A recent edition of Aveva Perspectives advocates the ‘wholesale incorporation of a lean philosophy’ by the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) sector. ‘Lean’ manufacturing techniques, which include ‘just in time,’ and ‘six-sigma,’ are widely used in discrete manufacturing—but no so much in EPC.
Aveva attributes the relative low take-up of lean in construction to a complex contracting environment, high levels of scrutiny and compliance requirements. But the ‘overriding constraint’ is time. Projects must be delivered in shorter and shorter timescales, offering little opportunity for continuous improvement, prototyping or the application of engineering best practices as in the automotive industry. Stakeholder fragmentation, incentives for quick completion of sub-components and the lack of feedback are also problematical.
Aveva sees positive signs, notably the advent of ‘new contracting styles’ and the emerging technologies of affordable laser scanning and mobile computing. These are core to Aveva’s goal of a lean approach that is applicable to ‘one-off’ projects. The trick is to use routine in-project laser scanning to provide all stakeholders with access to a model that is kept up to date with constant feedback on the real state of the construction process.
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