand how the planning processimpacts the specialty trade’s performance• Understand the challenges, limitations and potential benefits of applying Lean princi-ples and tools from the perspective of an electrical specialty trade in the context of acomplex project delivered in a traditional procurement mode1.3 Research ApproachAn action research methodology was utilized due to its cyclical, iterative approach and itsinterventionist nature within the research setting (Lewin 1946). Rapoport 1970’s, definitionof action research is: “action research aims to contribute both to the practical concernsof people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by jointcollaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework”. In a simpler language, actionresearch aims to solve a problem in practice, while contributing to knowledge through ajoint collaboration between academia and industry (Susman and Evered 1978). Susman andEvered further define six characteristics for action research:1. Action research is future oriented, as it is designed to deal with a practical problem ofpeople and aims to create a more desirable future for them.2. It is collaborative, since unlike the traditional type of research where there is zero in-teraction between researchers and what is being observed, there is a close collaborationbetween the researchers and the case that’s being studied.3. It implies system development by aiming to “build appropriate structures, to build thenecessary system and competencies, and to modify the relationship of the systems toits relevant environment” (pg. 589).4. Action research generates theory grounded in action; theory informs action and actioninforms theories.35. It is agnostic in that it recognizes that theories and actions are closely related and aregenerated through processes.6. It is situational in that it recognizes that plans and actions are functions of the contextin which they take form.Furthermore, according to Susman and Evered (1978), action research can be regarded as acyclical process; they have detailed five phases for it as outlined below:1. Diagnosing: analyzing the current practice and identifying the primary problem initi-ating the desire for change.2. Action planning: the process of planning the intervention, establishing the desiredoutcome and selecting a course of action.3. Action taking: implementing the planned action.4. Evaluating: evaluating the actions taken; these steps consist of an evaluation of theoutcome to determine whether or not the actions taken were successful, and to consideralternative courses of action to solve the identified problem.5. Specifying learning: generation of new knowledge through continuous reflection on theprocess and increased understanding of the situation and the depth of problem.Action research is an established scientific approach that is becoming increasingly popular inthe architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry; according to Azhar, Ahmad,and Sein 2010, action research is a “reliable, structured, and rigorous research approach”that is very useful to conduct “applied” research in the construction industry.In order to address the research objectives, an action-research project was set up withan electrical contractor interested in transitioning into a more lean-oriented practice. HouleElectric is one of the largest electrical contractors in British Columbia, Canada. It wasfounded in 1944, and provides a wide range of services in industrial, commercial, institutional4and residential sectors. The company is greatly invested in enhancing and evolving theiroperations and was interested in setting up a partnership with the research team at UBC tostudy one of their upcoming projects. The focus of the study was to investigate the impactof implementation of lean principles and its impact on their performance and operation interms of planning and executing their work.In the current state the organization is extensively invested in prefabrication. Theyoperate and run a fabrication shop where all components and material required for theirprojects are prefabricated or pre-assembled as needed and are ready to install once theyarrive on site. The components are then stored in a warehouse close to project site andshipped when needed. Prefabricated items on this project include:• Temporary lighting (pre-wired and ready to install)• Conduits• Cable trays• Distribution panels and equipment• Security panels• Controls• Support racks• Fixtures• Junction boxesIn addition, Houle Electric implements lean 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize andSustain)- a visual control and management technique used to maintain order and eliminatewaste- in their warehouse facilities and on site. An example of such implementation of 5Sapproach in maintaining their small material storage on site of the project studied can beviewed in figure 1.1 below.5Figure 1.1: Houle’s Implementation of 5S and Visual Control on SiteThe project is a major mixed-use development currently under construction in downtownVancouver, Canada. The new construction will house a casino, two hotels in three towers,commercial retail spaces and restaurants and lounges. The research project was set up in theearly stages of the multi-year construction on the project site and was carried out over 16months studying the planning and execution of the work in different areas and stages of theproject. During this time period, the focus of the research was on the planning process anddifferent strategies and planning efforts executed on the project. In addition, as part of theresearch project, collaborative pull planning and the Last Planner R© system execution wasstudied on the project and implemented to the extent possible. Different visual planning toolsand techniques were employed to plan, display and track the work. Moreover, a theoretical6comparison was done to compare the planning efforts on smaller time intervals to that ofa lean practice, to identify the gaps between the practices implemented on the project andnovel approaches such as lean.The action-research consisted of three cycles spanning over a 16 month period. The firstcycle, starting in June 2015, set out the project goals and expectations, consisted in takingpreliminary actions, focused on conducting interviews with the project team and observationsto get familiar with the organization, the project and identified how the organization couldbenefit from the research. During this cycle, vPlannerTM was chosen as the primary toolused as part of the research to assist the team in planning and documentation efforts. Inaddition, a pilot study was carried out, mainly focused on the concrete pour and structuralwork.Through discussions with the organization and considering the state of the work, thesecond cycle was set up to evaluate and plan the interior finishing and fit-out work in thefour level of underground parkade (figure 1.2) on the project mainly from the electricalcontractor’s perspective.7Figure 1.2: Phase 2: ParkadeDuring this cycle, a production plan in the form of three week short-interval plans werecreated and plans were refined during weekly meetings with the organization and trackedon a weekly basis on site. The progress was evaluated with respect to the plans, the overallproject, and the master schedules. The efforts in this cycle highlighted the interdependenciesbetween different trades and the impact of other participants performance on the planningand execution of the electrical contractors work and their ability to shield their production onsite from upstream variations. In addition, this cycle accentuated the importance of havinga shared and communal plans that all trades have bought into and follow.The third and final cycle was focused on the interior finishes in the first three levels ofthe podium, which houses the majority of the commercial spaces in the building, includingthe casino and restaurants (figure 1.3).8Figure 1.3: Phase 3: PodiumDuring this cycle, lookahead planning and short-term schedules were created for theoverall project and followed by all trades. During this cycle, the team was able to buildon the knowledge and experience gained from the previous cycles and utilize the planningstrategies and lookahead plans to attempt to implement the Last Planner R© system andevaluate the plans and processes in accordance to the Last Planner R© guidelines (refer tochapter two of this document). The data collected, evaluation, and findings in this cycle ofthe study are the main focus of this thesis, which will be explored in more depth in chaptersthree, four and five.The data collected as part of the research project were mainly focused around the efforts,plans, schedules and execution of the work in the construction phase.9Mixed-method data in the form of both qualitative and quantitative data surroundingthe schedules- specifically the short-term schedules- were collected and analyzed over thecourse of the action-research project.Qualitative data were collected through direct observations on site, construction coor-dination meetings, BIM coordination meetings, informal discussions with the project teamand semi-structured interviews.Direct site observations were conducted at least once-a-week with focus on visual track-ing of the work progress with respect to the short-term schedules and commitments, iden-tifying constraints and reasons for non-completion of the committed tasks. Additionally,logistics issues and coordination —and any factors or occurrences that could potentiallyimpact the work progression observed either on site or discussed in the coordination meet-ings— were documented. The observations made during the coordination meetings and datacollected were mainly used to feed the progress tracking and evaluation of the short-termschedules to evaluate the team’s performance based on the schedules, and to identify thereasons for failures to meet commitments.The semi-structured interviews and informal discussions usually involved the seniorproject manager, foremen, project assistant and the prefabrication manager of the partnerorganization. These meetings were scheduled regularly on a weekly basis throughout theresearch study. During these meetings the progress and direction of the research and theproject were discussed with the project team, weekly progress tracking and reports werereviewed, and subsequent suggestions on both the research efforts and the work planningwere discussed on both sides and implemented.The qualitative data served to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state ofthe project organization’s performance and to inform the direction of the research efforts.The quantitative data collected on the project include:• Plans and specifications10• Master schedules and short term look ahead schedules• Request for Information (RFI) and Site Instructions (SI) logs• Digital progress models• Budget and cost reportsPlans, specifications and the digital progress models were mainly used to set out the scopeof the work and visually assist in planning and tracking the work in terms of optimal flowof material and work forces. RFIs and SIs were used to identify the constraints and bottle-necks of the scheduled tasks or the reasons for their non-completion and, cost reports wereoccasionally used to study the impact of changes or delays on the project team.Multiple metrics and measurements were employed to evaluate the effectiveness of theplans and short-term schedules. The metrics used are listed below, and will be exploredfurther in the following chapters:• Percent Plan Complete• Reasons for Variance• Degree of ChangeIn addition, the impact of the reliability of the plans on the electrical contractor’s abilityto shield its production on site is evaluated. Furthermore, the electrical contractors abilityto plan their work, their agility, and their ability to react to changes and keep up with thetasks assigned to them are factors evaluated to gauge the impact of lean on the specialtytrades performance on the case study. The observations were further employed to under-stand the challenges and limitations of implementation of lean thinking on the case studyproject unilaterally by the electrical contractor, and to explore how they could benefit fromimplementation of lean principles on the project.11Multiple visual planning tools and solutions were utilized to assist the project team withthe collection, visualization and analysis of data. The first and primary software used wasvPlannerTM, a visual planning and control software; this software has become increasinglypopular in the United States and is utilized to facilitate collaboration among the projectteams. vPlanner is a pull planning solution and supports the Last Planner R© system prin-ciples. The software was primarily used to document, track and evaluate the short termschedules. The next software used was fieldwire; fieldwire is a mobile collaboration plat-form used by the overall project organization throughout the project that