Lean Thinking

Topics: Lean manufacturing, Manufacturing, Toyota Production System Pages: 5 (1501 words) Published: November 13, 2008
Lean thinking is considered a new way to manage construction. This method was born for manufacturing processes & its goals demand a new way to coordinate action, which can be applied to industries which are not relating to manufacturing. Implementation requires actions which can be produced by in depth understanding of the goals and techniques. This review explains the implications of the goals and key production principles which taken together they result in a different way to manage construction. In this case implementing lean techniques in construction becomes a matter of developing and acting on the new knowledge available. 2.INTRODUCTION:

Lean Thinking is a concept based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), consequently developed in a manufacturing environment, more specifically in the automotive industry. This concept was announced by Womack, Jones, and Roos (1990) as a new production model, which led several industries to devote great attention to the possibilities of applications it to their environments. Construction is a very complex structured sector with many differences from manufacturing. It is believed that from origin of Koskela’s pioneer report (Koskela, 1992), several researchers and industry practitioners have required concept explanation (e.g. Howell and Koskela, 2000; Howell, 1999, Ballard and Howell, 1998) and practical application. A large number of discussions and cases are found in the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) Conference papers (Alarcon, 1997), dealing with different issues, such as design, suppliers, job site, etc. This review provides a detailed discussion of opportunities of lean thinking application to the construction sector. The system view provided by this discussion is useful for understanding the complex links that exist among lean concepts, techniques, and cases applied to the construction so far, as well as for the identification of gaps and future priorities.

Lean thinking in construction is a philosophy based on principles of Lean manufacturing. It gives guidelines for managing and improving construction process to profitably deliver the customer needs. Lean manufacturing was initially developed by TOYOTA, one of the largest Japanese car manufacturers. The principles of Lean Thinking are: •Eliminate waste

Precisely specify value from the perspective of ultimate customer •Clearly identify the process that delivers what the customer values (the value stream) and eliminate all non value adding steps •Make the remaining value adding steps flow without interruption by managing the interfaces between different steps •Let the customer pull – do not make anything until it is needed, then make it quickly •Pursue perfection by continuous improvement

The primary focus of Lean thinking is on producing and providing a product that customers are really in need off, by understanding the process, identifying the waste within it and eliminating it gradually in a systematic way. 4.LEAN THINKING:

Lean thinking is a new way to manage construction processes effectively. There were wide objection to lean thinking because it appeared to be the application of manufacturing technique to construction. It was believed that the goals of lean thinking describe the management of dynamic projects (Ballard and Howell 1998). But objections to lean in construction were hardly a surprise as lean was indeed developed in manufacturing, and individual view appear either already in practice or inconceivable. The goals of lean thinking redefine performance against three dimensions of perfection: (1) a uniquely custom product, (2) delivered instantly, with (3) nothing in stores. This was considered an ideal that maximizes value and minimizes waste. The goals demand a new way to coordinate action of which one applicable to industries far removed from manufacturing. Implementing lean in construction became a matter of developing and acting on this new...

References: • Alarcon, L. (editor) (1997). Lean construction. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 497 pp.
• Atkin, B
• Ballard, G. and Howell, G. (1998). “What kind of production is construction?” Proc. 6th Ann. Conf. Intl. Group for Lean Construction, Guarujá, Brazil, August 13-15.
• Brochner, J. (1995). "Pattern transfer; Process influences on Swedish construction of the automobile industry.” Proc. 3rd Workshop on Lean Construction, Albuquerque, NM, in Alarcon 1997.
• Gray, C. (1996) Value for money; Helping the UK afford the buildings it likes. Reading construction forum, University of Reading, Reading.
• Kenney, M. and Florida, R. (1993). Beyond mass production. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
• Koskela, L. (1992). Application of new production theory in construction. Technical Report No. 72, CIFE, Stanford University, CA.
• Koskela, L. (1997). "Towards the theory of lean construction.” Proc. 5th IGLC Conference, Gold Coast, Australia.
• Koskela, L and Vrijhoef, R. (2000). “The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation”. Proc. 8th Ann. Conf. Intl. Group for Lean Construction, Brighton, UK, July 17-19.
• Latham, M. (1994). Constructing the team. HMSO, London, U.K.
• Melles, B. (1994). "What do we mean by lean production in construction?” Proc. 2nd Workshop on Lean Construction, Santiago, in Alarcon 1997.
• Saed, M. and Jones, M. (1998). Unlocking specialist potential. Reading construction forum, University of Reading, Reading, UK.
• Seymour, D. (1996). "Developing theory in lean construction.” Proc. 4th IGLC Conference, Birmingham, England.
• Womack, J. P., Jones, D.T., and Roos, D. (1990). The machine that changed the world. New York, Rawson Associates.
• Womack, J. P. and Jones, D.T. (1996). Lean thinking: Banish waste and create wealth in your corporation. Simon and Schuster.
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