Brief Introduction to the benefits of Lean Construction implementation by Glenn Ballard

A short video with some insight on Lean Construction by Glenn Ballard
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
For those who don't know about Lean Construction (and for those who do) I think this video is a nice way to learn a bit about it from one of the initiators of these way of working that is rapidly spreading all over the world. It is just a short conversation with Glenn Ballard, but it highlights some of the principles behind Lean Construction, specially the need for a change in mentality rather than a simple change in tools and software.

Of course the savings of 15-20% being accomplished by using this methodology should not be forgotten. At the end, some AEC professionals are only driven by cost, and it is logical.

via Lean Construction Spain

Show me more...

HOK's Approach to Social Media

Ken Young, Chief Information Officer at HOK explains HOK’s experience using social media.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Social media is a hot topic. Architecture Firms (and most of the other players in the AEC Industry) seem to lag behind those from other industries, but some of the big players are doing a lot of use of these tools, and it is good to learn from them. On the video below, Ken Young explains how HOK is using Social Media for Internal and External Purposes. Pretty interesting to watch.

One of the interesting points in the video is how HOK is using a second domain to show what the life working at HOK is. Many people might not be interested on the oficial corporate website, too serious, too focused on marketing purposes. The HOK Life website allows better understanding of the company and it is all made by HOK employees, and it is basically uncensored, meaning almost anything might get published there without prior approval of some top manager. Pure Social.

I am not sure how much of the Social Media Boom is a bubble or if it is all here to stay. In any case, I think that specially now with this recession, any way to improve communication internally or with customers, clients, potential employees, etc should be considered.

via David Light.

Show me more...

Revit: Show Grid and Reference Planes in All Views

Sometimes, reference planes or grid lines are not visible on all views, how do we get them to show everywhere?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I just had the experience of creating a reference plane and some structural grid lines, then adding some extra levels to my project, and not being able to see those reference planes and grid lines on the new levels views.

I assume this is because when we create grid lines or ref planes this just extent up to the levels we already have, so if we create a new level, these elements don't reach the new levels. Luckily, I also found how to solve this and have al ref planes and grid lines to show on all level views.

Simply select the element you are having problems visualizing and then press the right click button of the mouse and select "Maximize 3D Extents" (See above). This will slightly modify the representation of the plane on the current view, but it will make it visible in all other views.


Show me more...

Revit Basics: Select Previous

How do you select the previous object again?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch

Sometimes the little tricks and shortcuts are what make your workflow really efficient. That applies also to the BIM workflow, and of course to using Revit. One of the things that you notice when you start using a new software is that your speed doing certain things goes way down compared to the "other" software you previously used (if you were proficient with that other software".

One of the things I missed when starting to use revit was the option I used many times in AutoCAD of Select Previous. That is in AutoCAD to select the last object you had selected by entering "p" + ENTER while you are promted to select objects. This very simple shortcut, made working with AutoCAD very fast. How to do it in Revit?

Revit has also a way to select the previous selected object. I found it through HOK BIM Solutions (well actually through Google) and it is as simple as pressin Ctrl + Left Arrow. It saves loads of time, specially with complicated models where finding an object amongst a "jungle" of objects might take a while.

My last words are to say, that the same way I googled for a solution to my inquiry, anyone can. Sometimes it might take 1 minute to find the solution, sometimes it might take more. But if you are going to use some piece of software for many years isn't it worth it to spend once in awhile time searching for the way to work faster? Believe it is, do not keep working slowly if you think there might be a way to do it better, there always is. Actually that is how this website started, trying to find ways to work faster and recording them into a blog to find them later easily.


Show me more...

Master Thesis Abstracts of the IPM course available online

The HfT has a repository of all (or most) of the abstracts of the students master thesis available online.Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Not so long ago, I published here the summary of my Master Thesis on the Topic of BIM for Project Management. We have been told today that all abstracts are now available on the School website, so I thought I'd share the link to it so you can see the summary in pdf and properly edited form.

You can see the Abstract of my Master Thesis named "Using BIM as a Project Management Tool - How can BIM help the delivery of complex construction projects" here.

For all the other abstracts, see this page. The quality of the Master Thesis varies as it happens in any course. Two of the ones I know where pretty well done (besides mine ;P) are the ones by Jürgen M. Volm on Risk Management (focused in Germany) and the one from Ralf Schulmeister on how to implement Lean Management in Germany.

Since I posted the summary and references I got a lot of inquiries about the Master Thesis and I am very happy to answer those questions. If you need any help writing or researching a similar topic, please contact me and I'll do my best to guide you on the hard process of academic research.


Show me more...

