Applying Lean Practices in Construction Projects for Improved Efficiency

ThinkstockPhotos 483045249By Kevin Hill

A growing number of construction companies are embracing sustainability by implementing lean practices that minimize waste, improve safety and maximize value for the customer even with tight timeframes and limited budget. Here are six lean principles that construction companies can implement to be more productive, reduce costs, save time and boost project management efficiency: 

1. Understanding Value from the Customer’s Perspective – While the traditional project management approach focuses only on what the customer wants, lean construction goes beyond customer expectations to identify true value from the customer’s perspective. The lean approach keeps everyone, from the architect and the engineer to the contractor and supplier, in the same loop and helps shape expectations and exchange ideas throughout the project while eliminating the possibility of delays and discrepancies.   

2. Defining a System and Delivering the Value  – Once you have a clear understanding of what the customer values, it becomes easier to define all the procedures required to deliver what the value system requires. For every task, the required manpower, equipment and materials are predefined and any procedure that fails to add value is eliminated at the very start to ensure optimum utilization of available resources. 

3.Minimizing Waste Wherever Possible – The primary objective of every lean project management practice is waste reduction in the following areas:

  • Faults – Any construction job that is incorrectly done in the first time results in rework, which leads to wastage of time, effort and resources.
  • Downtime – A very common scenario in construction projects where the work gets delayed due to unavailability of materials or manpower.  
  • Underutilization of Available Skills – Construction workers typically possess considerable experience and a wide range of skills but when the right person is not assigned the right job, their experience and expertise go unused.
  • Waste of Transportation – This wastage occurs when the construction materials and equipment are moved to the site before they are required. Using a truck scale can help construction companies identify and eliminate waste in transportation and create an efficient process. 
  • Excess Inventory – When materials that are not required are procured, they degrade over time, increase the cost and also require storage. 

4. Streamlining the Workflow – The ideal lean flow of work is uninterrupted, reliable and predictable where every process is standardized to avoid wastage of motion, inventory, materials and manpower. Using conveyor belt scales here can ensure uninterrupted workflow while saving tremendous time and effort.

5. Planning and Scheduling – Lean planning and scheduling practices involve consistent communication between stakeholders for creating reliable workflows on the basis of downstream demands.  

 6.Ensuring Constant Improvement – Continuous improvement is the core of lean philosophy so when construction companies implement lean practices they can ensure timely completion of projects within the given budget and deliver the expected value on time. Industrial weighing scales can play a crucial role here in helping construction companies monitor their efficiency levels and minimize waste by accurately recording the incoming raw materials and the amount of outgoing waste.

Kevin Hill heads the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, Calif. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.

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