“Improving performance with Lean on the construction site”

Dr. Selim-Tuğra Demir, Head, Lean Design and Lean Construction at fischer Consulting, Waldachtal, Germany. He believes in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. He leads the construction consultancy segment within his company. His current role covers implementation of Lean management systems which are best suited to the client demands and create project outcomes and outputs which are both more effective and efficient. Tugra has a PhD from the BEST-Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University and has work experience in the fields of project management, construction management and consulting in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Kuwait, KSA, Qatar, UAE, UK, USA and Turkey.

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Factors such as weather influences, supplements, delays and quality issues that crop up cannot be foreseen when construction work is on. Competition and the lack of skilled workers too is on the rise. fischer Consulting helps the construction industry to achieve targets on deadlines, at lower costs and high quality with its proven methodology: the Lean Construction System (LCS®).

With its Lean Construction System (LCS®), developed especially for the construction industry, fischer Consulting supports the successful completion of lean and profitable construction projects. As part of the fischer group of companies, which also includes the world-renowned fixing systems, the consultancy benefits from the knowledge gained from projects in the corporate environment.

The aim of Lean Construction System is to increase quality, adherence to schedules and motivation, while at the same time reducing costs. Pace of work can be accelerated by focusing on processes, procedures and information as well as material logistics. At the construction site, it is important to avoid waiting times and error repairs. No work should be done twice or unnecessarily. The right part must be of the right quality at the right time and in the right quantity at the right place. Lean identifies and creates the potential for optimization through four principles:

  1. Flow

The overall efficiency of any construction project can be increased if all the processes are aligned with each other and coordinated in a flow process. This is called making the construction process flow instead of sinking into individual actions. To this end, the construction site is aligned with the overall optimum for the client using the instruments of process consulting. These new methods are internationally successful and lead to both stable and shortened project duration. In order to achieve this, it is usually better to start construction later and do the preparations in detail.

  1. Takt

The focus here is on value-added processes and ensuring that the processes at the construction site are structured and stabilized. Each step in the process is planned precisely. Thus, the takt principle plays a major role in the LCS®. In the construction industry, for example, a takt time could be one day or one week, depending on the project complexity. In this way, a fixed time window is planned for each contractor, during which they can work undisturbed. However, this also requires that all planners and planning areas produce plans in the same takt.

The takt principle is adapted from production. Thus, while in production, the product moves in a defined takted time from station to station on the production belt. In construction, the production belt (sequence of trades) will move through the product (building) in a defined takted time. All trades pass through defined takt areas with the same takt.

  1. Pull

In a pull system, the plans and building materials are produced according to demand. This means that a demand pull is generated by the construction site – or the planned construction process. This pull system only pulls the plans and materials that are really needed for production and installation, ie., just-in-time delivery of plans and building materials.

  1. Perfection

The zero-error principle, ie., the perfection of planning and construction, is intended to create a culture of quality rather than a culture of eternal improvement right from the start. This allows stable and error-free processes to be installed, which increase the ability to plan and reduce waste -quality at the first attempt.

Through the LCS®, construction companies are supported to construct buildings with consistently high quality, despite increased speed. Processes are synchronized, critical areas are analysed and result-relevant points such as potential defects or postponements of deadlines are examined at an early stage and then eliminated.

In addition to LCS®, Agile Design Management (ADM) is used during design which is the adaptation of the Scrum approach to the planning of construction projects. This allows targets and customer requirements that change during the project to be met and adhered to.

Prior to planning, Target Value Design identifies the customer value (functional need and value definition) and focuses on it when it comes to maintaining cost budgets and avoiding waste as the project progresses. In haptic workshops, the client value, the planning or project goals of the client and the costs, are visualized and correlated with each other. A prioritization matrix is created as the basis for value engineering.

Lean in the construction industry does not only lead to success in large projects. Rather the advantages of a self-learning organization are used by identifying potentials to increase efficiency in all processes, to strengthen competitiveness, to increase employee motivation and to generate growth opportunities.–

Dr. Selim-Tuğra Demir

Project Manager and Lean Construction Expert at fischer Consulting GmbH.