An article by Richard Heap in Correctional News last week discusses ways that the application of the LEAN process to prison construction can save time and money. He makes his point by saying:
“Architects and construction managers that apply lean thinking to a corrections project for the first time often come away stunned. Projects that typically require 15 months finish in 11 or 12 months and sometimes even faster.”
That saves time and money in the process.
I have been asked several times to define LEAN principles and I like Richard’s definition in the article:
“The first lean principle is to eliminate waste – not reduce waste but eliminate it altogether in both the design and construction phases of the project. It is an ambitious goal and perhaps unattainable, but lean thinkers also preach the importance of small, continuous improvement. The idea is to eliminate waste whenever it appears.
“Second, lean calls for more upfront planning, more detailed design and more carefully considered scheduling. Conventional construction projects typically do a lot of planning followed by a lot of re-doing. Lean says that sufficient planning eliminates the waste of re-doing.
“Third, lean calls for process design. In manufacturing, for instance, lean is an approach to designing processes that build products quickly and efficiently.
“The same concept works for construction. First comes the planning, then building design and then comes something new: design the process that will maintain the flow of construction work without delays and without the need to back track with change orders. One, two, three planning stages: plan the facility, design the facility, plan and design the process that will build the building, build the building.
“The climax comes with a swift, continuously flowing building process. The speed of construction more than compensates for the extra time spent on planning and design.”
These LEAN principles are being applied to all phases of construction and you should give the article a read to better understand how you might apply it to your business and projects.