Lean production

Photo © Portakabin Group / Yorkon

The term “Lean” is used in many ways but at its core is essentially concerned with the elimination of waste in all forms. The mantra is simple: understand the product, understand the process and seek to eliminate all those activities and events that do not add value and to engage with those constraints that get in the way of more efficient processes.

The principles of lean are now well accepted in just about all manufacturing industries and the application of lean thinking has become accepted as business as normal. In those industries lean is not special…it’s simply how things are organised. The results are evident in the step-change in productivity, in product value and the increase in product quality that we see every day in the market place.

However, the construction industry has to a very significant extent still to recognise and adopt lean thinking to any significant extent.

It is considered that the really big wins in terms of increased value for money for construction clients and improvements in time, cost, sustainability and other factors will emerge from the application of lean production coupled to continuous improvement within the construction process.

Buildoffsite has worked with Lean experts to promote a wider understanding of the subject and to illustrate the key messages with actual examples of lean thinking being applied to real projects to deliver real benefits. These workshops and briefings have typically included contributions from clients who have shared their experiences of the process and the benefits that have resulted.

We have been doing this because we understand just how unproductive traditional construction methods can be. We also recognise that the process of construction has become excessively complicated with additional layers of bureaucracy added to manage risk – or at least to pass risk down the supply chain without necessarily delivering any substantive benefits to the client.

The identification and engagement with those processes and activities that add little if any value tends to lead to the simplification of project processes and to reduce the number of suppliers involved. In turn it also tends to support the adoption of offsite solutions in place of traditional methods of construction and a fundamental shift in favour of project delivery through the assembly of components rather than on site construction from a set of basis parts. If all other industries have gone this way – why should construction be different?

 

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