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As one way to cope with the challenging economy, many owners/facility managers are doing tenant improvements (TI) and facility upgrades. Contractors, who normally do not perform TI, are now competing in the TI market. Lean construction has proven itself valuable in large projects and also works in small projects, but in different ways.
Management by Results was a very hot topic when I was in MBA school, and it is still taught today. It made a lot of sense to not micromanage people, but to tell them what results they are expected to achieve and let them determine how to get there. This approach required a manager to be very clear in defining the end results and his/her expectations.
A recent survey from Industryweek found that most companies (44% of the survey respondents) are focusing on cutting costs this year. This is up from 36% last year. When a company is in a survival mode, cutting costs is usually the first response. The same survey found that some companies (18%) are focusing on improving customer service. This is down from last year’s 27%.
Even though the construction world has embraced high-tech tools, it manages projects in the same way, still getting the same poor results. Less than 30 percent of projects come in on time, on budget and within specification. In construction, waste is rampant.
Going "green" is a top priority for many owners, and contractors are rushing to bid these jobs. Even with a U.S. Green Building Council LEED certified in-house expert, one may not be aware of all the potential risks associated with bidding a green project. Contractors need to be aware of the risks and account for them, so profits are not at risk. If you are bidding or reviewing such a project bid, consider the following risks (these may not include all risks, so use all your knowledge and in-house expertise to develop your bid).
The ASTM Standard E2114-06a defines a "green building" as one that provides specified building performance requirements while minimizing disturbance to and improving the functioning of local, regional and global ecosystems both during and after its construction and specified service life. The risks related with bidding a green building would include any events associated with the construction process. It would include risks related to the customer achieving a desired green certification. It would also include risks related to warranty and performance promises.
Prior to submitting any bid, contractors need to understand which green certification, such as U.S.GBC LEED certification, is being targeted to determine who has what responsibilities for achieving the certification. The green requirements can impact material and equipment costs and handling, labor productivity, installation sequencing and scheduling, equipment and system startup and checkout, and project closeout requirements. To learn about the impact of green requirements, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s Bidding Green Task Force’s report, HVAC Contractor’s Guide to Bidding Green Building Projects (http://www.smacna.org/bookstore/index.cfm), is an excellent source, and some of the document’s information is referenced in this column.
Green contract requirements
There is a risk of not understanding the complete requirements of a green building. The project’s green requirements can be found just about anywhere within the bid documents. They may not all be in the specific section relating to the building functions such as the HVAC system. Some green requirements that impact everyone on site, such as construction waste management, should be included in the general requirements of the specifications. The prime contractor should point this out. "Should be" doesn’t always happen, so in preparing a bid for a green project, the contractor needs to be proactive in determining the green requirements and their impact.
There is some discussion in construction today about which is better to use — Building Information Modeling (BIM) or Lean Construction. You need to consider what each process offers before choosing one over the other.
Lean forces new thinking when buying machinery
Spending money for equipment is always a challenge for contractors. Everyone wants top value for his or her investment.
Solid communications efforts are required for lean success
Managing projects is all about communications. Leadership is all about communicating.
Aligning your processes for lean initiatives
A recap of Snips’ series on lean manufacturing: In the March issue, the importance of creating a whole lean company — not just implementing a few tools — was discussed.
In the May issue, the topic was how to develop a lean-education system.