What is Lean Construction

Lean Construction is a project management approach in the construction industry aimed at being efficient, providing maximum added value, increasing efficiency, improving productivity, and eliminating waste in construction.

It is based on the principles of Lean manufacturing, adapted by Lauri Koskela in 1992 from Toyota’s methods for car manufacturing. The Lean construction methodology places the customer at the center of the process and focuses all human, material, and economic resources on value generation, eliminating waste or anything that does not contribute to it.

One of the key aspects of lean construction is the identification and elimination of the 8 wastes (adaptation of Liker to the 7 wastes determined by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota in 1952). These are: overproduction, waiting, transportation, unnecessary processes, excessive inventory, unnecessary motion, defects, and underutilized skills.

By eliminating these wastes, project quality can be improved, construction time reduced, and costs decreased.

Elimination of the 8 Wastes

The 8 wastes are a classification of the main types of activities or processes that generate inefficiencies and increase costs in construction projects, which the lean construction approach aims to combat:

Production of resources not tailored to demand (more quantity or before the requirement).

The movement of materials or resources from one place to another incurs costs, work equipment, labor, vehicles, and storage space.

Time lost (or dead time) waiting for the next step in the process.

Situations where more work is done than necessary or higher quality is produced than the customer requires.

Accumulation due to excess raw materials, products, and processes.

Unnecessary movements made by the human team that needs to travel between different spaces, warehouses, or facilities for minor tasks, search for materials, or use machinery.

Refers to incorrect or incomplete products, services, or information. They diminish value and occur due to errors that were not considered or corrected at the beginning.

Not using the strengths of human resources (in Woodea’s case, market intelligence) in contributing expertise, knowledge, and creativity to optimize processes, establish solutions, or avoid problems.

Last Planner System (LSP)

The Last Planner System (LPS) is an effective construction planning methodology that modifies the scheduling and control process, reducing uncertainty and variability.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a Lean Construction tool used as a diagnostic technique that, through charts and diagrams, captures all processes in an organization to visualize and analyze the flow of materials, products, and information throughout the production lifecycle, from inception to final delivery to the customer.

Integrated Project Delivery

Integrated Project Delivery is a methodology based on a coordinated collaboration approach that affects people, work teams, systems, business structure, and practices throughout the project's lifecycle. It is based on the principles of collective intelligence, transparency, information sharing, defining a common goal, and the commitment of all agents and companies involved in the process.
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The 5S Methodology

The 5S Methodology is a fundamental Lean tool that adapts perfectly to the construction sector, making its implementation possible in any project. It significantly contributes to achieving and maintaining permanently more organized, clean, and optimized workspaces for greater productivity, safety, and a better working environment. Its name derives from the fundamental Japanese words for achieving this order: Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain).

Implementing the lean construction methodology in project management allows us to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and profitability of construction projects. By identifying and eliminating the 8 wastes, it enables better resource optimization, cost reduction, and improved project quality.

Furthermore, the focus on collaboration and teamwork promoted by lean construction allows greater integration and communication among different teams and stakeholders involved in the project, leading to reduced conflicts, improved efficiency, and increased satisfaction for all involved parties.

By applying lean construction, we achieve more sustainable and profitable projects that meet customer needs while minimizing negative impacts on the environment and society. Therefore, the lean construction methodology is a fundamental tool for Woodea to achieve our goal of evolving construction towards a more efficient, sustainable, and profitable model.