Lean Construction is a production management-based approach to project delivery and is fundamentally a better way to design and build. Lean production management has caused a revolution in manufacturing design, supply and assembly. When applied to project design and delivery, Lean changes the way work is done throughout the delivery process. Lean Construction extends from the objectives of a lean production system (maximize value and minimize waste) to specific techniques (5S, Last Planner System, Value Stream Mapping, Structured Problem Solving), and applies them in a new project delivery process.
As a result:
• The project and its delivery process are designed together to better reveal and support customer purposes.
• Work is structured throughout the process to maximize value and to reduce waste-at the project delivery level.
• Efforts to manage and improve performance are aimed at improving total project performance, because this is much more important than reducing the cost or increasing the speed of any one particular task or activity.
• "Control" is redefined from "monitoring results" (a look into the past) to "making things happen" (forward thinking to prevent expensive and time consuming mistakes from occurring).
• Measurement of the effectiveness and reliability of planning and control systems are the focus, which has proven to correlate directly with cost, quality and schedule performance of the project itself.
The reliable release of work between specialists in design, supply, and assembly assures value is delivered to the customer and waste is reduced. Lean Design and Construction is particularly useful on complex, uncertain and even short duration projects. It challenges the belief that there must always be trade-offs between time, cost, and quality (you can have all three with the right approach, methodology and discipline).
Lean is focused on the achievement of 3 key outcomes:
1. Maximizing value from the view of the customer
2. Eliminating waste (non-value adding processes)
3. Creating predictable, reliable and smooth flow of activity.
The achievement of the above key outcomes relies on an understanding that the delivery and execution of any project is a collective effort that relies on true collaboration and requires work to be undertaken through integrated supply chains that can only run smoothly with impeccable coordination. Construction is a production system and for it to operate efficiently it requires information and resources to flow smoothly and reliably.
James Johnston, P. Eng., CM-LeanPresidentQuality Dynamics Inc.