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Tools of Lean Production in Construction

Tools of lean production in construction

  1. Introduction:

The construction projects associate with different factors which have numerous impacts on various aspects of the end result. Cost and time are the two important factors which determines the success ratio of a project. Most of the construction projects are considered to be unsuccessful in terms of cost and time overrun since they fail to meet the estimated budget and the estimated duration. This is due to the fact that most of the construction projects do not follow certain modern techniques.

Several industries that includes car manufacturing industries, steel making industries, grocery retailing industries and offshore engineering industries are very successful when compared to the construction industry over the last two decades. The implementation of the modern techniques is the reason behind their astonishing success.

Lean production system is the most dynamic production system which targets on the identification of non-value adding activities for eliminating it completely or minimising it to certain extent. It works on the principle of restructuring the process to make sure the entire project flows through all the value adding activities without any shut down. The lean principle can also be applied in the construction industry. Lean construction is the modern technique adapted towards the upgradation of construction production process. Its primary objective is to set the production flow in complete motion aiming to upgrade the control systems with a motive to minimize the losses throughout the construction process.

The lean construction practice considers the combined view of production process and tries to showcase the significance of the neglected theories in the construction processes. Certain alterations in the interior operations are made in the form of lean construction tools with a view of achieving the project goal successfully.

The lean construction tools are developed with an intention to upgrade the delivery and production system by eradicating the wastes. Also, the tools help in maximising the productivity thus achieving the client’s needs. In general,

“the lean construction tools targets to improve the delivery processes and value adding activities by removing wastes such as overproduction, inventories, rework and unnecessary activities in a construction process” thus upgrading the financial performances of a project.

With an intention to resolve the issues related to waste in the construction projects, several lean tools are developed and researched by many scholars. Around 40 lean construction tools were established through several practical experiences. These can be implemented during various stages of a construction process to effectively improve the production process.

In this essay, a detailed description about the various lean construction tools are given and how its implementation can influence the logistics and supply chain are discussed.

  1. Tools of lean production in construction


  1.         Five S

The term 5S refers to Japanese words which describes the steps of a workplace organisation;

  1. Seiri (Sort)
  2. Seiton (Set in order)
  3. Seiso (shine)
  4. Seiketsu (Standardize)
  5. Shitsuke (Sustain)

The benefits of the 5S organisation is that, it increases productivity with optimisation of quality and helps in the reduction of wastes [1], each S can be further broken down as follows;

In Seiri (Sort) step distinction between necessary and unwanted things is done, so that those thing which are important can be easily found, and those things which are unwanted are removed, In Seiton (Set in order), The things are provided in locations where they best suit the function, and this helps in reduction in wastes which are generated because of workers motion, In seiso (shine), the worksite is cleaned and inspected to remove dirt and this helps in reduction of wastes generated due to untidiness, during Seiketsu (Standardization), the work processes are standardised so as to keep the workplace neat and tidy and the first 3 S are integrated properly into the process, and in the final stage, Shitsuke (Sustain) behaviours are implemented on the workforce by training and practice for the sustainability in the long term.

There is a 6th S which has been added in construction, which is safety [2], and the purpose of this 6th S to make ensure a safe working environment.

  1.         Concurrent Engineering

The first implementation of concurrent engineering was implemented by companies in japan in late 80’s and early 90’s, the total lead time of Japanese companies was 43 months whereas during the same time it was 63 for European countries, and one of the thing affecting this reduced lead time was concurrent engineering, which was then call called as simultaneous engineering.

Concurrent engineering is defined as [4]: –

“An approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related processes including manufacture and support. This approach is intended to cause the developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from conception through disposal, including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements.”

In the context of the construction industry Concurrent Engineering is defined as [5] “an attempt to optimise the design of the project and its construction process to achieve reduced lead times, and improved quality and cost by the integration of design, fabrication, construction and erection activities and by maximising concurrency and collaboration in working practices.”

Concurrent engineering combines many tools and philosophies under one roof, concurrent engineering provides a new technique for the implementation of techniques and methods which reduce the total lead time and additionally also increasing quality and market entering abilities.

Some of the advantages of concurrent engineering in construction are as follows

  • Multidisciplinary collaboration is encouraged in concurrent engineering, because of which miscommunications which otherwise lead to problems are avoided, collaboration also causes the reduction of inconsistencies and increases the efficiency.
  • The design process is made faster, when engineers are working on different phases, the ones on the later phase may have to wait for a lot of time for the completion of the previous phases, but concurrent engineering overlaps a lot of them by overlapping and integrating the tasks.
  • It reduces cost and increases quality, during upstream processes like conception, specification and design, individuals from different background addresses the different problems and impart different ideas to increase consistency and reduce risk during the downstream process like construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning.
  • Helps to increase productivity by stopping mistakes or errors before they occur, as explained above the interaction between different individuals in the project help in reducing the errors from occurring
  • It gives a competitive advantage as projects can now be completed faster with increased quality
  1.         Six sigma

Six sigma is a basically a management approach to improve an organisations processes, services and products, and to do so it continuously tries to reduce the defects in the organisation, the major purpose of six sigma is to bring the operation to six sigma levels, which means that there should be 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Table 1 – Overview of Sigma levels and DPMO

YEILD Defects per Million opportunities (DPMO) Sigma Level
30.9 6,90,000 1
69.2 3,08,000 2
93.3 66,800 3
99.4 6210 4
99.98 320 5
99.99997 3.4 6

Six sigma is a methodology based on statistic and is dependent on scientific methods to make reduction in defect rates as defined by customers and the goal is remove all defects from every process, Six Sigma is opting a methodology of continuously improvement, and its termed as DMAIC, where,

  • Define – In this step customer requirements are defined, projects goals, key roles are defined and the risks and the financial impacts are defined
  • Measure – data which are relevant to the defects and processes which are in need of improvement are collected, and then the measurement of process performance is done based on six sigma tools and techniques.
  • Analyse – data from the above step is collected and the cause of defects are analysed
  • Improve – The solutions for the defects which are found from the analysis step, and the best improvement method is implemented.
  • Control – a control system is established to ensure the achievement of the improvement done.

