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Canadian Construction Association explores impact of lean construction

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by Vince Versace

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has begun to explore what its role should be when it comes to lean construction project delivery for its membership nationwide.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has begun to explore what its role should be when it comes to lean construction project delivery for its membership nationwide.

Lean construction project delivery (lean construction) is a series of concepts and goals which aims at capitalizing on efficiencies in every construction process on a project. Construction stakeholders that have participated in or are starting to learn about lean construction have explained that among its main tenets are transparency, collaboration and trust among a project’s partners.

“We are starting to get owners asking for it,” said Kees Cusveller, vice-chair of CCA’s general contractors council and Graham Group’s vice-president of alternative procurement and delivery.

At the CCA’s recent director’s board meeting in Victoria, B.C. members of the association’s general contractors council discussed what CCA’s lean construction role, if any, should be. The council determined that CCA should likely have a role in somehow facilitating the training and educational options available to its members. The council will report back in fall on what it has found.

>In the United States there is the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), founded in 1997, which consists of owners, contractors and consultants. LCI developed the Lean Project Delivery System, “that applies lean construction principles and tools to facilitate planning and control, maximize value and minimize waste throughout the construction process” according to its website.

The differences between lean construction and other forms of project management delivery, according to LCI, are:

Control is redefined from “monitoring results” to “making things happen”

Performance is about maximizing value and minimizing waste;

Project delivery entails the simultaneous design and production process of a facility;

Value to the customer is defined, created and delivered throughout the life of the project;

Action is coordinated via continuous flow as opposed to schedule-driven pushes;

Decentralized decision making through transparency and empowerment.

A couple of CCA general contractor council members mentioned one of Canada’s highest-profile lean construction projects currently taking place in Moose Jaw, Sask. In that project, the design and construction of a new regional hospital is using lean construction, blended with integrated project delivery (IPD).

The $103.8 million hospital is believed to be the first healthcare facility in Canada to be built incorporating both concepts. The project is being undertaken by a team of architectural, engineering and construction firms selected as a result of its expertise in lean construction and IPD. It includes a mix of Canadian and U.S. firms: Graham Construction, Boldt Company, Stantec Architecture Ltd., Stantec Consulting Ltd., Devenney Group Architects and Black & McDonald.

Cusveller noted that lean construction is part of the larger movement in construction which includes the increased use of BIM (Building Information Modeling) and IPD.

>John Bockstael, president and chief executive officer of Bockstael Construction Limited, explained that his company has been trying to educate itself about lean construction. Some of the issues it has run into include not being able to purchase LCI educational materials without a United States address and enrolling employees in educational courses in the U.S.

He believes CCA has the ability to access lean construction expertise in the U.S. and “get us into the education stream” as association members.

Some members of the CCA general contractors council, who have familiarized themselves with lean construction, noted that it would be “far better to piggyback” on the U.S. lean construction program than to try and have it “Canadianized”.

Lean construction is a project delivery process which is not impacted by national barriers, another member added.

Another council member suggested CCA contact the Associated General Contractors of America to learn about their experience in working with LCI and educating its members about lean construction.

CCA staff indicated that the association could take on a role to facilitate training and possibly secure better costing for course prices or educational documentation.

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