facilitates realtime progress tracking and reporting. Fieldwire was mainly utilized to view and track siteinstructions and new versions of drawings, communicate the schedules to the field staff, andtrack defects and progress in certain areas.1.4 Thesis OutlineThis thesis consists of seven chapters; chapter one provides an overview of the researchproject as a whole by defining the objectives, exploring the research methodology employedand tasks carried out as part of this research. Chapter two aims to set out the foundationfor the research by exploring the background and literature related to the subject matterand the research team’s motivation in carrying out this research. Chapter three embodiesa detailed research methodology, covering the actions taken in each cycle of the research,exploring the data collection and analysis phases. Chapter four contains all the informationwith respect to the case study project, defining and providing all the necessary informationin regards to the building project context. Chapter five includes a thorough assessment andreview of the findings and observations. Chapter six contains a discussion section, evaluatingand validating the findings with respect to the research objective and finally, chapter sevenserves as a conclusion to this research project, exploring current limitations and setting outfuture works.12Chapter 2BackgroundConstruction projects are dynamic and complex systems (Ballard and Gregory Howell 1998,Ballard 2000, Bertelsen 2002). According to PMI’s “A Guide to the Project ManagementBody of Knowledge” (Guide 2001), projects are temporary endeavours, undertaken to createunique solutions - products or services. They are temporary, in the sense that they have adefinite start and end time, and are unique, in the sense that there is no routine operationinvolved in their realization; a unique set of operations and processes have been designed forthe sole purpose of accomplishing a unified goal.Delivery of projects involve considerable collective effort and coordination on the partof multiple individual stakeholders that have come together to form a temporary projectorganization (TPO) for the duration of the project delivery (Koskela 1992). These individualstakeholders have different roles on the project, including but not limited to: owner, architect,consultants, prime contractor and specialty trades. The notorious fragmentation in theconstruction industry has been identified, both by the scholars and in the industry, as oneof the core problems with the loss of productivity, cost overruns, delays and lack of quality(Egan Sir 1998, C. Eastman et al. 2011). While fragmentation is the main and overarchingcause of waste in the construction industry, the root cause of the issues observed in theconstruction industry lies in how the projects are planned, managed and executed; as project13management in the construction industry is heavily reliant on bodies of knowledge andtransactional contractual arrangements that favour sequential and fragmented approach toproject delivery (Daniel Forgues and Koskela 2009).According to Koskela 2000, the production processes can be conceived in at least threedistinctive ways: as a conversion process; converting input to output; as the flow of material,information and workforces through space and time; and lastly as a process of generatingvalue, by identifying and meeting the customers need and requirements. However, the con-ventional and the most general concept in the AEC (Architecture/ engineering/ construction)industry, seems to be the understanding of construction as a set of activities aimed at a cer-tain output (Koskela 1992). Each building or structure is divided into simpler elements,and the cost of material, labor and resources for each element is estimated. At the heartof the conversion model is the assumption that the production process consists of a groupof sub-processes, each converting an input to an output. These elementary processes canbe thought of as independent and individual processes that can be managed in isolation,one from the other. The idea of the conversion method, is also observed in the networkbased Critical Path Method (CPM) and the work breakdown structures, widely used in theconstruction industry.The traditional project management practices are static and are often based on limitedinformation and inaccurate assumptions (Koskela and Greg Howell 2002). All too often, theproject participants try to predict a project’s execution in great detail and include contin-gencies to overcome uncertainties. These approaches in project definition and managementlead to variability, waste and loss of potential values to the project. Furthermore, looking atproject management from the perspective of specialty contractors, they are often requiredto plan their scope of work and project execution based on the quality requirements andschedules dictated to them by the general contractor or the project managers. Specialtytrades, often find themselves in situations where, the predecessors to their task are not com-pleted in the designated timeframe. This is especially observed for following trades, suchas electrical contractors; in the sense that, their sequence of work is highly dependent on14completion of critical work by other trades. Variations or failure to complete the predecessortasks, adversely impacts the performance of the said specialty trades.With the advent of innovative tools and technologies such as building information mod-eling and introduction of lean philosophy into construction, novel and innovative approachesto project delivery have emerged that aim at eliminating the existing waste and inefficienciesfrom the construction projects.2.1 Building Information ModelingBuilding information modeling (BIM) has been defined as tools, processes and technologiesfocused on development and use of a digital representation of the physical and functionalcharacteristics of a building project to improve the planning, design, construction and oper-ation of the project (C. Eastman et al. 2011, Sacks, C. M. Eastman, and Lee 2004, Messneret al. 2010). According to National Building Information Modeling Standards (NBIMS), “Abasic premise of BIM is collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the lifecycle of a facility to insert, extract, update or modify information in the BIM to support andreflect the roles of that stakeholder”. The BIM Handbook also states that “BIM provides thebasis for new design and construction capabilities and changes in the roles and relationshipsamong a project team. When implemented appropriately, it facilitates a more integrateddesign and construction process that results in better quality buildings at lower costs andreduced project duration.”2.2 Lean ConstructionLean construction is the application and adaptation of the underlying theory and principlesof lean production from the manufacturing industry into the construction industry. GlennBallard and Greg Howell, the co-founders of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), view15lean, as “a new way to manage construction”, that unlike the current project managementtechniques, provides the foundation for an operations based project delivery system. Leanproduction, originated from the automotive manufacturing and the Toyota Production Sys-tem (TPS), developed by Toyota’s lead engineer, Taiichi Ohno, more than half a centuryago, with the focus on reduction in waste, increase in value to the customer and continu-ous improvement. Ohno 1988 and Dillon and Shingo 1985, identified seven types of waste-defined as consumption of resources without providing value- in production systems (all ofwhich could directly translate to the waste observed in the construction industry):• Defects• Waiting• Transportation of goods• Inventory• Motion• Overproduction• Unnecessary processingAccording to the glossary of Lean Construction Institute, Lean is “culture of respect andcontinuous improvement, aimed at creating more value for the customer, while identifyingand eliminating waste”. According to Koskela 1992, this new approach, implies anotherdimension to production; it consists of conversions and flows. He states, that the overallefficiency of production is attributable to both the efficiency of the conversion activities orvalue adding activities (creating value through conversion of inputs to outputs), as well asthe efficiency of flow activities or non-value adding activities, that bound the conversionactivities together.162.2.1 Lean PrinciplesSeveral scholars and authors have provided lists of lean principles both in the context ofthe general production and its implementation in construction (Womack and Jones 2010,Koskela 1992). According to Womack and Jones 2010, there are five key lean principles:1. Identify value2. Map the value stream3. Create Flow4. Establish Pull5. Seek PerfectionValue is identified by the customer’s need; once the value (end goal) has been identified,the next step, is identifying all the steps and procedures necessary to convert the input intothe final outcome. This includes the processes during the design, planning, construction,execution and operation of a project. The objective is to identify the value adding processesand non-value adding processes and explore ways to eliminate those wasteful steps. Oncethe non-value adding steps have been removed, the next step is to create a smooth andreliable flow among different production units by removing any obstacle or bottleneck. Thiscan be achieved by removing the boundaries around each production unit and keeping theunified goal of the project as a whole in mind. The way that translates into construction isbreaking down the silo thinking and fragmented planning of each organization and forminga lean enterprise and create a continuous flow (Womack and Jones 2010). The improved flowmakes for a more reliant delivery of a product to a customer as needed (similar to the Justin Time (JIT) delivery); which enables the downstream customers to “pull” or “request”a product when needed (Forbes and Ahmed 2011). The glossary of LCI defines pull as a“method of advancing work when the next in line customer is ready to use it. A requestfrom the customer signals that the work is needed and is pulled from the performer. Pull17releases work when the system is ready to use it”. Finally, as stated, lean is the culture ofcontinuous improvement; the principles stated thus, can be presumed as a continuous cycle,in which, the organization as a whole continuously works towards perfecting the process andcreating the most value.2.2.2 Traditional Planning System Vs. Pull PlanningThe traditional construction project planning is based on a push mechanism; where the input(resources, information) or assignments are planned and ordered based on a central scheduleand target delivery, irrespective of whether or not the downstream customer or productionunit is capable of processing them (Ballard 2000, Ballard and Gregory Howell 2004, Forbesand Ahmed 2011). By contrast, pulling is a method of introducing or allowing materials orinformation into a process only when the process is ready and capable of performing the work;in other words, the production is prompted at the request of a downstream production unit.Pull is also used in the method of backwards pass team scheduling (Ballard 2000), whichcreates phase schedules, as an intermediate step between master schedule and the make readyprocess used for production management (Ballard and Gregory Howell 2004). An instanceof pull planning is the Last Planner System R© of production (Ballard and Greg Howell 1994,Ballard 2000), where assignments are required to meet certain quality criteria for soundness,definition, sequence and size before being scheduled (Ballard 2000).2.3 The Last Planner System R© of Production ControlThe glossary of the Lean Construction Institute defines the Last Planner System R© as “sys-tem for project production planning and control, aimed at creating a workflow that achievesreliable execution, developed by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell, with documentation byBallard 2000. LPS is the collaborative, commitment-based planning system that integratesshould-can-will-did planning: pull planning, make-ready, look-ahead planning with con-18straint analysis, weekly work planning based upon reliable promises, and learning basedupon analysis of PPC and Reasons for Variance”.2.3.1 Should-Can-Will-DidLarge and complex projects usually require different people with different levels of authority,to plan and control the planning and execution of the project at different times duringthe life cycle of the project (Ballard 2000). The planning usually begins with a high-levelschedule, governing the contractual obligations and scope of the work with focus on globalobjectives and constraints(Ballard 2000). These objectives drive lower level plans for theproject execution that determine the means for achieving the set goals. What SHOULD getaccomplished, is