Lean in Action: Small Timeframe, Big Project Plan

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The Challenge

Take the third floor Intensive Care Unit at the Central Vermont Medical Center, relocate all the staff and patients in the unit to other areas of the hospital, renovate the entire 14-bed unit without disrupting the Mother-Baby Unit located directly below, pass all inspections and reintroduce the same staff and patients to their new restored environment – all in 10 days!

The Solution

Use the talent and knowledge of everyone on the team to create a highly coordinated plan, identify and remove constraints, and develop strategies to help the work flow. To that end, PC Construction’s project team held a full-day planning session with our trade partners and the owner’s representative.

The day started with an introduction to Lean. The team then spent several hours discussing the overall approach, including how to break the project into areas, the best sequence between areas and trades, how many shifts to run, material management, safety and minimizing impacts to the hospital. The day culminated in a pull planning session with the team creating a plan where the work could flow 24 hours per day in two shifts in all areas without tradespeople working on top of each other (See Figure 1). In addition, having a member of the owner’s team participate ensured that questions and logistics could be addressed immediately, allowing for uninterrupted planning.

As the work began, the team put strategies in play to help the work flow:

  • Huddles were held twice a day between shifts, allowing opportunities for updating and adjusting the pull plan, and making a smooth handoff between shift foremen.
  • Wheeled trash hoppers in each work area were constantly filled and emptied by all parties, and were also used to bring materials up to the third floor work area.
  • Sequenced checklists of work activities were updated in each room as the work progressed.
  • The patient room headwalls were prefabricated, saving time and enhancing quality and safety.

In the middle of the project, we received a major electrical change request. Because of the time spent planning together at the all-day session, the team did not miss a beat with a revised plan to minimize the impact of the change.

With the help of a lean culture that respected everyone’s talent and expertise, the team delivered a completely renovated ICU to the owner in just 14 days despite the major change, and did it with positive attitudes and more than a few laughs along the way!