Lean Construction, the smart way to save time and money on building projects.
Construction is an increasingly challenging commercial environment. With rising costs, supply chain issues, labour shortages and evolving technology, margins are tight and productivity growth is slow. Construction organisations need to adapt and evolve to manage project costs, promote sustainability, improve project outcomes and remain competitive.
Lean construction offers practical ways to save time and money by focusing on what matters - increasing customer value while eliminating waste.
The problem with trying to save time and money
Simply trying to save time and money can backfire. A mindset shift is needed to achieve real gains in productivity and profitability.
Marton Marosszeky, co-founder of the Lean Construction Institute of Australia, and an experienced civil engineer and leading lean construction implementation consultant, notes that, “We have a problem in construction where we focus on speed and we try to save costs, at any cost. We tolerate wasteful practices, errors and repeated errors.”
For example, practices like weekly site safety walks may pick up issues on site, but from a project planning and cost perspective, they are ineffective. They set up a system where it’s acceptable for the same hazards to be found each week, as long as each hazard is recorded and addressed.
“We’re so focused on low cost, saving money and going faster that we don’t look at the cost of unreliability. These costs are enormous.”
Costs associated with inefficiencies, workarounds, rework, injuries and health impacts all eat into a project’s profit margin. But focusing on reliability and continuous improvement offers an opportunity to boost productivity, profits and client satisfaction.
“If you focus on quality and reliability, you’ll get value and efficiency,” says Marosszeky. “But it doesn’t work the other way around - if you focus on cost and speed, you don’t get quality and reliability.”
A lean approach delivers value (for everyone)
Engineering professionals need to develop a greater understanding of lean thinking as it’s driving success across all sectors of the modern economy. A lean approach can have an enormous, beneficial impact on construction.
“Lean construction is about creating reliability in everything, being totally focused on what the customer values, adopting any idea that makes work more efficient, and eliminating waste and anything that doesn’t add value,” says Marosszeky.
“We can’t tolerate the repetition of errors. We must have reliable practices. Even though that might seem like it will slow us down, in fact, it will help us get there faster and we’ll build for less cost.”
Better solutions and better outcomes with lean thinking
Lean construction gives you a better understanding of the nature of production and how to change it. It embraces collaboration, communication and a smooth and reliable workflow. And that means better outcomes for the customer, as well as for the organisation.
“It’s about having an organisation, across a whole supply chain, that is activated and passionate about solving problems,” says Marosszeky.
“Leaders have more time to think about how to innovate, how to improve. They can focus on adding value and improving efficiency.”
Start learning and upskill in lean construction
Marosszeky has created a new course with Engineering Education Australia on Lean Construction. The course explores how to create stability through robust processes, drive continuous improvement using evidence-based data, build vitalised and agile supply chains, and use lean thinking to develop effective solutions.
The Lean Construction Fundamentals course is ideal for practicing to experienced engineers and anyone involved in construction, particularly leadership. The course is available on-demand so you can start anytime. Find out more.