usually stated in the master schedule and look-ahead plans of a project. Thelower level assignments are then made ready, so they CAN be performed. Ultimately, theindividuals or groups in charge of producing the assignments known as the “Last Planner”,determine what WILL be performed and oversee to ensure the set assignments DID happen(Ballard and Greg Howell 1994). The Last Planner can be viewed as a mechanism fortransforming what SHOULD be done into what WILL be done, that eventually becomeswhat CAN be done (Ballard 2000). The Last Planner System R© consists of five distinctiveprocesses:1. Master Schedule2. Phase Planning3. Look Ahead Planning4. Weekly Work Planning5. Learning192.3.2 Master ScheduleMaster schedule represents an overall, high level view, that identifies major phases andmilestones in a project, such as start-up, mobilization, design completion, contract awards,turn-over, long lead procurement items, etc. and the project timeline. It is usually based onthe early information in the contract document and is the basis for contractual agreementsbetween various project stakeholders. It is considered a tool to set the project executionstrategy and to check feasibility of project phases, but not necessarily to control the project(LCI, Forbes and Ahmed 2011).2.3.3 Phase SchedulePhase schedule is a more detailed work plan that specifies the hand-off between the spe-cialists in each phase of the project (Ballard 2000). Phase schedules are often created in acollaborative setting using a pull technique; working backwards from the target milestonedates for each phase in the master schedule, the team work collaboratively to develop thetasks in each phase. Ballard and G. A. Howell 2003, refer to phase scheduling as “the linkbetween work structuring and production control.” They claim that, without phase schedul-ing, “there is no assurance that the right work is being made ready and executed at the righttime to achieve project objectives.”2.3.4 Look Ahead ScheduleThe look-ahead schedules are short interval plans derived from the phase plan, that identifythe potential assignments for the next three to twelve weeks (typically six weeks). Accordingto Ballard 2000, the look-ahead window is dependent on the project characteristics, theplanning system and required lead time for information and resources acquisition. Ballard1997 & Ballard 2000, has identified, 5 functions for the look-ahead planning process:201. Shape workflow in the best achievable sequence and rate to meet the project objectivesto the best of the organization’s abilities in any given time2. Match workflow to the organization’s capacity3. Produce and maintain a backlog of ready work to ensure continuous workflow4. Develop work execution strategies5. Update and revise high level schedules as needed to maintain a realistic planLook-ahead or short term interval schedules are commonly used in the construction industryin order to draw attention to work that needs to get accomplished in a given duration andto encourage steps and actions to be taken to reach a desired milestone. However, seldomefforts are taken to produce sound assignments or to provide instructions to execute the workscheduled. Usually the look-ahead schedules are drop-outs of the higher-level schedules at agreater level of detail, but with no screening of scheduled activities against quality criteriato assure the scheduled tasks can be executed (Ballard 1997). Some features of the LastPlanner R© that distinguishes it from the conventional look-ahead schedules, are the con-straint analysis and make ready processes performed as part of the look-ahead scheduling(Ballard 1997). Constraint analysis, is the process of identifying the constraints or prereq-uisites of each assignment; typical constraints on construction tasks are design, availabilityof resources, completion of prerequisite work and information. Once the constraints on eachtask has been identified, actions are taken to remove the constraints and make the workready to be performed.2.3.5 Weekly Work PlansWeekly work plans or commitment plans, are derived from the lookahead plans and providea detailed plan of works that will actually be done in a week. Weekly Work Plans (WWP)specify the hand-offs between the trades involved. According to Ballard and Gregory Howell211998 commitment planning is a “commitment to what will be done, after evaluating “should”against “can”, based on actual receipt of resources and completion of prerequisites”. Inorder to improve the effectiveness of the weekly work plans and increase the reliability ofcommitment plans, the weekly work plans need to meet specific quality criteria for definition,soundness, sequence, size and learning (Ballard and Gregory Howell 1998, Ballard 2000).• Definition: assignments are specific enough, with sufficient detail to determine whetherthey can be completed• Soundness: assignments have been made ready to be executed; constraints are removedand the required resources are available• Sequence: select assignments in a constructability order needed, to release work withrespect to the priorities set by the downstream customers• Size: select the amount and size of activities that match the capacity and capabilitiesof the crew performing the work, while considering the downstream customers needsand requirements• Learning: identify assignments that are not completed within a week and the reasonsfor their non-completionApplying these quality criteria, increases the plan reliability and with that the crew produc-tivity also increases (Ballard and Howell 1997). In addition, selecting quality assignments,shields production from upstream uncertainty and variation (Ballard and Howell 1995, Forbesand Ahmed 2011). Shielding promotes accountability because expectations can be met, andfailure to meet expectations can be investigated and acted upon (Ballard and Howell 1994).2.3.6 Metrics and LearningOne of the pillars of lean construction is continuous learning and taking corrective measuresto continuously improve the process; hence, an important step in the Last Planner R© system22of production is a look-back or lessons learned process. A key performance measurementmetrics in the Last Planner R© system, is Percent Plan Complete (PPC). According to Ballardand Greg Howell 1994, PPC is the measure of how well WILL and DID match in the planningprocess. Percent Plan Complete, is the number of planned activities completed, divided bythe total number of planned activities (commitments), expressed as a percentage (Ballard2000). The Glossary of Lean Construction Institute defines PPC as “a basic measure ofhow well the planning system is working”, PPC measures the percentage of assignmentsthat are 100% complete as planned. In addition, PPC measures the extent to which thescheduled activities in a week (weekly work plan or commitments) have been realized. HigherPPC corresponds to doing more and better execution of the scheduled activities and higherproductivity and progress.In addition to measuring the PPC, another process in the Last Planner system is identi-fying the reasons for non-completion of planned activities that are not completed as plannedand tracing the reasons back to their root causes, so improvement can be made in futureperformance (Ballard and Greg Howell 1994, Ballard 2000). Eliminating reasons for non-conformance, improves the quality of assignments and therefore the plan reliability. Addi-tionally, improving the quality of assignments, automatically shields production flow fromuncertainty, increases the lead time and reliability of information needed by the downstreamtrades for better planning and performing their work (Ballard and Gregory Howell 1998).Furthermore, according to Ballard 1997 in order to improve the planning process, sometype of performance measurement need to be developed to assess the current planning sys-tem in place. In his paper “Look-ahead Planning: The Missing Link in Production Control”,he uses different performance measurements to assess the look-ahead planning process im-plemented on a pilot project. The performance was evaluated through four measurements:1. Subjective evaluation by the project participants2. Assignment anticipation through measurement of the extent to which weekly work plantasks had appeared in the look-ahead plans233. Measuring the extent to which the assignments that appeared on the weekly work plans,kept their original date as indicated on the look-ahead schedules (prior to moving toweekly work plans)4. A Time/Time chart to track the change over time of scheduled dates for specific as-signmentsInspired by the aforementioned performance measurements, a new metric is developed toassess the predictability and reliability of the short term schedules in this research. Thismetric measures the degree to which the scheduled dates for the assignments on the look-ahead schedules change from one week to the next. This measurement enables the researchteam to evaluate the reliability of the look-ahead plans by measuring the percentage of theassignments that are rescheduled each week because the team failed to perform them or theirpredecessors were not successfully removed as planned. This metric will be further exploredin the context of the case study project.2.4 MotivationIn terms of theoretical motivation, research in construction project management is increas-ingly exploring the interactions between BIM and Lean Construction (Sacks, Koskela, et al.2010, D Forgues and Iordanova 2010). Both these innovative approaches aim to improveprojects performance and value generated to the customer by better planning, managementand execution of projects. However, as explored in this chapter, both innovations requireextensive fundamental changes to be made to the temporary multi-organization created aspart of each project, their roles and interactions; both approaches, create and foster newopportunities for collaboration, create accountability and mutual trust and respect. Whilethese novel approaches are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and the em-pirical evidence available on their implementation, suggest they can create significant valuein projects; their implementation in the Canadian construction is lagging. Furthermore,24while some research and work has focused on implementation of building information mod-eling from a specialty trade’s perspective (Poirier, Staub-French, and Daniel Forgues 2015),research on application of Lean Construction and its impact on specialty trades performanceis significantly limited.In terms of practical motivation in setting up this research project, the research was setup with Houle Electric due to their interest and motivation in transitioning into use of moreinnovative approaches and integration of lean into their practices.The identified research gap and interest from the industry partner created a uniqueopportunity to set up an action-research project to evaluate the impact of implementationof lean on the performance of a specialty trade on a traditional project in the constructionindustry.25Chapter 3Research MethodologyBased on the nature of the project, and the research team’s involvement with the partnerorganization, an action-research was initiated to evaluate the impact of integration of leanphilosophy into the organization’s practices on their performance on this project. As coveredin the first chapter, the research was set up in part, due to the organization’s interest intransitioning into a more lean oriented practice. As expressed, the organization is extensivelyinvested in prefabrication and operate a prefabrication facility where they prefabricate orpre-assemble all the material, components and equipment for the project. In addition, theyhave a warehouse facility close to the project site where the prefabricated components arestored before shipping to site when needed. In order to ensure that they run a smoothoperation from prefabrication to installation on site, and that the components are procuredand prefabricated in time for installation, especially for long lead procurement items such asluminaires on this project, they require a predictable and reliable schedule.3.1 Action-Research PhasesThe action-research was initiated in the early stages of the construction on site and asdepicted in figure 3.1, evolved over the research duration in different stages of the construction26with focus on the work with the most value to the organization. Throughout the research-project, 3 cycles were carried out consecutively. In each phase, as is the cyclical natureof action-research, based on the state of the construction and prevailing conditions, certainareas were identified by the team, certain action plans were proposed and executed, andthe outcome was evaluated. The recurring theme of the different phases of the research washowever, focused on the work planning and the impact of reliable and predictable work-flow on the specialty trades performance in terms of their ability to plan and execute theirwork. Mixed-method