DMADV (Define goals of the project, Measure the different aspects, Analysis of data and selecting the best, Designing of the process, Verifying the design) is another methodology used in the six-sigma process.

  1.         Pareto analysis

Haughey (2011) [7], described Pareto analysis as “a statistical method in decision making used for selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect. T uses the pareto analysis (also known as 20/80 analysis) the idea thatby doing 20% of work you can generate 80% of benefit of doing the entire job”.

Pareto analysis can be used in situations where you find multiple problems which are related or a problem which has multiple causes. And by using pareto analysis we can find out the frequency of the problems occurring, and this helps to identify locations where we can give more importance to maximize the outcome, and the tools used in pareto analysis is a pareto diagram, which can be in the form of charts, tables, or histograms showing each problem and the frequency of occurrence of each problem [8]

  1.         Failure mode and effect analysis

FMEA is a risk analysis tool which can be implemented during the planning stages of construction project to provide ways for the management of risks, by identifying risks and finding out solutions to mitigate them, to identify the causes of errors or failures brainstorming and opinions are shared between experts in the construction industry or the related field, now after the modes of failures are found they are then divided and ranked by Risk priority number where they are arranged  based on severity, their frequency of occurrence, and their probability of detection.

There have been many alterations done to FMEA for its use in different domains, for example, Bongioro [9] used Design FMEA (DFMEA), for its use in the design domain, Carbone and Tippet [10] introduced Risk FMEA (RFMEA) was established specifically for the purpose of risk assessment, RFMEA introduced an additional risk factor called risk factor which was calculated on the basis of impact and likelihood, for more efficient project delivery fuzzy FMEA was suggested by Razaque [11] for use along the chain scheduling.

Failure mode effect analysis is a very useful tool and can be put in use in the planning stage of construction to prove means of managing risks, the various steps and techniques provided by FMEA, makes it possible to develop a comprehensive risk management process.

It uses expert analysis for determining risks, and probabilities of risk are estimated and the necessary values are then calculated, and after identification of risks a risk response is generated, this can be done in different ways such as, avoiding risks by eliminating it whenever possible, and is termed as risk avoidance, if risk cannot be avoided then a contingency plan is developed to deal with it, and is termed as risk retention, and then the risk is transferred to either the upstream or downstream process, or the risk is reduced by reducing the probability of its occurrence, FMEA should be employed at the early stages of the project as they provide the possibility of mitigating risks before they happen and thereby increasing the productivity and workflow on site which would otherwise be hindered by poor planning.

  1.         Root Cause analysis

Root cause analysis is the method of finding the root cause of a problem, and then finding out ways to eliminate the problem or stop it from reoccurring [14]. As per the RCA guidelines root cause analysis is defined as “the investigation and reporting the causes of occurrence to enable the identification of corrective actions adequate to prevent recurrence and thereby protect the health and safety of the public, the workers, and the environment”

Define the problem

Monitor the system

Corrective action

Immediate action

Understand the problem

Figure 1 – The methodology of Root Cause Analysis

  • Define the problem: – until and unless the problem is defined correctly, root cause analysis may end up in failure, use of SMART tools, i.e., Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, time constraint need to be carried out
  • Understand the problem: – The problem needs to be understood properly before proceeding further and techniques such as cause and effect, brainstorming to be used to achieve proper understanding needs to be done.
  • Immediate action: – A solution which can mitigate the problem until better solutions are found need to be done
  • Corrective Action: – During this stage the root cause of the problem is identified and the corrective actions which may either mitigate the problem or eliminate it are taken.
  • Confirm the solution: – After solutions to the problems have been found, the success of the solution should be confirmed and after this control methods need to be established so that such problems do not occur again nor are avoided.
  1.         Jidoka

Jidoka was originated in japan during the early 1900’s by Toyota in japan, by Sakichi Toyota, Toyota developed a machine which could detect broken threads and stop the machine from producing any more defected products in his textile loom, and this concept where machines were given extra intelligence enabled the increase of no of machines a single worker could run, as machines would stop automatically when a defect arises it becomes possible for operators to continue working on other machines and  also identify the root cause to prevent the issue from reoccurring and produced increased profitability.

Jidoka has been a very important tool of lean production, in fact it is one of the main pillars of lean production, it can be roughly translated as automation with a human touch, and it means a lot more than stopping when a defect occurs, it also means to fix the defects which arise, to take measures so that the problem may be prevented from occurring further.

