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  • Performance Drivers Pty Ltd

Lean Construction and the Last Planner (Part Two)

Reduction in project length, lower costs and greater profitability: why you should be using Lean Construction and the Last Planner

The Lean methodology is making a mark in the construction industry around the world. Providing a philosophy and approach which addresses behaviour and uses tools to help teams work more effectively together and improve their work processes.

Improving construction industry productivity using Lean thinking offers a new approach for Australian construction firms which want to improve their performance. Traditionally, examining productivity in the industry has looked only at: apprentices, wages, research and development, unionisation, and safety regulation.

The number of organisations embracing Lean in Construction in Europe and the United Sates is higher than in Australia. However as clear evidence of performance improvement continues to be seen, the use Lean in Construction is on the rise here.

Performance Drivers has worked with clients in the industry building their internal capabilities and implementing a variety of tools and methods, including; Last Planner, 5S, and vendor management.

These construction clients have achieved:

  • defect reductions of 70%

  • inventory tracking errors reductions of 50%, saving $20,000 per annum

  • improved vendor delivery performance

  • 30% reductions in the time to build a house by resolving scheduling issues

  • built 30% more houses per year with the same resources

A case study from the US illustrates the difference the adoption of Lean practices can make in construction:

About 9 years ago, Baker Concrete Constructions built two hot dipped galvanising lines on a site in Alabama. Each project required of 76,000 cubic metres of concrete to pour.

As an experienced team on Line 1 used Lean Construction tools and practices (mainly Last Planner and 5S), the second team on the Line 2 employed the traditional Project Management approach using tools such as Critical Path Planning.

The result from Line 1 vs those from Line 2:

  • 36% less peak manpower

  • 75% less formwork

  • 28% less equipment rental

And Line 1 had:

  • 19% faster completion

  • 68% less end-of-job overtime

  • 12% better labour productivity

There was a 17.4% cost difference between the two projects.

Lean offers great potential for the construction industry

It is clear that, through the effective implementation of Lean Construction tools and practices, construction firms can significantly improve their competitiveness. With the keys to a successful implementation being; how you engage with your staff, your suppliers and your clients, involving them with training, information, and good communication to build good relationships.

References The Lean Construction Institute is the owner of the Last Planner trademark.


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