Flow Assembly of a 30 Story Building

Though I have some reservations (see below), this video shows a lot of good examples of flow for final assembly – only the assembly line is vertical, and the product is a 30 story hotel.

The video actually repeats twice, once with a music sound track, then a second time with no sound.

The Good

All in all, this is pretty impressive. Let’s look at the good examples that you can incorporate into your own thinking.

First, the product is designed for quick and easy assembly from the get-go. The engineers thought through how it would go together as a core part of their design process. There was no “throw it over the wall and figure it out” here.

The design itself is very modular. Detail work is done off-line in the “feeders.” This is how you want to set up an assembly line – the backbone (main line) is installation of “big chunks” that are assembled and tested in the feeders. This helps stabilize the work on the main line.

The assembly itself was flowing. Each floor progressed subsequently through the assembly stages as more stories were being added at the top. Contrast this with the more common approach of finishing the frame, then batching the various trades through.

What We Don’t Know

It is clear that this was done as a stunt. They did a good job. There are, however, legitimate questions about how, or if, the work was organized to surface and deal with quality issues. What was the line-stop process?

There are also legitimate questions in the building trade about the long-term stability of foundations and structure that does not have time to settle as it is going up. Building that go up fast can come down fast.

We truthfully don’t have enough information to make a judgment here, but I want to acknowledge those concerns as realistic whenever we see something like this.

Apparently those issues are unfounded. I admit I was repeating what I had read elsewhere. I am certainly not an expert. (See comment below)

Still, it is really cool so I wanted to share it as a good application of flow thinking.

4 thoughts to “Flow Assembly of a 30 Story Building”

  1. Mark,

    This certainly is a good example for all of the reasons you noted. It’s also a heck of a lot better example than one called “The 24 Hour House” that many people used to hold up as a great example several years ago. I don’t know if you ever saw that one, but my first comment after seeing it was that I would never ever buy that house. This hotel, I’d stay in though.

  2. The only thing that is “unique” is the degree of modularity in the structural frame. Building Contractors regularly are doing finish work on lower levels of high rise buildings before the upper levels of structure are completed.

    One concern about highly modular construction is that more attention needs to be paid on how to tie the modules together so that it does not come apart in an earthquake.

    The concern about long term stablity because the building supposedly did not have time to settle during construction is misplaced and reflects a lack of understanding about structural engineering.

    Make yourself aware of what the members of the Lean Construction Institute are doing. They are regularly applying many of these concepts in building projects.
    http://www.leanconstruction.org

    1. Mark –
      Thank you for the correction. I am certainly not an expert in construction.
      I am fully aware that this is not a unique example. However there are some excellent examples of design for flow that can be applied here. Volvo, for example, uses a modular design in their trucks which lets them quickly assemble a high-variety products. By highlighting it in something that my readers may be less familiar with, I wanted to demonstrate the thinking behind it.

  3. The foundation is also pre-fab and made to stand 9.0 magnitude earthquakes. The concrete foundation is of UHPC quality. This building is of computer precision. It cost less than 50% of that of the convention method of building.

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