Priming for Patients: Constructive collaboration

Nathan Liewicki
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Hospital build using unique methods

It was a frigid November and December, but work on Moose Jaw’s new Regional Hospital remains on track to be completed by the end of 2014.

“It was very hard, especially from the exterior standpoint,” said project manager Colin Olfert. “We were at the point where we could keep enough heat inside the building in order to keep that work progressing.

“With the amount of snow and the amount of cold that we were dealing with, from a roofing perspective it mostly affected some of the insulated walls panels.”

Despite what were sometimes unbearable working conditions, about 90 per cent of the south part of the building’s exterior skin is complete. The north end is a little bit further behind, with some roofing, insulated wall panels and fireproofing some of the steel members that still need to be completed.

While the exterior of the building is continuing to progress very well, crews have been working on the interior for the last two months.

By the end of February, the goal is to have the structure as enclosed, as crews want it to be – weather permitting. Olfert said they don’t want to enclose the entire building as a precautionary measure.

“There will be some things, like overhead doors and the exterior doors, that we don’t want to put on just from a potential damage perspective,” he said.

One thing crews are doing, however, is working on ways to bring as much value to the project as they can. Whether through the design process, production improvement initiatives with staff, or anything else, the goal is to get as much out of the $103.8 million project as possible.

Enter the integrated lean project delivery (ILPD) team.

On a normal construction project each contractor would have a separate contract with the owner of the building, which in this case is the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR). The construction of the new Regional Hospital didn’t doll out a bunch of separate contracts. Instead, each of the approximately 20 contractors, 10-12 of which are part of the ILPD team,  shares one contract.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to maximize what we can do with that money and all the things we can deliver with that money,” said Kyle Matthies, director of communications for the FHHR.

“This was our proposal to the ministry. This was the way we wanted to go about this,” Matthies said regarding the one big contract.

Regardless of whether contractors are or aren’t part of the ILPD team, they share input on a variety of things including materials, equipment and scheduling. Significant changes are vetted by the entire group before being implemented.

“It’s absolutely integral to have all parties work together for a common goal because you get a lot more reliable promises when you’re all working together as a team rather than if you’re all in your separate silos trying to maximize your own little piece,” Olfert said. “When you are trying to maximize the whole, it’s a lot more ideal for everybody.”

There are usually between 80 and 100 workers on site at any one time. That number, according to Olfert is expected to peak at about 120. With the exterior nearing completion and work already underway in the interior of the structure, the site is nearing that peak number.

With so many contractors working under the umbrella of one big contract, the major obstacle thus far has been the mind shift of working as part of one big team. Time management is key in that.

That’s why the Big Room, which is located a couple hundred metres from the building and serves as the de facto headquarters for the site, has a number of boards filled with post-it notes.

Once the hospital opens the Big Room will serve as the construction site.

For the current week of work there are five boards - one for each weekday. There are also four or five other boards which plan weeks ahead for where various areas of the build should be.

It’s a scheduling system Olfert said is baed on reliable promises, as opposed to aggressive promises.

“You look like the hero when you’re done a job in three or four days when you originally estimated it’d take you five days,” said Olfert.

The project’s Tact Time scheduling is another important element of the build. Expected to begin in four to six weeks, it will involve breaking up the building into certain areas with crews moving from one area to the next to complete five-day work tasks. This will allow crews to move in and out of areas with ease.

“Right now we are just finalizing our planning and finalizing what that sequence looks like and making sure that every trade partner and lump sum contractor has their input into how that plan can work the most effective way it can,” said Olfert.

With so many workers under so many different contractors, it can be difficult to keep track of adjustments made to the design aspects of the building. iPads are helping alleviate some of the stresses of that.

Initially Olfert thought it would cost a lot more money to purchase iPads and the the subscription needed to update drawings on an all-encompassing server. Months into the project, the investment of the subscription and 16 iPads has been more than worth it.

“We figured out we are at about half the cost doing this than we would be printing all these drawings just because the amount of printing that would go into it would just be exceptional,” he said.

With construction drawings changing on a daily basis, the iPads have become a necessary tool used by crews to compare drawings before they carry out their next task.

The whole process of changing a drawing only takes five to 10 minutes to complete and most of the people that really need to see the drawings and need to have it at their fingertips have an iPad.

“If we had somebody managing every stack of paper on this site it would require two people with full-time jobs trying to update all the drawings,” said Olfert.

There is even a 3-D element of the program.

Like the Tact Time scheduling and the cohesive input from all contractors, the iPads only add to the unified nature of the hospital build. It’s all about working together in a collaborative atmosphere, which is exactly what the new Regional Hospital will do when it opens to the public four to six months into 2015.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Regional Hospital

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