The Location-based management system

Large complex construction projects present severe resource management problems for contractors, particularly in the fit-out phase following construction of the structure. In particular, the complexity of hospital projects can easily allow a construction team to apparently lose control of the works, resulting in very tight deadlines, resource discontinuities and rushes to complete work on time. The consequence is often that quality suffers, deadlines get missed and costs escalate.

The Location-Based Management System (LBMS) has been developed to provide contractors with a better way to plan and control their work, and to thereby provide better surety of project success to the client. The Location-Based Management System has been developed as a joint effort between Helsinki University of Technology, Stanford University and Swinburne University of Technology and is supported by software developed by Graphisoft, the developers of ArchiCAD. It is a comprehensive new production control system for construction, with an emphasis on the planning, scheduling and control of projects and including—in its implementation—time, cost and quality. It allows you to compress project schedules without increasing risk and is already in production in some of the largest construction companies in the world.

The reason this system is so different is that it is based on a location-based methodology. This methodology is perfect for construction because it allows easy management of work crews as they move from location to location on a complex project. All other scheduling systems are activity-based (good for building an airplane engine in a factory) forcing the user to manually take into account locations and make subjective determinations of duration for completing an activity at any specific location.

The Location-Based Management System is driven by an innovative extension to CPM scheduling, using layered logic and communicated by Flowline diagrams. The underlying layered-logic CPM engine allows projects to be better managed, using individual locations as a unit of measurement, planning and control. Bills of Quantities (or builders measures) are broken down into these locations and then the work is planned as a series of continuous tasks which flow through the locations, in much the same way as a car is manufactured on an assembly line. In this way, the hospital becomes a factory and the productivity and quality improvements, which have been seen in recent years in the car industry, become available to the construction project.

The system exposes several factors which enable contractors to improve their performance.

  • Current production systems include allowance for a great deal of non-productive time (waste) which inflates costs and duration. By careful management of sub-contractors, the project is able to release much of this to improve the project performance.
  • Working out of sequence, a common occurrence in common production systems, leads to increased risk of damage, waste, incomplete work and consequential rework. The LBMS plans and controls for continuity in work crews, greatly reducing the risk of delays, costs and problems associated with rework.
  • Current planning systems tend to alert clients to problems too late for control action. The LBMS uses locations to calculate current production rates and in particular to control sub-contractor performance, such that an clear and accurate picture of project performance is achievable progressively and in time.
  • Risk management buffers can be removed from activity durations and be built into the schedule – allowing greater confidence.

Clients directly benefit from the LBMS, not just through improved contractor performance, but through the improved basis for calculating the impact of client change requests. The impact of a change on the construction schedule can be immediately seen, along with the consequences and the likely control actions required to negate the effect. The contractor is able to protect their production system, while providing greater flexibility to the client. Debates about whether variations are on the critical path are replaced by discussions of production rates and work flow. This greatly improves decision making and improves communication. The components of the system include:

Estimator 2008 supports large projects by enabling merging of separate sub-models quantities into a one coherent project estimate and by providing comprehensive Bid packages tools and versioning functionality.

  • Schedule Planning
  • Risk Analysis
  • Procurement Planning
  • Production Control

The LBMS has been designed specifically for the construction industry and gives contractors the ability to deliver projects faster while better managing risk and increasing productivity, predictability and transparency. It delivers greater confidence and lower risk to clients, while improving profitability for contractors and sub-contractors.

Posted by R.Kenley on Jan 04, 2011