Implement Lean Manufacturing, the Right Way
Written By Madeline Casey
It’s rewarding to see the finished product of a construction project you’ve put a lot of work into. But it can be less rewarding to see a buildup of the unnecessary expenses that could have been avoided in the process. From factory systems to nonphysical factors such as time, money, and energy, production processes can result in a lot of waste. While it is necessary to put an adequate amount of time, money, and energy into your construction projects, it will be beneficial to you and your company to eliminate waste. This article will discuss some things you can do to implement lean manufacturing in your construction business.

  1. Eliminate Waste
You can eliminate waste in many ways. The acronym “DOWNTIME” can be used by lean manufacturers to describe the different kinds of waste there are.

Defects are considered the most costly type of waste and can result in a company having to recover or salvage the product.

Overproduction can lead to wasted hours that could be used accomplishing something else. This can also result in obsolete inventory if loyal customers stop purchasing the product before it runs out.

Waitings can occur during line shutdowns when waiting for a new part or waiting on equipment to be repaired. There is also the waiting that occurs when a worker has to wait for a machine to process before moving on to the next step.

Not utilizing peoples’ talents can keep the company from growth and innovation. Additionally, it can lead to the loss of a talented worker who decides they can use their talents better elsewhere.

Transportation occurs throughout the manufacturing process, so it’s important that there is reliable transportation available and ready at all times.

Inventory includes finished goods, sub-assembly, raw component, office supplies and maintenance, and repair and operations. Unused inventory can affect each of these categories while taking up space and causing waste.

Motion can be wasted when a worker is bending, lifting, reaching, and walking in order to retrieve something.

Excess processing can be wasted when unneeded time, money, and energy is put towards factors that don’t affect the functionality of the parts being used.

Once you are aware of the different kinds of waste your company deals with, you can start working to improve and eliminate these waste. The first way you can eliminate waste is by preparing and coming up with an action plan to reduce waste.

  1. Lean Prep
In order to reduce waste, you must properly prepare for a new project. You need to determine both the team’s value, and what the customers consider valuable. Determine what your customers want and the most effective way to provide that value to them. The goal is to cut costs, reduce construction schedules, increase productivity, and better manage projects. By identifying what drives your customers’ value, you are able to understand what your customer wants and why they want it, then work to make sure you are providing that value for your customers. Every part of the team should participate in this process, which should be done before the start of each project. This way, the whole team can focus on the value that they will offer to customers. This will not only help to reduce complexities while still providing value, but because everyone has the same focus now, it will also help the team to meet project deadlines.

  1. Flow of Work Processes
In order to achieve a high work flow, everyone involved in the project must effectively communicate and collaborate. It is important to avoid delays in the production process so that you can achieve a high work flow and complete projects on time. One way you can avoid delays in your flow of work process is by assigning clear roles and responsibilities. By doing this, everyone will know exactly what they need to be working on. From here, you can further improve efficiency by splitting a project into different production zones so that workers can focus on completing one task at a time with minimal distractions.

  1. Organize Using the 5S Organizational Method
The more organized a company is, the more efficient it will be. When a business has an established system for completing projects, workers will be more likely to get the project done on time. This is why organization within a company is so important. If this is something your company struggles with, try using the 5S organizational method to help you. The 5S principles are sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain, and they can help to keep your workspace running efficiently.

  1. Promote Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is the process of refining repeatable processes to increase efficiency and value for everyone involved. You should constantly be learning and looking for ways to increase efficiency for you and your workers. This can include creating a collaborative culture and developing a mindset of shared knowledge and growth within your company. This can also include implementing more efficient methods, both big and small, that can help you get more done.

Implementing lean manufacturing can be very beneficial for your construction business. When done the right way, lean manufacturing can not only help your company reduce waste and avoid unnecessary expenses, but it can also help your company to get more organized and complete projects efficiently and on time.

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