Presentations of the First Meeting of the Spanish Group for Lean Construction

Now available online the presentations of the first meeting of the Spanish Group for Lean Construction.
English - Català - Deutsch
As I recently published, I recently attended the first meeting of the Spanish Group for Lean Construction. The presentations of this first meeting are now available online.

The two that I found most interesting were undoubtedly the one by Paul Napolitano from General Contractor Herrero of the United States on the theme of the Last Planner System (Last Planner System). A very interesting introduction to this method of collaborative planning. Unfortunately this one is not available online.

The one that you can see online is that of Antonio Rodriguez, from the firm BECS on the same topic. Here are the slides of the presentation (in Spanish).

Show me more...

Revit: Calculating the weight of structural members (and how to Fix that "Inconsistent Units" Problem)

Calculated values give sometimes "inconsistent units" errors. there is a fix for that of course.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I recently blogged about using Revit for Quantity Take Off. One of the things I was mentioning was the need to obtain the total steel weight to be able to estimate the costs of a steel structure. This is how I did it.

The main idea was to obtain the weight of the steel members. I will use the beams and bracing elements schedule for this example. I had families for the structural members with a weight per lineal meter parameter in them (I introduced that parameter myself from steel catalogs). I still needed to get Revit to calculate the total weight of each element with a fórmula. To do that, we need to add a new column on the schedule with a calculated value (length of the structural element times the weight per linear meter). On the Schedule view, click the Edit button near the "Fields" text in the properties palette. Then you will get a dialog like the one below (I am assuming you already have created a Schedule for Structural Beams and Bracing, and added the W parameter were you have entered the Weight per Linear Meter for each type of structural member).

The value we want is a calculated value of the default Length parameter times the W parameter we have created (Weight per linear meter). So we click on Calculated Value and we get the following dialog.

Logic seems to ask for a simple formula like "Length * W", but if we use this formula, we will get an error saying "Inconsistent Units". Well, this point turned me crazy for some hours until I found a solution here. Apparently, since Length has meters as units, you can't get a calculated value unless you "neutralize" those units. The formula in this case to be able to get the calculated value is "Length / 1 m * W". By dividing Length by 1 m, we eliminate the units from the formula and we are able to obtain the much wanted total weight for each element.

After doing this, my structural elements schedule looked like this, ready to be exported with all the information I needed to be able to do some estimations on the building structure (the right colored column shows the weight of each structural member).

Show me more...

Some basic CAD organization is necessary!!

You can0t work on a project with all your drawings on a single file, seriously, you are not a student anymore, and if you are, better start training for the real world.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I am lately working more often with BIM than I am with CAD, but recently opening and analyzing some CAD drawings recieved from an architect made me think about writing this post. The thing is, while there might be no way to organize a CAD (or BIM) project without any flaws, there are some basics that I find essential if you want to keep certain quality standards and ease of use.

If we talk about quality, there is a basic standard people should aim for, and that is about consistency of information between drawings. That is, if two walls are 6,50m apart in one drawing, the same walls should be 6,50m a part in another drawing. Does it sound too basic, well, believe me, I've seen very basic drawings not accomplishing even that. The reasons might be many, but, as I see it, you can't expect quality if you have ALL YOUR PROJECT DRAWINGS ON A SINGLE FILE AND WORK ON THIS SINGLE FILE!!
Sorry for the shouting, but this has been making me waste a lot of time.

Why would you work with all your drawings on a single file? I have no clue other than "because you haven't thought about a better way". Let's ask ourselves a few questions. If we work with all project drawings in one CAD file:
  • What happens if you want to split work amongst two people? You can't.
  • How do you check that columns, walls on other buidling elementsare on the same position in all floorplans? Well I assume you basically draw some help lines and go check if they allign, but doing this you only check in one direction...
  • What happens if you accidentally delete, loose, can't find or get a Fatal Error on your AutoCAD file? Well, instead of loosing or having to redo information about one floorplan or elevation, you might need to redo stuff in ALL your drawings
I guess I could come with even more questions that should make those who work this way stop and look for an improved process. I have work in quite big projects over the past 4 years, and none of those projects could be done having all drawings in a single file.
If you are an All Drawings in One File (ADIOF) Architect, maybe you think your projects are small enough to not require a file organization standard, well you are wrong. Any project works better if you split files. My little list for ADIOF Architects of what you could do as a minimum to increase quality and workability of your drawaing standards:
  • One file, one drawing: Anytime corrections need to be done you could have more than one people working on it
  • All floor plan drawings are on the same position in each drawing: this way you can easily use the other drawings as XREFs (External References)to check the consistency between them (the same way you would have done long ago putting one drawing on top of the other using transparent paper)
  • Use the same prefix for all files of the same sort (FL for Floor plans, EL for elevations, etc): This way your project folder will be organised by type of drawing.
  • Use a single file inserted as an External Reference for those elements such as column grids, elevator cores, stairs, etc that go vertically through the building: instead of modifying those elements once in each drawing, you will save time by changing them once only.
I think only with this 4 points, a project can start being something more workable, and checking consistency between drawings is simplified quite a lot. There are many more ways to improve how people work with CAD, but this came to me as the most basic file organization points everyone should follow.

