Lean Construction is the application of continuous productivity improvement strategies designed to deliver maximum value for our clients. It uses collaborative planning techniques, organizational tools, and continuous improvement strategies to ensure that work flows efficiently, and waste is eliminated from our design & construction processes.
HOW IS LEAN CONSTRUCTION DIFFERENT?
Often when we introduce our Lean Construction approach to clients, their first response is to ask, “isn’t this the way everyone does things?”. The reality is that our approach is fundamentally different from much of the construction industry.
Extensive research has revealed that most use a “command and control” mentality in construction management rather than focusing on collaboration and workflow. This approach creates adversarial relationships where stakeholders protect their own interests over the project’s. This “me-first” mindset contributes to delays, re-work, and other waste on the work site.
In fact, when a traditional project execution approach is used, 70% of those projects finish over budget, behind schedule, or both because of rampant waste in the construction process. Further, there have been no meaningful improvements in productivity over the past 60 years despite innovations in materials, construction methods, and equipment.
Our Lean Construction approach changes that. It eliminates waste and improves productivity. Our Lean approach has already resulted in the delivery of many tremendously successful projects, and we are continuously improving.
We are truly a Canadian construction leader in this field with committed leadership, highly trained staff, and many certified Lean Construction specialists on our team.
FWS LEAN STRATEGIES
FWS uses the Last Planner System (a collaborative planning system), proven organizational tools, and continuous improvement models to reduce waste and improve productivity.
LAST PLANNER SYSTEM
Pull-plans treat each task as a customer of its predecessor. Pull-planning the master and phase schedules ensures that tasks are defined and sequenced so that their completion provides the next task with exactly what it requires to move forward.
Six Week Look-ahead plans are developed with input from all team members involved in the work. This provides the opportunity to identify and remove constraints as well as identify and prevent conflict with subtrades or congestion in work areas.
Six Week Look-ahead plans ensure that all constraints to every construction task, whether it’s information, resources, or pre-requisite work, are satisfied before we begin the task.
When we start a task on our job site, we complete it – 100%. This is the most efficient approach and ensures that work flows with minimal variation, which is also a rarity in the construction industry.
Weekly Work plans are built on the foundation provided by the 6 Week Look-ahead plans and developed with input from the team-members who execute the work.
The weekly plans comprise detailed lists of tasks with their associated ‘make ready’ needs such as tools, equipment, designs, and labour requirements for each day of the upcoming week.
Weekly Work Plans are analyzed at the end of each week to identify any tasks that were not successfully completed. Understanding the underlying causes of incomplete work allows us to take appropriate corrective action to avoid recurrence. This improvement process is critical to our continued ability to increase labour productivity and drive down construction costs.
Quantifying and tracking the Percent Plan Complete on a weekly basis gives us a measurement to determine how effectively we plan our work. Extensive research has shown that as this metric improves, so too does project performance.
In addition to these planning and collaboration tools, we also focus on site and storage organization using the 5S system: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize & Sustain. This provides structure to this effort.
By ensuring that all areas of the site are clearly identified and organized, we ensure that no time is wasted searching for tools, materials, or information. This same methodology is carried into our consumables and hardware storage buildings whereby we ensure that there is a “place for everything – and everything is in its place”.
We also assemble kits whenever possible so that when workers need to get the hardware or components necessary for a task everything is pre-organized in the correct quantities, which prevents mistakes and the need to search or make more than one trip. These efforts continue to improve the percentage of our labour hours spent adding value for our clients while minimizing time wasted.
We institute Kaizen events or Lessons Learned sessions. After each significant task is completed, we gather personnel who were involved in any way with the completion of the task to review what went well, what challenges we had to overcome, and to brainstorm methods to improve any part of the task such as processes, tools, equipment, or design. It’s imperative to ensure everyone has a voice.
This level of inclusion and collaboration proves to be an extraordinarily powerful tool to drive improvement and innovation. As a direct result of these efforts, we have recognized incredible time and cost reductions without sacrificing safety or quality—while also improving morale on the job site.