Bockstael: Shaping the Future of Our Province with Lean Construction

Lean Construction Management

At Bockstael we build Clients for Life through integrity, reliability, and first time quality. We’ve been creating substantial, attractive and efficient buildings across the province and beyond for over 100 years. We pride ourselves in a client-first lean management approach that allows us to take on projects of any size and complexity and complete them on time and on budget.

Basic Construction Management deliverables like estimates, construction schedules, and subtrade tenders are bare minimum capabilities. To truly add value, Bockstael brings the skills, culture, and breadth of knowledge to engage across the full design-construct-maintain life-cycle; taking the lead with integrating stakeholders, proactively managing scope and schedules, maintaining the budget, and identifying countless opportunities to optimize value with the power of lean construction. Our agile delivery methods and sophisticated planning approach to construction project management are key to our success and excellent reputation in the marketplace.

We’re proud of our Bockstael Operating System or BOS. This is the proprietary construction framework that supports every one of our projects. We’re also proud of our long and vigorous history in the implementation of Lean Construction methodologies, which form the core of the BOS’s Collaboration platform. As a family owned business rooted in entrepreneurship, Bockstael has achieved sustained growth and numerous repeat customers by continuously adapting and improving our project delivery framework through the integration of Lean construction practices and principles of Integrated Project Delivery. The Last Planner System®, BIM technology, Target Value Delivery®, Chartering, and decision frameworks are transformative forces that are yielding better outcomes for our clients.

Lean management best practices developed through the Lean Construction Institute and injected with our experience and intimate and practical building knowledge have led us to be leaders in many aspects of Lean Construction. Manitoba is where we developed the expertise and reputation that we now bring to bear on our lean approach projects right across the country.

The Lean Management Approach Pays Dividends for Both Builder and Client

Bockstael is not the only major player to use the efficient lean management approach. We’re in good company. The lean process is also employed by other major players such as Toyota, Intel, John Deere, and Nike. A recent article in the respected journal “ScienceDirect” reports that productivity in the construction industry worldwide has been in decline over the past 40 years. The lean construction and lean management techniques employed by the experienced team at Bockstael have been developed to counter this self-defeating trend. We use this lean approach with all our clients and in all our projects to ensure cost-effectiveness, clear ongoing communication, and on time, on-budget delivery.

KaiNexus Consulting is one of the leading international proponents of continuous improvement in the realm of lean management. This respected firm suggests there are a number of factors which enhance or support lean construction and manufacturing. Those techniques include:

  • A clear set of objectives for the delivery process.
  • Identifying the customer’s end product but also their deeper values which provide a framework for the project. Communicating them to architect, subcontractors, suppliers, and tradespeople.
  • Eliminate waste in materials, time, talent, transportation and inventory.
  • Create a continuous flow of activity based on communication with all involved parties.
  • Communicate regularly and collaborate planning and scheduling with all parties.
  • Focus on continuous improvement to decrease waste and improve processes.

On the factory floor producing Toyota after Toyota, the lean manufacturing method can be a simple repetitive action. Once established the car manufacturer can produce car after car efficiently. For construction firms such as Bockstael using lean management techniques their products are seldom identical or routine. Each project is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. With this aspect of construction project management in mind, we cannot underestimate the supreme importance of communication between all the players from owner to the architect, to contractor, to subcontractors and the various tradespeople involved in any of our projects. This ongoing and regular communication and lean process improvement approach is an important factor in the success of any project in terms of cutting costs and bringing the project in on time.

Lean Construction Tools and the Bockstael Operating System

In order to ensure peak operational readiness, Bockstael uses a number of lean construction management methods to provide the highest quality service and results. These include:

  • Continuous Improvement
  • Last Planner System ®
  • 5S
  • Lean Work Structuring
  • Team Alignment / Chartering Sessions
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Lean Design
  • Lean Pre-Construction
  • Target Value Delivery
  • Big Room Sessions
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Pre-Fabrication

Schedule Management Using Lean

A comprehensive industry survey has concluded that close to 50% of projects are completed behind schedule. Clearly, the traditional methods of schedule management must be augmented to achieve the goal of schedule certainty.

