Emphasis of design and construction planning is shifted from specific tasks to the interrelationship of activities
The process of designing and constructing a building is markedly different from that of manufacturing a product. But adapting lean production-management concepts from manufacturing for use in construction has the potential to substantially increase the efficiency of delivering buildings, say its proponents.
"Lean construction" is a concept espoused by the Lean Construction Institute of Idaho (see "Learning about lean construction"). Gregory Howell, a civil engineer, is its executive director. In the late 1980s, he and Research Director Glen Ballard began to investigate the performance of project planning systems. They discovered that on a typical U.S. construction project, only about half of the assignments planned to be performed in a given week are actually completed (see charts).
Against this background, Howell and Ballard saw a potential for applying the work of Lauri Koskela, a researcher with VTT Building Technology in Espoo, Finland, to the construction industry. Koskela recommend that construction theory be revised to focus on optimizing the project by considering the flow of work between activities and the creation and delivery of value.
Making quality assignments
The "last planner" system of production control is a key element of lean construction. The last planner is the person who makes assignments to direct workers. It is …