The concept of skills misuse can help cut waste out of BIM

Frank McLeod

While working with an international group of designers a few years ago, we, the Brits, were described as the best workaround agents in the world. I was quite proud until I realised it was an observation not a compliment.

We tend to be craft-based and not lean, we tend to be point-based and not set-based. This makes us inventive and creative, but tends to allow waste into the process.

It seems that whenever presented with new technology we revert to a craft mentality to deploy it, or maybe lean principles only work when there is a current process to improve.

Anyway before we got too far with our BIMing we looked at the activities in each stage of BIM as I thought it might be interesting to explore the potential sources of waste within the environment of information modelling. As we know, established lean principals have identified the seven forms of waste. These are well known to us and have well established definitions:

  • Transportation - The excessive movement of product for no appreciative gain.
  • Inventory - The creation of product not yet required for no appreciative gain.
  • Motion - The excessive use of production resource, not directly attributed to the delivery of product.
  • Waiting - Products neither in production or transportation.
  • Over-processing - Excessive working or precision within a product
  • Over-production - The production of more product than is required at any particular juncture.
  • Defects - The production of sub-standard product.

If you consider these in the context of information modelling, where information is the product under consideration, then we can easily redefine the definitions accordingly. With the advent of BIM we have seen an eighth waste emerge – skills misuse.

  • Transportation - The unnecessary movement of large volumes of data between users.
  • Inventory - An excessive level of development or scope of information for the stage being considered.
  • Motion - Excessive production hours being expended manipulating software, during the production of information.
  • Waiting - Unavailability of information in the right format or timescale.
  • Over-processing - Generation of unnecessary detail or information for the delivery of the project.
  • Over-production - Development of a high level of detail or scope of information too early in the process.
  • Defects - Unstructured, uncoordinated or unmanaged information.
  • Skills misuse - The use of inappropriately trained and experienced personnel for the execution of information creation.

We can use these definition in the development of our BIM processes, protocols and standards to ensure we avoid the manifestation of waste and maximise our opportunity to deliver value.

Who knows, maybe we’ll do a bit of poka-yoke (Japanese “mistake proofing”) next.

Frank McLeod is UK head of project technology for WSP