Lean Construction

Lean construction was born out of the recognition that productivity gains in the construction industry were not keeping pace with other industries

Proponents of lean construction studied numerous projects and interviewed their participants in an effort to find out why. Projects that failed to deliver satisfactory results often shared the following traits:

  • Expectations and obligations were not clearly defined.
  • Bidding and contract documents were designed to promote competition and mitigate risk; but in practice, limited collaboration.
  • Builders and designers did not communicate.
  • Milestones were discussed without documenting and tracking smaller yet critical steps required to hit a specific milestone.
  • Information and materials were delivered without regard for the recipient’s need or rate of consumption.
  • Late changes in design or late recognition of conflicts, errors and omissions resulted in costly corrective actions that impacted schedule.
  • Participants often failed to request critical information or secure a commitment from the provider. When a commitment was secured the provider often failed to deliver as promised.

Herrick's process addresses these shortcomings

International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC), Lean Construction Institute (LCI) and Project Production Systems Laboratory (P2SL) have dedicated themselves to analyzing these issues and developing an appropriate response. The results of their work are much more than just a series of tools and procedures.

Herrick believes they have developed a system that will serve as a model for how buildings should and will be built.

Developing scope matrices, value stream maps, constraint logs, and weekly work plans not only create a production process tailored to a specific project, it ensures team members are engaged. The process of implementing the Last Planner System creates a natural setting for collaboration and documentation of the flow of information and materials.

Pull schedules ensure that requests are made and deliveries are promised. The Percentage of Promises Completed (also referred to as Planned Percent Complete or PPC) report provides a visual control that indicates if we are failing to fulfill our commitments. Employing 5-Why analysis helps us get to the root of the problem. Choosing By Advantages (CBA) analysis helps us understand and compare various options resulting in sound recommendations based on the importance of advantages. A3 submittals provide a uniform tool for communicating the problem, the proposed solutions, and an approved course of action.

Herrick is a single entity that mirrors a manufacturer on one level and a construction company on another.

As a construction company we need to adopt the policies and philosophies that support a specific project. At the same time we must insulate our manufacturing operations from disruptions that may occur as a result of varying project delivery methods. Herrick’s conclusion is that a lean approach can serve and improve a traditional lump sum delivery method. Companies that cling to a traditional lump sum approach where profitability is tied to change orders will be unable to deliver the desired results in a lean/BIM environment.

For more information regarding lean construction please visit www.leanconstruction.org