Cannistraro’s Lean Construction Approach Creates Cost and Schedule Certainty

Transparency Market Research reports that construction waste will nearly double to 2.2. billion tons by 2025. With construction waste increasing, many companies are looking to prefabrication, which has the potential to improve many aspects of a project while also reducing waste. 

Cannistraro, a Boston-based mechanical construction firm, has long been among one of the chief innovators in their industry. As an early adopter of lean principles and construction technology, Cannistraro is a leader in prefabrication to build more efficiently, achieving certainty in cost, schedule, and quality, while creating a safer working environment. This methodology also reduces waste and minimizes risk.  

For instance, using their prefabricated skids on a major multi-use project resulted in five fewer deliveries, two weeks off the schedule, 18 fewer material handling hours, 110 fewer field hours, and 13% cost savings on materials.

Here’s how they do it.


1. Bring the Bulk of the Work into a Controlled Environment

Cannistraro combines construction engineering, plumbing, piping, sheet metal, and other prefabrication expertise under one umbrella. This method enables them to bring every aspect of mechanical construction into the factory’s controlled environment to produce complete skids.

This process improves materials management, enables just-in-time delivery, decreases jobsite safety risks, and improves timelines.

2. Embrace Emerging Technologies

Cannistraro has built its reputation for innovation by embracing emerging technologies and the vision and drive of their workforce. Following lean principles, they empower every employee to improve processes, manage quality, and innovate.

Their use of cutting edge technology includes machinery, such as the T-Drill equipment that makes cutting and sorting pipes faster and more efficient, as well as software such as BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud™, which makes it easy to share information and continuously improve processes.

3. Enable Multi-disciplinary Collaboration

Cannistraro’s world-class team includes experts across the industry, including designers, fabricators, contractors, owners, engineers, and front line workers. Digital tools like BIM 360 and Navisworks enable true collaboration among the stakeholders on every project and throughout the company.

Access to tools that encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration creates savings in materials and time, improves jobsite safety, and adds to the bottom line of every project. 

Within Cannistraro’s state of the art facility, they focus on universal stations to enable all trades access to equipment automation. This functionality connects BIM model data directly to equipment. 

4. Continuously Improve Modular Construction Approaches

By fabricating mechanical systems in house, Cannistraro has managed to achieve significant savings for its clients. On a recent project, Cannistraro’s team leaders saw an opportunity to showcase fabrication by creating a modular mechanical assembly that was custom built to fit the project. 

Tyler Alston, a Project Manager for Cannistraro, worked closely with the top project stakeholders, presenting and developing the prefabricated skid as a custom module for the building. Alston was able to demonstrate the cost savings to the stakeholders and then work with them to make the design changes to install the skid as a unit. During this preconstruction process, Navisworks was instrumental in allowing the team to visualize the project's scope and logistics as well as the new requirements to implement it. BIM 360 was used for 3D model coordination to streamline constructability reviews and onsite installation.

Built-in Cannistraro’s shop, this fabricated equipment skid was delivered to the building site and installed as a single unit, rather than the traditional method of craning in all the components and tying them together onsite. The development of the prefabricated skid reduced waste and onsite installation time while increasing jobsite safety and reducing the footprint of the mechanical systems.

5. Consolidate Expertise and Capabilities

The more contractors and subcontractors involved in a project, the greater the risk of miscommunication and rework. This challenge can be particularly real when you have one contractor handling HVAC or piping fabrication and another overseeing installation. Cannistraro resolved this challenge and removed that element of error by handling all of their clients’ HVAC, plumbing, and fire system fabrication needs with their in-house fabrication solutions.  

6. Automate Recurring Tasks 

With the ability to automate recurring tasks through the fabrication shop, Cannistraro has the ability to do more with less. Through BIM model exported CSV files and a QR code system, the team can reach high-efficiency gains through automatic pipe cutting, labeling, sorting, and fitting equipment. This ability enables the team to perform highly-complex and detailed project scopes while adhering to extremely tight construction schedules with limited footprint onsite. 

Six takeaways from this story

Modular construction continues to grow as a way to improve construction projects. Cannistraro’s story showcases what’s possible for those who take a lean approach, including these five benefits:

  1. Cost savings
  2. Time savings
  3. Minimized risk
  4. Reduced waste
  5. Improved safety
  6. Greater potential for optimization


Lauren Ginsberg

Construction Content Marketing Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions