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Ontario IPD builds showcased at lean conference

Don Wall
Ontario IPD builds showcased at lean conference
The St. Jerome’s University project in Waterloo, Ont. was one of the first IPD Level 3 projects undertaken in Canada. Members of the team included Diamond Schmitt, RJC and Graham Construction. Pictured, the two-storey academic building. -

Once you go Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), it’s hard to go back. That’s the message learned by delegates attending Mike Moffatt’s lecture billed as IPD Experiences from a Canadian Subcontractor at the Lean Construction Institute — Canada (LCI-C) conference held in Toronto recently.

Moffatt, managing principal with RJC Toronto’s Structural Engineering division, has recently been part of the project teams delivering the St. Jerome’s University Campus Renewal project in Waterloo and also the Trafalgar Park Arena Revitalization job in Oakville, recognized among the first IPD Level 3 projects in Canada.

He entered his first IPD project, St. Jerome’s, uncertain how it would play out but ready to rely on his project partners, and emerged a staunch devotee of IPD.

"It was very different, I had very little exposure to it at all," he said in an interview. "What I trusted in were my partners on the team. I had worked with a partner at Diamond Schmitt for 20 years and during the interview we were almost finishing each other’s sentences, we worked together so well."

On an IPD design and construction job, the owner, architect, contractor and subcontractors enter into an agreement to operate as a team. Moffatt told the LCI-C audience the keys to making the process work are early involvement of key participants, shared risks and rewards, jointly shared project control, collaborative decision making, trust, lean principles and Building Information Modeling.

"When you are able to embark on a project in that manner, I was amazed at how it changed what I thought was collaborative behaviour in the past to true collaboration."

Mike Moffatt

RJC Toronto

Describing the first project meetings for St. Jerome’s, Moffatt said, "We went into the room and left our conceptions of how we should approach the job at the door. We had a great facilitator, Art Winslow, to guide us through the process — you need a champion to be able to take the team on that journey."

Winslow is the IPD leader with Graham Construction, another partner on the St. Jerome’s build.

"When you are able to embark on a project in that manner, I was amazed at how it changed what I thought was collaborative behaviour in the past to true collaboration."

St. Jerome’s University was a $47-million, 21,000-square-foot project involving construction of a two-storey academic building and a seven-storey, 360-bed residence; it wrapped last summer. The $41-billion Trafalgar Park job is ongoing with the partners building an NHL-sized rink and a separate firehall.

Moffatt presented statistics showing lean IPD projects cost 20-per-cent less than typical market projects, are 30-per-cent quicker from design to the start of construction, offer onsite labour production savings of five to 10 per cent, generally have no change orders and 85-per-cent less rework, and bring better cost and schedule certainty.

Meanwhile, with traditional methods, 92 per cent of owners say the architect’s drawings are not sufficient for construction, 37 per cent of materials used in construction become waste and 30 per cent of projects do not meet schedule or budget.

So why, Moffatt was asked, if it is such an open and shut case for lean and IPD, is anyone still building the old way?

"Human nature is just that way," he said. "We get used to doing things the way we’ve always done things. And it does require admitting that maybe you got it wrong and maybe there is a better way of doing things. And allowing yourself to be vulnerable to that. And also to have the courage to try to change things.

"It does require taking a step back to see where inefficiencies are. You have to start with that simple step, as a leader in any situation, walking the floor and seeing what people are up to, or seeing where things are being redone and asking why."

Moffatt told the audience attending his May 5 workshop that challenges to full adoption of IPD include overcoming existing paradigms, learning to trust others, understanding lean, maintaining a high performance team, teaching and implementing lean principles, developing reporting tools and ensuring there is greater owner participation.

But as much as participating in an IPD project is satisfying, Moffatt said, there are not enough of them around and his firm still engages in traditional builds.

"You go back because that’s what available on the market right now, and it will be that way until the market changes to a better way of doing things across the board," he said.

"And that is part of the reason I am here, to promote that. It is a much better way of doing things. It is not for everybody, but if we could do most of our jobs in an IPD manner, the level of project satisfaction and as a manager, the satisfaction of my team, will be greatly enhanced."

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