data collection was conducted to collect related data in each phase. Inaddition, different tools and measurement metrics were utilized to collect and analyze thedata.27Figure 3.1: Action Research Cycles and Breakdown3.1.1 Research Phase 1The first cycle was initiated in June 2015 in the early stages of the construction. Thisphase was mainly focused on setting out the goals and expectations for the project andtaking the preliminary actions to set up the research project. Majority of the time wasspent making observations of the project, conducting interviews with the project team andbecoming familiar with the partner organization, their culture and their current practices. Inaddition, a pilot study focusing on the concrete pour and structural work for the parkade wasexecuted to test out and become familiar with vPlanner and its capabilities as the primaryvisual planning tool to collect and analyze the pull plans.3.1.2 Research Phase 2Through discussions with the partner organization’s team and the state of the work, thesecond cycle was set up to plan and evaluate the interior finishing work from the electricalcontractor’s perspective, in the four level of underground parking in the building project(refer to figure 1.2). During this phase, the master schedule was undergoing major changesto reflect the owner’s requirement in terms of level of detail of tasks on the master schedule,therefore an accurate and sufficiently detailed schedule was not available to plan and trackthe daily tasks on site. To overcome this issue to a certain extent, as part of the researchtasks in the second phase, a production plan for the parkade was produced for the electri-cal contractor. Through a collaborative effort with the electrical contractor’s foremen, theplan was created in form of a pull plan identifying the electrical contractor’s tasks and thepredecessor to their tasks and durations. Once the tasks were set up, milestones and logicand resource links were added to the schedule. These plans were refined during the weeklymeetings with the organization and activities were tracked on site. An example of a portionof one of the production plans is depicted in figure 3.2 below.29Figure 3.2: An Example of Lookahead Plans Created on vPlanner for the ParkadeThe figure is a screenshot of a workflow created on vPlanner; each square represents atask written on a sticky notes in pull planning. Each color represents a different contractorand the lines represent the logical and resource links between activities. The diamondrepresents a milestone and is set to trigger the activity start in each section.The progress was evaluated with respect to the plans and measurement metrics such asPPC were used to measure the team’s performance. A major setback in this phase, as canbe seen in the figure above, was that the electrical contractor’s work was highly dependenton the rest of the trades and such detailed schedules are mostly effective if developed andfollowed by all trades, which was not the case in this phase of the project.3.1.3 Research Phase 3The third and final cycle during which the research was conducted was focused on the interiorwork and fit-out in the first three levels of the podium housing the casino, retail spaces, hotellobbies, restaurants and lounges, kitchens and service areas (refer to figure 1.3). During thiscycle was when the general contractor began the implementation of the short-term scheduleswhich facilitated a more rigorous and structured analysis to be performed on the project.Furthermore, during this phase, the author was hired by the partner organization whichhelped further develop the collaboration between the researchers and the practitioners andcreated a much richer data collection opportunity. The main focus of the project evaluationand data analysis in this document will be based on the findings in this phase.During this phase, the general contractor held weekly coordination meetings with theforemen of all contractors responsible for the interior finishing work in the podium. Look-ahead plans were reviewed each week and site logistics, delivery times and work of eachtrade was coordinated. The look-ahead schedules distributed in this phase were inputtedinto vPlanner, where weekly commitments were made and tracked on a weekly basis to gaugethe performance of the team with respect to the plans. Figure 3.3 below is a screenshot ofa portion of one of the look-ahead plans.31Figure 3.3: An Example of Lookahead Plans Created on vPlanner for the PodiumThe look-ahead schedules, observations in coordination meetings and in situ activitytracking were the primary information feeding to the analysis in this phase. The datacollection and analysis will be discussed further in the following sections.3.2 Data CollectionThe investigation into the impact of implementation of lean processes through creation ofpredictable and reliable plans and its impact on the performance of a specialty trade pre-sented in this thesis was informed by multiple sources of data collected throughout theresearch project. As previously stated, the primary data feeding into the findings of thisstudy were data collected and analyzed in the third phase of the study, however, the datacollected over the span of the project collectively contributed to the breadth and depth ofunderstanding of the project and the specialty trades performance.The data collection was continuous throughout the research project and was aimedat evaluation of the organization’s current practices and assist in reduction of waste andinefficiency in the organization through implementation of lean philosophy. The focus wason creating and evaluating the impact of reliable planning on the organization’s ability toshield their production and work planning on site. Throughout the research project, focuswas on both the specialty contractor’s organization and the temporary project organization(TPO) operating on the case study project. This multi-level evaluation was proven to benecessary as the specialty trade’s performance on the project was highly dependent on otherparticipants in the project.As previously noted, the research team’s involvement on this project came at the requestof the specialty trades organization to research the impact of lean and its potential to improvetheir performance and value generation, and to document the benefits, barriers and lessonslearned of these efforts.The action-research was initiated in June 2015 in the early stages of construction on site33and was consistently carried out for 16 months concluding in September 2016. Throughoutthe research project a combination of qualitative and quantitative data were collected tostudy the planning and execution of work in different areas and stages in the constructionphase.The qualitative data collected throughout the project consisted in informal discussionsand semi-structured interviews, observations in trade coordination and BIM coordinationmeetings and in situ observations of the construction activities and progress. The quantita-tive data collected consisted in different forms of project data surrounding work schedulingand plans, including the master schedules and look-ahead plans, formal communicationssuch as request of informations (RFI) and site instructions (SI), plans and specifications anddigital progress models.Qualitative and quantitative data were collectively utilized to assist the research teamand the partner organization with managing their daily tasks, planning their work, procuringand managing resources, tracking the progress on site and evaluating their performance ona weekly basis.Actions taken to analyze and evaluate the collected data and the performance measuresemployed will be explored in the next section.3.3 Data AnalysisAs a first step to evaluate the TPO and the specialty contractor’s performance in accor-dance to the plans in place, the weekly distributed look-ahead plans were documented andinputted into vPlanner. These schedules were further used to identify the activities thatwere scheduled to be performed in the coming week- ie. the weekly work plan. The weeklywork plans acted as each trades weekly commitments. These commitments were tracked inthe coordination meetings through information exchange, coordinations and the new sched-ules. In addition, regular site visits were conducted on site every week to visually track the34progress in each area in accordance to the weekly commitments.Similar to the guidelines of the Last Planner R© system, information were gathered eachweek to answer the following questions:1. (DID) Work complete (Based on last week’s plan)(a) What planned activities were completed?(b) What unplanned activities were completed?i. Why were they not planned?(c) What planned work was not completed?i. Why was in not completed2. (CAN) Three to six week look-ahead(a) What are the activities that are upcoming in the next three to six weeks?i. Per Area(b) Are there any major activities that require extensive lead time?(c) What are the major activity constraints for the next three to six weeks?i. RFIs/ Missing information on documentsii. Submittalsiii. Change Orders3. (WILL) Weekly look-ahead plan(a) What are the detailed activities that need to happen within the next week?i. Per area(b) What are the constraints for these activities?i. Predecessor activitiesii. RFIs/ Missing information on documents35iii. Submittalsiv. Change OrdersThe information feeding to these questions were collectively gathered through discussionswith the project team, in addition to in-situ and meeting observations.A summary of the actions taken each week is listed below;1. Attend the weekly subcontractor coordination meetings2. Observe the subcontractors’ and prime contractor’s interactions, their willingness toparticipate in the weekly coordination meetings and their commitment to the weeklydetailed short interval plans3. Track weekly commitments statuses through in-situ observations4. Attempt at examining the weekly work plan activity quality in terms of soundness,quality, size and definition5. Measure PPC and Identify reasons for non-compliance6. Analyze the reliability of the plans distributed each week and the fluidity of the activ-ities completion dates over time (degree of change)Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The data collected were then employedeither individually or in combination with other data to perform different types of analysis.Similar to the data collection phase, mixed methods were used in examining the collecteddata.As briefly explained in the previous section, on this project, the near term scheduleswere created mainly based on what tasks were expected to happen in what areas accordingto the master schedule. These schedules were then simply filtered to yield the weekly workexpected to be performed in any given week. In other words, no make ready planning processwas performed to get the tasks ready to be executed. The tasks scheduled were expected to36get done irrespective of the constraints and obstacles that first needed to be removed for thework to be executed.In order to analyze the effectiveness and reliability of the said schedules and the account-ability of the trades involved, a few performance measurements and metrics were employed.As stated in chapter 2, three main metrics were utilized to evaluate (1) the team’sperformance (the overall interior finishing team and the specialty trade) and (2) the reliabilityand effectiveness of the planning in the project.The first performance metric employed was PPC (percent plan complete). As previouslynoted PPC represents the total number of tasks completed divided by the total number oftasks predicted (commitments). Each week, PPC was measured for the overall interior fin-ishing team in the podium and Houle Electric separately to evaluate the team’s performancewith respect to the plans and their commitments.Throughout the project, it was observed that due to the varying complexity in termsof both design and coordination in different areas, the team’s performance was different ineach area. For example, due to the complexity of design and proximity of services, morecoordination was needed in the casino (figure 3.4). Therefore, in addition to the overall PPCcalculated for each team on a weekly basis, the ratio of the number of completed tasks ineach area to the number of commitments in that area (PPC per area) was evaluated.37Figure 3.4: Complex Design and Close Proximity Between HVAC Systems, Coving andElectrical Cable TraysIn addition to PPC, the reasons for variance of the committed tasks not completed ineach week was tracked and evaluated. These reasons were identified each week and docu-mented. Similarly, variance charts were created each week for the overall interior finishingteam and Houle Electric.Finally, to evaluate the reliability and effectiveness of the lookahead planning processanother metric was utilized. The two above-mentioned metrics focus mainly on the perfor-mance of the team with respect to the