Our mission is to exceed your expectations and empower your mission through the buildings we deliver. It's our guidepost for every project and client. Delivering at this level requires constant and collaborative innovation and improvement.
We use the Last Planner® System of Production Control. Based on lean principles, it is a disciplined methodology that builds more predictability into the schedule when applied to construction projects with safer work environments, happier crews and fewer change orders—ultimately resulting in exceptional end products for our clients. We have been using many parts of Last Planner for years – most notably our focus on collaboration with the owner, architects and subcontractors, but we've found additional benefits with the full implementation.
In lean terms, “Last Planner" refers to those who create tasks for direct workers to perform, so at our jobsites, Last Planner is focused on the subcontractor foremen. Respect for those individuals and their crews' time is a key tenant of Last Planner, which provides standards and guidelines to enable reliable work flow on construction projects.
We used the methodology on the recently-completed The Loden, a luxury four-story, 246-unit multifamily apartment building in Edina, Minnesota, developed, designed and constructed by our team.
Following Last Planner training, or “boot camp," for our associates, a master Work Plan was created for The Loden, followed by adoption of a lean “Pull Plan" with project phases and timing. An opposite methodology to conventional “push scheduling" where the superintendent dictates tasks and timing to subcontractors, pull planning places responsibility on the subcontractors to work together to ensure delivery by certain dates. The Pull Plan established agreement on expectations between all subcontractor foremen regarding project phases and timing, which resulted in time savings and other benefits on the project.
“Last Planner aims to align subcontractors and have them working toward the same goal," said Pat Qualley, senior project manager for Opus Design Build, L.L.C. “Instead of stepping on each other's toes, subcontractors know what and where the other trades are at any given moment. It optimizes the whole, not just the individual trades."
With seven general foremen and 30 subcontractors at The Loden, communication was key. In addition to weekly Work Plan meetings, superintendent Marco Alfaro held daily “huddles" or 10 – 15 minute standup meetings where they were able to discuss open issues for the day and sequencing. Because they met daily, adjustments could be made right away, instead of waiting for the weekly meeting. This allows for proactive problem solving and less rework and less time lost.
In a way, Last Planner is a team sport. Working from the same shared roadmap to reach a common goal, subcontractors are empowered to collaborate and make decisions amongst themselves regarding workflow and direction.
“They make decisions together and hold each other accountable to those agreed upon decisions," said Charlie Kordonowy, field engineer for Opus Design Build, L.L.C. “If one gets behind, everyone collectively discusses it and we either adjust the sequence or come up with a solution to get the sequence back on track."
Last Planner was used for several phases of The Loden. Significant process efficiencies were gained, saving two weeks on the schedule for those phases – an extremely positive outcome.
“Last Planner gives us a framework for staying even more organized," Marco said. “It's consistent, measurable and helps us more accurately predict phase completion dates within the Work Plan."
Last Planner was a resounding success at The Loden. In addition to time savings and other efficiencies gained, we received Minnesota Safety and Health (MNSHARP) certification for the project, which recognizes companies for going beyond basic compliance for OSHA standards, resulting in immediate and long-term prevention of job-related injuries and illnesses.