Show me more...

First meeting of the Spanish Group for Lean Construction

I just came back from spending the day in Valencia, Spain were today I attended the first meeting of the Spanish Group for Lean Construction.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
It was an interesting day with some very good presentations on Lean Management, Lean Processes and some quite interesting case studies.
My favourite one was the presentation by Paulo Napolitano from the US general contractor Herrero, who explained their use of the Last Planner System.
Overall it was a great way to see that everyday there are more and more people in the AECO industry in Spain who understand the need for a more eficient industry and are willing to do something about it and share it with others.
Hopefully on the next meeting we will be able to show something of what we have been working on at Croxley to improve the Design and Construction process. Of course I will share as much as I can here with you.
Sorry for the long period of posting silence. Hopefully will post more regularly from now on.

Show me more...

Currently Reading: BIM and Construction Management

Very interesting Book on the BIM process focused on the Construction Management practice
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Someone I like to call my mentor, for I have learned so much in the last months talking to him, recomended me (and gifted me) the book I am currently reading. "BIM for Construction Management. Proven Tools, Methods and Workflows" by Brad Hardin, LEED AP, AIA.

I am half the way through the first chapter and I am already extremely satisfied about the book. The book starts with an introduction to the benefits of BIM (brief) and an overview of the most common construction delivery methods with their strong and weak points. The rest of the book is a compilation of how to plan ahead, how to organize the processes and how to manage the huge amount of information that is generated through BIM. A must read if you are into BIM and Construction Management or Process Improvement, or both or if you simply want to read a great book related to Construction. Some links below if you are interested in getting a copy.

or or

I can't say I read all of it, but I can say I recomend it based on the part and bits of chapters I have read. It talks about processes and I think BIG BIM is all about that: Process, process, process...

For more Book recomendations check here.

Show me more...

Lean Construction and Lean Architecture

Can Lean principles be applied to Architecture? To architects? Or are they only for Construction?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I was doing some research on Lean principles applied to Architecture and found some interesting articles I thought I'd share. But first, and for those who don't know anything about "Lean", I'll do a very brief introduction.

The term "Lean" applied to industry comes from the methodology applied by Toyota in their manufacturing to eliminate what is commonly known as "waste". Related to Lean, waste means anything that doesn't bring value to the end customer. I think the wiki article on Lean manufacturing is good to get an insight of the Lean principles, so I will not extent myself much more on the topic.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, some pioneers (mainly Koskela, Ballard and Howell) started to push for the implementation of the principles applied in Lean Manufacturing to the construction industry. This is now referred as Lean Construction, and to summarize in one sentence, it tries to improve the construction industry by eliminating anything in the process of construction that doesn't bring value to the project.

Lately, I was doing some research on how this Lean Principles can be applied to the everyday practice of architectural firms, and to architects in general. I came across this website called Lean Architecture. They have a couple of the articles there available that I found quite interesting, so I thought I'd share them here. Then I thought I needed a bit of an Introduction, and so I ended up with this relatively long post. So hope you find it interesting.

Lean principles can be important to optimize the way things are done in the AEC industry, will dig into them further on later posts, this was just a first intro on the topic. What is your opinion on Lean? Did you know about it? Do you think the principles are useful? Do you think they are too theoretical?

Show me more...

Vasari: Parametric Design and Energy Analysis Webcast

Autodesk is hosting a webinar on Energy Analysis and Parametric Design based on Vasari
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Next Thursday March 17th, there is a webinar from Autodesk about Parametric Design and Energy Analysis. It will show some of the features related to this topic in Vasari.

From the Autodesk Student Community page:
We will discuss energy simulation workflows and why students need to be aware of the tools available. Attendees will learn more about Autodesk® Project Vasari, an easy-to-use, expressive design tool for creating building concepts. Project Vasari is focused on conceptual building design using both geometric and parametric modeling. It supports performance-based design via integrated energy modeling and analysis features. We will also discuss passive thermal analysis and other tools available to accomplish sustainable design goals.

You can register for the webinar here, and see more information and other Autodesk Webinars here.

Show me more...