BIM versus Lean Construction

Purely factually speaking, BIM and Lean Construction or the Last Planner System ® do not conflict with each other. Both methods complement each other very well. But why am I still forced to use the term „versus“ in my article in the headline?

If you are looking around the social networks, you will find many groups on LinkedIn or on Xing on the topics of BIM or Lean Construction. Many blogs also deal with either the one or the other topic. My blog is one of the few exceptions.

Let’s look at what commonalities the two methodologies have outside the technical content. Both methods have developed in parallel. Both methods Have not yet been used nationwide in companies. Both methods are applied specifically by consultants and trainers in the companies. BIM consultants and Lean Construction consultants work both independent of each other. For all consultants, it is currently an interesting and lucrative business.

Consulting needs experience. But consulting also needs the courage to continually deal with new things. In the past, the consultants were mostly fortunate enough to be able to deal with new things while the ongoing activities were coming to an end. Now we are confronted with many topics at the same time: BIM, Lean Construction, cloud, platform strategies of the major software manufacturers, effects of the restrictions on network freedom in America, …

While the BIM consultants and Lean Construction consultants focus on their areas, users can gain the impression that the mutual negation of each other’s subject matter is partly due to ignorance or happens in part intentionally.

The process of building is one of the five BIM phases. The classic BIM consultant mainly focuses on the technical consideration of the creation and further use of the BIM model. The Lean Construction consultant focuses on the productivity increase of the teams on the construction site with the Last Planner system. The BIM methodology focuses on the digital model, the Last Planner System ® on the teams. But part of the processes is the same content. Anyone who uses BIM wants and needs to work digitally. If the opinion of many Lean Construction trainers is the case, the Last Planner System ® should only be used not digitally.

If a company now wants to use BIM and the Last Planner System ® , how should the respective departments or cooperation partners behave?

Example: A large construction project is created completely in BIM. Everything is digitally recorded. All contractors have received their orders digitally. Now you will meet for the first major meeting or cooperative phase scheduling. Everyone gets a stack of sticky notes in their hand and labels the notes manually with a short description of their activity. From now on, it goes on manually. At the end of the day, all handwritten notes have been made with their appointments and finally, each with his smartphone photographed the constellation of notes on the wall. Back at the office, everyone enters their appointments in Outlook and makes the appointments with notes. The project leader is forced to make a manual listing of all the notes, preferably in an Excel spreadsheet. It then creates a log of the day and sends it with the Excel spreadsheet to all participants in a round e-mail. In the email, he asks everyone to review the content and report any discrepancies. Due to the many parallel handwritten notes or tabular statements, mistakes are unintentionally creeping in again and again. The BIM-building-project is successfully and productively executed on the construction site, except for one point. At the end of the construction phase, all information, corrections, or changes must be added back to the digital model. Now the project leader is forced to review all manual records – including the numerous e-mails and their attachments – and meticulously ensure that the LOD/LOI 400 is a LOD/LOI 500. At the latest, it is avenged that the digital path has been deliberately abandoned during the project.

The Last Planner System ® is a very good way to make the construction phases more productive and not only when it is not running. BIM projects can then be handled efficiently if each phase is digitally worked. BIM and Lean Construction are basically not in contradiction to each other.

What do users need to use both methodologies?

Users need consultants who understand both methodologies and are willing to see both methodologies as a unit. Users need digital tools that allow them to use both methodologies as a unit.

Are the current consultants able to communicate both methodologies as a single user?

Basically, I think it is feasible that BIM consultants can also learn and multiply the part lean construction. I also think it feasible for lean construction consultants to be active in the BIM area. All consultants deal with the same processes and the same customer groups. They just must want it. But they must be ready to act quickly.

There is a third group of consultants who are more receptive to new technologies. A whole series of IT and CAD system houses have not yet found the place in the digitization of the construction industry. For years, they have been caring for customers from the construction industry. They are not prestressed in either one or the other methodology and are looking for new fields of activity. You are familiar with the cloud or new hardware products. Only the digital applications and a basic knowledge of the methods are missing.

If you feel as a BIM consultant, lean construction Consultant or IT/CAD system house now and are ready to venture something new, then you should contact me.

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