Wesz, Josana, Formoso, Carlos and Tzortzopoulos, Patricia (2018) Planning and controlling design in engineered-to-order prefabricated building systems. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management. ISSN 0969-9988

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose a model for planning and controlling the design process in companies that design, manufacture and assemble prefabricated engineer-to-order (ETO) building systems. This model was devised as an adaptation of the Last Planner® System for ETO multiple-project environments.

Design/methodology/approach – Design science research, also known as prescriptive research, was the methodological approach adopted in this research. An empirical study was carried out at the design department of a leading steel fabricator from Brazil, in which the proposed model was implemented in six different design teams.

Findings – The main benefits of the proposed model were shielding design work from variability, encouraging collaborative planning, creating opportunities for learning, increasing process transparency, and
flexibility according to project status. Two main factors affected the effectiveness of the implementation process commitment and leadership of design managers, and training on design management and project planning and control core concepts and practices.

Research limitations/implications – Some limitations were identified in the implementation process:
similarly to some previous studies (Ballard, 2002; Codinhoto and Formoso, 2005), the success of constraint analysis was still limited; some of the metrics produced (e.g. ABI, causes of planning failures) have not been fully used for process improvement; and systematic feedback about project status was not properly implemented and tested.

Originality/value – The main contributions of this study in relation to traditional design planning and control practices are related to the use of two levels of look-ahead planning, the introduction of a decoupling point between conceptual and detail design, the proposition of new metrics for the Last Planner® System, and understanding the potential role of visual management to support planning and control.

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