There are four major principles of Jidoka

  1. The first principle is the detection of abnormality, the first principle states that the detection of the fault should be made as early as possible, and until the root cause of the problem is found out the production should be stopped
  2. The second principle is to stop when defect is detected, so whenever the defect arises the machine should be able to stop itself and it should be monitored by workers so that defects can be identified
  3. The third principle to correct or rectify any defects as soon as possible this means that the final product is free from defects and it saves cost on rework.
  4. The fourth and final principle of Jidoka is to find the root cause of the problem, and it is no good to just find the defect as solution can only be found after you find the root cause of the problem
    1.         Check sheet

Check sheet is a basic tool used for data collection at the location where the data has been generated, the data sheet is a blank document for quick and easy recording of the information which is desired and the information can either be quantitative or qualitative. [15] The check is one of the basic tools for quality control and can have a huge impact on keeping tabs on quality in a construction process,

There are basically five types of check sheets: –

  • Classification type: – In this type the defects are classified into categories, and this type of classification gives you an idea about the areas of work which are more effected and helps in establishing a visual overview of the problem.
  • Defect location type: – In this type of check sheet the typical location of the defect is marked or located, the advantage this methods helps to identify the area of the product which tends to have more defects. And once the check sheet is completed the team can go to the particular location and look up the cause of problem causing the defect
  • Frequency: – through this type of data sheet the presence and absence of a trait can be identified, and the frequency of occurrence of a trait can be identified.
  • Measurement scale: – The measurement scale is divided into intervals where the intervals are checked and the appropriate measurements are indicated.
  • Check List: – A check list of works which need to be done are indicated, and these works are ticked off once they have been accomplished.

There are a lot of advantages of using check sheet, such as, It is an effective way of displaying data, the check sheet are easy to use as they don’t involve any complex processes, The check lists help in identifying the frequency of a problem and thus help in determining the root cause of the problem, since the data is collected in a sequential manner, it provides a uniform data collection structure, and it can also be used to refute allegations.

  1.         Construction process analysis

Construction process analysis implements the use of process chart and top vies flow diagrams, and these charts and diagrams use symbols based on Japanese standard JIS Z 8206, and these symbols describe the flow processes effectively and makes it easier to find the problems in the process.

Table 2 – Construction Process Analysis

No Basic Step Specific step Symbol Meaning Comment
1 Operation Operation Alters the shape or other characteristics of a material, semi-finished product, or product
2 Transportation Transportation  

( )

Changes the location of a material, semi-finished product, or product The transportation symbol is a circle measuring half the diameter of the circle used as the operation symbol. An arrow can be used in place of this small circle. The direction of the arrow does not imply the direction of transportation.
3 Retention Storage A scheduled accumulation of materials, parts, or products
4 Delay An unscheduled accumulation of materials, parts, or products
5 Inspection Volume Inspection Measurement of amounts of materials, parts, or products for comparison with the specified amounts to judge whether a discrepancy exists
6 Quality Inspection Testing and visual inspection of materials, parts, or products for comparison with quality standards to judge whether defective (substandard) products are being produced.

CPA has both benefits and problems [16], CPA can be easily represented in a graph showing different work progresses, making it a good communication tool, it also enables the problems to be easily identified, the data which has been collected can be further reordered to make observations and future improvement plans, another benefit of CPA is that it can be use at any time without much preparations, and is an easy process which makes is easy to understand

IT has been found that CPA is not a complete tool for determining wastes, as CPA was not able to identify waste due to defects, over production or when designing is done which is insufficient for customer needs, however it is helpful in identifying wastes which are associated with movement of people, movement of material, waiting time and unnecessary processing.

  1.    First run studies:

First run studies are a section of steady improvement attempt that include the performance and productivity studies. The outcome may be utilized effectively to inspect the work techniques by modernizing and streamlining the different tasks that are involved within it. In general, these are nothing but an experimental execution of a mechanism with a clear-cut end goal to choose the best strategical and sequential approaches.

The first run studies are usually carried down two weeks advanced to the actual scheduled completion of the process. This is due to the fact that distinct, additional and essentials assets can be acquired by carrying the studies a couple of weeks before the actual schedule.

This approach associates with the usage of

  • Photographs,
  • Video and
  • Graphical interpretation to indicate the process.

The tasks are chronically recorded with a formal video shooting and performance oriented studies [21]. Once the work is finished, the performance executed will be reviewed in an established meeting consisting of the entire team including the project manager.  At the end of the meeting the most possible advancements and the necessity for upgradation will be assessed. All the participants of the meeting tend to contribute much to the successful execution of the final process through their inputs.

Figure 2 – Process of First run studies

Reviewing the performance

Recording trial performance

Assessing necessary upgradation

The suggestions made were tested by the same team before finalizing thus making sure that a clear-cut idea is formed. The most likely actions that can be implemented include adapting a new method, modifying the balance of the entire team and reordering the sequence of activities for a much better outcome. Thus, the first run studies provide a reliable solution for the upgradation of the prevailing process through its experimental execution of the process. By virtue of this, the entire life cycle of the construction process can be upgraded through adapting a better approach to the activities.

  1.    Heijunka

Heijunka, which can also be called as levelling the production agenda or production smoothing, has played a significant role in the lean production over the years. It deals in avoiding the peaks and basins in the proposed agenda of the production. In this method, the production is scheduled in such a way that the production line yields the similar array of products over the given period of time with the preference of array changing between the most and the least claiming products [19].

Any hike in the demand variability will make this process more challenging. Overburdening of labours and repeated stress factors contributes to the downfall of this method. Also, in most of the cases, final quality of the product is not met thus resulting in poor quality performance. However, Heijunka has a charismatic production capacity when operated with both routines and capabilities.

