Lean construction is a relationship-focused production management system that aims to eliminate waste from the entire construction process and deliver greater value to clients. It ensures that a project is quickly done, and lower costs are incurred during the building process. Also, lean construction aims at maximizing value and minimizing costs involved during construction project maintenance, design, planning, and activation. Using the principles of lean construction, the desired outcome would be to maximize the value and output of a project while minimizing wasteful aspects and time delay.
At the heart of lean construction is the idea that you can reliably release work from one construction process to the next. Just imagine being able to turn the building over to whoever is next in line to do their work and know everything will proceed as planned. This outcome is usually achieved when standard construction approaches are merged with a clear and concise understanding of project materials, management archetypes, planning, and control.
Here are the lean construction practices that have the biggest impact.
The traditional approach to construction usually focuses on what the customer wants you to build – the plans and specifications included. However, lean construction recognizes that the customer's values are deeper than that. It isn't just about what to build, but why it should be built. Understanding value from the customer's point of view requires a different level of trust. This trust becomes established very early in the planning phases of a project.
Lean construction brings together all stakeholders including the owner, architect, engineers, general contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers. The project team delivers what the client wants, provides advice, and helps shape expectations throughout the project.
Following the first step of discovering what your customer values, you can plan your project around the value. This makes sure you're going to reach the end result that the customer was hoping for. Mapping value stream includes gathering data from project participants and studying that data to create a visual plan that will efficiently make use of resources and time.
When mapping the value stream for your project, you have to make note of any possible waste factors that could affect your schedule. When you address potential problems before they even come up, you can establish processes to avoid and stay on track.
A core tenet of lean construction is the reduction of waste in construction processes. A common assumption is waste is merely materials that go unused and unneeded on a project site. However, waste in lean pertains to any material, action, or process that is costly, inefficient, time-consuming, and takes value away from the customer.
Lean practices don't only lead to reduced physical waste, but also reductions in rework, overproduction, wait times, unneeded personnel utilization, excess inventory, processing time, and motion waste. When construction firms apply lean construction principles to their project management practices, they significantly reduce all forms of waste.
After removing useless operations from the value system, the next step ensures the projects run smoothly and uninterrupted. The key to achieving continuous flow is through a good work sequence. You cannot start working on the frame without putting the foundation in place. Clear communication plays a significant role in achieving flow. Whenever one part of the project lags, it is essential to communicate to the team to make adjustments that will help avoid waste of time, labor, and excess inventory.
When using pull planning or scheduling the work is released based on downstream demand in order to create reliable workflows. The work is done sequentially and the completion of one task releases work on the next task. This requires starting from a specific milestone or target completion date and working backward to schedule when to perform a work.
In lean construction, those performing the work usually do pull planning. Typically, the subcontractors, through communication and collaboration with each other, dictate the schedule of tasks. This is because they are best suited for determining their capacity for performing a given task. They can work with the next subcontractor, or customer, downstream to coordinate schedules and handoffs.
Sustained improvement based on continuous and deliberate optimization is one of the main practices of lean construction. This principle revolves on the idea that businesses can only achieve excellence when they consciously strive to grow, learn, and test new ideas. With continuous improvement, construction crews can become more efficient on projects they are working on.
In other industries, it is easy to identify opportunities for continuous improvement and implement them immediately. In construction, the more complex value stream means that the cycle time is typically longer. Changes to the original plan will have an impact on the chain toward other parts of the project. It is important to carefully decide and clearly communicate the changes to the stakeholders.
Any continuous improvements in lean construction need to follow a specific cycle of control and planning to ensure projects keep going forward. Such planning should also have clearly defined criteria for success, with specific strategies for achieving said successes.
By standardizing lean construction techniques in your building processes, you can increase productivity and generate cost savings through collaboration. Studies by the McKinsey Global Institute show that collaborative contractual relationships result in an 8% to 9% improvement in productivity and a 6% to 7% improvement in cost savings (when compared to more traditional contractual structures).
The reduction in waste increases projects efficiency, improving cost controls for higher profit margins. Lean construction reduces downtime waiting for materials, equipment, and information while rooting out inefficiencies from processes. The emphasis on prefabrication helps to prevent material waste and maximize the use of all materials.
ON SCOPE - Break down the project into individual tasks and remain in total control during the execution of the project. ON BUDGET - Understand the individual cost elements and make sure there is no waste. ON-TIME - Have a complete overview of time allocated to a project and have a chance to be proactive. Set your project up for success with proven lean practices.
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