Why Contractors Should Embrace the Lean Construction Philosophy

on . Posted in Construction industry trends


Over the past 30 years, the U.S. construction industry has decreased its productivity levels, according to the Construction Industry Institute.  One way of addressing this discouraging trend is utilizing lean construction. The lean philosophy improves productivity among the construction workforce. From eliminating waste and aiming for perfection, lean is about building quality structures correctly the first time and making maximum use of all resources. Waste can include redundant activity and frequent mistakes.

Contractors should adopt this attitude as it prioritizes value over cost, improves workforce productivity and saves time and money. Intergraph recommended managers integrate lean practices into early planning of projects. 

The Birth of the Lean Concept
The term "lean" as it relates to a business practice is 25 years old, according to Lean Blog, a news and commentary site devoted to lean methodology. It is equivalent to the motto "less is more." The concept of lean manufacturing originated from the Japanese automaker Toyota in the 1970s. The manufacturing company was the first organization to apply lean principles to production. It focused on improving customer value. This model influenced the construction industry. The term "lean construction" was adopted just 20 year ago.

Why Construction Companies Enjoy this Model
Lean construction is gaining steam in the industry, as it comes with many benefits. It improves communication with owners, contractors and suppliers as well as visualization and the display of workflow, design and schedule. Additionally, it creates a safe working environment, reducing work-related injuries. With efficient planning, contractors prioritize improved workflow and realistic tasks.

However, construction firms can't implement this philosophy overnight. It's a long-term commitment and a cultural change throughout the company. It is a holistic way of thinking and if contractors can successfully implement their approach  at their company, they can save money and improve delivery times by meeting deadlines.

Before contractors integrate this method at their companies, they should conduct a self assessment. Project managers can consider if there is a pattern to profitable projects. They should identify how they can improve their productivity levels. 

Pair Lean Principles with Technology to Enjoy Effective Results
Technology can support lean construction. Computers increase speed and ensure accuracy, New software, such as enterprise resource planning programs, helps material deliveries arrive on time. If they come in late, this may affect workers' productivity as they may be waiting to start their work for the day.

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