- The public-private partnership building the CA$3.1 billion New Champlain Bridge in Montreal has announced that it will miss its Dec. 21 deadline and open in June 2019 instead.
- The Signature on the Saint Lawrence (SSL) group said the bridge's structure will be finished in December but that winter weather will prevent waterproofing of the deck and paving, as well as other finish work, until spring. SNC-Lavelin, ACS and Hochtief make up the P3's private consortium, while the design construction team includes SNC-Lavelin, Dragados Canada, Flatiron Constructors Canada and EBC Inc. SSL will also operate and maintain the bridge corridor project for 30 years from completion.
- The group is in talks with the Canadian government, according to Engineering News-Record, to negotiate down the penalties that will kick in once the December deadline passes. SSL could face a $76,000 per day penalty during the last week of December and a more than $300,000 per day fine starting in January. Penalties, which are capped at $114 million, could reach $52 million if the group meets the new June 2019 deadline. P3 representatives maintain that the delays were out of their control, pointing to a one-week strike by crane operators and three months of delays after the imposition of bridge load limits that bogged down material deliveries. SSL has filed a $93 million lawsuit against the government alleging it was not notified of the new load restrictions.
Contractors can be left on the hook for delay damages on projects of any size, not just multi-billion-dollar infrastructure jobs. Much of that risk can be avoided, however, through proper planning, starting in the preconstruction stage and then continuing on through the project with help from management techniques like lean construction.
One of the principles of lean construction is the elimination of project inefficiencies through continuous collaboration and coordination between the project players. This includes pull-planning sessions during which representatives from trades, vendors and project management start at some project goal date and work their way back through the tasks and timeline necessary to achieve that milestone. These sessions are repeated over and over in response to new goals or events that might require schedule revisions.
The lean process also values those with field knowledge, which means onsite personnel can contribute to creating those desired efficiencies.
The key to implementing lean on a project is straightforward, starting with the "five s's," according to Mike Stark with the Associated General Contractors of America. Those are:
- Sort — get rid of both physical and process nonessentials
- Set things in order — organize and store essentials
- Shine/sweep — keep the physical area tidy and clean
- Standardize — regulate processes for maximum efficiency
- Sustain — make sure everyone adheres to the first four s's.