In construction, it is not common to discuss the use of buffers to manage production. Some companies are clearly better at using these mechanisms than others, even if they do not explicitly discuss their buffer management practices. Certain projects and the way they are organized and managed are better suited for the use of buffer management techniques. This paper explores the implementation of buffer management techniques for the planning and execution of the renovation of the Pentagon. This case project provides a good example of the successful use of buffers. The Pentagon Renovation Project (Wedge 2 to 5) is a $840 million, 10 year project with a high degree of repetition. The project is phased by wedge moving from Wedge 2 to Wedge 5. The work of the project was planned using a technique known as short interval production scheduling (SIPS). This schedule segmented the wedges into smaller work zones and sequenced a “parade of trades” through each zone. Each trade was provided a period of one week in each zone to complete their work. However, some parts of the project involved differing amounts of work for the trade contractor. This was particularly true of the mechanical contractor and it meant that resources could not be optimally balanced to avoid unproductive periods. This contractor used buffers to help smooth the varying levels of work between these zones. The methods used to plan their work are analyzed along with an analysis of the plan execution. Lessons and challenges to the use of buffers in this application are identified.
Buffers, Pentagon renovation, lean construction.