plans and although the variance analysis highlightssome of the shortcomings of the scheduling process, the two do not necessarily speak to thequality and reliability of the planning process. In order to improve the process, some type ofperformance measurement need to be in place to assess the current system. A new metric,named the degree of change in this research, analyzes the reliability and predictability of theplans. Over the duration of this analysis, the weekly distributed schedules were documented38and tracked on a weekly basis to evaluate the reliability of the plans in terms of the amountof change to the activities on schedules in two successive weeks. Changes with respect to thestart dates, durations and completion dates for activities were compared and the degree ofchange in form of a percentage was measured each week for both the overall interior finishingteam and the electrical contractor.During the final cycle, the following planning cycle was established to collect and analyzethe data. The breakdown is depicted in table 3.1 below;39Table 3.1: Breakdown of Weekly TasksMonday Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday FridayTrack weekly In-situ observation Plan reliability charts In-situ observationassignments from andprevious week and Trades Coordination non-conformanceupdate statuses Meeting- Look ahead analysis graphs areschedule V.1 distributed to theproject team (copiessent to the GC)Tracking previous Look ahead schedule Subcontractors oneweek’s work; close V.21 on one breakoutwork plans scheduling meetingwith the GCPPC MeasurementIdentify constraintsNon-conformance and prerequisite workanalysis to be performed byother tradesDistribution of weeklyassignments to Analyze scheduledforemen work for upcomingweeks1Occasionally a new revision of the week’s schedule is distributed to the trades either on Wednesdayafternoons or Thursday mornings40Chapter 4Case Study4.1 Project ContextThe action research was carried out on a complex, mixed-use new development under con-struction in downtown Vancouver, Canada. The development houses the replacement of anexisting casino, as well as a 569-room hotel in three towers with a total budget of approx-imately 600 million dollars. The prime contract was awarded in December 2013 and theconstruction on the site began in November 2014. The construction was initially scheduledto be concluded in 28 months, by no later than February 2017.The partner organization on this research project is the prime electrical contractor on theaforementioned construction project. Founded in 1944, Houle Electric, is one of the largestelectrical contractors in British Columbia; they provide a variety of services, ranging fromelectrical construction contracting on industrial, commercial, institutional and residentialprojects to security, data network systems and inspection. The research project was set upin part due to the research team’s interest and involvement in innovative practices includingamong others, Building information modeling, Lean construction and prefabrication andmutual interest of the partner organization in advancing and integrating said practices intotheir operations.41The original budget for the electrical portion of the project was approximately $40million dollars; the subcontracted work includes the provision of all necessary and applicablelabour, materials, tools, equipment, consumables, engineering, insurance, inclusive of allgeneral requirements, competent and adequate supervision, properly staffed site office andall else required for the execution of work as outlined in the contract. The project is procuredunder a traditional design-bid-build (DBB) with a joint venture comprising of two largegeneral contractors, providing a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) to the owner.In addition, being a majorly large project, the contracts are split up within the build-ing and the project team is comprised of a significantly large number of specialty trades,providing services in different components and areas of the building project.Figure 4.1: Building ProjectThe project has faced a lot of uncertainties and changes from the beginning. Thedesign that was used as part of the tender documents, was less than 40% complete, followedby major redesign of the structural, MEP services and interior spaces. These late design42development and changes, significantly impacted the project’s overall scope and schedule, tothe point that a complete set of new drawings were created, the project contracts were resetover a year into the construction and the schedule was extended for several months. Duringthis redesign phase, the trades were instructed to continue construction according to theoriginal tender documents and supplementary information provided to that phase, with thepossibility of having to make changes to the work performed once the new set of drawingswere released.Furthermore, according to the general contractor’s superintendent, due to some ownerinitiated changes to the design of the hotel towers, there were structural elements addedto the design of the structure in the podium levels after the construction had begun thatconflicted with the placement of the cranes already in place and crucial to the development ofthe construction, which led to re-strategizing, re-sequencing the work, in addition to longertemporary structure support than initially planned. (Figure 4.2).43(a) Structural Steel Temporary Placement(b) MEP Services Relocated (c) MEP Services RelocatedFigure 4.2: Structural Steel Temporary Placement due to the Crane Location- All MEPServices Had to be Relocated/ Re-routed as a Result44Having to comply with strict deadlines or facing hefty penalties, the general contractorand trades have been forced to work in very heavily reshore loaded areas which significantlyhinders the performance of the project team.In addition, due to the complexity of design, up to this point in the project, therehas been some constructability issues associated with the structural, architectural and MEPservices in the building in many aspects and with respect to other services in terms ofspatial limitations that has impacted the work progression in the affected areas. These willbe covered in more details in the following sections.4.2 BIM Submissions and Process RequirementsIn terms of BIM use, the original mandate by the owner was to have a fully coordinatedmulti-disciplinary model used for visualization, clash detection and conflict resolution for theentire project. Initially all contractors had agreed to comply with this requirement, however,considering the complexity, scale of the project and the constant changes to the design, theamount of effort required for modeling proved to be out of the participating contractorscapabilities and scope of BIM was scaled back.As part of the coordination efforts on the project, regular BIM coordination meetingswere held by the general contractor. In these coordination meetings, the general foremenof each specialty trades, their modeller and the consultant in charge of each MEP servicesdesign was present. Progress models were uploaded by each trade to a central network everyweek and were linked to the structural and interior design models and the clashes weredetected. Major clashes were reviewed in the coordination meetings and the foremen andconsultants worked together to resolve the conflicts.As mentioned previously, due to the complexity of the design and mixed-use scope ofthe building, in some heavily MEP service loaded areas, some major clashes between themechanical, electrical and plumbing services and the structural or architectural elements45were detected. An example of spatial conflicts between MEP services is illustrated in figure4.3 below;Figure 4.3: Mechanical Ducting and Plumbing Clash with Electrical Conduits and CableTrays- Progress Model Screen-shotThe constructability issues were discussed in the BIM coordination meeting and thetrades discussed alternative solutions to rectify the issues. As an example of the coordinationresults some services were relocated or re-routed or in some cases, resized to fit the confinedspace.Due to the accelerated speed of construction, a notable portion of the clashes weredetected on site while services were being installed. The detected issues were then discussedin the coordination meetings, RFIs were issued to respective consultants, the necessaryinstructions were provided and the design was modified in accordance with the instructions.464.3 Scheduling EffortsAs part of the owner’s requirements, the general contractor has been required to presentand report on a very detailed master schedule that dictates the overall project milestones,sequence and flow of work. Considering the significant changes to the scope and constructionof the project, there has been several revisions of the master schedule distributed to trades.The current master schedule has grown to be over 300 pages with more than 20,000 activities,with a new schedule being issued every month.With constant changes to the master schedule and the level of detail dictated by theowner, the general contractor and trades were forced to create a new set of look-aheadschedules to plan and include the day-to-day tasks on-site.Several iterations and planning strategies were implemented and the planning sessionsevolved over the course of the research time. Initially the planning sessions were mostlyfocused on the structural/ concrete and related work such as, rebar and, in-cased electricaland mechanical rough-in; however, over time, a separate weekly planning meeting for interiorworks was created. The interior finishing works, including but not limited to framing, elec-trical and mechanical rough in, board, tape, sand, installation of overhead ducting, ceilingframing, mechanical and electrical drop in, etc. were discussed and planned during thesemeetings.4.3.1 Master ScheduleTo comply with the owner’s requirement, a detailed master schedule comprised of over 300pages, with over 20,000 activities, was created. The master schedule is broken into phasesto reflect every task taking place on the project since the day the contract was awardedto the general contractor; the master schedule contains all the design processes milestones,permitting activities and dates, tendering process for the specialty trades, and so forth. Inaddition to the procurement tasks, the master schedule is broken down to reflect the tasks47and completion dates for the structural elements of each component of the building: ie.parkade, podium, tower A, tower B and tower C (figure 4.4) and, the finishing activities andhand off for each component including every activity in every room in each level.Figure 4.4: Building ComponentsFurthermore, as part of the scheduling efforts, the specialty trades were obligated tomeet with the general contractors scheduler every two weeks and report on their progressbased on the latest version of the master schedule to be reported to the owner.4.3.2 Short-Term SchedulesIn order to better manage the scope of work and sequence of activities in the podium- ie.the first 6 levels of the building, housing the retail spaces, hotel lobbies, restaurants, barsand the casino, each floor has been divided into 6 zones or areas as depicted in figure 4.5below.48Figure 4.5: Area Divisions in the Podium LevelsThe team had to adhere to the master schedule to plan the day to day work on site withthe level of detail mandated for the master schedule, which has proven to be a challengingtask; in order to overcome this issue and to create a more straightforward plan for the tradesto follow, near-term or look ahead schedules broken down per each area in each level of thepodium, were created.Over the course of this study, the general contractor implemented a few different ap-proaches in creating the look ahead plan. These approaches are briefly described below;Initially, the look ahead plans were created in coordination meetings with all tradesinvolved in pull planning format using post it notes on the wall. The plans were thendocumented in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and communicated to the project team via e-mail. An example of the planning boards used in the look-ahead planning sessions can be49seen in figure 4.6 below.Figure 4.6: Look-ahead Planning BoardThe general contractor’s next attempt, was to create three week look-ahead plans inthe same format as the master schedule, i.e critical path method, but with a different levelof granularity- outlining the activities in each area in contrast to each room. These threeweek look-ahead plans were created on Microsoft Project and reviewed in the coordination50meeting with the trade contractors (figure 4.7).Figure 4.7: Look-ahead Plans Created on Microsoft ProjectIn addition to the two main approaches outlined above, there were a few odd weeks,where the meetings were replaced with coordination site-walks with the trades foremen toreview the progress on site.4.4 Scheduling ComplicationsAs was