Case Study for Work Structuring: Installation of Metal Door Frames

Cynthia C.Y. Tsao1, Iris D. Tommelein2, Eric Swanlund3 & Gregory A. Howell4

1Ph.D. Student, Civil and Envir. Engrg. Department, 215 McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, Mobile: 510/593-4884, FAX: 510/643-8919,
2Associate Professor, Civil and Envir. Engrg. Department, 215-A McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, 510/643-8678, FAX: 510/643-8919,
3Project Engineer, Oscar J. Boldt Construction Company, Redgranite Correctional Institution Job Site, 1008 County Road EE, Redgranite, WI 54970, USA, 920/566-0453, FAX: 920/566-0568,
4Director, Lean Construction Institute, Box 1003, Ketchum, ID 83340, USA, Mobile: 206/660-2216, FAX: 707/248-1369,,


Work structuring means developing a project’s process design while trying to align engineering design, supply chain, resource allocation, and assembly efforts. The goal of work structuring is to make work flow more reliable and quick while delivering value to the customer. Current work structuring practices are driven by contracts, the history of trades, and the traditions of craft. As a result, they rarely consider alternatives for making the construction process more efficient. To illustrate current practice and the opportunities provided by work structuring, this case study discusses the installation of metal door frames at a prison project. Because the project is a correctional facility, the door frame installation process involves a special grouting procedure which makes the installation process less routine. Those involved recognized the difficulty of the situation but better solutions were impeded by normal practice. This case study thus provided the opportunity to illustrate how one may come up with alternative ways to perform the work without being constrained by contractual agreements and trade boundaries. By doing so, we illustrate what work structuring means. Local and global fixes for the system comprising walls and doors are explored. In addition, we discuss the importance of dimensional tolerances in construction and how these affect the handoff of work chunks from one production unit to the next.


lean construction, work structuring, process design, operations design, first run study, methods analysis, precast concrete, door installation, planning, coordination



Tsao, C.C. , Tommelein, I.D. , Swanlund, E. & Howell, G.A. 2000, 'Case Study for Work Structuring: Installation of Metal Door Frames' In:, 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Brigthon, UK, 17-19 Jul 2000.

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