Digital Kanban Boards Used in Design and 3d Coordination.

Ralf-Uwe Modrich1 & Bruce C. Cousins2

1Sr. Project Manager WEBCOR BUILDERS, 710 N. McDonnell Rd SFO T1-BAB Project T. 510-825-0358
2Principal, Sword Integrated Building Solutions, 125 2nd Street #606 Oakland, CA 94607 Phone (510) 309- 2003


The hypothesis of this research is that the Last Planner System® (LPS) in combination with the Kanban Method is better suited than conventional project production planning and controls to manage the design phase. In the Toyota Production System (TPS) the Kanban (sign board) is attached to the material or product and is pulled through the manufacturing process. In design and product development the Kanban is attached to the information or knowledge and is pulled through the design process. In the presented case studies, the authors developed several prototypes of a Kanban board. One is used in architectural design and in pre-construction processes to manage the 3D design and 3D coordination process and another is used to manage the design issues in an integrated and concurrent design process. The physical Kanban board displays each stakeholders’ tasks across multiple swim lanes, so the team can readily assess the task assignment and work in process (WIP), of team members in one glance. The physical boards are kept up to date with digital Kanban Boards. These Kanban applications facilitated “real time” synchronization among stakeholders for monitoring of both current and future activities (look ahead) and delivering promised design decisions for information required by upstream customers. In two of the case studies the LPS was used as the initial planning tool to develop a phase pull plan to define milestones, develop a design cycle plan and establish a design phase constraint log. The combination of LPS metrics with Kanban board metrics resulted in eliminating schedule uncertainty and improved information flow including less latency of the delivery of designbuilder’s work. The Kanban method was also found to be more agile than purely the LPS for managing the circular iterations of design decisions. These benefits also resulted in acceptance by design professionals to use a Lean design management approach.


Kanban, work in process (WIP), agile, burn-down-chart, communication systems, design management, design/build, integrated project delivery, IPD, concurrent design



Modrich, R. & Cousins, B. C. 2017. Digital Kanban Boards Used in Design and 3d Coordination., 25th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 663-670.

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