Figure 3 – Heijunka Practice


Identifying similar set of tasks


When the existence of a relatively balanced and anticipated demands is high, Heijunka can be implemented since there will only be few disturbances to the schedule. Thus, this level scheduling (Heijunka) can be utilized vitally for the spreading of production evenly and merging them into a complete production agenda which considers the volume and the mix into account.

  1.    Last Planner System

Enhancing the planning and control of a project will eventually enhance the efficiency of the project. Planning and control are considered to be the most important counterparts that is maintained during the project. Planning implies to creating various strategies that will meet the final objective of the project whereas controlling implies to implementing the planning as per the schedule. In certain cases, re-planning is required if the sequence which has been scheduled earlier can no longer be executed.

The last planner system is one of the effective lean techniques which tends to be a significant tool in the construction management process. It deals with the continuous supervision of the planning efficiency and eradicating the uncertainties. The important phase of the last planner system oversees two control units such as work flow control and production unit control.  The work flow control can be achieved through look-ahead technique whereas the production unit control can be achieved through planning weekly.

The objective of the last planner system is to deviate the centre of attraction from the workers to the work flow that binds them together. The two important factors of the last planner system are

  • To produce superlative assignments to the workers through steady learning-correcting formulae and
  • To achieve the best work to flow production units [22].

Some of its general components includes master planning, look-ahead planning and weekly work planning. But the most important component is the percent of planned completed.

This method follows production sequence beginning from the

  1. Programming workshop
  2. Making sure the tasks are ready
  3. Planning the production
  4. Continuous improvement and upgradation of the planning and the other processes.

The Percent of Planned Completed (PPC) is the key factor in determining the success criteria of the last planner system. The PPC does not directly count on the productivity percentage or the production but its values indirectly relates it. The principle of PPC works on the assumption that when a team significantly improves its planning, it tends to reduce the variability thus improving the productivity.

The fact that many companies switch over to the last planner system suggests that the implementation of this method can maintain the construction project’s cost and time, control the workflow, authenticate supply stream and maintain it effectively.

Though this system possesses numerous advantages such as cost reduction, associating sub-contractors with the field persons, it also has its own challenges such as insufficient training, lack of experience and various contract problems.

  1.    Poka-Yoke

This is an error proofing method in which the flaws with in the project is identified and prevented in such a way that zero percent error is achieved. This method can be applied to restrict the causes which results in the continuous existence of errors and to carry out a cost-free control over the authority in the acceptance or the rejection of a product.

The challenges faced during the repetitive actions and tasks in a construction process can be overcome by adopting this method since poka-yoke tends to save time and subsequently maximises the value of the workers. Plenty of errors occur under each stage of the project cycle as a result of which the end product may not yield adequate value to the clients and the ultimate project goal will not be met effectively. This pave the way for the ultimate necessity for the companies to adopt this method so as to produce the end products without any errors and defects.

The approach of eradicating the defects in this method is done by planning a set of conditions in which the probability for an error to occur is low or in such a way that the errors can be figured out and treated immediately. There are certain conditions to be taken into account before monitoring the poka-yoke such as;

  1. The process must be autonomous in which all the operations and exercises are carried out by the contractor without any interference from the outside,
  2. Monitoring and governing the poka-yoke should be a cheap process and it should not have an impact to the overall increase in the cost of the project [20].

In general, poka-yoke is a method to stay away from the man-made errors at the workplace. The defect can be classified in two ways such as;

  • Already occurring defect
  • Defects that are about to happen

These two types of defects are called as the defect detection and the defect prediction respectively. The basic functions of poka-yoke in reducing the errors and defects includes shutdown, control and warning.

There are two ways to implement the poka-yoke method such as;

  • Control methods
  • Warning methods

The control method works on the detection, blocking and correcting the problems immediately whereas the warning method carry out an economical control, analysing each product and inspecting those whether to accept or reject the product.

  1.    Total Productive Maintenance

This method illustrates the maintenance for the equipment so as to increase the operational value and time of the equipment. The primary aim of this method is to increase the production value while, at the same time maximising the morale of the labours and their satisfaction. The principle followed in this method is similar in several aspects to that of the Total Quality Management (TQM) such as;

  • Utmost commitment by the management is essential
  • The labours and the employees are given the right to initiate any corrective and preventive actions.

In order to implement TPM, the whole work force must accept that the upper level management is entirely committed to the program. A coordinator will be appointed and he will be responsible for educating the work force regarding the concepts of TPM. Once the coordinator is confident about his work force and their knowledge on the TPM, action teams are formed which has the authority to address the problem and its impact. Each person is considered to be a stakeholder so that he/she will contribute to the success of the project.

The action teams are responsible for figuring out the problem areas and coming up with a corrective action. In certain cases, the action teams may not figure out the problem areas in their given equipment and hence in those scenarios, they tend to visit other plants to visualize and compare the TPM methods. This process of comparing between on team to another is termed as ‘benchmarking’ and it is considered as an important aspect of the TPM program [23].

Once the action teams are familiarized with the whole process, complex problems can be addressed without any delays. The total productive maintenance can reduce the equipment delays and maximises on-time deliveries. With heavy competition prevailing between the companies, adopting TPM will act as a link between attaining success and failure in the project.

