Granlund combines lean practices with technology to get more time for value creation.
“In the old days we had ample time to create a complete design before the construction started. Those days are over,” says Jukka Tyni, Deputy Managing Director at Granlund. Big projects have become aggressively fast, with design and construction happening at the same time.
From Process Waste to Value Creation
Granlund is a leading Finnish design, consultancy, and software services company that specializes in energy efficiency. They’ve worked on several demanding projects, like the Helsinki Music Center, West Metro, and the renovation of Stockmann’s department store in downtown Helsinki.
Tyni says that following lean thinking on large projects is challenging. He would like to see more time for design and see it advance at a logical pace, but these things don’t usually happen. He gives an example: to supply HVAC contractors with sufficiently accurate designs for the bidding process, Granlund must deliver working drawings early even though the architect is still doing preliminary design work. This leads to a lot of rework later in the project; in other words, process waste.
Tyni believes that there are ways to remedy these problems with lean practices and project re-engineering. Precise synchronization of the design and construction schedules can diminish process waste. It is essential that all the project parties understand each other’s needs and opportunities. Project alliances, for example, have fixed many problems on big projects.
Towards Virtual Big Rooms
Big Rooms and workshops can improve communication within projects. If they are well-prepared, the participants are committed, and there are people present with authorization to make quick decisions, the process speeds up and innovative solutions are more likely to emerge.
Communication and design collaboration outside workshops are mostly digital. Only one or two from the design team out of a dozen typically attend a Big Room or meeting. That’s why Granlund is examining solutions for virtual Big Rooms that allow a larger number of people to be connected, regardless of their location.
Granlund has been exploring several collaboration and task management tools. They’ve used Trello, SharePoint, and OneNote for internal collaboration, while tools like Confluence, Jira, ModelSpace, SharePoint, and SmartSheet are good for task management.
Collaborating with BIM
Every construction project nowadays uses centralized project servers for the exchange of BIMs, schedules, and documents. Projects start with an information management meeting where the attendees agree on guidelines, the standards to be used, and information management practices.
Modern BIM software enable practically real time multi-party collaboration on the same model. The challenge is how to communicate design changes to other project participants. Particular software can compare revisions and report on model changes automatically. Projects have specialized BIM coordinators whose job is to conduct weekly or bi-weekly reviews in order to ensure that the models on the shared server are compatible.
Granlund has used BIMs routinely since the mid-1990s. The company has learned that having the big picture on the whole project is critical in lean construction. “If you only work on a small part of the model, you can lose sight of where you’re headed, much like using a navigator that only shows you the next few blocks,” Tyni observes.
Granlund was founded in 1960 and ever since it has been in the technological vanguard. The company has used Virtual Reality, design automation, and many other cutting-edge technologies. Now, they’re looking into the possibilities of using artificial intelligence. “I see AI helping in BIM coordination and design optimization,” Tyni predicts.