Precision deliveries and digital tools – Turku's legendary hotel progressively renewed

Functional logistics is important for all construction sites, and its importance is further emphasised when building in the city centre. The construction site of the Hamburger Börs hotel in the heart of Turku is an excellent example of the benefits of digital logistics and takt time method.

The Hamburger Börs is a legendary landmark hotel in the City of Turku – the hotel that everyone knows. Hamburger Börs started serving guests in the best location, next to the market square in the centre of Turku, already in 1894.

Since summer 2019, the iconic hotel has been thoroughly renovated. The oldest section of Hamburger Börs was renovated with respect for its historical value. The hotel building, which was added to the building in the 1970s, has been demolished and replaced by a completely new hotel with architecture that pays tribute to the historic days of the Turku Market Square. The hotel will open in November 2021.

The new era, in turn, can be seen in the handling of the hotel construction site materials, site scheduling and management. According to all participants in the project, the Hamburger Börs is an excellent example of digital logistics and takt time method. The successful outcome is a result of the cooperation between the contractors, YIT and Carinafour, which focuses on the development and operation of production and supply chain solutions. The joint goal of YIT and Carinafour is to develop the industrial production system of construction and the related supply chain.

"In the traditional construction operating model, an installer might spend on average only a quarter of their working time on the core work. The rest of the time is spent searching for and moving materials, waiting and changing between working sites. In addition, the materials are often imported well in advance, which means that the goods have to be moved many times before installation. We strive to ensure that the materials are only moved once and installed directly in place, which means that installation is much more efficient," says Ari Viitanen, Operative Director at Carinafour.

Digital tools help the contractor do their job more efficiently

Thorough planning of logistics always makes sense, but in a site like the Hamburger Börs, it was exceptionally essential, as the site was located in the middle of the city.

"With Carinafour, we were thoroughly thinking about how we can make it easier for contractors to work. The site was located right in the centre of Turku, and the storage space is almost non-existent. If the logistics hadn't worked, the site would have been blocked in a few days. It would have consumed a lot of time and money and also affected the quality of the end result. Things had to be thought of differently than on a normal construction site with more space and larger cargo loads," says Jyrki Rantapaju, the Site Manager of the Hamburger Börs construction site at YIT.

The building materials arrived at the site as precision deliveries and carefully calculated installation items, which were delivered as directly as possible to the installation point. With the help of a real-time logistics booking calendar, the contractor was able to adjust the delivery time very precisely.

"Both new and old digital tools were used to manage material flows. Together, we developed material flow monitoring and site-specific material listing. The contractor was allowed to specify exactly what was needed for a particular room, and the logistics partner arranged the goods on-site according to the listing. We had an up-to-date understanding of how much stuff is on the site, and we were also able to see if, for example, a contractor ordered too much. As a result, the amount of waste and unnecessary relocations at this site was quite minimal."

The contractors also welcomed the takt time method and new operating methods.

"When things are done on a tight schedule, it requires the installer to always have something to install. If not, work will not progress. At the Hamburger Börs construction site, we did not have to carry materials and equipment to different floors ourselves or spend a lot of time calling after missing deliveries. We were able to focus on the right things when everything we needed for the installations was ready on the spot and in neat order," says Riku Wuokko from Kaarinan Puutyö Oy, the company responsible for making partition walls and suspended ceilings for the hotel.

Construction industry moving towards a more assembly-type operating model

According to Ari Viitanen, one of the most important preconditions for the site's success was that the information and data flows remained in place at all times.

"When the flow of both materials and data was carefully planned and tailored, we were also able to see and influence the current situation, risks and deviations in the material flow during the implementation phase. It opened up opportunities to manage the construction site with more accurate information," Viitanen says.

He sees digital tools taking the whole construction industry towards a more assembly-type operating model, where the installer installs, and logistics handle the transfers and deliveries. At the same time, material loss is reduced, and occupational safety and ergonomics are improved.

“A factory may seek efficiencies by investing in automation, but it's not as easy in a non-standardised and changing operating environment such as a construction site. At a construction site, it is worth investing in management and getting the processes in order. This is the best way to influence turnaround time and productivity. In the practical implementation, the commitment and willingness of key personnel at the construction site to act according to the agreed model are also essential. I would like to thank the builders of the Hamburger Börs especially for this," emphasises Viitanen.

YIT's Jyrki Rantapaju also believes that digital tools will become more common on construction sites.

"Up-to-date information makes things transparent, so everyone knows what is going on at the site and where to go. It brings with it both efficiency and quality and reduces unnecessary work," says Rantapaju.

"Of course, there is always resistance to change – and it's good that ideas are challenged. Change must be useful from a practical point of view; we should not develop something new simply out of habit. On the Hamburger Börs site, it was important to make the contractors and workers believe in the system we developed. Previous experiences with digital tools were not positive for everyone, but as the end result shows, sensible and useful reforms are accepted."

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