Construction productivity will always be a major factor in assessing the performance of your organisation on a project. It is vital that the same focus is given to the safety related elements of an undertaking. When it is done right, the two measures are not mutually exclusive.
If there is no effective control system in place, then the potential exists for both productivity and safety to suffer. To avoid this situation, it is possible to use a smart and lean-thinking approach to how projects are dealt with on a consistent basis.
The Lean Approach
This begins with leadership commitment and is re-enforced with a culture of continuous improvement. When put in place correctly, dramatic improvements in safety, quality, and efficiency can be achieved at project level. The goal is to provide a custom product, fit for purpose, and delivered on time with no waste.
This will be assisted by the following
- Select suppliers who are willing to adopt lean project delivery
- Structure the project organisation in pursuit of the best project-level returns
- Define and align project scope, budget, and schedule
- Build quality and safety into projects
- Use evaluations and planning on process that transform materials
- Use computer modeling to integrate product and process design
- Use 5S workshops for workplace organisation and promoting teamwork
- Sort through items, keep what is needed and dispose of what is not
- Straighten: organise and label everything
- Shine: clean; which can also expose abnormal and pre-failure conditions
- Standardise: develop rules to maintain the first three S’s
- Sustain: maintain a stabilised workplace and initiate continuous improvement when needed
The Construction Wastes
Construction management faces many problems which need to be resolved, or better understood. As a result, the industry is affected by delay, and often suffers cost and time overruns. Ineffective project management is a common reason for delay in construction projects. Consequently, efforts need to be directed toward developing solutions and more efficient methods of operation. The introduction of new production approaches requires new measures of performance, such as waste, value, cycle time or variability. Studies indicate that accidents can account for 3–6% of total costs, and up to 10% of materials are potentially wasted.
The Lean Thinking Principles
There are five fundamental principles for lean thinking. Following each step by step is the best route to gaining the maximum benefit of the lean success:
- Specify Value from the customer’s definition, identifying activities, which generate value to the end product.
- Identify the Value Stream elimination of everything, which does not generate value to the end product.
- Flow must be continuous in the process and value chain by focusing on the entire supply chain.
- “Pull” in the production and construction process will reduce unnecessary production.
- Perfection aims at the perfect solution and continuous improvements, with no defects.
The Lean Construction Techniques
Lean construction is a methodical approach to designing production systems to minimise waste of materials, time, and effort, and to generate the maximum possible amount of value. It uses the same principles as in lean production to reduce waste and increase productivity and effectiveness in construction projects. The most important considerations in construction are frequently assumed to be workflow reliability and labour planning, but lean construction has changed the traditional view of the project, and embraces the concept of flow and value generation.
Safety is a beneficiary of this new approach, and you can find out more about how it works here.