briefly touched on in the previous sections, the scheduling efforts on this projecthave had its fair share of complications and uncertainties. Some of the factors impactingthe scheduling efforts both in terms of the master schedule and the near-term schedules-discretely and with respect to each other- are described in this section.4.4.1 DesignOver two years into the construction, the project has faced many uncertainties and changesassociated with the design of the structure and interior spaces of the building. In addition51to the owner initiated changes on the project, being a complex commercial project manychanges have been made to the restaurants and or retail spaces that have impacted theschedules and work advancement. Additionally, late developments in the design and theconstructability issues covered earlier have led to over 1250 Request for Informations (RFI)and more than 650 Site Instructions (SI) which further impact the project schedule.4.4.2 Commercial and Contractual IssuesThe podium, encompassing the first 6 levels in the building, houses the commercial retailspaces, the restaurants and lounges, the casino, hotel lobbies, as well as kitchens and backof house service areas. On account of the size and scope of the project, the podium has beendivided into several categories including back-of-house and front-of-house, and restaurantsand base building spaces. These segments are in some instances contracted and managedseparately.During the short-term planning in the podium, some unanticipated commercial issueswas brought to the project team’s attention. In the case of the sheet metal contractors, thepodium was managed as base building, containing about 60% of their scope of work andrestaurants the remaining 40% of their work. It was revealed that the restaurants HVACducting work was not originally included in the agreements made with the sheet metalcontractor and therefore they were not contractually responsible or prepared to perform thework assigned to them in the said areas. Being one of the contractors leading the work,the delays caused by this issue impeded the work progression in the restaurant’s areas andimpacted the following trades workflow and schedules.Furthermore, the project being set up in a traditional design-bid-build contract did notfoster a collaborative environment among the trades. With the constant changes and theshort timelines and deadlines assigned to tasks, each trades workflow was reactive to thesite conditions. In addition, the trades were not contractually obligated to follow the short-term look ahead schedules, and were not incentivized to participate in the planning sessions;52therefore, there was a very low percentage of buy-in from the trades in terms of keeping upwith the short-term plans and fulfilling their commitments.4.4.3 Complexity and Size of the ProjectAnother project characteristic that is consistently highlighted by the project team as amajor factor impacting the scheduling efforts is associated with the size and complexityof the project; remarks such as “the project is too large and complex” are often made bydifferent project participants to justify the issues arising in project execution in terms ofplanning the work and procuring resources.4.4.4 Correlation Between Master Schedule and Near-Term Sched-ulesThe near-term plans were initiated by the general contractor in an attempt to plan the dayto the day work on site and coordinate and direct various trades working in different areas.As expressed, the short-term schedules presented the work scheduled per area in thepodium levels (refer to figure 4.5), whereas, as per the owner requirements, the masterschedule included activities in every room in the building. To put this into perspective, eachlevel of the podium is broken down to -on average- over 100 rooms, in comparison to 6 areasin each level. The notable difference in the level of granularities in the activity breakdownscreated a disconnect between the two schedules.53Chapter 5Findings5.1 Percent Plan Complete (PPC)One of the main measurement metrics utilized as part of the performance assessment onthis research project is the Percent Plan Complete (PPC). PPC was measured based on theweekly scheduled work on two levels;1. For the overall interior finishing team; containing the overall work scheduled each weekfor all parties involved, and2. For Houle electric; for tasks only assigned to them each week and their performancebased on the assigned workThe PPC charts below illustrate the measured PPC during three months on a weeklybasis for the interior finishing team and Houle electric.5.1.1 Interior Finishing Team PPCOver a certain period of time the PPC varied from the initial PPC of 48%, dropping to below20% and then fluctuating in the 20% and 30% range. The maximum PPC value during the54study was 48% and the minimum value was as low as 18%. As can be seen in graph 5.1below, the PPC variation did not follow any particular trend.Figure 5.1: Interior Finishing Team PPCIn order to gain a better and a more in depth understanding of the Percent PlannedComplete variation, and factors contributing to the fluctuations, chart depicted in figure 5.2was prepared. This figure, illustrates the total number of commitments in a week, numberof completed, on going and not completed tasks.As illustrated, from week 3 to week 4, over one week, the number of tasks scheduled tobe performed by the team was more than doubled; this abrupt and noticeable growth in thescope of work, did not give trades enough advance notice to plan for the additional labourforce or in general resources needed to perform the work or plan out their work executionstrategy.In addition, as previously stated, due to the size of the project and the segmented55management of different components of the project, the availability of work spaces was notproperly communicated to the project team.56Figure 5.2: Weekly PPCOn the other hand, the mandated characteristics for the master schedule, differing levelof granularity of activities on the two schedules and the difficulty of maintaining the dateson the master schedule, meant that the master schedule was not a reliable or effective toolto plan the day to day work on site; and therefore, the look ahead schedules were the onlydocuments assisting the trades in planning their work and resources.5.1.2 Houle Electric PPCSimilar to the Percent Plan Complete (PPC) calculated for the overall interior finishing team,PPC was measured for Houle Electric separately. As depicted in the two graphs below, thePPC for Houle Electric follows the same general trend that was observed for the overallinterior finishing team (figure 5.3).Figure 5.3: Houle Electric PPCAs shown in figure 5.3 above, there is an evident jump in PPC on week 3; however, takinga closer look at figure 5.4 below, a possible explanation for the jump and the subsequent58decline is that a very small number of assignments were actually assigned to Houle in thatparticular week in comparison to the number of tasks assigned to Houle over the durationof the study in other weeks.Similarly, in comparison to the number of tasks scheduled for the overall interior finishingteam, a relatively small number of tasks were assigned to the electrical subcontractor eachweek, and therefore, a small number of non completion tasks registered as a relatively largepercentage of failure. PPC is a ratio and in the absence of quality data selection and matchingthe amount of work scheduled to the capabilities of the said trade, does not fully speak tothe performance of the team, and hence, other factors and means need to be considered.59Figure 5.4: Weekly PPC for Houle Electric5.2 Percent Plan Complete Per AreaIn addition to the general PPC charts created on the weekly basis, to gain a more in-depth understanding of the impact of coordination and interdependencies between the tradesperformance, a separate graph illustrating the Percent Plan Complete in each area of thebuilding was created.5.2.1 Interior Finishing Team PPC Per AreaThe two graphs below are different representations of these PPC values per area, each week,over the study period. Figure 5.5 shows the break up per area over the weeks of the studywith the percentages listed below.61Figure 5.5: Interior Finishing Team Weekly PPC Per AreaIn addition, figure 5.6 depicted below shows the stacked percent of completed tasks ineach area over the duration of the study. As observed, during the 10 weeks period depicted,the maximum stacked percentage of commitments completed in different areas was less that500%, which means that the team performed less than half of the activities they committedto over the 10 week period.63Figure 5.6: Stacked PPC Over 10 Weeks of StudyThere are many factors contributing to the low percentage of planned work completionoverall and the observed variation in different areas. Factors such as site logistics andcoordination issues including heavy loads of reshore and temporary structure, excess materialstorage on site and trade stacking, in addition to failure to meet commitments by other tradesgreatly impacted the overall performance of the interior finishing team over the duration ofthis study. Figures 5.7a & 5.7b below are examples of some of the conditions that impactedthe performance of the team in keeping their commitments. The contributing factors tovariance, and the trades failure to perform as planned will be explored in more details in thefollowing sections.(a) Example 1 (b) Example 2Figure 5.7: Temporary Structures and Scaffolding on Site5.2.2 Houle Electric PPC Per AreaFurthermore, a similar analysis was performed for Houle electric separately and its resultsare demonstrated in the two following charts. Comparable outcome to the overall interiorfinishing team were again observed here. The similarities between the results of the overallteam and a single entity as part of the whole organization, highlights the interdependencybetween the tasks and different trades. This topic will be assessed further in this chapter.Figure 5.8 & 5.9 are two different representations of the PPC variations during the study65period in different areas. Factors such as number of tasks assigned to Houle in each area,their reliance on upstream trades completing the prerequisites to their tasks, and availabilityof resources are some root causes for the variation which will be explored further.66Figure 5.8: Weekly PPC Per Area (Houle Electric)Similarly, as illustrated in figure 5.9 below, over the 10 weeks depicted, the maximumstacked PPC for Houle was just about 300% which translates to an average of 30% in the10 week period; which correlates to the overall low PPC observed in the study period.68Figure 5.9: Stacked PPC Over 10 Weeks of Study5.3 Variance AnalysisOne of the important steps in the Last Planner System process, is the variance analysis.Planned Percent Complete, measures the extent to which the weekly work plans are realizedeach week. Analysis of the non conformance, on the other hand, can identify the reasons whythe tasks were not realized and lead back to the root causes. Identification of the reasonswhy planned work was not completed, can be used to improve PPC, the planning processand consequently the project performance.On this project, the performance of the previous week was not reviewed during thecoordination meetings. One action initiated by the research team, was to evaluate theweekly schedules and compare the progress on site to the scheduled tasks. The assignmentsstatuses were then updated on vPlanner- the visual planning software utilized- as completed,ongoing or not complete and the reason for variance of tasks were documented.There is a list of pre-populated reasons for variance in vPlanner that can be assignedto tasks marked as not complete (table 5.1).70Table 5.1: List of Reasons for Variance (vPlanner)Committed work not understood or mis-describedConstraint complete but not communicatedConstraint not completeConstraint not complete in timeExternal party failed to meet commitmentOtherUnavailable laborUnavailable materialUnplanned constraint not completeUnplanned constraint not complete in timeUnreliable reporting- status unknownWorkflow replanned mid-cycleSince there was no explicit look-back on the work performed, the reasons for non-completionwere not usually discussed in the meetings. In order to simplify the process and pinpointthe main recurring reasons for variance, through discussions with the partner organizationssuperintendent, the list was tailored and six simplified categories (table 5.2), were assignedto the tasks identified as not complete.71Table 5.2: Reasons for Variance Used on the ProjectPre-requisites work not completedDesign, information, approvals incompleteLack of resources (material, labour force, equipment)Coordination and site related issuesScheduling errorsCommitments not met5.3.1 Interior Finishing TeamThe reasons for non-compliance were evaluated on a weekly basis and eventually for the over-all project in the duration of the