Prefab Evolved

Theory of Constraints vs Leveling the Line

One of the foundational concepts of Additive Project Management is the concept articulated in Eli Golratt's industry mover, "The Goal".  The premise of this novel is a manufacturing debate regarding the most effective method for maximizing the productivity of a constrained resource.  Our adaptation of this theme lead us to reconsider all areas of the construction management paradigm - culminating in a method that challenges most, if not all, of today's commonly held views on the topic.

An effective, if not sensational, way of introducing this method of project management is by studying the common practice of prefabrication.  In today's paradigm of construction project management, a common theme is to prefabricate all things capable of prefabrication.  To underscore this approach, young project managers looking to learn the ropes, as well as experienced project managers looking to improve their results, are taught to look at a project through with a mindset of, "what can we not prefab."  The idea is that if a project manager begins with this view in mind, their gain an ability to view a project for is greatest operational opportunity.

To view the idea of prefabrication through the lens of "The Goal" would be to examine the practice in terms of "leveling the line" versus "embracing the constraint".  These are the two (2) qualities of operational dichotomy examined, compared, and contrasted through the book's message.  In brief:

  1. Embracing the Constraint - Allowing an operational bottleneck to exist.
  1. Leveling the Line - Removing all bottle necks within a given operational throughput.
    • note:  In a construction project, it is important to understand that our constraint is the assembly of materials and installation of permanent equipment at a project's site.
At first glance, it would seem that a bottleneck is a bad thing.  Bottlenecks, after all, are things like traffic jams on a highway or at stadium exits.  Bottlenecks inspire us to screw our eyes up in frustration.  A bottleneck is a thing that often inspires us to innovate (as in, the mother of all inventions)!  How, then, could anyone possibly propose to embrace a bottleneck?  

This is, roughly, the logic that lead to the outbreak of sciences such as Six Sigma (the statistical science of removing all variance from an operation).  It is easy to understand the appeal of this approach.  Alas, how many of us consider it a great day if it is one that progresses exactly according to plan?

What if we could exceed the labor hour savings and reduce the material costs of prefab, without the added risk and investment that comes with fabricating sub-components in an off-site shop? We have been sending un-assembled material "kits" to the field, packaged with material spools that show how the parts should be assembled. We think it is prefab evolved, and it is a direct application of Additive Project Management.

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Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the website or Additive Project Management in general.

-Steven Stelk, Ph.D, FP&A, Financial Strategist, Cycle Rate Performance