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HOW TO IMPROVE SITE CONSTRUCTABILITY?

INTRODUCTION

Constructability has been defined by the Construction Industry Institute as the optimum use of
construction knowledge and experience in planning, design, procurement and field operations to
achieve overall project objectives.

Constructability Improvement in Project Planning. — Meeting scheduled production


dates or building occupancy dates was the major concern in developing the project plan on the
projects we studied. Harsh weather, unusual site conditions, or tight schedules for completion
tended to increase attention to the construction phase. Two approaches characterized the
involvement of construction representatives in early project planning. Some were proactive; they
selected construction methods, prepared plans, and persisted in obtaining the support from design
and procurement necessary to implement these plans. In contrast, others responded to design
initiatives by estimating the cost and schedule impacts. Many projects used a “backward pass”
approach for planning, starting with required dates for completion and testing, to establish
milestones for construction, engineering, and procurement.

Two types of benefits from construction involvement in early planning. First, improved
constructability results from increased design and procurement support for construction. The
plan is better. Second, changes in the design (relatively easy to make in the conceptual phase)
can avoid potential constructability problems. The design is easier to build.

Site Layout. — Process considerations dominated site layout for the industrial projects we
studied; function and optimal space utilization controlled building site layout. Construction
representatives completed special studies, such as access routes, laydown areas, crane locations,
and shoring requirements for adjacent buildings, to develop construction input to the site layout.
On many of the projects these inputs resulted in providing essential space and access routes for
efficient construction, despite high costs of site development. The overall cost savings which
resulted probably would not have happened otherwise.

Major Construction Methods. — Necessity and cost drove attention to construction


methods on the projects we studied. Necessity generally meant developing special methods to
meet unusual requirements, such as adverse weather or congestion imposed by existing facilities.
Reducing site labor was another key concern on the industrial projects. Cost concerns brought
attention to construction methods during initial estimates to determine project feasibility.
Evaluating alternate structural and architectural materials to decrease costs led to examination of
associated construction methods on several buildings. The approach used for evaluating major
construction methods generally involved special studies or estimates. These frequently required
iteration with the design criteria, approach, or configuration.
Both the industrial and the building projects provided interesting examples of constructability
improvement through early consideration of construction methods. These included: construction
of access roads in frozen ground; use of permanent precast panels for shoring trenches; use of
precast concrete foundations for major equipment; and testing modules in the fabrication yard.

IMPROVE CONSTRUCBILITY

This includes identifying differences in project context, selecting the contractual approach,
making the team aware, and implementing constructability improvement. The process begins
with identifying differences in the project which create opportunities for constructability
improvement. Factors which may be significant include: project type, location, and ownership;
project objectives; and unusual performance requirements in completing the project or
challenging technical requirements.

Next, selecting the contractual approach is perhaps the most important decision in
constructability improvement. The project organization and type of contracts determine the
means of early construction involvement; effective design and construction integration is much
harder under the traditional approaches. However, early construction representation from the
owner, the designer, the construction manager, or a consultant are possible even under the
traditional contractual approaches. Building the project team, recognizing the essential roles of
the owner, the designer, and the construction representative in constructability improvement,
follows from the contractual approach selected. Each member should share a team approach.

Two actions by managers accomplish the next step of making constructability a project concern.
First, they use constructability to directly pursue cost, schedule, and quality objectives. Second,
they adopt cost-effective approaches to pursue other projects objectives, such as function and
aesthetics. Next, establishing a project situation which supports constructability improvement
includes drawing attention to early cost influence and involving construction personnel in major
decisions. Finally, implementing constructability improvement requires several actions: 1)
establishing a program (formal or informal); 2) identifying important issues and studies to focus
activities; 3) completing necessary pre-construction planning; 4) building an interface with
design; 5) reviewing the results; and 6) resolving conflicts.

Tailored to fit the scope and needs of individual projects, this overall approach can improve
constructability. In turn, this supports other project objectives. Many benefits result. As in
manufacturing, we can design the constructed product much better if we first think about how to
build it. To realize the opportunities for constructability improvement, owners must insist on it;
contractors must compete on it.
Engage all stakeholders at the start of the process. At a minimum, elicit meaningful input from
the designer, constructor and owner at the project outset so that objectives and potential solutions
can be considered before design, costs and schedules harden.

Verify programmatic and technical requirements. Have a multidirectional dialog with the project
performance team, the owner or user and project consultants such as facility planners or
programmers who have taken user needs and translated the data into performance requirements
and design criteria.

Develop a comprehensive design and build schedule and budget. The team can think through
issues of overlapping activities, phasing, sequencing of construction and systems costs as the
project moves from negotiation to notice to proceed.

Establish clear lines of responsibility, authority and problem resolution procedure. The project
personnel organizational chart plus a step by step procedure for resolving problems expeditiously
are sound management tools in a team based environment.

Involve both design and construction professionals in design development and content and
format of construction documents. The sum of the disciplinary inputs can be greater that its parts,
and the collaborative process allows the team to play to its combined strengths in design and
construction process.

Establish a permitting and inspection or testing process for the project. Because design-build
work is often done on an accelerated schedule using work packages, the permitting process such
as environmental, zoning, building affects scheduling and must be diligently pursued and
monitored. Similarly, the testing and inspection schedule can be programmed with the work
schedule by engaging testing agencies, code officials, and other in ongoing communications
about audits, reviews and approvals.

Design and construction are the most important stages in a project’s life cycle and have greatest
impact on overall performance and cost. Despite the importance of coordination between design
and construction, current practice exhibits severe information transfer problems. Since correction
to designs at late stages is extremely costly, it is more efficient to spend effort on producing
highly coordinated and easily constructible designs.
Constructability involves the process of thinking through the complete project prior to beginning
the actual design. It requires consideration of the entire construction process, beginning in the
conceptual design stage.

The benefit from Constructability as a design philosophy, the owner should seek to engage a
construction professional in the planning and concept stages of a project