What is Lean Construction?
Lean construction uses lean production principles from the manufacturing industry to help the construction industry be more productive in its operations. The basic concept of minimizing waste to maximize value produced each day is the same. The only difference is that construction is doing it on a project site rather than a production line.
Since 2005 Muth Electric, Inc has been working to utilize the lean concept to provide the greatest possible value to our customers. We have recognized that to provide the best overall value we must provide the quality our customers expect and eliminate waste at the same time. Eliminating waste does not mean reducing quality, it means to deliver the quality expected in the most efficient method possible.
To be efficient we first need to be clean and organized. This starts with the five S’s of Lean basics:
- SORT – have everything sorted out to eliminate outdated items
- SET IN ORDER – have a place for everything and everything in its place
- SHINE – clean every area and keep it that way
- STANDARDIZE – have process for every task and everyone follows it
- SUSTAIN – persistence to ensure the lean process continues to be followed
So then what is the waste that we need to eliminate? Waste is anything that consumes resources, described as the following:
- REWORK – fixing mistakes including miscommunication on what is to be done
- TRANSPORTING – moving material a number of times before it is installed
- MOTION – not having material being installed close to you -within arm’s reach
- MATERIAL – having too much on the site or waiting for more if there is too little
- BEYOND SCOPE/SPEC – including more than the customer desires, lack of communication
- CLEAN WORK SITES – a clean worksite enables more efficient methods and is a safer place to work
- WAITING – not having material or equipment when needed on a jobsite
We are taking bold steps to reduce waste on job-sites and we must all begin thinking differently than we have in the past. By thinking differently we will act differently. By acting differently we will affect the necessary changes to reduce waste. When we reduce waste, we will develop an “owner’s perspective” of achieving a high quality final result at the lowest possible cost.
In addition, the key for us to provide customer value is to first understand the true needs of our customer and then following through. At times, the low-price, highly competitive bid process only focuses on a specific set of material and turns it into what many consider a commodity. Commodities are many times purchased by the lowest price but construction projects should be anything but a commodity. When the entire construction team works together, they can produce maximum overall value for the customer.