Majority of the construction projects requires TPM to effectively differentiate various equipment and maximise the utilization of the resources available. If the involvement between the action teams are higher, then the success ratio of the project using TPM will be unusually higher when compared to normal projects. Thus, the management and maintenance of the equipment available will increase the productivity and the time period for the completion can be minimised.

  1.    Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a method of visual investigation though which the flow of the process can be effectively improved. The key target of this method is to complete the value adding processes without any fluctuation. It is a tool which helps in the identification of the source of wastes generated in the system, wastes can be of different forms such as waiting product accumulation, rework, loss of information in between processes, unnecessary works, along with the identification of wastes it also helps in identification of possibilities for improvement. Removal of waste can contribute to the overall success of a project and the repeated wastes that are figured out in a project includes overproduction, waiting, conveyance and processing. In certain cases, unnecessary inventories and motions are also considered to be wastes.

In order to upgrade the supply chain, it is ideal to understand the requirement for the minimisation of the wastes before the mapping activity takes place. Thus, each waste corresponds to a tool which can be utilized for creating a value stream map. [17]

VSM requires than an implementation plan be developed to follow evolution from the present state to the ideal state, therefore VSM helps the organisation to achieve two objectives;

  • Analyse the activities
  • Elimination of wasteful activities.

Figure 4 – Conceptual view of Value Stream Mapping

Analysing each activity

Eliminate waste in each activity

In VSM the information stream during the design process is improved by suggestion of alternative methods of control, all the phases of design are mapped, and thus differentiating activities which add value and the ones which do not, therefore modifies the decision making process simpler [13].

The mapping activity comprises of five key approaches such as;

  1. Studying the flow or the process
  2. Figuring out the wastes
  3. Considering to reorder the project with improved sequence
  4. Considering to follow a better flow pattern
  5. Cross checking whether every action done under each stage are necessary and whether those actions contributes value to the resultant of the project.

The process of activity mapping may follow simple inter relating steps such as 1. Preliminary analysis, 2. Detailed documentation of all the items necessary under each process thus forming a map. The time-based process mapping differs from the process of activity mapping in which the critical lead-time for an individual process in portrayed. But however, specific lead-times and inventory details are considered for the upgradation of activities just like the process of activity mapping.

In VSM there is a possibility of visualizing the whole process rather than simply looking at the results, and this is important because to identify the waste it is very important to identify the current state of the process, it helps in monitoring products, information and documents full time when it is in different departments and organizations, and it also provides visibility of streams of information and material, throughput time, cycle time and lots size to determine the performance of activities and the flow of value, which includes the value added to the customer, value added to the business and also non value adding components, it helps to drive towards the goal, along with encouraging a philosophy of continuous improvement.

The point to keep in mind is that creation of VSM should be done by keeping the end result in mind, and the focus should be on the customer, and ultimately it will lead to success.

Thus, the value stream mapping process tends to nullify the wastes present in the process in the form of overproduction and unnecessary waiting, and upgrades the flow of the process in such a way that it widens the scope for the improvement of the project.

  1.    Visual Management:

Maximising efficiency and the transparency in processes can be acquired through implementing visual management scheme. Visual management focuses on various important functions such as;

  • Transparency
  • Simplification
  • Discipline
  • Continuous improvement of the process.

The above-mentioned functions can be attained through following certain important practises. Effective communication with in the people of a project will pave the way for a much transparent work force. Transparency can also be brought in by informing all the important aspects of the final output to the entire workforce including the designers. Also, it is ideal to maintain discipline such as pursuing correct procedures throughout the project. This can be maintained by implementing precautionary warning within the workforce.

Steady improvement is essential for the growth of the company and the outcome of projects. This criterion can be fulfilled by maximising the level of innovations but however, implementing such innovations for the steady growth of improvements requires considerable amount of investments. Allocating jobs to the workforce in which they are good at will ease the people both physically and mentally. By implementing this criterion, the team can expect the workforce to complete their given jobs without any assistance from others, thus reducing the time consumption.

In the visual management method, regular efforts are made to monitor, process and circulate information to the workforce by virtue of which simplified objective can be attained. In certain cases, following on-the-job training method will contribute to the continuous improvement of the process. Learning from experience ideally dictates the problems and issues for the workers that are necessary to be considered. However, this method can only be implemented to a certain extent since certain works needs assistance by considering safe working atmosphere into account.

  1.    Work structuring

Work structuring is considered to be one of the primary tools in lean construction. Key decisions are made considering the involvement of each individuals and their respective roles in terms of physical activities. It is to be understood that project planning is different when compared to work structuring since project planning works on the overall structure and constituting the work breakdown structures. [18]

The approach of work structuring as a lean construction tool begins with the basic phenomenon of reducing the waste and increasing the value. Value generation can be approached and compared from the level of client satisfaction. In general, maintaining control over the project is the initial objective for the contractor. Exceptional projects have widened understanding on the control through which greater value can be generated throughout the process.

The advancement of the central target can be attained by following the flow theory to certain activities. The wastes must be differentiated into several categories such as deficient products, absence of flow and lost scope will contribute to the overall upliftment of the project. Those wastes can be treated separately so that each waste can be analysed and steps can be taken in such a way that, if changes can be applied in order to make it efficient or completely discarding the activity. This way of treatment to the flow processes can identify waste immediately and instant solution can be made thus, reducing the cycle time.

