Lean construction is all about getting more for less and getting it faster. I had been hearing about lean construction but didn’t know much about it until I attended a conference in Colorado Springs on June 12, sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) and the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT). While smoke from the massive North Fork fire swirled in the distance, I learned that lean construction is basically working together and making commitments for constant improvement. Will Lichtig with Boldt did a masterful job describing the methods used to drive inefficiency out of the construction process using aggressive collaboration to solve problems. And Joe Hanlin with Haselden Construction in Denver described his company’s success with lean: Their bid on a major hospital project was so low, their competitors claimed it was impossible and thought the bid should be rejected. Haselden got the job and met the budget.

BIM or Bust

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was heavily discussed at Leica’s Hexagon Conference in early June. BIM is becoming more popular, partly due to the ability today to do scans of completed work using robotic total stations and compare the as-built directly to the design created using BIM. I had similar conversations last fall at Trimble’s Dimensions conference with the folks from Tekla, which provides BIM software. The important point is that BIM isn’t just for big contractors and big projects anymore. It’s sort of like what happened with telephones — they got so sophisticated that they got simpler to use. For more information go to the BIM page on our website: www.concreteconstruction.net/BIM-learning-center/leica/

Stats that don’t Lie

The Center for Construction Research and Training (which still goes by the acronym CPWR, for their old name, the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights) has issued the fifth edition of The Construction Chart Book. This is a fascinating and comprehensive collection of statistics on the construction industry. For example, did you know there are 3.4 million construction establishments in the U.S. (in 2007) but only 22% of them had a payroll, meaning the rest were sole proprietorships; conversely, 22% with a payroll produced 92% of the value of construction. Another interesting number: Hispanic workers were only 9% of construction workers in the U.S. in 1990, but that had risen to 24% by 2010. To get a copy or for a free download, go to www.cpwr.com