In my PhD research (available online at http://lib.tkk.fi/Diss/), I found that subcontractor meetings typically dwelled on the past instead of focusing on the future. Only 12% of production problems which could be seen from the production control data were discussed formally in the weekly subcontractor meetings. Is the time well spent if 80% of the meeting focuses on the past and just 20% on the future? Typical meetings I have witnessed have each subcontractor recite a status report which is largely irrelevant to others. A great opportunity to do planning for the future is missed. I propose that just 20% should focus on the past and 80% on the future. How to get there? 5D can be the answer.
The key to prevent too much time spent on past performance is to have everyone on the same page already before they come to the meeting. In LBMS best practices, subcontractors self-report their progress which is then combined and reported by the production engineer. Control charts of all ongoing construction phases and flowline diagrams of any identified problem areas should be distributed to the participants before the meeting. It is important to spend 20% of the time discussing the past to identify any problems which have resulted in schedule deviations during the past week. Each subcontractor should explain any red and yellow squares in the control chart, any suspended tasks and tasks having production rate problems. The discussion should focus on how to fix these problems going forward.
80% of the time should be spent discussing the future. This discussion greatly benefits from 5D and LBMS information. These tools do not help if a Project Engineer implements them “secretly” in his/her cubicle and does not participate in the subcontractor meetings. The information must be exposed to everyone in the project. Subcontractor meetings are the perfect medium for this. To minimize confusion, this needs some preparation. Subcontractors should be trained to read LBMS reports by running LBMS orientation workshops. The most important reports are control charts, flowline diagrams and numerical completion reports. Flowline diagrams should be used from the beginning in subcontractor meetings so that everyone gets familiar with them. Many people get intimidated by the “complexity” of too many lines. The best practice is to limit the amount of lines to 3-5 per print-out. Only show the problem task, predecessor task and the successor task with planned, actual and forecast. These figures are simple enough for everyone to understand and use to decide on concrete actions and commitments. Looking at flowline schedules is similar to reviewing clashes in the model.
Models are easier to understand so it should be used in combination. Models should be used to review work areas. When work in a location is discussed, the Production Engineer should isolate the location in LBS Manager. It is then easy to relate any issues to the model. For example, if the plumbing contractor cannot install pipe because interference walls are not installed, the location in question should be shown and the contractor should show the wall which is missing in the model. This promotes common understanding of issues and often brings up new information from the team.
Caption: The best practice for using LBMS in conjunction with 5D includes: (1) establishing the LBS and reviewing the quantities per location; (2) reviewing the tasks per location and their sequence; and (3) communicating the schedule to the Subs with simulation movies.
Although many companies are implementing LBMS and 5D in their projects, most are just starting to leverage the information in subcontractor meetings. Many innovative companies have used models for some time to review constructability issues and sequences. The next step is to integrate models and LBMS for real 4D/5D in subcontractor meetings!
Catch up on all the articles in this series:
Part 1: Beyond Start Dates
Part 2: Get the Subs Involved
Part 3: Manpower and Suspensions
Part 4: Control Actions
Part 5: Planning the LBS
Part 6: Clarifying Scope
Part 7: Look-Ahead Plans
Part 8: Running Parallel Schedules
Part 9: Resource Graphs
Part 10: Production Rates and Location Sequence
To learn more about communication strategies utilizing integrated BIM models, please refer to the following resources:
Blog: Why a Schedule Must Be More than a Movie
Blog: 4 Best Practices for Using Schedule Simulations
Webinar: Planning AND Controlling the Construction Schedule
Video: the BIM for Dummies video series