Lean construction is a collaborative approach to minimizing waste of materials, time and effort in order to deliver maximum value to the client. Lean construction methods consist of a balance of time, cost, and safety to deliver quality and value. Utilizing lean methods, projects are managed through collaboration, transparency, and shared knowledge in support of achieving the common goal.
By sharing project knowledge and experience teams develop improved processes to ensure reliable workflow and predictable project outcomes. Actions are coordinated in a continuous flow to ensure that resources and time are utilized to their full potential.
There are fundamental lean construction principles that direct the methods of firms to aid in achieving a successfully completed lean project:
- Identify Value as Defined by the Customer
The collective parts of a construction project including the owner, architect, engineers, general contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers are brought together to develop a detailed definition of what the customer values (and why) in order to create processes in accordance with achieving these values.
- Develop the Value Stream
Detailed processes are put in place to define how the end project will be achieved in line with the customer’s defined values. Resources or steps that do not contribute to the value of the project are eliminated.
- Eliminate the Key Types of Waste
Each process in the project is evaluated to understand how the process can be simplified to minimize or completely reduce waste. Teams often study the following areas to perfect processes: defects that could possibly cause reworks, overproduction that could lead to schedule conflicts, idle time waiting for materials or work, underutilized workforce talent, transportation methods, excessive inventory on-site, unnecessary movement expenditures, and over processing/complicating a process.
- Work Process Flow
Lean construction aims to create a continuous, uninterrupted workflow to provide the project with reliable and predictable metrics. Communication between trades is essential to achieving continuous flow of work processes.
- Pull Planning and Scheduling
Contractors work closely with one another and communicate where they are in accordance with the schedule in order to make changes to allow continuous flow to be maintained.
By delivering materials pre-cut and ready for installation, the occurrence of idle time is minimized while also contributing to safety due to the reduced need for equipment on-site.
- Consistent Innovation and Improvement
Teams should be consistently identifying and researching methods to perfect processes and reduce waste. When new opportunities for waste reduction are presented, they should be acted upon and integrated into future processes.