Practicing VDC Through a Lean Lens


Laser scan of room

Lean philosophy can be used as a framework for Virtual Design and Construction(VDC)

Tocci’s VDC department is working with Operations and Field staff to integrate VDC practices more holistically. I am researching the benefits of VDC through a Lean “lens” to identify strategies for a successful implementation and create a fluid connection between departments.

Implementing VDC from a Lean perspective offers many solutions to radically improve the AEC industry. VDC utilizes BIM to visualize, organize and plan construction and design activities to minimize cost, waste, risk and schedule delays while maximizing quality, value and performance.

Below are some examples of VDC objectives using Lean that can benefit not only project construction, but the project team as well:

  • Reduce Construction Schedule
    • Real-time access to data and models speed up activities in the field, moving critical path items earlier in the schedule
    • Eliminating the buffers, contingencies and other hidden costs in each hand-off compresses the schedule and optimizes flow of information between the project team members
    • Reducing physical hand-offs and increasing direct communication between parties significantly lessens approval process times
    • Utilizing BIM models and coordination to reflect changes helps avoid potential costs and delays of rework in the field
    • Utilizing BIM models to prefabricate systems and automate locations maximizes time and efficiency
    • Optimizing construction and activity sequences simplifies management on-site while reducing labor pinch points
    • Eliminating on-site with a pre-coordinated BIM model, trade partners can virtually locate where their rough-ins will go instead of coordinating rough-ins amongst themselves
  • Reduce Construction Costs
    • Eliminating waste, rework and inefficient hand-offs
    • Revealing and avoiding risk and failures in the field reduces added waste removal
    • Utilizing BIM for modularization and pre-fabrication improves quality
    • Utilizing BIM to replace estimates with accurate material quantity and data
  • Reduce Construction Risks
    • Streamlining a single collaborative model eliminates hand-offs, rework and backtracking
    • Utilizing detailed clash detection and coordination reduces field errors
    • Enabling a firm schedule to coordinate work allows time before production and installation to review items

Lean + VDC management principles share common goals:

  • collaboration in design and construction
  • optimization of the whole system
  • participation of the end users

Implementing VDC promotes early involvement of all parties in all aspects of the project to remove waste, improve workflow and provides a path for sharing information between departments. It also allows for more accurate communication with the owner who can now visualize the project using the model. VDC tools, technologies and methods provide a smoother workflow and enhance coordination in the execution stage for all team members, thus strengthening the connection between departments.

VDC + Lean work together hand and glove. Understanding the symmetry between VDC + Lean is the basis for finding strategies to use VDC across the company. We have only begun to tap the advantages of VDC + Lean to generate and strengthen communication among project teams here at Tocci.

VDC + Lean = a successful project