Media Release

New Research Building of Microverse Center Jena: Agile in Planning and Lean in Execution

© hks Architekten
Efficient and time-saving processes: the building experts team responsible for project management uses BIM and Lean methodologies for planning and construction execution of the new research building of Microverse Center Jena.

The University of Jena’s expectations of buildings grow: research and study must be based on future-proof, flexibly usable and sustainable structures. A modern research landscape is being created on an area of about 5,000 square meters on the Beutenberg campus in the city of Jena. Drees & Sommer supports the construction project of Friedrich Schiller University Jena with a wide range of project management services. The team of experts combined the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Lean methodologies in order to speed up the planning and construction process and comply with the deadlines for public subsidies. The integrated application of the two tools accelerates the construction process by up to 30 percent.Completion and commissioning of the Microverse Center Jena (MCJ) is scheduled for end-2024.

In addition to about 130 existing buildings, there are numerous new building projects which aim to help the University of Jena to retain and develop its first-class status. However, this process is on a tight schedule because the subsidies for the construction project provided by the national government and the federal state are limited by deadlines. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the federal state of Thuringia invest around 20 million euros respectively in the construction of the new research complex MCJ: “The generous support from the national government, the federal state of Thuringia and the Friedrich Schiller University enables us to create a research building for our cluster of excellence which offers enough scope for encounter and synergies.

This will bring the university and the external institutions closer together and create the basis for an internationally visible center of cutting-edge research,“ says Professor Dr. Kirsten Küsel, spokesperson of the Balance of the Microverse excellence cluster

Top Research ‘Made in Jena’

The MCJ is designed to be the spatial center of the cluster of excellence referred to as Balance of the Microverse, a research network which places its primary focus on the composition of microbial communities and the communication and interaction between them and with their environment. The MCJ is designed to accommodate 170 researchers and 30 non-scientific staff members. The building, which has been designed by hks Architekten, offers the necessary infrastructure for new and existing professorial posts, several junior researcher groups, the Microverse Imaging Center and the main office of the cluster of excellence. Sustainable elements such as a timber façade, a large heat storage and a photovoltaic system with an integrated green roof ensure a high level of energy efficiency.

BIMxLean in practice

The university representatives in the construction project wish to achieve added value for the planning, implementation and later operation of the building. Therefore, the project is being planned on the basis of digital project processing as a BIMxLean pilot project with ‘lean’ elements. The Lean philosophy aims to avoid all forms of waste, errors and unnecessary costs by focusing on the needs of the clients and continually improving the processes – a method which was developed in the 1950s by the inventor of the Toyota production system, Taiicho Ohno. Using BIM, all relevant data of a building will be modeled, combined and captured digitally in order to optimize planning, execution and operation.

Besides project management, Drees & Sommer is involved in the implementation of the two methods. Thanks to BIMxLean, reworking, unnecessary waiting periods, and waste of personnel time and materials are a matter of the past. The Lean concept aims to break down the building process for the whole building into logical stages and to implement these stages. The goal is to achieve an optimum process plan so that the building site can be organized smoothly in terms of trade processes – i.e. a fixed sequence of specific trades – which can then proceed in a continuous flow. This means that weaknesses and risks can be detected early and assigned new priorities. An overall process analysis is carried out to define the project schedule for every week of the process even before construction begins – an approach which is referred to as ‘Lean Construction Management – LCM.

“Integrated project planning together with all participants in the process is a crucial element of LCM. The aim is to optimize the communication between the individual trades and to begin this communication at an early stage. With this method, we are almost a third faster in the processes on the building site than we were with traditional procedures,” explains Stephan Hösemann, BIM and Lean specialist at Drees & Sommer. This means that a capacity utilization of more than 85 percent can be ensured with LCM even when there are resource shortages, such as an inadequate supply of building materials. 

Keeping Time with BIM and Lean

To harness the synergies which arise from a combination of BIM and the Lean method, the planners of the new university building are using a separate platform and the appropriate software. The web-based collaborative planning and control solution, LCM Digital, enables the all-round planning and construction process to be designed and implemented transparently and digitally. The cloud-based platform big, which can store all data for the building, enables the two process environments of LCM and BIM to be brought together in combined data records. Any changes in timing are promptly and transparently displayed and communicated to all project participants via this platform.

From Big Data to Smart Data

Collecting all schedule-based results in a central tool was one of the major requirements for the construction project at the University of Jena in order to eliminate redundancy and avoid the creation of data silos. The gathered data should be able to be evaluated quickly, and communication in the planning and construction process should become more transparent, faster and leaner in order to achieve the greatest possible acceptance and benefits. The combination of BIM and Lean enables a high level of quality assurance with regard to planning and the construction site. Not only is the collected information valuable for documentation and archiving purposes, but it can also be used during the entire life cycle of the property as an added value for operational facility management of the new research property.