CONNstruction - Winter 2012 - (Page 13)

newsandviews Lean Construction: Continuous Improvement Comes to Construction By John W. Butts In its traditional form, construction has for years suffered a reputation of being one of the least productive industries, particularly when compared to manufacturing. Applying the principles of productivity improvement has been a hallmark of the manufacturing process, notably in the auto industry, with Henry Ford’s mass production process and Toyota’s Kaizen system as shining examples. However, recent organized efforts to convert those principles to the construction process, on a widespread basis, through programs such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Partnering, while commendable, have been inconsistent and unsustainable. The latest effort, lean construction, may be showing signs of sticking around, and AGC, as an organization, is doing everything it can to make sure it does. What is lean construction? Lean construction is similar to lean manufacturing in that it is based on continuous improvement, respect for people, and elimination of waste. However, construction is fundamentally different from making cars in a controlled environment. While lean manufacturing is intended to meet customer needs by using less of everything, lean construction seeks to eliminate waste in both time and scope so projects are delivered faster and more cost-effectively. The principles of lean concentrate on: everyone on a construction project defining value through the eyes of the customer; organizing the work through a “value stream” to ensure that everyone is performing activities that only add value to the customer; a smooth and continuous work flow; pulling work through the value stream to bring the service, materials and labor when Executive Director, AGC of Connecticut requested by the customer; and a pursuit of perfection to create a culture of continuous improvement. Why should companies adopt lean? There is a tremendous amount of waste in construction. On a typical construction project, only 30 percent of effort is devoted to productivity, the rest of the time is wasted by waiting and moving. Lean helps to remove that wasted time through a better work flow and just-in-time delivery of inventory. Lean construction promotes a safer worksite because it seeks to achieve zero incidents and injuries. Lean construction means building quality into the work, and the desire to do it right the first time. Greater productivity allows companies to get more and better work out of the entire team, which helps companies withstand an increasingly-shrinking supply of skilled staff. And less waste and more productivity increases profits and helps meet the ever-higher expectations of clients. AGC began to raise awareness of lean construction in 2009 when it created the Lean Construction Forum (, an online community where anyone with an interest in lean construction can share information and best practices. Since then, AGC has developed the Lean Construction Education Program, a series of courses that progressively cover a range of topics essential to understanding and applying lean construction in an organization. Part of the challenge of lean is building a learning culture for continuous improvement and creating the systems within an organization to instill it in every individual. How lean is inculcated within a construction firm can vary based on many factors; however, converting to lean is most effectively driven by motivated leaders within an organization, so-called Lean Construction Champions. This is the person, or persons, who will design and implement a lean transformation strategy within an organization. AGC specifically aimed its Lean Construction Education Program curriculum at these leaders. The program is composed of eight units, two of which are now available – Variation in Production Systems and Pull In Production. AGC of Connecticut will sponsor the first two units in 2013 at the local chapter office in Wethersfield. Following completion of all eight units, participants will be qualified to sit for an exam to earn AGC’s Certificate of Management – Lean Construction (CM-LC). If you would like to gain a basic understanding of what lean can do for your organization, I invite you to explore Lean Construction 101, AGC’s one-hour online course that can be taken at any time and provides a foundation of lean strategies and practices. Visit to register. CONNstruction / Winter 2012 / 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Winter 2012

What it Takes to Produce
‘Green’ Product Enhances State Capitol
Construction Labor Supply
Lean Construction: Continuous Improvement Comes to Construction
Road Warriors
Challenges and Opportunities
Better Quality Control
Quality Assurance for Project Produced Construction Materials
AGC of Connecticut Industry Recognition Awards Dinner
2012 Diggers Mixers Fixers Golf Outing
CEUCA 2012 Annual Meeting & Fall Dinner Program
CCIA/AGC of CT Young Contractors Forum
Index to Advertisers

CONNstruction - Winter 2012