I still remember my first “aha” moment sitting in Glenn Ballard’s Lean Construction course. As both a PM and Superintendent on the Big Dig, I had struggled to figure out why some actions improved project performance and others made no dent in the chaos. That “aha” moment was my understanding how a lack of reliability impacts any process, and it brought perspective to all my prior successes and failures. All of a sudden, to get better results on any project, I had a lever I could focus on moving.
You’ve studied the Toyota Production System, you’ve attended webinars, you’ve read all the books. You’ve even learned a little Japanese in the process. Your team has been prepped and schooled in lean theory and seems enthusiastic about embracing something new. You’re ready to lead your team to the promised land of lean and your world is soon to be filled with joyous customers, happy employees, and record profits!
When I was in college I studied abroad in Germany for one semester. I studied German language, history, and literature. One of the books that I read was called The Adventures of a Simpleton1.
According to Glenn Ballard, one of the inventors of the Last Planner System (LPS), an earlier study on Crew Planning in the 1980s was a precursor to its development1. At that time, Glenn was the Productivity Improvement Manager for Brown & Root’s Construction in the US. Some key LPS principles such as ‘make ready’ and ‘shielding workers from bad assignments’ were practiced then.
Back in Spring 2004, Sutter Health held a conference for the design and construction companies that they had worked with to build their facilities. Lean Project Consulting facilitated the event and presented a manifesto to guide Sutter’s future capital program1. It was called: “Five Big Ideas That Are Reshaping the Design and Delivery of Capital Projects”. These ideas inspired the first multi-party agreement used for design and construction: The Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA).
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 6.5 million people working in the US construction industry in 2016. The average construction worker is statistically more likely to work in a small or medium business than a large multi-billion company. Despite this statistic, many of the research and implementation case studies in Lean Construction have been on large multi-million or multi-billion projects. The goal of this blog post to present a case study of an application of the Last Planner System within a small 20-person company.
In line with the famous saying “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, construction production systems need solid mechanisms to control their projects on site. The Last Planner System and Takt Time Planning offer a collaborative and balanced method for planning in lean construction. However, plans are pretty much pointless unless they are controlled and modified effectively.
Lean Construction (LC), a management philosophy, is known in the industry to enable organisations to achieve major improvement in terms of productivity and levels of innovation through more collaborative approaches. However, implementing LC is not an easy task for organisations and often requires fundamental changes at both – the strategic and operational level.
In Lean Construction, we recognize that there are inherent wastes in every production system. Our objective is often to identify and reduce the wastes. Just as construction and design have been conceptualized as production systems, it can be argued that research is also a production system. Instead of producing a design or creating a product, the output of research is new knowledge. If research is truly a production system, then could we apply the same Lean methods and tools to drive out waste and improve its efficiency?
The 5S methodology was born at Toyota in the 60s under an industrial environment to achieve better organized, tidier, and cleaner workplaces to increase productivity and to obtain a better working environment. The 5S methodology has been widely spread, and many companies and organizations are implementing it worldwide. Although it is conceptually simple and does not require a complex training or experts with sophisticated knowledge, it is essential to implement it through a rigorous and disciplined fashion.
The Last Planner® System1 (LPS) is a production planning system designed to produce predictable work flow and rapid learning in programming, design, construction and commissioning of projects.
The Location-based Management System (LBMS) builds on decades of work on location-based scheduling methods. The first recorded utilization of location-based methods in vertical construction was in the Empire State Building. More systematic approaches followed. Line-of-Balance was based on optimizing production of identical locations.
We often identify “last planners” as the people responsible for performing the work on a construction site. Although project managers do not perform any of the work on a construction site, they do have more responsibility to the project other than just organizing the next golf trip! This blog takes a look at how project managers can use the the Last Planner® System (LPS) to help the project team deliver their promises.
Creating a workplace culture where people hold a mindset of continuous improvement, proactivity and seek better ways of doing things is of substantial interest to the lean community. This mindset is needed to enable successful implementation of lean principles. So how do we create a culture where we get buy in from employees to adopt this way of thinking?
When we are talking about Lean, we are talking about continuous improvement. Continuous improvement requires a system, process, organizational structure, and cultural change. It is necessary that involved parties understand the change process in order to initiate change. The change process itself can be easily explained with Lewin's change model.
In many ways, lean construction is about ensuring the right people receive the right information at the right time. Cloud and mobile technologies can greatly facilitate these goals. By storing information in the cloud, a construction team gains a single source that connects all the project data; from the master schedule to the weekly work plan; from real-time project inspections and insights to the most up-to-date BIM.
Creating a lean culture sometimes requires participating in difficult conversations. Perhaps someone is not meeting their commitments, or maybe they're not fully present in meetings where their input is critical to the success of the project. How do you communicate with them in a way that doesn't tear them down yet gets results?
As a foreword to the post, I think there are many ways one can execute Takt time planning (TTP). The fact that there isn’t much research on the topic in construction means that it is definitely an open question. Through some iteration and research, the five step method below is the best practice to Takt time planning so far.
The construction industry is seen, by researchers, as a slowly progressing industry that is suffering from low productivity and poor performance compared to other industries. Over the past 60 years the UK industry has commissioned several reports with the aim of reviewing its performance and suggesting means of improvement.