study. These reasons were communicated to the electricalcontractor’s executive team.As graphically shown in figure 5.10 below, of the 698 activities that were not completed,367 (52%) were not completed due to prerequisite work not being completed. These pre-requisites were either explicitly scheduled in the look-ahead plans, had been left out of theplans or were not properly communicated to the project team.The outstanding RFIs, pending approvals or incomplete design processes were not dis-cussed or reviewed during the coordination meetings and were not reflected on the schedules.Therefore, the prerequisites restraining work realization also includes information, design,change order approvals and predecessors not scheduled.72Figure 5.10: Reasons for Variance(Interior Finishing Team)The next two categories are commitments- assignments with no explicit outstandingprerequisite assigned- to a trade, whom failed to meet the commitment, and schedulingreliability are evident scheduling errors such as wrong dates, missing or wrong logic links.Coordination and resources were the next two reasons for variance. Coordination in-cludes any site logistics issues such as excess material blocking access to workspace and tradestacking in confined spaces forcing one trade to pause their work. Figure 5.11 , is an exampleof coordination putting work in an entire area on hold. The glazing subcontractors failure to73complete its assignment as planned and the oversized panels stored in the area, meant thatthe rest of trades were unable to perform their assigned tasks according to the schedule.Figure 5.11: Excess Material Storage on SiteAnother example of coordination issues caused by multiple trades working in one con-fined space, was between the sheet metal and electrical contractor; in this case, the HVACwork took priority over the electrical work and not only did the electrical crew have to stoptheir work, but they also had to make room for the oversized ducts by removing the cabletrays already installed (figure 5.12).74Figure 5.12: Coordination Issue Between Trades on SiteAnd lastly, resources are attributed to assignments that were not executed as planneddue to unavailability of the resources needed; this includes any material, workforce or properequipment required to execute a work.By examining the reasons for noncompliance and the PPC charts, it can be concludedthat the fundamental causes of the low performance and non-compliance were failure toapply quality criteria to the assignments as defined in the literature in terms of soundness,definition, size and quantity. Additionally, failure to evaluate the weekly performance andfailure to learn from plan failures means that the reasons the schedules were not executed asplanned, were not identified, and its consequent impact on the existing commitments werenot evaluated. As a result, the PPC on the project did not improve and assignments weresimply rescheduled from one week to the next.755.3.2 Houle ElectricIn addition to the evaluation performed on the overall project, the reasons for non-compliancewas examined separately for Houle electric. As shown in figure 5.13 below, a substantialpercentage of work that Houle failed to accomplish was because of the prerequisites notcompleted by other trades.Figure 5.13: Reasons for Variance for Houle Electric76These graphical representations signify the dependency of specialty contractors, espe-cially a following trade, on the upstream trades. In fact, as delineated, over the three monthduration of the study, and as suggested by Houle electric’s senior superintendent they hadcontrol over about 10% of their entire scope of work. This further highlights the importanceof having a predictable, reliable and comprehensive schedule created and followed by alltrades across the board.5.4 Degree of ChangeAnother action taken to analyze the reliability and quality of the short interval schedules, wasto measure and analyze the degree of change of scheduled dates for tasks on each schedule toits successor. Based on the relatively low percent of planned work completion, and througha closer examination, it was observed that many tasks on the look aheads were continuouslybeing rescheduled. In order to examine the degree of the variations, gauge the reliabilityof the schedules, and to further assist the research team in identifying the reasons for theoverall low performance of trades based on the short term plans, this metric was introduced.5.4.1 Interior Finishing TeamAs shown in figure 5.14 below, the degree of change of scheduled dates for the activities thathave been repeatedly re-scheduled on the short interval schedules during the study periodwas on average over 50%. This change, does not represent the activities that are added forthe first time to a schedule or tasks that have been completed and therefore crossed off theschedule; it simply depicts the percentage of tasks that their scheduled date have shiftedfrom one schedule to the next.It is worth mentioning that, due to the size of the project and the rapid growth in theareas of concurrent work; the short interval schedules grew to over 10 pages and more than600 activities in a very short amount of time; which in turn, made the process of updating77and keeping as-built or as-expected dates for all activities an onerous task for the generalcontractor. The noticeable drop in the degree of change from over 50% to less than 10%from week 8 to 9, was because the schedule was not updated during that period and thePPC values of 26% and 20% on weeks 8 and 9 respectively, suggest that the trades failed toperform their assigned tasks as scheduled.Figure 5.14: Percentage of Change Per Week (Interior Finishing Team)5.4.2 Houle ElectricIn a similar fashion to the previous measurements, in addition to the overall schedule as-sessment, a separate analysis of the scheduled dates for tasks solely assigned to Houle wasperformed. In addition, the analysis was utilized to gain a more in-depth understanding ofthe standing of a downstream following trade and the impact of workflow variation on theirability to shield their production.78A illustrated in figure 5.15 below, the same movement can be observed for tasks solelyassigned to Houle. However, on a closer review, it can be noted that the fluctuations in thedegree of change from one week to the next are somewhat more pronounced. Being a followingspecialty trade, the electrical contractor is not prioritized as a trade; often times, they haveto make way for other trades that lead the work in a specific area, eg. the sheet metalsubcontractor. In addition, being a following trade, the majority of their work is dependenton the other trades and their progression. If one trade fails to meet their commitment, itsimpact extends along the production and impacts all the downstream trades.Figure 5.15: Percentage of Change Per Week (Houle Electric)5.5 Degree of Change Per AreaSimilarly, to further analyze the significance of coordination and mutual reliance among thetrades, similar to the analysis performed for Percent Plan Complete per area, the degree of79change in scheduled dates for activities planned was analyzed in each area. Two differentrepresentations of the measurements are illustrated.As shown in figure 5.16, the results of these analyses did not yield a smooth and uniformflow; the percentage of change varies across different locations. A possible explanation forthis variation is that the work performed in each segment of the building is incomparablein terms of complexity, effort and resources. Due to the mixed-use nature of the projectand all the different facilities in the podium, and the expected differing design complexity indifferent areas, the work complexity and efforts vary significantly across the project. Thesevariations, instigate different results in terms of performance, and quality of schedules.80Figure 5.16: Weekly Degree of Change Per Area for the Interior Finishing TeamFor example, as shown in figure 5.17, a noticeably larger percentage of change is observedin areas 2,3 and 4 on both levels 2 and 3, which also correlates with the relatively lower PPCvalues measured in those areas. This was, in part due to the complex ceiling and coving designin those areas and the trade and GC’s inability to accurately predict a realistic duration forthe work, which in turn impacted the other trade’s assigned tasks in those areas.In addition, as was discussed earlier, due to complexity of design of the structure andthe mechanical, plumbing and electrical services, and the resultant constructability issuesidentified on site, the work was either put on hold or carried on at a much lower pace in theaffected areas. Issues of similar nature were not necessarily reflected in the work schedulingdecisions and tasks were rescheduled every week, until the work was eventually executed onsite.82(a) Level 2 Area 2(b) Level 2 Area 3(c) Level 3 Area 3 (d) Level 3 Area 4Figure 5.17: Examples of Degree of Change Observed Per Area Per Week5.6 ObservationsDuring the data collection period, different strategies and attempts were employed by theproject team to rectify the scheduling delays. One of the attempts, was to test out somevariation of the Last Planner R© System and pull planning. A handful of meetings were heldwith the project team as an introduction to the Last Planner system, however, the approachwas soon abandoned; it was brought up on several occasions by the GC’s superintendentsthat the project was too large and too complex to implement the planning strategy; thescheduling effort was burdensome, time consuming and there was not enough interest fromthe trades. In addition, the trades were not contractually obligated to attend the meetings orfollow the schedules created in these meetings and some were not familiar with the approach.Furthermore, GC’s superintendent or the trades foremen attending these meetings were notgiven authority to make any decision when it came to the project execution.Another attempt was aimed at creating look ahead schedules (typically 3 or 6 weeks).However, these schedules were developed without the trades input and were done using thetraditional CPM method- irrespective of the workflow on site or the spatial and temporalconstraints. In addition, as observed through the data collected and analyzed, no effortswere put into selecting quality assignments. Oftentimes, there were outstanding RFI orcoordination drawings awaiting approval for the tasks assigned, or a long string of incompleteprerequisite work, hindered trades performance. Measurement of the PPC on the project,revealed a very low plan reliability. As observed through this study, the plan reliability is ofvital importance because it has a direct impact on trades performance and their downstreamcustomers.The primary factors contributing to the low plan reliability observed on this project aredescribed in the table below:84Table 5.3: Primary Factors Contributing to Low Plan ReliabilityDesign • incomplete design • constructability issues• missing informationCoordination • excess storage of material • spatial conflict betweenon site different trades and systems• trade stacking in confinedSchedules • plans, did not include a • plans often missed logic ordetailed definition of resource linkagesassingments, • duration assigned to activities• trades often were unsure, were often unrealisticwhich trade was in chargeof what activityLearning • absence of a look-back or • no action was taken to avoidlearning process such failures from recurring• work not accomplished was • impact of plan failures on thenot reviewed upcoming tasks and commitmentswas not evaluated85Chapter 6DiscussionsOne objective of setting up this action-research with a specialty contractor was to study theextent of their control on a conventional, yet very complex project, in terms of shielding theirproduction on site from upstream uncertainty and variations and improving their efficiencyand flow of work. As explored earlier, shielding requires that certain quality criteria andrules be applied to the assignments selected to be performed as part of the short intervalplanning and weekly work plans. As was evident from the various data collected and analyzedthroughout this project it became apparent that the main focus of the project team had beenput on starting work in whichever area available as soon as possible without any considerationto the conditions in that area, availability of resources and whether or not the prerequisitework was satisfied. These uncertainties and variations, as was observed, led to unreliablework scheduling and loss of productivity. On many occasions, time was wasted on sitewaiting for or looking for work to become available; many crews either had to be sent homeor work on small areas in confined spaces that significantly impacted their efficiency.In addition, the extremely low level of plan reliability observed on this project over thecourse of the study period may have in part resulted from it being an extremely