The origins of Lean lie in the automotive industry but the processes involved in producing a product are interchangeable across all industries. Lean itself is a process of continual improvement and, as will be outlined in this article, the newly-formed Lean Construction Institute Community of Practice (CoP) recognises this fact and intends to expand the knowledge of Lean through debate and education.
Lean construction concentrates on construction planning that uses Lean concepts that approach value rather than cost, and efficiency rather than schedule. LCI’s Community of Practice is a movement initiated to reflect and promote that for the benefit of all stakeholders in the construction process.
John French, Project Manager at Intel Ireland, has promoted Lean construction processes with his colleagues at the Co Kildare site for many years. Following a number of meetings with Paul Ebbs of PhathomHQ earlier this year, a group of like-minded people eventually formed a core group to set up LCI Ireland in March.
Core Team LCI core group corporate members include John French, Intel; Kevin White, Jones Engineering; Paul Sexton, SCEG Ltd; Raymond Turner, Construction Innovation Lab and Paul Ebbs PhathomHQ.
True to the core fundamentals of Lean, only two weeks were allotted to prepare for the inaugural meeting and official launch of LCI in the Glen Royal Hotel on 16 April. Keynote speaker was John Pemberton, Global Construction Manager, Intel Corporation and LCI Board member.
The LCI wants to transform the processes in the construction industry by eliminating waste when delivering capital assets. As John Pemberton pointed out, the clients the industry serves operate in highly-technical sectors where their customers expect better and cheaper products year on year. In response to this he urges that the construction supply chain be constantly reviewed to remove wasteful activities.
Leadership acceptance of the principles and value of introducing Lean takes time because of the added planning and buy-in from stakeholders but, once introduced, the results prove the system’s worth, says Niall Healy, MBA, Operations Manager and Lean practitioner. Because of its multiple professions, trades and sub-contracting practices, the construction process must work as a total industry, driving the Lean system from educational institutes and within companies from top down.
Mission of LCI The mission of the LCI is to transform design and construction through new approaches to project design and delivery. Lean theory, principles and techniques, taken together, provide the foundation for a different, more collaborative and more effective form of project management. Lean design and construction represents a transformational way to design and build capital facilities. The Lean approach generates significant improvements in schedules with dramatically-reduced waste, particularly on complex, uncertain and quick projects. Key objectives are:
• Grow and sustain members;
• Develop knowledge;
• Create industry capacity;
• Develop collaboration and distribution channels;
• Create industry demand and cultivate relationships with other key associations.
The purpose of the LCI is to act as the catalyst to transform the industry so that projects are delivered using a Lean operating system centred on a common language, fundamental principles and basic practices.
LCI Community of Practice The LCI believes that the deep application of Lean principles improves the definition of needs, design, construction and operation of capital facilities. It also believes that the application of Lean principles to run the day-to-day operation of any organisation improves the ability of the organisation and its employees to deliver better services to their customers.
To apply Lean principles, conversations must include all members of the industry. It has been discovered that holding meetings to share what has been learned with representatives of the facility owner, designer, contractor and trade supply chain in a given region accelerates the benefits to the people and the projects in that region.
As processes continue to improve, these too are shared to advance the benefits to companies and projects. A Community of Practice (CoP) therefore accelerates and expands improvements to facilities, projects and companies in its geographic area.
The CoP also helps the supply chain in a region make this new way of doing business the “new common sense”. It enables the supply chain to learn rapidly and to continue to improve the value delivered to customers of capital projects, as well as the value to all who use the facility in the future.
Further to the inaugural LCI meeting in April, the Lean movement began to gather momentum and so a second public event was held in the Clyde Court hotel on 18 June. Sponsored and presented by Kevin White of Jones Engineering, it is testimony to the willingness of the sector to embrace new Lean processes that over 100 people from a cross-section of the industry attended.
Keynote speakers Dr Richard Keegan and Richard Donnelly delivered highly-informative and professional presentations. Both men are recognised experts in the field and very effectively made convincing arguments for Lean in construction.
Dr Keegan pointed out that Lean is shorthand for best practice and is a war on waste. In keeping with the ethos of Lean he reduced the explanation to four words – Quicker, Better, Cheaper and Together. Richard Donnelly is a consultant in Lean and he presented data from a fascinating case study that demonstrated examples of waste and the cost implications of waste. His presentation began with a simple slide showing … Activity = Work + Waste.
He spoke of the “next customer” theory. He illustrated how concentrating on batch reduction theory achieves a better line of balance. Adding value is at the core of Lean and firms who refine their expertise in Lean gain competitive advantage and win repeat business. Their clients (owners) also gain throughout the operation and FM life cycle of the building because better quality is delivered.
The LCI Community of Practice encourages all-industry participation and membership, along with attendance at events, is free. There is now a recess for the summer months but the autumn programme will commence in September with an event sponsored by Mercury Engineering.
All the presentations delivered at the two events held so far this year are available to view through links on the LCI web site, www.leanconsgtriction.org.
There is also a LinkedIn Group. Contact: Vincent Gibson, Construction Innovation Lab, School of Surveying and Construction Management, DIT. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org