When productivity in construction is being talked about, you might have noticed the phrase “lean construction” always being mentioned. Well, essentially because the methods in this technique all lead to an improved productivity rate on the site.
Basically, lean construction is all about reducing waste, making your home or infrastructure projects more sustainable. It also refers to efficiency in the site through proper planning, organizing, and communicating.
A Little More Background on “Lean Construction”
The lean principles didn’t start in construction. In fact, it was developed by the Japanese car maker Toyota as a guide for its members in manufacturing its auto parts in the mid-20th century. Proven to be effective in revolutionizing efficiency and sustainability in their factories, the lean principles have since been adopted by several industries, including construction.
These days, lean construction methods are combined with advanced construction technologies to create an ideal environment that fosters higher efficiency and productivity in the site. In fact, the top construction companies in the world are already using this method and are still becoming more successful by the day.
We have already pointed out how communication improves collaboration on the site, resulting in a smoother operation that inspires productivity among workers. Lean construction is believed to improve this communication hence becomes a motivator of efficiency in the site. Considering that teams are also able to come to the same page as they openly share information, their work will be better and their teamwork will lead to a higher level of productivity compared with teams who communicate poorly.
This is why many contractors, construction subcontractors, and project owners want the principles implemented in their project.
According to the Lean Construction Institute, infrastructure and big civil engineering projects utilizing lean practices can be twice as likely to be completed within or under budget. It also says that these projects are three times more likely to be ahead of schedule. The benefits, they say, even go beyond saving money and time as safety and quality are also said to be increased while waste is minimized.
Technology in Solidifying Lean Construction Strategies
Advanced construction technology plays a big role in boosting the effects of lean methods. Plus we are already in a world where technology is necessary so the use of technology is seen as one of the factors that dictate the true success of civil engineering and infrastructure projects.
BIM is said to be the focus of lean construction as it is defined as the true innovation designed specifically for the construction industry. But when referring to this technology, the Stanford University Center for Integrated Facility Engineering says VDC (Virtual Design and Construction) should be present to make BIM truly useful. VDC is defined as “the management of integrated multi-disciplinary performance models of design-construction projects, including the product (i.e., facilities), work processes and organization of the design – construction – operation team in order to support explicit and public business objectives.”
In simpler terms, VDC is when you use BIM model to minimize resources (cost and schedule) while maximizing output (performance). And a way to achieve this is using a dependable construction project management software like Pro Crew Schedule.
While BIM is obviously the tech tool to ensure lean construction methods are implemented in your firm, there are other technologies you can use to facilitate collaboration, communication, and efficiency on the site.
The technologies you employ at the site should bring many advantages that will ensure productivity and minimizing resources. The technology you’ll use should:
Overall, the technologies you can use to solidify your lean construction methods should include BIM for accuracy, construction project management software for collaboration, automation and robotics to accelerate the operation, and artificial intelligence for finding issues and better recommendations on resolutions.
Applying Lean Construction Techniques in Your Construction Business
The goals of lean construction practices are to maximize efficiency in the site by avoiding unnecessary costs. Overall, lean construction follows five key principles including defining value, identifying processes, establishing flow, pull planning, and continuously improving. These principles are applied to different stages of infrastructure or civil engineering projects and involve all project members.
Let’s now look into each of these principles, how they are applied, and what they do for your project.
In every construction project, the very first step is for the client to define what he wants to build. Contractors can easily figure out what their clients really want by asking them directly and let them define which part of the project they deem most valuable.
Now that you know what they are hoping to gain from the structure you are tasked to build, you can now focus on coming up with ways on how to deliver what the client wants. This sets the stage for communication which you should not cut while construction is ongoing so that both parties can review the progress and see if there’s any process that’s going out of track. Furthermore, open communication with the client will give him the impression that you aren’t just getting the job done, but that you actually care about giving a high-quality finished product.
2.Mapping the Process to Achieve The Value
After finding out what your customer truly wants to achieve in the project, your next step should be planning how to go on with the project so that you can achieve the desired result. Mapping the procedure will include gathering data from all involved parties, studying the gathered data to create a visual plan, and set procedures for efficiently making use of resources and time. It will also be helpful to note any possible waste factors that could affect the project schedule so you can reserve plans to catch up and bring the project back on track.
3.Establish the Process Flow
After mapping the procedures, your next step is to get started and set an ongoing flow of progress throughout the project. An important element in ensuring a smooth flow of the procedures is to maintain communication between your team and your construction subcontractors. When everyone is working with coordination, that is when the flow of the project becomes smooth and the end result will be achieved faster than your due date. Clear communication between members can also result in minimizing issues that can affect the productivity of everyone. Remember, when a flow is created, processes are optimized to work as quickly as possible.
4.Pull Planning Meetings
Pull planning is arguably one of the most significant parts of lean construction. This is the part where all key members get together for a meeting, including team leaders, construction subcontractors, project managers, designers, contractors, and it’s up to you to include the client or not. The attendees in this meeting will mark down important milestones and phases for a project, working backward from the ideal date of completion. This is said to be more effective in coming up with more realistic estimates of milestones that should be met at logical timelines for completion dates.
The last principle that completes lean construction is continuous improvement. This practice embraces the fact that there will always be a mistake along the way but there will also be room for improvement. Even if the project ran smoothly, there will always be processes that can be improved. Reviewing them will help you come up with strategies to still do better, minimize more wastes, and shorten the timeline further. If you acknowledge that there is always space to learn or grow, you can continue to achieve great results.
Lean Construction Meets Modern Tech Tools
The aim of following lean construction methods is to maximize efficiency and productivity in the site so it makes sense to adopt technologies that can assist with the process. We already mentioned the role of BIM in lean construction and now there are new innovations in construction project management software where communication between the field and the office and collaboration between the general contractor and the subcontractor are enhanced.
Softwares like Pro Crew Schedule have the capability to track worker progress and schedule and log any delays or issues. All these functions complement lean construction methods and the combination of both will definitely help firms work toward finishing projects on time and on budget. The top construction companies and other big players in the industry use lean techniques and construction software to improve their productivity, lessen disputes, and achieve higher quality results. You can also easily become a prominent force in the construction industry when you learn lean construction principles and apply them in your operations.