Maximizing value and minimizing waste by implementing lean techniques for construction projects

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Maximizing value and minimizing waste by implementing lean techniques for construction projects

Rationale for the study:

Projects are temporary production systems. When those systems are structured to deliver the product while maximizing value and minimizing waste, they are said to be 'lean' projects. Lean project management differs from traditional project management not only in the goals it pursues, but also in the structure of its phases, the relationship between phases and the participants in each phase.

The construction industry is well known for its fragmented structure with multiple stakeholders and its uniqueness in products. These reasons, among others, have significantly slowed research and development in the industry. Taking into consideration the extensive impact the industry has on national economies and society as a whole it is important to see the industry progress. The industry has been blamed for lagging behind other industries with respect to productivity improvement, cost reduction, and project duration. This may be because the construction industry has lacked fundamental research and understanding of the various construction processes and their interactions on construction projects. (e.g., Tucker and Laufer 1987, Koskela 1992, 2000).

Lean construction much like current practice has the goal of better meeting customer needs while using less of everything. But unlike current practice, lean construction rests on production management principles, the "physics" of construction. The result is a new project delivery system that can be applied to any kind of construction but is particularly suited for complex, uncertain, and quick projects.

Lean Construction is a production management-based approach to project delivery

- a new way to design and build capital facilities. Lean production management has caused a revolution in manufacturing design, supply and assembly. Applied to construction, Lean changes the way work is done throughout the delivery process. Lean Construction extends from the objectives of a lean production system - maximize value and minimize waste - to specific techniques and applies them in a new project delivery process. As a result:

• The facility and its delivery process are designed together to better reveal and support customer purposes. Positive iteration within the process is supported and negative iteration reduced.

• Work is structured throughout the process to maximize value and to reduce waste at the project delivery level.

• Efforts to manage and improve performance are aimed at improving total project performance because it is more important than reducing the cost or increasing the speed of any activity.

• "Control" is redefined from "monitoring results" to "making things happen."

The performance of the planning and control systems is measured and improved.The reliable release of work between specialists in design, supply and assembly assures value is delivered to the customer and waste is reduced. Lean construction is particularly useful on complex, uncertain and quick projects. It challenges the belief that there must always be a trade between time, cost, and quality.

There is still lack of information related to lean construction. Analyzing various causes and reasons that contribute to a project's delay and cost overruns are an important task.


This research is intended to verify and reevaluated the status of existing productivity and performances on construction activities and processes for local construction industries. This is meant to have a clearer picture on how "lean" is local construction industry performed currently under the compilation of new measurement parameters on particularly on waste and cycle time pertaining to the concepts and principles of Lean Construction.


1.Examine the general perceptions of the local construction industry with the lean construction principles of practices.

2. Determine the degree of problems arisen from wastes identified in existing scenario and practices in local construction industry.

3. Identify the source of wastes (classified under lean construction) and related them to the waste identified in local construction industry.

4. Study the potential project productivity improvements by reducing and eliminating the wastes as classified under lean construction

Key Question-

Can improvements in project delivery, value generation, or waste reduction be achieved by implanting Lean techniques?

Proposed Research Method;

1. Literature review

This study will review the relevant literature on the subject of Lean Construction. In order to achieve the objectives, a detailed review is to be conducted by studying text books, academic journals and conference papers.

2. The main study and analysis

The second and third objectives can be attained by analyzing present projects which will be acquired from construction industry in UAE. A detailed study will be undertaken in order to find out the result for the grounds of Lean Construction.

3. Interviews with construction professionals

An interview questionnaire will be prepared for this study and carried out to get various responses from several constructional professionals to determine the what are the impacts after implementing Lean Construction.

Initial References

- Ballard, G. (1998) Positive vs negative iteration in design, in Proceedings of the 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, Brighton, UK, July, 1998.

-Ballard, G. (1999a) Work Structuring. White Paper #5, Lean Construction Institute, Las Vegas, NV [].

-Ballard, G. (1999b) Can pull techniques be used in design?, in Proceedings of the Conference on Concurrent Engineering in Construction, Espoo, Finland, August, 1999.

-Ballard, G. (2000a) Phase Scheduling White Paper #7, Lean Construction Institute, Las Vegas, NV [].

-Project Management Institute

Koskela, L. (1992) Application of the New Production Philosophy to Construction. Technical Report 72, CIFE, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

-Koskea, L. (2000) An Exploration Towards a Production Theory and its Application to Construction, VTT Publications, 408, VTT Building Technology, Espoo [ publications/2000 P408.pdf]

-Koskela, L. (2001) New footnotes to Shingo, in Proceedings of the 9th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, National University of Singapore, Singapore.