By Steve Rizer
When embarking upon a construction project using lean techniques, special emphasis needs to be given to the following credo: “Do not start what you cannot finish.” This is one of the key points that Roberto Arbulu, leader of the Strategic Project Solutions Inc.’s Technical Services Team, told professionals attending WPL Publishing’s “Using Lean Techniques for Measurable Productivity Gains” webinar, a recording of which recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network (ConstructionProNet.com) Download Library free of charge for members.
“We see on every single project that we participate in the desire to start work without having everything required to finish it,” Arbulu reported. “It happens day in and day out.” As a result, lean objectives go unfulfilled. To avoid such a situation, there needs to be a “clear understanding” of four key ideas, he said.
“We see on every single project that we participate in the desire to start work without having everything required to finish it,” Arbulu reported. “It happens day in and day out.” As a result, lean objectives go unfulfilled. To avoid such a situation, there needs to be a “clear understanding” of four key ideas, he said (see figure below).
The first idea is that a schedule should “tell us what we should do,” Arbulu said. He informed webinar attendees that when he reads a schedule, he does not focus on the dates so much as he does the overall “picture” of the project.
Arbulu then stressed the importance of conducting a “constraint analysis,” noting that “we need to make sure that what our schedule proposes can actually be done.”
Once it is determined that objectives can be fulfilled, “we need to move forward and execute it,” Arbulu said. Toward this end, he recommended the use of "production plans," which can be completed on a daily basis and allow for team members to define “what we will be doing.”
In discussing the final idea, which involves measurements, Arbulu explained that the questions “Did we do the work?” and “If not, what happened?” can come into play. “Let’s introduce a way of learning and improving through execution.”
Also during the webinar, James Choo, Strategic Project Solutions’ technical director, stressed that achieving lean goals in a construction project is quite different than in vehicle production. “We cannot take the ideas of Toyota and just bring it straight over to construction and try to apply it. Toyota did what worked for its project system and its environment. We’ve got to find out what works for us and apply those to optimize production. Before we can start to do that, the key is to look at the project as a temporary production system, … and the key word there is ‘temporary.’”
During this information-packed program, Arbulu and Choo additionally discussed the importance of effective variability management, the relationship between variability and buffers, the key steps for optimizing project-based production, an efficient process and operations design framework, three types of supply flows for improving productivity, among other things.
For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as more than three dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at http://constructionpronet.com/info/JoinTodayAnna.aspx.