Introducing BIM 360 Plan for Lean Construction Production Planning

May 20, 2015 Paul Walker

That’s right, we are happy to announce the latest addition to the BIM 360 platform, BIM 360 Plan! Launched earlier today, BIM 360 Plan brings order to the chaos of managing weekly work plans with spreadsheets and print-outs.

The new solution takes advantage of Lean construction planning principles, and supports the Last Planner® System to create reliable and predictable work plans while reducing waste associated with labor, materials, and processes. And like other BIM 360 products, BIM 360 Plan is comprised of a web service--accessible through a web browser as well as a companion iOS mobile app for iPad.1 Leading with Lean Construction

Some may be wondering why we delivered a product focused on the production planning process that leverages Lean construction principles. Why? It's quite simple. Autodesk believes in Lean and the benefits it can bring the industry. We will continue to invest in products, training, people and resources that help our customers maximize the potential that Lean Construction can help deliver. BIM 360 Plan is our latest installment on the Autodesk investment in Lean. 2 So why is the process of Lean in our industry so significant? Before we answer that, it may be beneficial to understand the history of Lean (click here to read the evolution of “Just In Time” production beginning back in the late 1800’s). Simply stated, our industry is behind (when compared to other industries), and we need to catch-up.The graph above depicts the production output of US manufacturing from 1964 – 2003 as compared to US construction production.

A Simple, But Powerful Tool

Talk to any superintendent and one of the most valuable aspects of adhering to the project schedule is delivering a continuous flow of labor, materials and processes on the job site. Therefore, when we designed BIM 360 Plan, our goal was to create a solution that mimicked familiar views and representations of planning information where the project team could build the work plan in the trailer and easily update onsite using their iPad. This ubiquitous access and intuitive input of tasks, roadblocks and commitments provides a streamlined environment to better maintain that flow.

3   4At its most basic level, BIM 360 Plan helps users to quickly build their work plans in either List, Gantt, or Swimlane modes.  Teams that do pull planning with sticky notes can transfer those notes to a spreadsheet template to import a group of activities all at once.  From there, users can filter their construction tasks by date, work breakdown, company, location, or status. 5 Time is a precious resource on construction projects and BIM 360 Plan is designed to help teams enter and update their work plan data rapidly. Add individual tasks within any of the view modes mentioned above and take advantage of the “Add Another” option to create a string of activities in just seconds. Additionally, users can take advantage of Group Actions to copy an entire work sequence, which can be useful on projects that have repetitive floor plans.

Tracking commitment status is also a snap with BIM 360 Plan. Plan’s “Accountability Workflow” reinforces Lean best practices, guiding team members to “commit” in weekly planning meetings and set complete or incomplete status in daily huddles. Users can change individual activity status, or update a group all at once – on the web, or on the iPad mobile app. Oh, and what if you want to print your List, Gantt or Swimlane views of your work plan to mark-up before your weekly planning meeting? We’ve got you covered. Each view allows you to print your plan with the simple click of your mouse.

PPC Measurement, Activity Reporting and More

Using Lean principles to manage your production planning means you are reviewing team performance regularly to identify opportunities to improve. As the team tracks the outcome of commitments each week, you are capturing a detailed history of the project. This information should be used as insight into the reliability and productivity of each member of the team. Better yet, the data could be used in aggregate to assist with future planning and bidding opportunities for new projects. 6 We understand the power that this data can provide.  That’s why the backbone of BIM 360 Plan contains a reporting engine that is always working—aggregating your data in the background automatically so you can spot trends and take corrective actions throughout your project. Reports help keep everyone focused on what’s important and reinforce a culture of accountability. 7 One of the metrics that BIM 360 Plan tracks is Planned Percent Complete (PPC). The Lean Construction Institute defines Planned Percent Complete as “A basic measure of how well the planning system is working – calculated as the number of assignments completed on the day stated divided by the total number of assignments made for the day.” If you have already implemented Lean, then you most likely have been tracking this metric in spreadsheets using a formula that calculates a percentage based on the total number of tasks and the tasks that have been marked “complete”.

BIM 360 Plan calculates PPC automatically, without the risk of spreadsheet errors that can generate erroneous results. Plus, you can filter the reports to show PPC for a specific date range, or by company, location or a specific work breakdown. And because the data is accessible in the cloud, anyone on the project team can view the data at any time. How’s that for transparency! 8 Another feature within the BIM 360 Plan reporting engine is the Root Cause report.  BIM 360 Plan requires users to select a root cause when an activity is not completed as planned.  These reasons can be due to underestimated effort, a safety concern, labor not available, and many more that the project team establishes up-front in the project settings.  This information is then automatically aggregated and available for you to view and filter based on date range, company, type, and work breakdown.

Taking Your Work Plan To The Field

Being mobile with project data is becoming a must-have for keeping pace with the demands of the modern jobsite. Such is the case with the tasks associated with your work plan. Each week you meet in the trailer, reviewing what was done, what has to be done, and optimizing the plan. Foremen leave the meeting with handwritten notes, or they wait for the superintendent to send out an email with the updated tasks. Wouldn't it be nice if each trade foreman could instead take the actual work plan onsite for reference and make updates as they occur? 9 That’s now possible with BIM 360 Plan. Each subscription includes access to the companion iPad app which allows the user to login and download their designated project plan. The app uses the Swimlane view to display all of the activity details on your iPad. Now you can leave a planning meeting, sync the app and head out to the jobsite with the most up-to-date information.

And what about updating tasks in the app? The BIM 360 Plan iPad app allows you to drag-and-drop tasks within the work plan timeline as well as update the task status while in the field. Once you re-connect to the internet, you can sync your edits to the cloud and update the entire project team instantly. Autodesk BIM 360 Plan is available via an Enterprise or Project Based subscription. Please contact our sales team here, if you would like to schedule a demo. If you are looking for additional information regarding BIM 360 Plan, be sure to check out the following resources:

  • Click here to download the BIM 360 Plan iOS app for iPad (requires subscription)
  • Click here to download a glossary of Lean construction terms (courtesy of the Lean construction Institute)
  • Click here to interact with our community of BIM 360 users


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