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How ‘lean’ can apply to construction

Construction is a complex industry, which leads to a lot of waste. This is why the lean approach is becoming popular.

Construction is a complex industry, which leads to a lot of waste. This is why the lean approach is becoming popular.

The lean approach promotes five principles:

  • Define Value
  • Map Value Stream
  • Create Flow
  • Establish Pull
  • Pursue Perfection

The Lean Construction Institute (LCI) is the leader for lean practices in construction. We caught up with representatives to talk about their lean experience.

Peter Ukstins, a construction risk engineering consultant at AXA XL, said that transparency is vital to reducing waste.

Eliminating waste is one of the pillars of any lean approach. Once you have identified what your clients value, you can work backwards to identify waste and minimise it.

Unreliable commitments are a common problem in construction, because many stakeholders and contractors are needed. A delay from one subcontractor can create delays for everyone.

Pursuing transparency among stakeholders accustomed to guarding their own silos can be difficult, however.

Erin Miller, a mechanical engineer for Southland, said that one of the first steps to implementing lean is creating a lean culture.

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Kurt Maldovan, a director of digital delivery at Jacobs, emphasised that many builders use lean techniques with a story about “taking the last planner, using Post-its to schedule backwards and pull forward the activities that add the most value.”

There are many ways to cut waste, but all of them start with conversations about what waste is. There are also different types of waste, which can be cut by taking time to plan and communicate.

Bluebeam Studio Sessions is an ideal platform for this. Amanda Patton, manager of integrated projects at Balfour Beatty, described how her team uses the platform: “We come together once a week as an entire team to give an update from the design and construction aspects.”

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