Know How
4. October 2023

Revolution in construction site organization: BIM and Last Planner in practice

The construction industry is experiencing a paradigm shift as a result of advancing digitalization and new management methods. Two of these innovative approaches - Building Information Modeling (BIM) and LEAN - are at the heart of this change. Their symbiosis promises a significant increase in efficiency in construction site organization. But what exactly is behind this combination and how do construction companies and site managers benefit from it? specter explains the fusion of the two worlds of BIM and LEAN.

Building Information Modelling: More than 3D models

When we talk about Building Information Modeling, or BIM for short, we are opening a window into the future of construction. Think of BIM as a virtual model of a planned building that not only looks like the actual building, but also "thinks" and "communicates". It's as if you have an intelligent 3D model that can tell you everything about the building - from the thickness of the walls to the type of heating system.

More than just 3D

BIM goes far beyond a simple three-dimensional representation. It's like giving a building a full health check before it's even built. This model is not just a visual representation, it contains a wealth of information that is important for every step of the construction process.

A plan that thinks for itself

Imagine planning a trip and having an app that not only shows you the route, but also takes into account the weather, tells you when to refuel and what sights you can visit. BIM is like this app, but for construction. It helps you plan, shows you what you need and adapts when things change.

Data, data and more data

Every element in the BIM model is filled with data. This can be anything from the type of screws in the door hinges to the lifespan of the roofing material. Think of it as a three-dimensional database: The information can be accessed and updated at any time, making it an invaluable tool for planning and managing a construction project.

Collaboration in a new dimension

With BIM, architects, engineers, contractors and clients all work on the same digital model. Changes made by one person are immediately visible to all. This promotes collaboration and helps to avoid misunderstandings that could otherwise lead to costly errors.

A living archive

After the building has been completed, the BIM model remains valuable. It serves as a digital manual that contains information on how the building should be maintained and operated. This is particularly useful when renovations or extensions are planned.

Advantages of BIM: an overview

  • Visualization: Allows everyone involved to see the planned work in the form of detailed models.

  • Coordination: Promotes collaboration through accessibility and transparency of planning information.

  • Accuracy: Reduces errors and enables more precise planning and execution.

  • Documentation: Provides a comprehensive database for the entire life cycle of a building.

The Last Planner System: LEAN management in the construction industry

The Last Planner System (LPS) is an innovative project management method developed specifically for the construction industry. It is based on the principles of LEAN management, a philosophy that originated in manufacturing and aims to eliminate everything that is superfluous while maximizing value for the customer.

LEAN principles at the heart of the Last Planner system

LEAN management focuses on the efficiency of work processes. It is about identifying and eliminating waste in all forms - be it materials, time or talent. The Last Planner System takes these principles and applies them to the construction site.

Planning that gets to the point

In LPS, the entire construction process is broken down into smaller, manageable pieces. Every phase, every step is planned in detail, with the aim always being to do only what is necessary and avoid anything unnecessary. This can mean planning more precisely when materials will be delivered to prevent overflow, or ensuring that workers don't have to wait for instructions or resources.

The big picture in view

The special thing about the Last Planner system is that it not only keeps an eye on daily tasks, but also on the entire course of the project. Not only are the next week's activities planned, but the system also continuously checks how these fit into the overall project schedule. In this way, delays can be recognized at an early stage and countermeasures can be initiated.

Control through feedback

Regular feedback is a key component of the LPS. After each phase or work step, an assessment is made of what went well and what could be improved. This information is used to optimize future planning. This ensures a continuous improvement process and increasing efficiency over the course of the project.

Closer collaboration within the team

The Last Planner system promotes collaboration and communication within the team. Every worker is encouraged to give input on what is realistic and what is not. This leads to more realistic plans and a stronger team cohesion to stick to them.

Advantages of the Last Planner system: an overview

  • Flexibility: Improves adaptability to changes and unexpected events.

  • Efficiency: Reduces downtime and unproductive time through better planning.

  • Communication: Strengthens communication between all levels of the construction project.

  • Accountability: Increases the accountability of the individual trades through participatory planning.

The synergy of BIM and LPS: a game changer

The marriage of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the Last Planner System (LPS) is a revolutionary combination that aims to modernize the construction industry. This synergy has the potential to fundamentally change the way projects are managed and delivered and brings numerous benefits.

A new level of planning and coordination

BIM provides construction managers and foremen with a detailed and data-supported overview of the entire construction project. This insight makes it possible to identify potential problems at an early stage and rectify them before they affect the construction process. The combination with LPS enhances this effect by enabling agile planning that is adaptable and responsive. This allows reassessment and planning of what needs to be done each week and ensures that the actual work seamlessly matches the construction progress in the BIM model.

Scenario: A practical example

Imagine a construction project manager is able to accurately plan the installation of electrics in a new build by combining BIM and LPS. With BIM, he can see where cables need to run and how they intersect with other building elements. With LPS, he can then ensure that the electricians are on site exactly when the preliminary work is completed - not too early and not too late. This prevents idle time and allows work to continue smoothly.

