The construction industry is facing a strong influx of innovations thanks to technology. These innovations touch every aspect of the industry, including the designs, tools, the bidding process, constructing methodologies, and so much more.
Along with these revolutionary changes, clients are demanding stricter deadlines and more efficiency. Contractors have to adopt newer practices to improve efficiency, save time and costs, and increase safety.
Lean construction is a top methodology that modern contractors use. This strategy is aimed at reducing wastes, material costs, and the effort spent on the project at hand.
Lean construction is a methodology aimed at maximizing the output of a construction project while reducing costs and wastes. The five main goals of the lean philosophy are to:
Facilitate the planning process
Reduce the construction time
Minimize the construction costs
Improve the control process
Make the process safer
Most construction sites tend to be disorganized, with raw materials kept everywhere and the workers handling different activities in the same place. Lean construction philosophy seeks to streamline all these activities to save time and efficiently utilize the available resources.
Before the building starts, contractors carefully discuss the project with clients to know what the clients want. After that, the contractors study the job based on its location and available resources and develop strategies that would facilitate the process.
Here are the seven main types of waste identified in the construction industry:
Overproduction refers to producing more than what is required. This type of waste mostly happens when the contractor/project developer starts working without proper plans or understanding what the client wants.
In construction, overproduction can also happen when the contractor produces excess reports that no one reads or brings in extra raw materials.
Overproduction usually results in degradation of the overall results, time wastage, and excess costs in purchasing/making things no one will use.
Too much inventory may not seem like an issue, but sometimes, it can result in losses. While the excess storage can ensure a steady flow of materials, it can also facilitate damages and cause storage issues.
Excess inventory can also increase instances of theft, especially when the store management is poor. Storage issues may also arise when there are too many materials.
Inventory management is vital in the construction industry. Contractors should learn to order only the things they need to reduce inventory issues.
As the name implies, waiting wastes arise when the construction has to stop to wait for some materials, workers, or other resources. Waiting wastes are common in remote areas where transport is a significant issue, meaning that the builders have to wait for long for order delivery.
This type of waste may also happen when the workers have to wait for long hours to get instructions or orders from the supervisors. Excessive waiting kills the morale of the workers and may interfere with the efficiency of the construction process.
In the construction industry, orders and materials should be delivered in time to reduce wasting time and resources.
It's common to experience product defects in the construction industry. Maybe some tools are not working or others are slow. Any deficiencies in the construction industry can slow down the process or even interfere with the quality of the outcome.
To prevent this waste, contractors should countercheck each tool or material before they buy. Regular maintenance and servicing of the tools should be done to keep everything in order and avoid defects.
Human resource is a necessity in construction. However, unused human talent in construction sites can be a waste. For instance, you have hired 20 workers for the project, yet only ten are active. The other ten will be idle, yet, they will get paid.
It's vital to utilize human expertise in a construction project to get the most benefits. Most importantly, proper planning should be done on the number of people needed and the role designations.
Over-processing refers to doing more than what is expected. Over-processing often results in loss of time and money because, after all, what is delivered is not exactly what the clients want.
In construction, over-processing is caused by poor planning and poor communication. Contractors should understand their client's needs well before proceeding with the projects. Similarly, there should be close supervision to ensure everything is in order.
It's costly to transport materials that do not add value to the construction process. Excessive planning mostly happens because of poor planning.
And because of this unnecessary movement of construction materials, some things might get lost or experience wear and tear.
Contractors can reduce this type of loss by ordering what is needed only. Drivers should be notified of the destinations too to reduce transport inconveniences.
Construction firms are increasingly adopting the lean idea to reduce operation costs, minimize wastes, and increase profitability. This approach is quite realistic and straightforward, hence its popularity. However, there are a few guiding principles for construction firms looking forward to embracing the lean-approach. Here are some of them:
The lean approach involves clients, engineers, suppliers, contractors and other stakeholders. The team should understand what the client wants, discuss it, and aim to provide better value.
The primary goal of lean construction is to eliminate the above-discussed wastes. Review each process in the construction cycle to remove any wastes that could drag your projects.
Continuous improvement is the key to the success of a lean construction project. The clients, contractors, and stakeholders need to meet after every milestone to discuss progress and determine the way forward. This collaboration helps ensure the clients are satisfied with each stage and that there is continuous improvement of the project.
Lean construction reduces wastes and increases the output. Therefore, proper utilization of this approach can give you a competitive edge in the building industry.
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