Production Control Best Practices #5: Planning the Location Breakdown Structures

My earlier posts have focused on the technical aspects of LBMS and how to make sure that the forecasts are providing accurate and useful information. The next few posts will be about communicating the plan and getting on the same page with other stakeholders in the project. Production control is mainly about communication and commitment and less about technical tools. Everyone needs to be working to the same plan. The best results are achieved in a collaborative environment where plans are created as a team.


The Location Breakdown Structure (LBS) is the backbone of location-based management. To get greatest benefit for the project, all subcontractors working on the same construction phase (for example, superstructure or interiors) should agree on one LBS. The typical practice in projects has been that each subcontractor plans their own work using different location breakdowns. The electrical contractor thinks in terms of switchboards; the mechanical contractor is concerned about long duct runs; the floor covering contractor goes room by room; while the drywall contractor may divide the project into quadrants. This may be convenient for their own work planning purposes, but it is very difficult to understand the relationships between different contractors this way. Additionally, time is lost every time location breakdown changes because the tasks cannot be planned as close together. If the locations in the location-based schedule are not agreed to by all parties, there will be confusion about the sequence. Locations do not seem to be completed and work goes on in multiple locations at the same time. So getting accurate progress data becomes difficult.


To prevent these problems we recommend a Location Breakdown Structure workshop where all the designers and subcontractors involved in the construction phase participate. Locations are planned as a group so that one location can be completely finished before the next location is started. This should work for most or all trades and design team members and should apply to design, coordination, shop drawing creation, as well as production activities. The outcome of the meeting is an LBS sketch (such as shown below in Figure 1) which is approved by all parties, appended to all schedule reports and diagrams and added to actuals collection sheets.


sample lbs sketch



It also helps to make the locations highly visible on site so that workers are aware that they are leaving or entering a location (for example by painting location boundaries on floor). LBS sketches should be placed on the walls in each location and be highly visible in the trailer.


lbs sketch on trailer wall


It’s an elaborate dance orchestrating the correct flow of trades through a location and giving each the time and space they need to do their job correctly.  The LBS Workshop focuses the team on getting the logistics nailed down so everyone can do their part well.


Here are additional resources to help you learn more about LBS, location systems, and communicating these plans to your team:

Webinar: LBS Manager in the Vico Workflow

FAQs: LBS Manager

Blog: 4 Best Practices for Using 4D Manager to Communicate the Schedule

Training: Vico Office Video Training Series for Production Control


And be sure to go back and review the previous best practices for production control:

Part 1: Beyond Start Dates

Part 2: Get the Subs Involved

Part 3: Manpower and Suspensions

Part 4: Control Actions


Tags: lbms, lbs sketch, location-based scheduling, location breakdown structure, production control, LBS, lbs workshop