The structuring of work must focus primarily on the value generation by critically analysing and understanding and widening the client’s purposes. The goal of maximising the ability to realize the exact purpose of the entire project can be achieved by;

  1. Establishing functional teams
  2. Aligning the involvement of the stakeholders
  3. Formulating positive emphasis.

The understanding and the expansion of the customer’s purposes can be structured by;

  1. Using a collective project definition process
  2. Implementing set of designs for each stage of the process
  3. Inspecting adjacent to the purposes.

Table 3 – Work structuring

Structure Effect on the project
Project Definition To achieve client satisfaction
Assigning set of design for each stage To maximize the flow in the process
Inspect adjacent to the requirement To minimize waste in the process

Thus, overall control over the construction project can be achieved by reducing the number of activities with linkages and focusing on delivering the project on time.

Secondly, work structuring process focusses on the reduction of wastes by means of minimising the inventories, inspection, processing and rework time. Also, by reducing the number of unnecessary and unreliable suppliers, the overall time can be maintained throughout the project.

  1.    Bottleneck analysis:

Bottleneck analysis method focusses on;

Diagnosing the portion of the project which tends to act as a barrier on the overall outcome and productivity and helps to improve the performance of that particular part.

The bottleneck constrain can be figured out by regulating the maximum cycle time in the project [40]. The time difference between the overall duration of the project and the bottleneck constrain is evaluated and the work structuring is done in such a way that these particular processes are given due considerations so as to achieve the overall target on the scheduled time.

  1.    5 Whys:

It is a technique which is used to study the underlying breakdown of a problem. The general method of this process is to frame a description of the circumstances and enquire why it has resulted. From the solution obtained for this question the next question is prepared. It is a consecutive process that happens for a number of times until the hidden failure for the problem is discovered [36].

A major lean rule is adopted to recognize the basic failure in a procedure. It also allows you to observe and comprehend the connection between various main drivers of an issue. It helps the company in upgradation [38].

This method was first developed by Toyota motors and then carried out by all other organizations. In contrast to other more complex critical thinking strategies 5 ways is different and does not involve progressed information, but especially appropriate to coordinate into working methods. This process also needs suitable expertise of the structure which is inspected. There is no purpose if the root is unknown to carry out this process. And it also helps to execute remedies after figuring up the complications.

The basic failures ought not to be mistaken with the occasional causes though they add to an issue however they are not the main part of a problem. There are also certain disadvantages for the 5 why methods such as in certain issues there will be only one root and in some issues, it is difficult to point out familiar root [25].

  1.    Fail Safe for quality:

It includes two types of methods such as;

  • Check for Quality
  • Check for Safety
  1. Check for Quality:

It depends on the creation of new thoughts that alarms for possible deformities. This method is against the conventional idea of quality control, where a small volume is assessed and choices have been made for damaged components which as of now been prepared. There are certain devices namely Poka-yoke which prohibits certain damaged components from passing through the mechanism. Then a general quality inspection should be carried out at the start of any new project. Standard methods should be used for the maximum quality problems [39].

  1. Check for Safety:

It also stretches out to safety where there are possible risks rather than possible flaws which makes it to associate with the safety hazard evaluation technique from conventional construction method. These components need activity ideas which avert awful results. Risks as such ear impairment, eye wounds, slips and fall are assessed with certain remedies which is of common use, but still the labourer’s should be advised with most of the safety procedures. Possible risks should be examined and investigated amid the work [39].

  1.    Huddle meetings:

The basic need of huddle meetings is that there should be communication between the highest and lowest member of an organization so that they can share their opinions to increase the productivity of the company. These daily huddle meetings improve the participation of the workers in the company. These meetings should be carried out each and every day, so that it creates consciousness of the work undertaken and also critical thinking association provided with some equipment’s training which results in worker’s fulfilment.

The most important feature of upgradation because of this is that meetings are conducted daily so that the colleagues gives report of how far has the work been completed till the earlier day and most probably the risk that might hinder the finish of a task. This method guarantees quick reaction to issues through strengthening of specialists [24]. Feedbacks are also provided at the end of each meeting by every individual.

The meetings will be of two type like;

  • An informal meeting for all the managers, supervisor and controller which occurs weekly regarding the task completion of each week
  • Coincidence of certain tasks which will affect the completion of the work. The steps taken will be reviewed at each meeting whether it suits for the work. The other one is daily meetings as mentioned earlier which included everyone in an organization. It deals with the safety issues, storage and organizing the time for each task involved in a project. These meetings is otherwise called as tool-box meetings [37].
  1.    Preventive maintenance:

It is an interim-based observation strategy in which regular examinations are carried out in a tool to decide the development of flaw in its parts and other additional systems. At a stage when the damage is increased to a point where the tools need an adjustment or service, maintenance is done on the tool.

An observation is made at regular time intervals to maintain the equipment in a good condition. This method increases the likelihood that the machine will run obviously without any interruption till the next date of investigation [30]. This system has three stages such as washing station, lubrication station and the mechanical station.

There will be a specific planning for maintenance of equipment’s and it will be scheduled to done once in a week. Certain machines just need field maintenance which can be done then and there, so that it does not leads to a big failure. Workers will be allotted with time limit for each station to complete the work. The last stage of this system consists of investigation of the machine. Those people working in these areas do not need to wait for the delivery of parts as it will be delivered at a fast rate unlike other areas. There will be a separate manager for preventive maintenance system who is responsible for the whole process. Data and information will be provided for each and every equipment such as their working manual, availability and productivity. Proper training will be given before an equipment is allowed to handle by a worker.

