Lean Construction Principles and Management

Learn about the application of lean construction principles and educational opportunities to advance your career.

The principles of lean construction require a deliberate practice of managing resources efficiently and effectively. When following the principles of lean construction, projects will reduce waste and minimize extra processing and defects.

Here are the key principles of lean construction based on lean methodology.

1. Defining the value stream

This means laying out all the processes that deliver the most value. Defining the value stream taps into the customer’s point of view to ensure their input saturates every phase of the project. During this process, all activities are defined, including information, equipment, labor, and materials.

2. Eliminating waste

There are eight major types of waste in the lean construction model, which include defects, overproduction, waiting, not utilizing talent, transport, inventory, motion, and over-processing.

3. Defects

These are elements that weren’t done correctly, resulting in having to redo this aspect of the project.

4. Overproduction

This occurs when a task finishes early.

5. Waiting

This occurs when workers are ready, but certain tasks to move forward are not completed or the materials needed have not been delivered.

6. Not utilizing talent

There is a range of skills and experience when working on a project, but in instances like this, the workers are not matched to their best skillset.

7. Transport

This occurs when workers, material, and equipment are moved to a site before needed.

8. Inventory

Materials that take up storage and financial resources when not needed.

9. Motion

Moving workers, tools, and materials unnecessarily.

10. Over Processing

This occurs when features or activities are added to the project that is wasteful and has no value to the client.

11. The flow of work processes

The work process in lean construction projects should be continuous, uninterrupted, predictable, and reliable. Every process has an implementation to complete, so it is essential for everyone to be on the same page to make the suitable adjustments to avoid waiting, motion, and inventory you cannot use.

12. Pull planning and scheduling

This means there should be an established communication and collaboration partnership to get things done. This helps create reliable workflows throughout the project.

13. Continuous improvement

Identifying opportunities for improvement and implementing them is key. These opportunities will also be identified and implemented for future projects. While many people may feel as if the old way is better, the benefits help improve processes and eliminate waste to deliver on budget, on-time projects.

What are the benefits of lean construction?

In lean construction management, there are many benefits including:

  • Efficient, safe work practices
  • Reduction of waste
  • Higher quality construction
  • Greater productivity
  • Better risk management
  • Finishing jobs faster
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Saving on total labor costs

Lean construction includes the involvement of all stakeholders including owners, architects, general contractors, engineers, subcontractors, and suppliers.

What are the disadvantages of lean construction?

While there are many advantages to implementing lean construction ideas, there are a few things to consider to ensure the promised lean benefits like inventory, adoption, and associated costs.

Inventory levels are usually low to decrease costs and minimize waste. This is only problematic if goods cannot be located and acquired within appropriate timeframes and an organized lean construction operation infrequently runs into inventory issues. Additionally, lean implementation in construction runs the risk of rejection due to a lack of lean construction experience. For a positive and effective experience, deploy tools and teams that have exposure and success with ramping up lean construction organizations. Touchplan is an excellent resource for both software and experienced individuals to train teams and leadership. Some anticipated implementation costs including costs associated with obtaining a lean construction designation. Resources like lean construction management PDFs and regimented tested onboarding through consultants or specialist onboarding teams at Touchplan ensure powerful, cost-efficient adoption and implementation lending to the positive benefits many lean construction statistics boast.

Lean Construction Certifications and Association

How can teams use lean construction?

To fully embrace lean construction, it’s important to know where to get the right information and resources to make it happen. The Lean Construction Institute is one of the first places to go when interested in lean construction. They offer insight into obtaining the lean construction certification and pull planning certification.

There are also other associations and groups like the U.S. Green Building Council, National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), American Institute of Constructors (AIC), and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) that provide more insight on lean certification.

The Lean Construction Institute training also consists of a free lean construction certification module to ensure you are serious about completing the course. In many instances, individuals taking the course gather in a lean construction group to help each other along the way.

What type of coursework is in the Lean Construction Institute program?

There are eight main courses:

  • Introduction to: Lean Project Delivery,  Last Planner® System, and Last Planner System in Design
  • The Mindset of an Effective Big Room
  • Lean in the Design Phase
  • Target Value Delivery
  • Conducting Gemba Walks
  • Business Care for Lean Project Delivery

Lean Construction Education

If you’re looking to develop expertise in lean construction, there are numerous educational materials available to assist. Touchplan is proud to offer an extensive list of topics covered through the blog, lean construction case studies to add value and insight into the learning process, lean learning downloadable modules and other published custom articles. Touchplan has also invested in hiring some of the premier lean leaders in the world to further the mission of lean construction and support customers.

In addition, organizations like the Lean Construction Academy provide a lean construction guide to give students an idea of the coursework and what it entails. The lean construction books PDF is available to help students study without additional expense.

The Lean Construction Institute – of which Touchplan is a continued sustaining sponsor – also has Lean construction eLearning options, lean construction articles, and lean construction examples complete with lean construction PPTs and lean construction PDFs containing all the fundamentals to move forward. The Lean Construction Institute also provides the lean principles PDF, and lean construction principles PDF as informational resources for members and students. From publications to learning videos and recorded presentations, there is something for everyone including LCI’s annual Congress event which supports the congregation and continued learning and sharing of lean professionals.

The AGC also offers a Construction Management (CM)-Lean Certification program in partnership with the Lean Construction Institute. After obtaining the certification, there are CM Lean continuing education credits that you must take to keep up with the changing mandates, regulations, and design methodology. The initial credential is valid for three (3) years, but thirty (30) hours of Lean Construction-related continuing education (CE) hours are required.

The benefits of having a Lean Construction Certified team makes a difference in a few ways:

  • Project quality improves

Lean practices create a construction process that is clearly defined. The clients know what to expect and how, and the contractor knows what to deliver. This means a greater emphasis on planning and pre-construction. Lean construction statistics say 84% of lean practitioners have experienced high-quality projects.

  • Relevant information accessed in real-time

Consistent and clear communication between the contractor and client is crucial. The exchange of information is key in the lean culture. Using a tool like Touchplan’s construction collaboration software helps plan better, collaborate better, and build faster, together.

  • Project satisfaction is high

When contractors know and understand which elements of the project are most important to the client, quick and easy decisions can be made without compromising the outcome. Being able to resolve issues expediently helps the team to stay on schedule and within the projected budget.

  • Greater return on investment with fewer costs

Lean construction is based on efficiency to add value and reduce waste. Reductions in waste add to the efficiency of the project, while increases in productivity help reduce the risk of lost profits, directly contributing to business success.

After obtaining the certifications, software to fully utilize the learnings and benefits of Lean Construction is key. By utilizing software like Touchplan, projects are also more streamlined with collaborators able to access the project and information from anywhere. This helps the team with a web-based platform that utilizes a Lean Master Schedule to cover the project from start to finish.

It all starts with the schedule, pulling in key milestones. This helps define and set the plan using phase scheduling by pull planning to help the teamwork from clearly defined milestones that help identify the tasks needed to successfully complete the project. This also highlights any inconsistencies and constraints that have been identified, creating a seamless process for the entire team.

Touchplan and other collaborative software help make the Lean Construction process easier to implement, reinforce, and standardize across organizations. With the right focus and buy-in from the entire team, lean construction can reshape and retool client perception and satisfaction leaner, quicker, and with more overall efficiency.

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