The Constructor

Lean Construction Technique: Why it Matters

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The lean construction can be understood as a technique used to design production systems in a construction environment with an aim to decrease time, effort, and a waste of materials. It is all about planning and workflow efficiency. The term was coined by the International Group for Lean Construction in 1993, and it is an approach developed by Toyota following World War II. The lean construction technique is not new in the industry. It emerged as a solution to fix the declining productivity of the construction industry internationally. Just as the mood board interior design addresses the challenges in the design industry, lean construction technique addresses the challenges in the construction sector.

Lean Construction Technique

Over the years, lean construction tools have emerged and have been effectively applied in simple and complex construction projects. In this article, let’s delve deeper into understanding the lean construction technique and why it matters in the construction industry.

Lean construction saves time and money

This technique makes sure that the projects are not stretched over long periods of time and, at the same time, ensures that the expenditures incurred during the building process are lowered. What's more? It aims to maximize value and minimize expenditures involved during construction project maintenance, planning, design, and activation. This technique increases the productivity of the construction industry, globally. So, what are the characteristics of lean construction? What are the essential characteristics of the lean construction technique? The design approach involves a collaborative team approach. Everyone in the project, starting from the constructors and architects to designers and owners or tradesmen are included. As everyone is taken into consideration, it ensures a high-quality project that is delivered faster and is less costly. This leads us to the principles of lean thinking:

The principles of lean thinking

Lean construction employs lean thinking principles while executing the construction process as it results in a highly profitable and flexible company. They include:

Levels of lean construction

As per Greg Howell, co-founder of the Lean Construction Institute, there are three levels of lean construction. It ranges from impeccable coordination, which is the most basic form to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), the most advanced form. If you use the basic level, you can execute the approach through the hard bid process. It chiefly relies on extensive coordination on the construction site and avoiding problems that avert projects from starting and finishing as planned. But to execute the advanced form of lean construction, you will have to involve the contractor and subcontractors during the design phase so as to maximize results.

Why lean construction matters?

There are plenty of benefits of implementing lean thinking in a building project.

1. You can gain quality profit margins

Lean design and construction can help build capital assets in an organized manner. And the end result positively affects everyone involved in the construction process, starting from the owners of the construction to those utilizing the facility being built. The tenants who reside in a building built under a lean design approach can save more in rental costs vs. a traditional approach. It happens as the operating cost and break-even point for recovery is seemingly lower while applying the lean design approach. To cite a real-life example, Sutter Health, a colossal non-profit hospital system that serves more than 100 communities in Northern California, took advantage of lean construction and Integrated Project Delivery to serve more communities. Reportedly, it allowed them to deliver $1.5 billion of work on-budget and on time, and they were left with $3 billion of construction tracking on-budget and as planned.

2. Being Eco-friendly and respecting the workers result in better social infrastructure

The lean construction technique centers on sustainable construction practices that are Eco-friendly and ensures green business practices. It also leverages solar power while designing the building footprint to maximize energy consumption. Moreover, when you execute the lean design, it leads to the production of little construction waste. You also get by-product materials that are not toxic for the environment. It benefits both direct and indirect community stakeholders. In fact, while building the Athlete’s Village for the London Olympics in 2012, the project team executed a No Waste Lean Construction training program. Reportedly, there was 13% less waste production over a six month period. The team also saved £94,000 in waste disposal costs.

Other benefits include:


In recent years, the number of companies implementing lean construction techniques is steadily increasing. There are plenty of learning tools, books, classes, and seminars available for those who are interested. Moreover, lean building has shown a considerable boom in the industry. It will be appropriate to cite that lean is key to the future of construction.
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