Five Steps to Industrialized Construction

This post is an excerpt from the paper, “Industrialization of the Construction Industry,” by Dr. Perry Daneshgari and  Dr. Heather Moore of  MCA Inc.

In today’s construction environment the value transferred to the customer for every dollar spent is only around 46 cents.  More than 40% of the tradesmen’ time on a job site is spent on material handling; most of the work on a job site is performed by highly trained and paid skill tradesmen.

Tweet: Over 40% of tradesmen’ time on a #construction job site is spent on material handling @Dassault3DS @3DSAEC #AEC #BIM to tweet: “Over 40% of tradesmen’ time on a
#construction job site is spent on material handling”

To achieve comparable results as have been seen in the manufacturing and other industries the construction industry has to take these same five steps:

1. Segregation of Work

The most important contribution of Fredrick Taylor’s work to industrialization of manufacturing was his ability to observe the skilled and unskilled tradesmen at work for a long period of time and being able to breakdown the conducted work. Once the work was broken-down it could then be managed by better management of time, location and contributing resources.

“Principles of Scientific Management,” by Fredrick Taylor

Once the work was visible and understood, it could be designed in the most optimal manner, and segregated among the resources available.

Translating the segregation of work to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) environment of today’s world would be using the work breakdown structure from the skilled trades’ perspective. Skilled tradesmen need to break down the work based on the required sequence of installation.

These installation packages would enable creation of work packages to be built and assembled by non-skilled workers.

2. Externalizing Work®

Henry Ford’s contribution to industrialization was to use the approach developed by Fredrick Taylor and create the work packages separate from the point of assembly of the final vehicle. Externalizing Work® in construction is using prefabrication process and techniques to improve reliability, safety, predictability and productivity of the work performed and labor usage.

In a recent example, Chinese used this method to construct a 15 story building in 6 days, where the traditional methods would have taken 9 to 12 months. There were zero accidents on the job site and the building was certified for 9.5 Richter scale earthquake resistance.

Tweet: How did the Chinese build a 15-story building in 6 days w/ ZERO accidents? @Dassault3DS @3DSAEC #prefab #AEC #BIM to tweet: “How did the Chinese build a
15-story building in 6 days w/ ZERO accidents?”

3. Application of Statistical Process Control (SPC)

Application of SPC was declared impossible in the AEC industry, until the ASTM Standard E2691 (Job Productivity Measurement -JPM) developed based on the JPAC® (Job Productivity Assurance and Control) proved everyone wrong. The main purpose of SPC was to predict the outcome of a project early on, and measure the deviation from the expected output as an ongoing measurement of progress and correction.

As part of the Agile Construction® methodology, JPAC® uses the knowledge based developed based on Drs. Shewhart and Deming’s approach in using ongoing production data to predict the deviation from expected output and project the end of the job outcome deviation. Using SPC, JPM/JPAC® is able to issue early warning signals for any common or special causes of deviation.

Using segregation and externalization of work this tool will enable higher effectiveness of the labor usage both at the production and final construction assembly site.

4. Application of Lean Process Design to improve Labor Effectiveness

Toyota’s approach to Lean Manufacturing Process design helped the manufacturing industry to focus on reducing waste, and activities which did not transfer value to the final customer, reducing their cost of production.

Application of Lean Processes in construction will require the usage of the three steps explained above. To reduce waste the work has to be segregated, externalized and tracked.

5. Application of 3D Modeling and Simulations and Feedback

To reduce the cost of design, development, prototyping, manufacturing and product life cycle durability, the next step in the industrial revolution was to manage the required information in an electronic modeling format. Modeling and simulation of all the product development and life cycle management was the outgrowth of the physical modeling.

Modeling works as an enhancement of the physical understanding and design of the final product and its usage. The accuracy of the modeling can only be improved by a real life feedback process.

The feedback mechanisms in manufacturing are typically sensors, servos and synchros, where in construction due to its manual final assembly nature the feedback comes from the final installer.

Tweet: The accuracy of modeling in #construction can only be improved by a real-life feedback process @Dassault3DS #AEC #BIM to tweet: “The accuracy of modeling in #construction
can only be improved by a real-life feedback process”

Short Interval Scheduling (SIS®) as part of the Agile Construction® process plays the role of the feedback sensor, servo or synchro. The “Lean Construction Solution Experience” developed by Dassault Systèmes is the models, simulations and life cycle management platform which enables the ability to get feedback from the final installer and model information within the work environment.

The Move to Industrialization

For the construction industry to match the productivity increases achieved by manufacturing the work has to be studied, segregated, externalized and commoditized. To reduce the cost and improve the productivity, lower-skill and non-skill workers have to be able to find work in the industry.

In order to effectively use a lower composite rate to reduce construction cost, lower-skilled workers have to be employed and used on the jobsites as well as off the jobsite in prefabrication or material management services such as vendor-managed inventory.

To manage the lower-skill levels the construction work has to be broken down into manageable chunks and the type of work has to be segregated. To allow lower skilled labor to contribute to work, the work has to be modularized and brought to the most common denominators.

This post is an excerpt from the white paper, “Industrialization of the Construction Industry,” by Dr. Perry Daneshgari and Dr. Heather Moore. Commissioned by Dassault Systemes and prepared by MCA Inc., this whitepaper focuses on industrialization of construction industry.

It maps out the construction industry challenges, relates the history of industrialization in the manufacturing industry, and summarizes five critical aspects and approaches.

Download the whitepaper and start accelerating the “Industrialization of the Construction Industry” through lessons learned from manufacturing and other industries.

Tweet: 5 Steps to Industrialized #Construction @Dassault3DS @3DSAEC #AEC #BIM to tweet this article


Related Resources:

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience

Download Optimized Construction Solution Brief

White Paper: Industrialization of the Construction Industry

MCA® Website



As head of global marketing for the AEC Industry at Dassault Systèmes, Mr. Moriwaki launches and promotes groundbreaking Industry Solution Experiences including "Optimized Construction," "Façade Design for Fabrication," and "Civil Design for Fabrication." He is a member of buildingSMART.