Lean & Mean Construction: Maximize Profits, Minimize Waste

What is Lean Construction?

When something is “lean”, it means that something has been trimmed of excess. In terms of a construction company, the inefficient practices of a company are diminished when lean thinking principles are applied.

In an interview with Construction Dive, an executive at AGC said that “Lean tries to maximize value and minimize waste” but a few other aspects have to be in place in order for that to happen. Coordination and collaboration have to take place among employees at a construction company in order for it to work.

When a company chooses to begin practices of lean construction, they are agreeing to subject themselves to a degree of scrutiny in order to identify what they can change to make their process better. There are five principles that guide the change:

  1. Identifying value from the point of view of the customer
  2. Understanding value streams by which value is delivered
  3. Achieving flow within work processes as waste is removed
  4. Achieving pull so that nothing is made/delivered until it is needed
  5. Perfection recognizing that improvement needs to be constantly sought after

What Are the Benefits?

By implementing lean construction practices, you can benefit your company on many levels. Lean construction works to bring together the many parts of a project. The idea of lean culture promotes continuous improvement in the design team and the relationship between contractors and workers. In turn, the communication, coordination, and cost of the project will be better and more what management would like.

When a company or contractor chooses to practice lean construction on a project, they become more efficient with the resources they have because they want to cut waste and maximize profits. This is not only beneficial for you, but especially for your client who will see your practices as your emphasis on value.

Companies that choose lean construction start the collaboration process from the start of the project to ensure that all members involved can work closely together throughout. It allows the flow of communication to start off on the right foot and continue through each step of the project.

The 5 S’s of Lean Construction

According to the AGC, the adherents of lean construction live by the following 5 S system:

  • Sorting involves getting rid of materials that are no longer needed around the job site. This is done in an effort to reduce waste.
  • Setting things in order, or getting organized, involves taking the essentials that are left on the project site and storing them so that they are easy to access when needed.
  • The shine/sweep component of the system refers to the process of keeping the project site neat and tidy .
  • Standardization of work processes creates a system for you and your team to adhere to when completing repetitive tasks. This will eliminate waste of time and resources.
  • The last step that will ensure the success of lean construction for your company is sustaining the first four steps. The worst thing is for people to go back to their previous practices of work.

When a lean construction practice is already in play, it is easier to follow the flow of the market. You can consistently evaluate how many people you need, what materials, and what you are wasting. This will help you keep your operation at just the right size.