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Applying Lean Principles for Continuous Improvement

What are Lean Principles and why should they be applied to the Construction Industry?

Lean Principles - continuous improvement - construction industry
The practice of Lean Principles can be applied in a given setting or industry to maximize efficiency and reduce waste. This practice was first developed by Taiichi Ohno and applied to the Toyota production system.

The three main points to applying the Lean Principles system are:

1. Continuous Improvement

Or the Japanese kaizen meaning to continuously make better. This concept is key to Japan’s competitive success

2. Teamwork

In other words, respect for people. In Toyota they take this to an extreme by allowing the people who actually do the work at all levels to be a part of planning the work and the marketing and delivery of the final project.

3. Reducing Waste

This principle applies to reducing waste in all aspects of a project including materials, the underuse of people and the movement of production. This concept teaches to use what you have efficiently within the allotted time without over or under using materials or resources.

To produce the right product at the right time in the right quantity for the customer and to produce exactly what you need and nothing more. -Taiichi Ohno

These principles can easily and effectively be applied to projects in the construction industry, as well as to other industries and life in general for that matter. Because production in construction has consistently since 1964, 70% of budgets and schedules are missed and teamwork is often unreliable, businesses in the construction industry can greatly benefit from these Lean Principles practices.

Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. hosted a webinar this week delivered by John Planz in which he outlines the application of Lean Principles to the Construction Industry and their benefits. John is VP of Operations at Suffolk Construction with an extensive background in the Construction Industry.

The idea as applied to construction is to produce the right amount at the right time and it’s all about the planning of how you get to your end result or project completion date. The goal here being creating accuracy to reduce waste. According to Planz, to estimate timelines accurately you need to involve all members of the project to give an accurate estimate of the total timeline for a given project. E.g., only the materials delivery person can tell you how long with will take. So, in order to plan effectively, you need to involve everyone possible to get the most accurate estimate.

Planz highlights the Last Planner System to accurately measure and plan for projects. This system is all about teamwork, accountability and keeping personal promises as related to the project timeline. This method proves an excellent way to hold people accountable and identify problems early on in the process.

To watch the full webinar and learn first hand about these principles as they can be applied to your business, click the link to ABC’s website here.

To learn more about applying the Last Planner System to your business, visit the Lean Construction Institute’s website here.

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