Category Archives: Uncategorized

How does an A3 report relate to BIM?

I posted a couple of discussions on two sites that I have a prototype A3 report.  I received a large number of inquiries asking for a copy of the A3 report.  How does this relate to BIM and 3D modeling?

That’s a good question.  An A3 is a simple way to describe a problem to solve.  An A3 report is in the suite of “LEAN tools” that developed from the work of Deming and others.  BIM is a tool to solve a complex construction program.  The A3 is an excellent starting point for asking the question “what problem is BIM solving?”  By asking a question about what the Owner values, it is possible to identify the opportunity for successful use of BIM.


A3 and the Scientific Process

Generic A3 Report Format for IDEAS (c 2011-Thomas Hartmann)

Here is an A3 or 11×17 report format for creating a problem statement for an experiment or process improvement.  There are embedded Scientific Process (LEAN approach) and DMAIC (Six Sigma approach) graphics in the A3. These visuals are to assist with the thinking steps in developing an A3.  There are lots of other A3 templates out there.  If you adopt, adapt or use the “A3 Ideas” template, please credit me — Thomas Hartmann.  Have fun!

BIM 2010:Survival and Forward Thinking

Does BIM need to become part of a survival strategy for consultants and builders?  I read that unemployment is 30 percent in construction,  so many of the professionals are leaving, and probably are never coming back.  And age is the other issue, the senior staff costs too much for their experience.  What, when you can get two-for-one highly technically trained BIM wizards for the cost of one fossil.

So if you can get BIM help and can move the business forward, that’s certainly the goal.

Standard Connections

In my engineering firm we developed a set of connection standards to address a variety of steel framing conditions.  I published this and repeatedly cleaned up any RFI’s that were generated.  This is an example of “LEAN improvement” to an engineering process.  About 90% of typical commercial building connections are covered, both welded and bolted connections.

First Sheet (24x36)

First Sheet of Standard Connections (24×36) format

This second sheet is a continuation from the first sheet.   These two sheets work together on a project.  The connection types are developed from the flow chart to ensure that the design intent is met.  A full-depth single-angle connection is the philosophical starting point to simplify the number of beam types for a typical project.   Using 7/8″ diameter bolts, full depth, generally matches capacity for a 100 psf floor live loading with about 50 psf dead loading.  Great for commercial work.  For residential projects, you can use 3/4″ bolts.

Second Sheet (24x36)

Second Sheet of Standard Connections (24×36) format

1st Quarter 2010 BIM Strategy

Most design and build firms are experiencing a work slowdown, so this is a good time to begin using staff to investigate the value of BIM to the firm and incorporate this as part of a process improvement.  Designers (e.g. architects and engineers) have a different “use case” for BIM than builders do.   Designers: presentation to Owners, marketing efforts, document preparation, coordination, etc..  Builders: Yes, coordination (and clash detection), marketing presentation to Owners, communication with field crews, layout and planning, staging, cost-control, etc.  The use depends on the tools selected, and each industry may have different answers.  Post a question if you want some insight into softwasre selection.

LEAN Powerpoint: A Tribute to Anchor Bolts

Here is a link to download the Powerpoint on “LEAN applied to Engineering: A Tribute to Anchor Bolts”.  I suggest that you read this first to understand LEAN philosophy.  Then, the anchor bolt PDF will make a bit more sense.   I can also send you the DWG file. 

Here is the Powerpoint saved in PDF format:

Toyota Way adapted to Anchor Bolts

Here is a link to download the drawing file in PDF format.  Please contact me directly at for the Autocad Drawing File.  You can download the Anchor Bolt Drawing PDF at the link below:

Here is a JPG Graphic of the Anchor Bolt Drawing



I used LEAN to improve my office productivity.  I measured a 30% productivity increase with my staff during the implementation phase.  I would call LEAN a philosophy of improvement, and I am developing a workshop to teach LEAN, combined with BIM implementation, to consulting engineering and architecture firms.  Let me know if you are interested in this; contact me at and mention your interest in the “LEAN Workshop”.

VPMS a.k.a. Design Dashboard

About VPMS™/ The Project Dashboard™ At TwHartmann Inc., my staff and I jointly implemented Operations Excellence in the form of “LEAN” which is also called the Toyota Production System. This system relied upon top and mid-level leadership using a visual project management system (VPMS) that improved communication between the project participants on a weekly basis. Using the VPMS, we developed and implemented new company standards that improved our key work processes. These standards led to further process improvements in our project delivery and reduction of defects. We focused on reliability as a quality metric while measurably reduced errors. Our communication abilities improved with our experience using the VPMS. This process can be easily adapted to work on projects within manufacturing facilities. TwHartmann Inc. was able to drive what we believe were industry best practices and improved standard practices. We measured simultaneous improvements in both reliability and cost reduction. Due to the continually improving process, our firm had measurable increased staff resource availability concurrently with cost reductions to our projects. Paradoxically, the staff utilization ratio decreased due to our following then improving our internally developed procedures and training. My success in my own firm will allow me to establish implementation teaming and teach work processes (i.e., “train the trainer” efforts). As the process standards emerged and were rolled out throughout the firm, my staff and I developed and adapted new training methodologies. I provided ongoing support to my staff and clients. We began to establish long- term measures and tracking such as defect management and reliability. As an example, we used Request for Information (RFI) received as one benchmark metric. We used internal and external performance benchmarking to drive further changes once we had created a stable process and significantly reduced the number of RFI’s. I have been studying “Six Sigma” reliability tools and the LEAN use of “Five Whys” root cause analysis as methods to ascertain ways to successfully create and monitor change and project management. In the 1930’s, the U.S. Training within Industry (TWI) program was the system used to formalize Facilitation of work efforts and improve oral and written communication. This system was adopted by Japan after the war and became known as LEAN or Toyota Production System. This LEAN system create a body of knowledge of operations and maintenance and led to Six Sigma and its reliability tools and root cause analysis. As a successful LEAN practitioner, I can “walk the walk and talk the talk” about process improvements.