Optimization of the use of resources

BIM makes it possible to accurately calculate the need for materials and personnel, which minimizes over-ordering and stockpiling. LPS adapts planning to real-life conditions and ensures that resources are available exactly when they are needed. This leads to a reduction in waste and cost savings.

Example: Efficient use of materials

When planning a high-rise building, the use of BIM could enable the team to accurately determine the amount of concrete required. LPS could then be used to instruct the concrete supplier to deliver the exact amount at specific times to avoid overages and thus save costs.

Improved communication and collaboration

Using BIM as a central source of information and LPS as a framework for team communication ensures that everyone is on the same page. This reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and errors and allows all trades to work in sync.

Example: Interdisciplinary coordination

In a complex construction project with many trades involved, BIM enables all teams to see changes in real time. If an engineer makes an adjustment to the supporting structure, the teams involved can adjust their plans accordingly, which is communicated effectively using LPS.

Real-time progress monitoring

The combination of BIM and LPS makes it possible to track the progress of a project in real time. Site managers can intervene immediately if they notice deviations from the plan, which significantly increases responsiveness and leads to an optimized construction process.

Example: Dynamic adaptability

During the construction of a bridge, an unexpected event could affect the schedule. With BIM, the project manager can visualize the impact of the event on the construction schedule, while LPS can be used to quickly adjust the work plans to minimize time loss.

Higher quality of work

The precise planning and coordination made possible by the symbiosis of BIM and LPS helps to reduce the likelihood of errors. The resulting higher quality of construction work can reduce the need for rework and increase stakeholder satisfaction.

Example: Defect rectification

Let's say a problem with the electrical installation is discovered during the construction phase of a residential complex. An employee can immediately take a photo of the defect and enter it directly into the digital building model. This allows the problem to be precisely located and documented. The LPS system can then immediately schedule the necessary remaining work. This enables the defect to be rectified quickly and precisely, minimizes delays in the construction process and ensures that the construction progress meets the high quality requirements.

A practical example: Visible successes

BIM and LPS in action: the construction of a shopping center

The construction of a shopping center is a complex undertaking that requires precise planning and coordination. Here, the integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the Last Planner System (LPS) achieved an exemplary success that is instructive for construction managers and project managers alike.

Planning with 4D BIM models

The project began with the creation of a 4D BIM model, which took into account not only the spatial structures but also the time factor. For the site managers, this meant that they had a visual representation of the entire project at every stage of development. They could see when and where certain works were planned and how these interacted with other tasks.

Tangible benefits:

  • Visualization of the schedule: Each step could be tracked in the model, which promoted an intuitive understanding of the overall schedule.

  • Early detection of conflicts: Potential schedule clashes between different trades became visible before they led to real problems.

  • Adjustment of planning in real time: In the event of delays, alternative plans could be developed and implemented immediately.

Increased efficiency through LPS

The Last Planner System played a decisive role in the operational implementation of planning. Weekly work packages were defined, specifying precisely what needed to be done. These packages were continuously adapted to the actual conditions on the construction site. The site management thus had an effective tool in their hands to manage and control the execution.

Tangible benefits:

  • Realistic planning: the weekly work packages ensured that planning remained realistic and feasible.

  • Proactive action: Problems could be addressed before they affected progress.

  • Improved teamwork: The clear, well-communicated plans encouraged collaboration and increased productivity.

Quantifiable results

The most impressive result was the measurable reduction in construction time by 10% and costs by 15%. For the construction management team, this not only meant successful project delivery, but also confirmed that digital transformation in construction offers real and significant benefits.

Tangible benefits:

  • Time savings: The reduced construction time meant that the shopping center was up and running earlier, resulting in increased profitability.

  • Cost savings: The reduction in cost variance improved budget forecasting and the financial stability of the project.

  • Competitive advantage: The successful execution of the project strengthened the reputation of the construction company and its position in the market.

Conclusion for the construction management

The integration of BIM and LPS in this shopping center project serves as a concrete example of how modern technology and efficient planning systems can lead to real savings and improved project delivery. It illustrates that digitalization in the construction industry is not just a buzzword, but a practical tool that can improve the way we build. Construction management can learn from this example and apply similar methods in future projects to increase time, cost and quality.

Why BIM and Last Planner are the future

The integration of BIM and LPS is more than just an improvement of existing processes - it is a fundamental redesign of the construction organization. For construction companies that commit to this integration, doors open to greater efficiency, cost savings and increased quality in their construction projects. In an industry characterized by tight margins and high competitive pressure, the symbiosis of BIM and the Last Planner system can be a decisive advantage.

Further links:

Check out our regular webinars or meet us at the trade fair. You can find all dates in our central construction event calendar: Click here .

Have you read the latest press report about us? Read it now: Click here.

You can read all about the advantages of specter on the construction site and illustrative examples here: Click here.

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