complexproject both in terms of design and technical complexity as well as organizational and opera-tional complexity. As mentioned, the project team is comprised of a relatively large number86of subcontractors and many are required to work in confined spaces in a very close proximityspatially and temporally. In addition, due to complexity of design, many services- especiallyMEP services- require close coordination, communication and collaboration among the par-ties involved. Considering the large number of key players involved, getting everyone intoone space at the same time to coordinate the closely related work or to make decisions onissues at hand, proved to be an extremely difficult task.The project- granted an extreme case- helps magnify the challenges, barriers and lim-itation with traditional project management and delivery methods and the limited controlof following trades on their scope of work and their ability to shield their production fromuncertainties on a project.Reflecting on the process observed over the course of the research action and comparingthe process with the guidelines of the Last Planner R© system described in the second chapter;the first sub-objective of this research can be addressed: “Investigate traditional planningmeans and methods on a complex commercial project from an electrical contractor’s perspec-tive to understand how the planning process impacts the specialty trade’s performance”As expressed, even though on the surface, the project team had attempted to createshort term interval plans to develop a more reliable and efficient flow of work, the propersteps and actions were not taken and the mentality of the conventional management overruledthese attempts.Lean practices are based on collaborative efforts focused on elimination of waste andoptimized value generation to each downstream customer and the ultimate customer (owner),while continuously improving the processes in place. Looking back on the process observedon the project studied, the planning process was not performed in a collaborative setting;the trades did not have much say in the work assigned to them; therefore, the look-aheadplans were not as realistic, comprehensive or efficient. In addition, the activities were notscheduled at the request of downstream trades (ie. pulled), on the contrary, the contractualexpectations and obligations included in the detailed master schedule took priority over the87downstream trades’ requests and conditions on site (eg. activities and assignments werepushed).Furthermore, another focus of lean projects is on creating reliable and predictable work-flow and schedules; as identified, factors such as design, coordination, scheduling efforts andlearning, contributed to unreliable near term schedules that overall did not assist the projectteam with planning or project execution and ultimately led to the low PPCs observed andtrades failure to meet their commitments.Utilizing this assessment and the results observed over the study period, the secondsub-objective can also be addressed: “Understand the challenges, limitations and potentialbenefits of applying Lean principles and tools from the perspective of an electrical specialtytrade in the context of a complex project delivered in a traditional procurement mode”. Asexplored throughout this document, the overarching challenge with implementation of leanby a specialty trade on this project is embedded in the traditional approach of project deliveryemployed on the project. As observed, the one-sided planning on the project meant that thetrades did not have much say in the creation of the look-ahead schedules which significantlylimited their ability to efficiently plan their daily work. Reflecting on the shortcomingsobserved in the planning process, taking a more collaborative approach to creation of thesaid short term schedules, keeping track of the constraints, prerequisite and predecessor tasksto each trades assignments, ensuring trades understand their commitments and are preparedto uphold their assignments are some lean strategies that could improve the outcome andoverall project performance.In additions, steps such as tracking the previous week’s commitments, updating theassignment statuses and identifying the reasons for variance, could enable the team to findthe root cause for such failures and take corrective measures to improve their planningstrategies, as opposed to the overall downhill trend observed on this project.The findings and results of this case study speak to the inadequacy of the conventionalproject management techniques and highlight the current industry’s need for a more collab-88orative, holistic and integrated approach to project deliveries from inception to delivery.Based on the observations made, implementation of lean in a lonely setting for a follow-ing trade with such a limited control on their scope of work and their interdependency withother stakeholders in the project is viewed as being not effective. Shielding their productionis possible if they have control on the work assigned to them and have an input on thepreceding tasks to their work. This was not the case in the project that was studied.That said, the partner organization’s commitment to improving their efficiency by:(1)taking advantage of their prefabrication capabilities, (2) innovative, clear and organizedstorage solutions on site, and (3) their incorporation of visual planning software and researchteam’s input into their practice, enabled them to enhance their agility and efficiency withintheir limited control and stay on task on the limited unrestricted assignments they had.Validity of findings in action-research could be viewed in terms of the retroactions takenby the partner organization; in terms of this research project, the artifacts and reportsproduced as part of the weekly tasks undertaken in the action-research were shared with thepartner organization on a weekly basis. Data were collected and analyzed in real-time andwere reviewed by the project team. Suggestions made by the research team were implementedto the extent possible, and the findings were evaluated and validated by the organization.Sample of the weekly reports are appended to this research thesis.Limitations of this research could be viewed in terms of the action-research approachtaken and degree of involvement of the author with the organization which could potentiallyintroduce some bias through observations in the meetings and discussions with the projectteam. Additionally, while the single case study used informed the research team of the com-mon practices in the construction industry and the challenges faced as a result of approachestaken, there is an issue with generalizability of the findings.Lastly, recommendations that can be formulated as part of this action-research projectare:89In terms of organization formation and delivery approaches, taking more integratedapproaches to project deliveries by involving key project participants in early stages of projectpre-planning and design; incorporating their input in planning and execution of projects andmotivating the team to work together collaboratively towards a unified goal while sharingrisks and rewards on novel, innovative project delivery approaches such as Integrated ProjectDelivery (IPD); this is still achievable to some extend on traditional projects by addition ofdesign-assist roles and collaborative planning.In terms of use of technology and innovative tools, as was observed, 3D models were usedas part of coordination and high level clash detection on the overall project; incorporationand integration of modeling with scheduling efforts, in addition to use of visual planningsoftware could significantly assist the project team with visualization of the scheduled tasksto create and maintain a more efficient flow on site.Finally, in terms of processes, as mentioned, incorporation of the Last Planner R© systemof production guidelines, such as make-ready planning, constraint analysis and look-backprocesses can assist the project team in creation of more reliable, predictable and efficientplans; having more reliable plans, in turn, adds to accountability of stakeholders and fosters amore collaborative team environment. However, this requires the appropriate organizationalcontext to fully implement.90Chapter 7ConclusionAn action-research was carried out over a 16 month period to assess the performance of aspecialty trade on a traditional construction project and investigate the potential impact ofimplementation of lean philosophy within the organization.In order to gain a better understanding of current project management practices ona large commercial project in Canada, an assessment of the efficiency of the planning andexecution of a project over the course of the research was carried out. The planning effortsand project control practices were documented and analyzed in depth; the scheduling efforts,effectiveness and reliability of the schedules were evaluated using different metrics such asPlanned Percent Complete (PPC) and degree of change observed in the weekly distributedschedules. In addition, the reasons for variance of weekly commitments were evaluated basedon simple categories defined by the project team.Through the analysis performed the fundamental contributing factor to such a low ob-served PPC was identified as the team’s failure to select quality assignments in terms ofsoundness, definition, sequence and size. Oftentimes, assignments were scheduled irrespec-tive of the trades capability of executing them in terms of having the needed material onsite and/or available work force to perform the tasks. Additionally, many of the assignedtasks on the weekly work plans had long strings of prerequisites that were not yet satis-91fied. Moreover, lack of a learning, or look back process through identification of reasons forplan implementation failure meant that the root causes were not identified and therefore,corrective measures were not taken to improve the plan reliability during the study period.The processes observed over the course of the study period were then evaluated and com-pared to the guidelines of lean construction principles and practices. Furthermore, guidelinesand processes of The Last Planner R© system of production and quality criteria suggested andimplemented on lean projects were explored, and their potential impact on the project stud-ied was evaluated.Additionally, the impact of reliability and predictability of construction planning on afollowing trade in terms of their ability to shield their production and increase their produc-tivity and efficiency was evaluated. It was found that variations in the scheduling reliability,the upstream trades’ performance, and their ability to keep their commitments greatly im-pacted the electrical contractor’s performance. As observed the electrical team’s work ishighly dependent on the upstream trades and about 89% of assignments that Houle failedto perform was because of the prerequisites not completed by other trades. These recursiveissues and uncertainties adversely impacted the team’s ability to shield their productionon site and repeatedly time and resources were wasted on site looking for work to becomeavailable.Furthermore, despite the limitations of the research in terms of the prevailing conven-tional project management mentality and control on the project, and the project team’sresistance to change; the research project was able to investigate the impact of implemen-tation of lean within the specialty trades organization, implement and test visual planningtools to support such approaches and document the benefits, challenges, and lessons learnedin the context of the Canadian construction industry.Further action-research cycles could be implemented to potentially refine the findingsover longer periods of study. In addition, similar studies could be replicated on similar casestudies to evaluate consistency of the findings. Another string of study could also be imple-92mented to evaluate the efforts and effectiveness of planning processes on more collaborativeprojects of similar scope and complexity.93BibliographyAzhar, Salman, Irtishad Ahmad, and Maung K Sein (2010). “Action research as a proac-tive research method for construction engineering and management”. In: Journal ofConstruction Engineering and Management 136.1, pp. 87–98.Ballard, Glenn (1997). “Lookahead planning: the missing link in production control”. In:Proc. 5 th Annl. Conf. Intl. Group for Lean Constr.— (1999). “Improving work flow reliability”. In: Proceedings of the 7 th Annual Conferenceof the International Group for Lean Construction, pp. 275–286.— (2000). “Phase scheduling”. In: LCI White Paper 7.Ballard, Glenn and Greg Howell (1994). “Implementing lean construction: stabilizing workflow”. In: Lean construction, pp. 101–110.Ballard, Glenn and Gregory Howell (1998). “Shielding production: essential step in produc-tion control”. 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