Release Date: March 1, 2010

Meet Inc. Innovator Juanita Frankfurth

The Post-Crescent

Juanita Frankfurth is the Boldt Co.'s manager of continuous improvement, which means she uses lean principles and processes to take the waste out of complex construction projects, ultimately saving time and money.

Q You build buildings on a computer before construction starts to evaluate where you can save money for the customer?

A One of the techniques that we utilize here at Boldt is Building Information Modeling, or BIM as it's known in the industry. We virtually build the building and use that information to analyze the data, analyze the construction process. I utilize different tools and different techniques to analyze workflow and the process within construction. Building information, as it exists traditionally, in blue prints or specifications, product data, warranty information, is imported. There are multiple software packages that can do a building information model. It's the act of taking that information and consolidating it into a model that can be used for purposes of design and construction as well as facility management.

Q Did your position exist before you started here?

A Our department was a new department when I came on board. There were two of us. The director of continuous improvement, Todd Brink, was brought on board about a month prior to my joining the Boldt Co. That department didn't exist prior to us joining the company. Although the Boldt Co. itself has been practicing lean construction for quite a while.

Q Is it unusual in your industry to do this?

A It's very usual because lean in and of itself has traditionally started in the manufacturing industry. So it's very challenging. We're not building widgets here. It's challenging taking the philosophy of lean and the techniques and the practice of that into a service industry. In our service industry, there are so many variables. Project schedules and customer requirements are very unique in every project that we do.

Q What's an example of applying lean principles?

A We've used the BIM tools and techniques in our health care industry for the last couple of years and we've been making significant advantages. We've been seeing schedules significantly reduced. Weeks, sometimes months. We are seeing a cost savings, sometimes as small as a couple thousand dollars and sometimes as large as a couple million dollars.

Q Can you give a specific example?

A Encircle Health was one that was done utilizing this process. That project was finished early and there were significant cost savings that were returned to the owner and the project team.

Q What kind of changes do you make?

A One of the bigger examples would be "clash detection." When we're virtually building this building, we run a program that will tell us where mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems are interfering with each other during the design process. This program will tell us where there are inefficiencies, where there's rework needed in a model where things are clashing with each other For example, a steel beam that may be clashing where there's a glazing (windows) coming through. If we were to not catch that that during the preconstruction process, when we get to the construction process and start putting the components together, that would be a significant cost to fix that problem. We're looking at it from a cost avoidance standpoint.

Q Besides Encircle Health, what projects are you working on now?

A The AMC bed tower project follows the same methodology.

Q What unique things do you bring to the table in your department of three people?

A I am able to draw from my architectural experience, my facilities management experience and my technical software process on BIM. Title: Manager of continuous improvement at the Boldt Co. Address: 2525 N. Roemer Road, Appleton How long in this position: Two years Frankfurth's background: Age 38, originally from Freedom, now living in Greenville. Has an architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previous positions: Intern architect at DLR Group, CAD administrator at Quad/Graphics and project manager and consultant at MasterGraphics. Trained and certified in lean principles through Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Web site: www.boldt.com