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This is a case study for step five of the Production Management in Design and Construction guide. It explains how Jacobs and Highways England used collaborative planning to improve performance in managing highways.
EM Highways recognised the business need to consolidate their processes and monitoring of scheme delivery in line with the agreed programme, in particular as Highways England introduced the Gearing for Growth initiative which led to a significant increase in the number of schemes to be designed. As way of comparison in 2013/14 a total of 76 outputs across the various portfolios was recorded; in 2014/15 at time of this report the equivalent number stands at 165 outputs i.e. more than double the usual workload.
In addition to these outputs, a suite of pre-design schemes for 2015/16 and beyond were also instructed. To help address these challenges, EM worked with Navitas Project Solutions to deploy the collaborative planning approach under sponsorship from Highways England and implemented various SMART production management techniques to improve both portfolio and programme performance.
The network in Area 13 covers Cumbria and North Lancashire. The network consists of the M6 motorway from just north of Junction 30 through to the Scottish Border just beyond J45; the M55 from the junction with the M6 to J4 on the outskirts of Blackpool; the A66 trunk road between Workington on the west coast to the County Durham border; the A595 between the A66 and Calder Bridge; the A590 from J36 of the M6 to the outskirts of Barrow-in- Furness; and the A585 from J3 of the M55 to Fleetwood.
The approximate length of the Area 13 network is 237 miles – made up of 111 miles of motorway and a further 126 miles of trunk road.
Managing Agent Contractor EM Highway Services Ltd supports the Highways Agency in managing the network. This contract started in July 2010 and is due to end in 2015.
The current process of delivering work is as follows:
The gateways at the end of each process step were identified as:
Prior to the collaborative planning approach across all stages in the process there was:
At complete design stage:
At complete target price stage there were peaks and troughs of workload with no forward visibility of these to assist in managing resources.
At construction stage there was a lack of reliability of schemes being available at the expected time.
A start-up meeting was held with the EM team to agree and give an overview of the purpose, possible outcomes and the implementation plan for Collaborative Planning and Lean Visual Management Boards (LVMB). This was then communicated at the first Collaborative Planning session with the design teams.
Individual weekly Production Meetings were introduced across all teams (approximately 30 minutes each) to carry out the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. The meetings were initially led by Navitas with support from the Portfolios leads (Members of the Champions group) and attended by the various members of the Design Teams.
Plan - Ensuring the Lead Designer for each Scheme has an up-to-date programme detailing key deliverables in the right sequence.
Do - Ensuring tasks committed to at the weekly production meeting are SMART and Designers are working to full capacity of their time. This gives the responsible managers an opportunity to share resources if more urgent deadlines need to be met.
Check - Check the status of tasks for a production plan from the previous week and update as complete or incomplete. If incomplete, mandatory capture of the root cause and a generic category is required.
Act - Analysis of tasks not completed as planned is available in relation to reliability trends, reasons and specific root causes at Team and Area level.
Once the Collaborative Planning process and PDCA was established it was decided to introduce Lean Visual Management in the form of magnetic whiteboards with magnets denoting a scheme across the entire life cycle of a scheme.
Stage 1: Boards were set up to reflect the process with the key milestones shown as vertical lines.
Stage 2: Content information for the magnet was established with the responsible managers. It was agreed that the focus should be on time reliability.
With the aid of coloured magnets (red - not on target, green – on target or better) the team can see instantly how a scheme is performing. They can also see instantly the upcoming milestone dates and therefore are motivated to commit the work that needs to be done to meet the targets.
Stage 3: Populate and manage the boards. Due to limited wall space within the main design offices at both Penrith and Garstang it was decided to use double sided boards with wheeled frames and to locate the boards in the main meeting rooms. Ahead of the weekly meetings the design teams reviewed the dates and location of the magnets. They updated and moved accordingly as well as ensured the coloured magnets show the appropriate status. This ensures that the meeting can consider schemes in the correct context and establish the next week’s actions as necessary. On a weekly basis each of the four design teams’ reliability, reasons and root causes were reviewed.
A key tool used in the meetings was Video Conferencing (VC) facilities between the EM offices in Penrith and Garstang. This allowed the teams to interact and view each other’s boards without the extra complication and lost time involved in travelling the 60 miles in between each week. The weekly meetings were alternately held in the Penrith and Garstang offices. The other team called in via the VC-system. This allowed either team to get a feel for the other’s board, the number of schemes, where the red markers were and to get a sense of the group dynamics. This would not have been possible using telephone conferencing.
Once the Collaborative Planning and LVMB process were up and running within the EM offices at Penrith and Garstang it was decided to widen the scope to pick up the significant number of RoR[CJ3] schemes which had been assigned to Mouchel to progress from their Manchester and Liverpool offices. This was identified as a key concern at the outset by EM staff and positive engagement of outsourced teams was given specific focus as a consequence.
As with the initial introduction, this was facilitated by Navitas and involved an initial introductory meeting with the EM Champions and key members of the Mouchel team. Boards were established for the outsourcing in the EM offices and identical boards were set up in Manchester and Liverpool, and in July the Mouchel team began calling into the weekly meetings.
Russell Batchelor (Director of Operations), Jacobs UK Ltd.
There are five steps in the Production Management in Design and Construction guide:
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