Monday, April 28, 2008

Journal #26: JIT and D&C

As I am running out of time and ideas for journal entries, I thought I'd put some more thoughts on the dynamics of the Design and Construction course. I am putting together the final report with my group, which is basically a summary of how we designed our study, what conclusions we drew from the data, and how we'd change the way the study was done for future students (they want to continue this type of study next year).

When I was researching different types of lean construction applications that we could use for the study, I read a lot of The Machine That Changed The World which is a history and analysis of lean production. Lean production is an production management technique, originated in post-WWII Toyota factories, that focuses on minimizing waste and creating flexible manufacturing lines. The concepts promoted by lean construction essentially have made Ford's assembly line obsolete.

One thing that is funny about the D&C class is that many new construction management techniques are used without any real reference to the research being done that promotes these techniques. For example, the D&C project is absolutely a "fast track," where the design process is concurrent with construction. It wasn't even a choice for Larry to design the process like this as there is such little time that construction must be started as soon as possible. Still, concurrent construction practices are changing the bidding and management practices continually.

Another example of this is an application of lean construction/production of "Just In Time" or JIT. JIT promotes efficiently managing your inventory by reducing it as much as possible, and thus reducing waste and saving money. The concept is that new materials arrive just as the previous materials are being used up, so any inventory is used up very quickly. Toyota did this by having majority/partial ownership (daughter companies or something like that) of their direct and most important suppliers.

JIT takes in part in D&C because as soon as we get supplies, they are immediately installed on the site if there is no delay (like today's delay: weather). There is hardly any inventory sitting around, as there is not any room available. Although it could be convenient to have all the supplies sitting waiting for us, it is not feasible. So deliveries must be scheduled with the week's work, and the work is dependent on the delivery being on time.

Think this is a legitimate comparison? Maybe throw it in the report? Maybe not, but I could look good in front of my advisor for bringing it up.

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