Lean at Penn State: Practicing What They Teach

Jan
06
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Lean at Penn State: Practicing What They Teach

In their second venture to implement a Lean Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach to maximize the value of the University Park campus environment, The Pennsylvania State University chose the design-assist construction management team consisting of: Barton Malow (construction manager), Southland Industries (HVAC/plumbing/fire protection), and M.C. Dean (electrical) to construct the new Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Laboratory Building (CEBME).  Through the lean IPD approach, the project teams will be able to manage the project through relationships, shared knowledge, and common goals.

At 195,000 gross square feet, the new Penn State CEBME building will replace the existing, aging Fenske Building. The design-assist construction management team has integrated with the Penn State Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) as well as the design team, led by HOK Architects with Vanderweil Engineers (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection) and now our lean journey is under way.  With demolition and construction scheduled to begin in September 2016, all disciplines of the project team are working diligently together to maximize value to the owner and eliminate waste – the basic purpose of lean.

At the Lean Construction Institute Congress that I attended in Boston, Massachusetts, in early October 2015, Assistant Director of Design and Construction Division with the Office of Physical Plant at Penn State, John Bechtel explained why Penn State is beginning to implement lean within their capital project delivery program:

  1. Lean has been embedded in a Penn State Design and Construction Education, so why isn’t it embedded in Penn State capital projects?  In other words, they want to practice what they teach.
  2. Penn State is tired of being a referee on their projects.  They spend too much time resolving conflicts and settling claims.
  3. Inspiration from the book, A Peacock in the Land of Penguins, which is a fable about creativity, courage, and innovation in the workplace.
  4. Constant pressure to do more with less (tuition freezes, shrinking funding, etc.)

Why now? Recent research has helped sell the idea to stakeholders. A study authored by Penn State, University of Colorado-Boulder, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln was completed for the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Construction Industry Institute. The study entitled, “Examining the Role of Integration in the Success of Building Construction Projects” has provided evidence of the benefits of highly integrated, collaborative teams and early involvement of the construction manager and specialty trades during the design phase.

So here we are in the dawn of 2016, beginning the design development phase of the project lifecycle.

As we continue to implement the IPD approach, we have established a team purpose statement, conditions of satisfaction, and key performance indicators. We have also established a Target Value Design (TVD) budget for the project as a whole as well as the individual elements. To lead the design towards the Target Value Design goal, we have organized into Cluster Groups, or cross-functional teams that share knowledge in an effort to make better informed decisions with less iteration.

Southland is represented in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection Cluster Group which also includes Penn State, Vanderweil, M.C. Dean, HOK, and Barton Malow. Our Cluster Group is evaluating many “innovations” to determine if they add value to Penn State. We have begun  lean learning which was kicked-off with a Lean Workshop where we reviewed overall lean concepts and focused on the A3 Process, Choosing By Advantages, and Pull Planning. Finally, we are starting to develop a plan for Academic Enhancement.  Our intension is to maximize the learning opportunity that this project provides for the Penn State students and faculty.

For years Southland Industries has recruited Penn State-educated engineers and project managers. I am proud to be one of them and we are very excited to not only be working to enhance this university campus, but to be delivering a lean integrated project with Penn State OPP and the rest of our team.  Stay tuned as my colleagues and I continue to update you on our Penn State lean journey.

For more information about the Penn State CEBME project, click here

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