Lean Construction
Lean Industries Series
(Sample Slides)
• What is Lean?
• What is Lean Construction?
• Benefits of Lean Construction
• Elements of Lean Construction
• Applying Lean Thinking in Construction
• Summary
• The Bottom Line
What is Lean Construction?
• Six Goals of Lean Construction
1. Finished building will deliver maximum functionality
2. End users will benefit from the lowest optimum cost of
3. Inefficiency and waste in the use of labor and materials
will be eliminated
4. Specialist suppliers will be involved in design from the
outset to achieve integration and buildability
5. Design and construction will be through a single point
of contact for the most effective coordination and
clarity of responsibility
6. Current performance and improvement achievements
will be established by measurement
Elements of Lean Construction
Lean Project Delivery System
Reference: Ballard 2000
Elements of Lean Construction
Lean Project Delivery System
• Essential features of LPDS include:
▫ The project is structured and managed as a value generating
▫ Downstream stakeholders are involved in front end planning
and design through cross functional teams
▫ Project control has the job execution as opposed to reliance on
after-the-fact variance detection
▫ Optimization efforts are focused on making work flow reliable
as opposed to improving productivity
▫ Pull techniques are used to govern the flow of materials and
information through networks of cooperating specialists
▫ Capacity and inventory buffers are used to absorb variability
▫ Feedback loops are incorporated at every level for rapid
system adjustment
Reference: Ballard 2000
Applying Lean Construction
Pacific Contracting of San Francisco, a specialist cladding and roofing contractor, have
used the principles of lean thinking to increase their annual turnover by 20% in 18
months with the same number of staff. The key to this success was improvement of
the design and procurement processes in order to facilitate construction on site,
investing in the front end of projects to reduce costs and construction times. They
identified two major problems to achieving flow in the whole construction process –
inefficient supply of materials which prevented site operations from flowing smoothly
and poor design information from the prime contractor, which frequently resulted in a
large amount of redesign work.
To tackle these problems Pacific Contracting combined more efficient use of
technology with tools for improving planning of construction processes. They use a
computerized 3D design system to provide a better, faster method of redesign that
leads to better construction information. They also use a process planning too known
as Last Planner, developed by Glen Ballard of the Lean Construction Institute, to
improve the flow of work on site through reducing constraints such as lack of
materials or labor.
Case study taken from Rethinking Construction, the Report of the Construction Task Force
• Lean construction is a different way to see, understand
and act in the world of construction
• Lean construction is a philosophy – a comprehensive
system of ideas that lead to the flawless delivery of the
built environment
• Lean construction is practiced using the Lean Project
Delivery System, which continues to evolve as more is
learned from practice and research
• Lean construction can be pursued through a number of
different approaches to manage and improve the
construction process to profitably deliver what the
customer needs
• Using tools like LPS will help the project team
understand how they can improve the clarity of
information and ensure there are sufficient operatives
• Lean Construction Principles:
▫ Eliminate waste
▫ Precisely specify value from the perspective of the
ultimate customer
▫ Clearly identify the process that delivers what the
customer values and eliminate all non value adding
▫ Make the remaining value adding steps flow without
interruption by managing the interfaces between
different steps
▫ Let the customer pull – don’t make anything until it is
needed, then make it quickly
▫ Pursue perfection by continuous improvement
The Bottom Line
The lean principles can only be applied fully and
effectively in construction by focusing on
improving the whole process.
This means all parties have to be committed,
involved, and work to overcome obstacles that
may arise from traditional construction projects.