Construction Supply Chain

Design for Supply Chain

What if you knew of potential project delays during week 1 of your design process? What if you had the ability to probe the marketplace for other options? Implementing DfSC principles in your process can help you achieve this.

Have you heard the term Design for Supply Chain? 

Construction work plans, supply chain management, project BOMs, production lines, operations management, process-driven design, supplier distribution networks, and their manufacturing processes, how does it all tie together?

I’ve been in the high-tech design delivery space for the better part of 15+ years. This doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but I have had the opportunity during my career to support some of the most novel, aggressive, and challenging methods and means to execute the complex design and build projects.

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I’ll start by sharing some observations where I’ve found commonalities: The construction teams will tell you that your design documentation solely provides “design intent” and necessary permitting documentation to the AHJ to get the site work moving. This may be true, but there is no question that design and construction collaboration drives project delivery success. 

Let’s pause here: Who defines project success? What does it look like? 

You have probably heard the old adage - “do you want cost, schedule, or quality? Pick one, you can’t have all three.” Those days are long gone as project owners demand all three plus safety & sustainability. But behind completing a project safely and with minimal impact to the environment as the priority, we consistently hear schedule certainty being the biggest driver for the end project's users, as demand planning, operations management, revenue, and cash flow are ultimately the drivers behind these mega projects. But what ties all of these variables together?

Design for Supply Chain

If you haven’t heard the term: Design for Supply Chain, let me introduce a new concept to you. “Design for Supply Chain” or DfSC is closely related to Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA and DfSMA). Similar to DfMA, DfSC is a methodology. Design for Supply Chain encompasses many parts of your existing processes and workflows such as your Construction work planning and supply chain management, project BOMs, supplier production lines, operations management, process-driven design, and associated supplier distribution networks and manufacturing processes. Incorporating DfSC principles in your design delivery operations is a holistic way to think of these areas together to maximize the methodology of your construction project and is simple to implement.

While this concept sounds complex, it is actually simple to implement with a few minor tweaks to your design process and interactions with stakeholders. Imagine creating a design that solves not only the technical requirements of the project but helps you anticipate disruption in your supply chain before the project begins. What if you were able to give your customer schedule and delivery with absolute certainty, while you were still delivering permit documents?

What does implementing DfSC principles in your process look like? 

From a 50,000-foot view, it means your design process is organized and managed through the lens of your supply chains. 

For example, your customer requires a certain type of generator enclosure due to their internal preference or maybe it’s corporate requirements dictating common equipment types across the site. As a project manager or designer, you know this because you’re working off a basis of design (BOD) that dictates the specific generator enclosure. Your team designs and engineers off the latest specification package from the enclosure manufacturer.

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16 weeks go by and you complete the design. In the background, your construction partners are patiently waiting for the design and specification information so they can start their procurement process and ultimately deliver the Owner a schedule. Another 2 weeks go by and the GC publishes a preliminary schedule showing a 6-month delay to the Owner’s desired timeline. Tracing that back, the generator enclosure alone is driving a 3-month delay in the ability to complete commissioning and startup because it had to be that specific generator enclosure.

What if you knew of this potential delay during week 1 of design? What if you had the ability to probe the marketplace for other options? This could allow you to offer your customer alternates based on the predicted schedule, potentially influencing some design decisions by the end user to achieve schedule certainty.

The value you’d be providing would go further than design intent and permitting facilitation. The output would be the actual, procurable supply chain mapped bill of materials for the entire project,ready for execution by the construction and delivery partners, complete with schedule certainty.

Want to learn more? 



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