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Cutting construction time in half

The aim of the Speed-Up project is to reduce the construction period of major projects by making strategic, tactical and operative interventions. Photo: Thinkstock.
The time between the approval and completion of construction projects is too long. The Speed-Up project aims to address this issue.

 The completion of roads and building projects takes too long, and has become a socio-economic problem here in Norway.  Many years may pass between the drawing up of initial requirement specifications for a building or infrastructure project and their hand-over and use.

"In the case of major infrastructure projects, the planning and implementation phases can extend over tens of years, with the risk that initial needs and aims become outdated before the projects are even delivered", says Agnar Johansen, Project Manager at SINTEF.

"For example, as far back as 1966 my grandfather was involved in the planning of the so-called Veipakke (Road Package) 2 in Tønsberg, involving a bridge connecting Nøtterøy with the mainland", says Johansen. "This project is still in the planning phase", he says.

Johansen points out that prolonged construction periods result in major socio-economic losses, and draws attention to the E6 road-building project in Østfold county. Here the planning and construction phases took so long that traffic volumes increased in the meantime.
"The road was hardly finished before it had to be rebuilt", says Johansen.

The aim of the Speed-Up project is to reduce the construction period of major projects by making strategic, tactical and operative interventions. This will be achieved in close collaboration with major public and private sector organisations in the building and construction sector such as Reinertsen, Statsbygg, the Norwegian National Rail Administration (JBV), the Norwegian Armed Forces, Oslo Municipality, Opak and Faveo.

The idea is to conduct tests and demonstrate that it is possible to reduce total construction time by a minimum of 30 per cent compared with 2013 levels.

Companies determine the issues
Companies commonly divide projects into two phases – planning and construction. Even though planning may take a long time, between 85 and 90 per cent of the costs are spent during the construction period. The project participants are thus aiming to cut the duration of the construction period by half.

"We believe we can build more quickly without any increase in costs", says Johansen. "And we will make sure that safety levels will be at least as high as they are today", he says.

It will be up to the companies to identify the issues they want to focus on, whether these be the decision-making phase, improvements in logistics on construction sites, or the co-location of the various subcontractors. Researchers at SINTEF are already talking to the companies, and will be taking part in the testing of alternative approaches which will subsequently be evaluated.

A fully integrated project
Among the factors which researchers regard as important in all complex construction projects are scheduling and the need to adopt a holistic approach.

"The coordination of all the parties involved in a construction project is a challenging task", says Johansen. "A given consultant or plumber may only be involved for a limited period", he says. "It can be difficult to see how the small subsidiary projects are linked together to produce and influence an integrated whole. But they all do", says Johansen. He believes that coordination is the key to avoiding delays and cost overruns.

By Åse Dragland

The Speed-Up project is planned to extend over five years. It receives 12.6 million in funding from the Research Council of Norway, and has been assigned to the BIA (User-Driven Innovation Arena).

 A consortium of industry partners consisting of Reinertsen, Statsbygg, JBV, Faveo, Oslo Municipality, the Norwegian Armed Forces Logistics Organisation (FLO) and OPAK has been assembled.

SINTEF and NTNU are research partners in the project for which SINTEF has been assigned overall responsibility. The companies shall fund the project with a total