The Advantages of a “First Time Right” Lean Construction Project

The construction industry is severely lagging behind comparable industries in terms of production. Fortunately, there is a solution. Adopting Lean construction principles will help the industry realize its potential and catch up to other industries.

According to a research report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity in the construction industry has only increased by 1 percent over the past 20 years. Comparatively, the manufacturing industry has grown 113 percent more than construction over the same period.

If construction were to close this gap, the industry could add $1.6 trillion in value to the U.S. economy. The key for your company is understanding how to tap into this tremendous growth opportunity by adopting a “First Time Right” approach to each Lean construction project.

Where is the Opportunity for Productivity Growth?

To find the opportunity for productivity growth, the construction industry can look at how the manufacturing industry has transformed itself over the past two decades.

By adopting Lean principles and using technology to implement automation throughout their processes, their industry has been completely transformed.

Meanwhile, construction has become fragmented on a global scale, which has resulted in several impediments to productivity:

  • Poor communication throughout the project
  • Insufficient time spent on the planning phase
  • Mismatched risk allocation
  • Inexperienced owners and buyers
  • Lack of quality control
  • Dependence on public demand
  • Inefficient designs due to a lack of standardization
  • Inability to implement new thinking on project management and execution
  • Low profit margins deterring investment in new technology and capabilities

Following the principles of Lean construction can help close the productivity gaps and realize the tremendous growth opportunities available to construction companies.

How Does a Lean Construction Approach Close the Gaps?

In our research, we have grouped together the Top 3 impediments to construction production. Consider the advantages of focusing on “First Time Right” in Lean construction to address these problem areas.

Issue #1: Bad Communication Between Relevant Parties (57% of Construction Project failures)

A Lean construction approach addresses the issue of poor communication in the following ways:

  • Direct, simple, and measurable communication is embedded throughout the project.
  • Communication is established upstream and downstream in the pre-planning phase.
  • Vendors and suppliers are involved early in the project to ensure a healthy and flexible supply chain.
  • Communication is ongoing with internal and external parties throughout production.

One item to highlight is “measurable communication.” By measuring the effectiveness of communication in the project, stakeholders are held accountable for their role helping or holding back the project. This advantage ensures that you can quantify the impact of communication on productivity, then find ways to close the gaps to improve production.

Issue #2: Lack of Planning, Scheduling Resources, and Activities (39% of Failures)

A fragmented industry leads to fragmented projects. Construction companies need to leave room for the careful planning and coordination of resources, while following Lean principles to reduce wasteful activities and variability. A “First Time Right” approach includes:

  • Following the 5S planning and implementation methodology (sort, set in order, sweep, standardize, and sustain).
  • Eliminating waste through better upfront planning.
  • Equipping construction workers with the tools and capabilities to perform their tasks.
  • Implementing a holistic operating system that moves away from relying on processes.

These enable workers to follow a clear plan for success and removes delays waiting for resources to arrive.

Issue #3: No Quality Control (35% of Failures)

Historically, construction companies have settled for Pick 2 of cost, schedule, or quality. This approach often leads to sacrificing quality when change orders are received and quality is deprioritized in favor of trying to maintain the timeline or budget.

To deliver on the complete requirements of the project, construction companies need to adopt Lean principles that allow for quality to be maintained throughout the lifecycle:

  • Embed quality control in the pre-planning phase so that it carries through to the actual construction.
  • Build communication channels and address logistical challenges before construction begins.
  • Maintain an effective communication loop so that quality is not sacrificed to meet a budget or deadline.

The advantage of a “First Time Right” approach is achieving quality within the budget and timeline. Instead of being sidetracked to address an unanticipated challenge or losing valuable time waiting for a vendor to deliver supplies, you can efficiently utilize resources that ensure quality completion.  Reducing or eliminating rework dramatically improves schedule and cost.

Consider the AMTS Approach to Lean Construction

The AMTS approach to construction management is to follow First Time Right to support all three project deliverables of cost, quality, and speed.

AMTS will collaborate with your project team to provide a flexible solution that scales to the needs of your project:

  • We are owner advocates
  • We are focused on risk management
  • We focus on safety before and during construction
  • We use effective methods to communicate and coordinate our people and clients

Through our approach to support the efficiency of your project, we can help you realize the tremendous growth opportunity that is available in the construction industry.

To find out how to leverage our Lean construction expertise and success for your next project, contact our team today to get started.