Six Principles of Lean Construction

Lean construction is quickly becoming a popular methodology and is gaining more traction in the industry as the years go on. Has your company adopted it yet?

If not, here are the facts. Lean construction stems from Toyota’s lean manufacturing principle that basically says: Maximize value for your customer while also minimizing waste.

It’s more difficult than it sounds for construction, though. Unlike manufacturing, construction doesn’t take place in a controlled environment and workflows are often unpredictable. Also, this methodology is more of a suggestion rather than a one-size-fits-all. There are many ways you can maximize client satisfaction and minimize and control waste, including adopting different technologies like Thunderbolt.

However, there are 6 lean construction principles that you should know if this were a methodology you’d like to start implementing. Here’s a synopsis.

Principle #1: Identify Value from the Client’s Point of View

Being a client-centric company is likely not a new principle for you, but identifying value goes deeper than just doing what the client wants. It’s about understanding why they want it so your project team can manage expectations appropriately. This involves creating a deep level of trust across all stakeholders in the project – architect, engineer, general contractor, suppliers, etc.

Principle #2: Identify Processes that Deliver the Value Stream

Once you know what the client values, it’s important to establish processes that can deliver on those values. This means you need to take into account labor requirements and the necessary materials and equipment that directly aid in completing the project to the client’s utmost satisfaction. Basically, anything that doesn’t add value for the client should be eliminated. This helps, of course, to start minimizing wasteful products and actions, cutting back on time and budget.

Principle #3: Eliminating Waste

The eight major types of waste in construction are Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Not Utilizing Talent, Transport, Inventory, Motion, and Excess Processing. We won’t dive deep into all of these, but if you want to learn more it’s easy to remember them – just think of DOWNTIME. One of the biggest parts of the lean construction methodology is reducing waste without skimping on the clients needs, so use these few ways to make sure you are maximizing every dollar, material, and team member.

Principle #4: Achieving Flow of Work Processes

This is where the methodology can get dicey in a construction project. Process flow isn’t always an exact science, but there are certain things that you know have to complete before something else gets done. For example, you wouldn’t start putting drywall up until all your electrical and plumbing work was complete. We know other parts of a project won’t always be that smooth, but the reason for creating a flow is so you don’t have workers standing around waiting to do their job. When you know what has to happen and when, you can assign the right people and get the proper materials to the site at the right time.

Principle #5: Using Pull Planning and Scheduling

Pull planning and scheduling is based around principle #4. Because work is done sequentially, one specific part of a job starts when the previous one ends. This requires communication between those performing the work to better collaborate and dictate tasks.

Principle #6: Perfecting the Processes Through Continuous Improvement 

Learn and grow – that’s the basis of this principle. Take what you think you could have done better on one project to reduce waste and do that the next time. Lean construction is not something you implement once; it’s ongoing. You will continually find new ways to add value and eliminate waste, benefiting your company in the end.

By | 2019-01-14T11:05:49+00:00 September 14th, 2018|Construction News, Education, Thunderbolt University|