What is value engineering?

value engineering

Nuts & Bolts by Bryan Arlington

If you had to define it as one word, you may boil it down to “efficiency.” That would be one word, but it wouldn’t be right. The basic misconception of value engineering is that the term simply means to take a set of parameters, none of which will change, and do the best design based on those static parameters.

In other words, value engineering is believed to be engineering at its best.

Again, not right.

Value engineering and basic engineering have one major difference: the flexibility or inflexibility of the parameters. In engineering, the parameters don’t change. In value engineering, it’s all about the change.

Value engineering, quite simply, is tweaking the scope to find a better value.

The point is, value engineering provides the best value to the customer, if that customer is willing to be flexible on their parameters. We aren’t talking about anything that changes the main points of the job. Value engineering, for example, may tweak the paint formulation, the column depth restriction, bay spacing, deflection criteria or bracing locations and type. These are shifts in the scope, not overhauls, that allow the client to have their needs met, while getting the very best price.

My point: Whatever your need is, if you are willing to consider a slight scope tweak, then value engineering is for you. Let the dog wag the tail like it’s supposed to, not the other way around.

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Bryan Arlington

Bryan Arlington, P.E., started at Star in 1996 as a Design Engineer. In 1999, he moved to the Estimating Department as a Sales Engineer. After achieving Senior Sales Engineer, he was promoted to Chief Sales Engineer and then Manager of Estimating. Bryan has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and is a registered professional engineer in multiple states. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his wife, Shalmarie and his two children, Jessica and Jacob.


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    Reply January 11, 2014

    Tony Marshallsay

    Value Engineering means getting more (performance, functionality, quality… you name it) for the same cost or the same for less cost. More for less is a bonus; but less for less doesn’t count – it’s just plain cost-cutting (usually at the “front end”, ignoring life-cycle savings).
    VE gets a bad name because front-end cost-cutters – e.g. developers out to make a fast buck – use the term to gloss over the corners they have cut to get the price of the end product down.
    But should there be a VE discipline at all? Shouldn’t the processes of VE be part of normal design? Yes, they should – but unfortunately that’s rarely the case, so real VE exists as effectively a “peer review” system.
    And remember this: if the initial design team have had the time and resources to look into all the angles, the VE team will be stumped to find a better value alternate.

    • Star Building Systems
      Reply January 14, 2014

      Star Building Systems

      Thanks, Tony, for the great additional insight!

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