At Bockstael, our tool kit for managing schedules includes the integration of schedule management best practices and the Last Planner System. Last Planner provides the opportunity for the full team (CM, trades, owner, and consultants) to engage in the planning process and schedule development, and provides high visibility of schedule performance, risks, and constraints.

Last Planner System

Bockstael Construction is Manitoba’s leader in the implementation of Lean Construction Management techniques and the Lean Construction Last Planner System®.

The process begins with establishing major milestone dates and project constraints. Bockstael staff then assemble a high-level Gantt Chart outlining preliminary durations and schedule expectations. From there, the Last Planner System takes over; using four pillars for schedule management. These include the following lean construction principles:

  • Pull Planning – Trade Partners are required to actively participate in these interactive scheduling sessions that use collaboration to optimize the schedule (maximize float), obtain buy-in on the work plan, and ensure that team members have a clear understanding of their integration and requirements with respect to other trades.
  • Look-Ahead Schedules – Two-week and six-week look-ahead plans are used to manage work flow and to identify and clear any constraints that could prevent work from occurring in its planned timeframe.
  • Weekly Work Plans – These plans are updated weekly by trades to describe daily tasks for the upcoming week. They can be in list format or represented visually on drawings. They provide accountability by measuring the rate at which trades accomplish the tasks they said they would within a given week (the Percent Plan Complete metric). PPC is monitored on an ongoing basis to provide real-time feedback to owners on schedule adherence and trade performance.
  • Daily Huddles – Trade foremen are required to attend a 10-minute huddle each morning to discuss the day’s work and coordinate with other trades on working areas, deliveries, and trade hand-offs.

Pull planning sessions are led by Bockstael personnel using lean construction principles. During construction, the Superintendent, with the assistance of our head office, maintains pull plan boards, look-ahead schedules, and other visuals for schedule tracking on site. This allows for a higher standard of operational readiness.

The PM is responsible for tracking the schedule, providing any variance analysis, and developing mitigation strategies for preventing or recovering slippage as required. Through Last Planner, slippage is identified early, while there is still time to mitigate.

Since Last Planner was implemented in 2015, our schedule certainty and ability to accelerate schedules has seen significant improvement.

Cost Management Using Lean Target Value Delivery (TVD)

Bockstael’s approach to budget, cost, and scope management is centred on the Lean Construction Target Value Delivery (TVD) method.

The Target Value Delivery – Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation published by the Lean Construction Institute defines TVD as “A disciplined management practice to be used throughout the project to assure the facility meets the operational needs and values of the users, is delivered within the allowable budget, and promotes innovation throughout the process to increase value and eliminate waste”. A powerful cost management plan is essential to the success of any project.


The process itself is relatively simple. Rather than the traditional model of:

Large-Batch Design > Estimate Cost > Perform Value Engineering > Repeat;

TVD establishes targets very early (for all of cost, schedule, scope and quality), and then designs the project in small batches towards these targets. The key benefits of the process are:

  1. It allows for SPEED in design and significant overlap between the design and construction phases (see graphic)
  2. Continuous estimating leads to high levels of COLLABORATION and a constant feedback loop to ensure the cost remains on target
  3. It requires TRANSPARENCY in budgeting and pricing, from comparisons to benchmark projects up to detailed breakdowns of unit pricing and assumptions.
  4. The ability to implement RAPID PROTOTYPING / SET-BASED DESIGN of multiple design options submitted to the CM for pricing and evaluated for selection based on a defined evaluation framework
  5. It provides a platform for the construction manager to introduce PRODUCTION DESIGN (prefabrication, modularization, prototyping, mock-ups, etc.)

After an initial Validation Phase is carried out to confirm the expected costs for each component of work, the Target Budget and target schedule is set. As the design progresses, the budget is updated in real-time.

A Cardinal Rule to a cost management plan is that the Target Cost should never be exceeded. In the case where unforeseen costs must be accommodated, trade-offs can be implemented or the cost can be drawn from an agreed upon contingency. This is one of the ways we ensure cost management is handled efficiently and smoothly, to avoid any unforeseen issues.

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