This happens in most of the construction industry where the contractor inspects with the supervisor of the work that whether the equipment’s are in good condition and so that the work in progress does not slow down.

This may result in increase of the budget. The workers in the project should be given proper training and instructions regarding the usage of each equipment. The daily used equipment’s should be serviced periodically and put into use [26].

  1.    Quality function development:

This is one of a major technique used to manage client’s needs and desires with better efficiency that will help to accomplish the utmost significant target of a construction company. It mainly focuses on to realize the client expectations and give them considerable profit which will bring the company back some benefit’s and reputation.

The product should be delivered with the quality the customer demands the organization to do so. It is one of the exceptionally competent, well organized strategical technique to manage customer requests efficiently and characterizing what do they wish in particular to make it happen at the suitable course of time. It should be utilized at the initial phases of a work, so that exact solutions can be framed by concentrating the projects financial estimate.

There are many advantages regarding the Quality Function Development such as;

  • Exact compilation and recognition of customer expectations
  • Exceptional proposal, improved transmission and competence and decreased uncertainty.

At the beginning this technique was not used methodically in construction organization. Even though they tend to used it before the designing stages, later on it faded away. Now it is under gradual development in this industry. There are certain implementations in Quality Function Development that can be used in Construction Company such as implementations;

  • Before the designing phase
  • During the designing phase and
  • After the designing phase [28].
  1.    Smart goals:

This has been one of the broadly utilized administration technique in most of the construction companies around the world. Goals always be like that in a common way, on the other hand objectives are very distinctive. For smart goals to be achieved, at first smart objectives should be made. The objective must be specific such that it is the fundamental and initial step in this process. It conveys a truly necessary and a reasonable phenomenon to differentiate the attempts from outcome. During this method treasured time and assets are misused.

Objectives are measurable such a way that, it should be evaluated and so the level of achievement can be precisely measured. Certain estimation benchmark might exclude the likelihood of further differences. Certain objectives may not be achievable, if so harmony should be maintained and then a compromise can be done to finish it. Targets of different organizations can be used to correlate which will be helpful.

Objectives made must be relevant to the goal of the organization, if not it is a waste of time. In certain companies the officials work on a task such that they find it entertaining and passionate about it, but it gives a very small addition to the goal. The next significant thing about this is precedence of objectives such as it can be from lower to higher or higher to lower.

Further most important one is that objective must be concluded in time. There should be a fixed time period for the objectives to be framed or else it might end up at closure. The objective framed should be engaging else it will result in absence of commitment. The objective should also be rewarding because it leads to expectations [33].

  1.    PDCA process:

PDCA stands for;

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

In relation to this method, there will be a development in quality if the development starts with a better plan, tasks that should be carried out for that plan should be executed, and the outcome should be verified to interpret the root of the outcome and then ideas being implemented to upgrade the methods [35].

PDCA helps to build up a speculation, run research, and assess outcomes thus improving the research by giving more chances.

Table 4 – PDCA process

Action Effect
Plan To identify the problem
Do To establish solutions
Check To identify the goals are met or not
Act To institutionalize solution
  • Plan helps to pick out the problem and then analyse the problem
  • Do helps to establish solutions or ideas to neutralize the problems
  • Check helps to calculate the results and then it guides to find whether the expected goal is accomplished and
  • Act helps to institutionalize the solution [29].
    1.    Setup reduction:

It is a procedure which can be used at a stage where the equipment’s scheduling should be changed rapidly as there are numerous commodities planned to work on one machine. This was framed by an engineer named Shigeo Shingo from the Toyota Company. It deals with a list of actions to be prepared for the following part to be delivered.

Setup time is the overall calculated time from conclusion of the previous better element from the past setup to the later formation of a better setup. Setup reduction can manage with periodic changes in different request condition by enhancing gear accessibility and disposing of numerous scrap in this.

There are a series of steps involved in setup reduction such as to;

  1. Examine ongoing process
  2. Separate external and internal activities
  3. Change internal activities to external activities, reform internal activities, enhance external activities
  4. Measure the effect of setup reduction.

Some advantages of setup reduction that includes reacting to client demand and time period changeability, upgradation of delivery period, reduce prices because of surplus stock.

Setup reduction has an impact on construction side such a way that meeting the client’s satisfaction and completion of the work in the reported time. The works to be carried out in site should be split and should be balanced by the workers.

Resources should be levelled if there is a shortage of workers or materials, if multiple activities are carried out at certain time. The changes should be done as soon as possible for the construction process to be continues without delay [27].

  1.    Work standardization:

This method means that implementing some exact methods specifically for a machine driver influenced with three elements such as takt time, sequence, and work in process (WIP). Takt time is nothing but the completion of a commodity to satisfy the client needs. This can be estimated with the client requirement and free time. Sequence is the steps of work to be carried out by the operator for an operation. It varies with the work sequence.

Work in Process deals with the minimal number of stock available which makes the operator to run the process with a better productivity. Then documents should be used to handle work standardization in an effective manner, but one document usage will not lead to an efficient outcome. On the whole, there are three document types to be used to have a successful result.

The documents are known as;

  • Production capacity sheet
  • Standardized work combination table
  • Standardization work chart.

The production capacity sheet is used to measure the volume of equipment used in the method to assure the original volume and also to avoid congestion. The second document details about the collection of work, equipment and walk time for the process. Standardized work chart deals with the resource place and advancement of the operator. In addition to these documents there are some other tools and documents that can be used for work standardization [34].