The current economic climate is posing real threats and challenges to many organizations’ longevity. The applicability and sustainability of organizations across the world is being questioned, resulting in many organizations wondering how to effectively respond.
As a superintendent, I take pride in the fact that projects I am part of finish on time. I take pride in a safe job site. I take pride in a clean job site. I was brought up in the industry to put work in place and not lose money doing it.
Lean Construction and Building Information Modelling (BIM) are important transformation drivers for the construction industry. Recent research shows that there are considerable synergies between the two. The synergies extend from the design phase to the construction and facilities management phase.
Around the world, shared risk and reward contracts are becoming more prevalent. In the United States several forms of agreements for construction projects including: Sutter Health’s Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA), the ConsensusDocs 300, and American Institute of Architects (AIA) contracts have provisions for sharing the profit and the losses of a construction project between the owner, contractor, architect, specialty trade contractors, and other service providers.
With new tools come new methods. There are numerous examples of this when it comes to Lean Construction and BIM, where new BIM tools require new processes that very often encompass several lean principles.
Location-based scheduling methods are not new. In some countries such as Finland, the adoption of line of balance schedules is widespread and used for decades. However, in the United States these schedules have remained unpopular.
Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) is an improvement cycle based on a scientific method of proposing a change, implementing the change, measuring the results, and adjusting as needed. It is also known as the Deming Cycle after W. Edwards Deming who introduced the concept in Japan in the 1950s.
The design and construction process is usually complex, uncertain, and requires the input and decisions from many stakeholders in multiple organizations to produce the final asset that is “ready for operation”. Often, stakeholders are engaged late in the process...
Choosing by Advantages (CBA) is a collaborative and transparent decision making system developed by Jim Suhr, which comprises of multiple methods. CBA includes methods for virtually all types of decisions, from very simple to very complex (Suhr 1999).
Lean Construction is starting to gain traction in Germany. The German Lean Construction Institute (GLCI) established on 15th of July 2014, held the first conference in Frankfurt on October 15, 2015. 211 participants including construction companies, subcontractors, consultants, private owners, and researchers, exchanged information and discussed their Lean journey.
Visual Management is a visual (sensory) communication strategy that is frequently used to realize Lean Construction goals at the operational level (i.e construction field, design office, facilities etc.). Visual Management emphasizes consciously employing simple yet effective cognitive concepts and artefacts such as color coding, shadowing, the Gestalt Law or simple cards, tokens and boards to attain the operational targets of a production system.
Practically, the terms cooperation and collaboration are interpreted differently or used synonymously. Using the terms interchangeable to express “working together” can result in misunderstandings between project participants as the concepts behind cooperation and collaboration are different.
Research on Target Value Design (TVD) has found that TVD projects are delivered 15% to 20% below market price1. Additionally, TVD projects are more likely to achieve predictable cost performance outcomes while carry less contingency than projects that do not use TVD2. This post introduces a theoretical model to explain these results.
The construction industry is an interesting animal. I say that, not just as an observer, but as someone who has been involved with construction my entire life.
The Lean Project Delivery System (LPDS) was first introduced by Glenn Ballard in 2000. LPDS is a philosophy, but also a delivery system in which the project team help customers to decide what they want, not only realize decisions and perform activities.
This month I want to share my highlights and takeaways from last month’s International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) 23rd Annual Conference in Perth, Australia. The IGLC was founded in 1993, and makes up a network of professionals and researchers in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC).
Project cost overrun is a common problem around the world. A study of 258 projects in 20 nations revealed that cost escalation occurred in 9 out of 10 projects. The study found that on average the final cost was 28% higher than the forecasted cost.
When it comes to the choosing problem, defined as selecting one and only one alternative (or a combination), the best of all, Choosing By Advantages (CBA) is a method that stands out from others. As explained in the previous blog, 4 types of Multiple-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) methods exist in the literature.
Takt time planning is a work structuring method. Let’s decouple that a little bit. ‘Takt time’ is a term used in manufacturing to describe pacing work to match the customer’s demand rate. ‘Work structuring’ is the practice of scheduling out work and is a part of designing a production system.
By nature, the design process is complex; it often involves thousands of decisions, sometimes over a period of many years, with numerous interdependencies, and under a highly uncertain environment. Design can involve a large number of participants and decisions makers, trade-offs between multiple competing design criteria with inadequate information, and intense budget and schedule constraints.
Today, quality is no longer a competitive advantage, but rather a prerequisite. Cost and time remains a big differentials in a competitive environment. As the competition in the construction industry becomes increasingly intense, a lower cost structure is critical for a company's survival.
Have you ever thought about which method you use for making decisions? Probably not, but you probably have asked yourself whether or not you made a good decision. Well, the two questions are related. We can never be 100% sure we have made a good decision, but we can make sure that we follow a good decision-making method and do the best with the available information.
Organizations make multiple types of decisions on a daily basis, such as: hiring people, selecting technologies, designing operations, etc. It is logical to think that different types of decisions will require different types of decision-making methods. Roy (1974) made a classification of decisions types. These can be summarized as follows.