Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buildings aren’t cars, microwaves or ipods.

They may be called machines for living, however they are not easily mass producible.
(not even through modular designs – as sites, users, conditions vary enough between instances to make them unique and consequently unlike manufacture);

So, why do we so often bring in manufacture as the ‘leader’ to follow, when we try to improve building delivery processes?

I don’t quite know why this is happening, our natural tendency to find parallels between familiar systems has something to do with it.

I also have a (slightly quirky) alternative view relevant to this;
I believe that, the following industries have more common with building delivery than manufacture:
Food & Beverage (more the slow than the fast variety)
Emergency Medicine

Not convinced? They all face issues that are common with design/documenting/construction:

They all manage suppliers that vary in quality and can let them down at short/no notice.
Their processes are highly manual and rely on skills of individuals.

Most importantly, the Time/Quality/Price triangle is heavily tipped towards the time for all of them.

A restaurant will have to deliver within a very limited timeframe.
Transatlantic travel on a boat may be pleasant and cost effective but most people still choose to fly and when it comes to life or dead situations that A&E services deal with, time is absolutely critical.

Keep an eye out for  those industries!

1 comment:

  1. I argue that while the construction industry may resemble a restaurant more than a shipyard, that does not mean we should aspire to emulate the restaurant. The manufacturing sector found creative and more efficient ways to produce their products precisely because they reaembled the construction industry. The only difference is that manufacturing attempts to build many copies of the same item, while construction attempts to build many items differentlky each time. Nevertheless, what we are really doing is manufacturing and adopting techniques that they find successful when applied with tools that are customized for our needs. BIM technology is simply a tool, but when used to prefabricate assemblies, time is reduced in its negative influence and quality and price are improved. In the simplest sense, this has been done for a long time with structural steel, drywall, and curtainwall; even roofing membrane is a form of prefabrication. These are successful because we modeled our activities after manufacturing, not Veal Picatta. Prefabrication keeps waste of the jobsite, meeting one of the highest principles of LEED (managing waste). Prefabrication reduces onsite labor, meeting the highest principle of OSHA (keeping people safe). Prefabrication meets the highest principle of owners (highest quality, shortest construction period, and best price. Treating components and assemblies of construction as manufactured objects allows us to work when the building structure is not yet erected (good for labor).
    BIM is not a panacea; it is a tool by which we can leverage and transfer our best practices and ideas directly, digitally, and without translation (that last one has some work yet, but we are trying).