  1.    Statistical process control:

Its main motive of this method is to supervise an operation at a time and also cross examine whether the operation is under statistical control. This type of supervision should be done at the beginning of any process. It is an electronically controlled framework to identify the method of the operation which reveals the existence of an exceptional incident.

Some of the statistical process control methods do not use many of the variables as they are dependent on charting. SPC method is used for analysing the achievement of the method in each and every process involved. SPC is mostly used in industry to make timely decisions regarding “lots” in production and whether to obtain or refuse the lots.

These method is also used to identify flaws in a systematic process and solutions are prepared to rectify the problems. In this method, the final outcome is measured for the quality, the outcome quality is only known when all other product values are perfectly identified. For this at a time which is not an efficient method in modern day industry as there are a huge volume of information or data available to be interpreted.

In construction industry statistical process control plays a significant role as of such during a site under construction there should be a supervisor in charge to inspect that the work goes in the planned manner and is under control.

Even though it loses its control from the prepared schedule some ideas or solutions should be put forth to overcome the lag in work and complete it. The decisions for certain problems should be made at a timely manner so that it does not have an effect in the outcome of the project [32]

  1.    Suggestion scheme:

This method is developed to make the workers or staff interactive with the head of the company. In the olden days, theses suggestion schemes remained to be silent, but at recent days it is highly used by the employees. The employees are allowed to share their ideas or views about the particular project to the higher authority. This makes the company to increase its productivity and many new innovations are being carried out by the organization which helps to achieve a good reputation at the market.

The employees in a company comes up with new techniques for production and helps to increase the efficiency of work. They give information regarding health and safety in the work environment, problems faced in their work and ideas related to improving the quality of products. This suggestion schemes help to maintain a god harmony between the workers and the higher officials in an organization.

When suggestions are made by an employee and it results in a higher profit, the employee is rewarded for that in terms of money or with an increment. When some ideas are proposed by an employee and it is accepted by the company, it is given legal protection. But in the other hand flourishing with new ideas and concepts is so tough. In certain large firms a separate department is setup to identify the ideas made by the workers and a research is done whether it is suitable to implement and then steps are taken to apply it practically. It is also noticed that the worker’s involvement in suggestion schemes is also increased [31].

  1.    Just in time:

This tool indicates that the transportation of resources to the workplace, resources are brought to the site for final fitting and it is installed once the resources are received in the site without any lag because of stacking in the storage area. This method was first created by Toyota. The most important function of this procedure is to provide the site with the correct resources at the correct duration and at the current volume. This system had an excellent outcome with the use of a pull system named Kanban which is explained earlier.

This stream comprises of transporting, holding and examining actions. This may be a right thinking; from the client purpose of perspective these exercises are not required as they don’t include esteem to the finished result. In concentrating the adjustments, the show experiences generous streams in the midst of changes. Execution change is revolved around improving the proficiency of sub procedures, comparative with present day mechanics. This method increases the company’s performance and productivity, and also stabilizes the stock of product in the storage section. The product quantity and quality should be checked in each and every occasion.

This also increases the company’s profit and reputation among the market. It also makes the ultimate utilization of employee’s efficiency. It also reduces the lead time from the start of the process till the finish of the process. This is something important to be carried out in construction industry at certain stages to result in a better outcome.


  1. Conclusion:

As stated earlier, the construction industry is lagging behind the other industries in terms of productivity and efficiency, and the amount of wastes generated in the construction industry is far more when compared to other industry. Through the research behind this essay, it is identified that the wastes generated include variability, sub optimal quality, repairs, reworks, accumulated inventory, increased waiting time, very low working standards, and very low work safety [41].

There has been suggestions by prominent engineering professionals to come out of the conventional way and incorporate new methodologies to improve this situation, and lean construction is such an initiative and even though there is no fixed methodology of using them in the construction industry, they have provided a new outlook on the approach which has been made for different processes in the construction industry.

The basic purpose of using lean concepts in construction is to tackle issues which generates wastes and make the industry more efficient, a machine can run smoothly when it is lubricated which reduces friction and allows free flow of components of machine, in the same way lean tools act a lubricants to help reduce friction between internal processes of a production system and help it run efficiently.

Many lean production tools have been used in the construction industry to realise the goal of maximum efficiency, it can be found that every tools contribute in its own way, depending on the way of implementing them, and it is also important to understand that the impact produced by each tool varies with different projects, so it can be said that there is no perfect methodology as such in using lean tools to attain efficiency, and that there is no complete tool which can act as a panacea to all the problems related to construction industry which generate waste, it solely depends on the area the tools are used at and the method of implementing them.

It is to be noted that the tools of lean production can be used independently or in combination with other tools, for example root cause analysis tool can be used independently to find the root cause of the problem and then find a solution or say, it can be used after the 5S analysis where the area of problem is found out and on that particular area the root cause analysis tool is use. Hence the methodology of using the tools depends solely on the user and the output of using lean tools solely depends on the methodology used by user.

There are certain disadvantages such as in certain scenarios, the outcome may not be as per the expectation of the user. This may be due to the improper usage of the tools. Therefore it can be concluded that these tools are beneficial to the construction industry in terms of improving the productivity. At the same time, there is still room for lot more research to be done and new methodologies to be developed in this field in order to achieve the maximum success.

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