Article Date: 09/12/2014

Largest Study of Lean Construction Programs Ever Conducted in the U.S. Sheds Light on the Potential Benefits that Public Agencies Can Reap

By Steve Rizer


Public agencies may want to take a good look at some recently released results of what is believed to be the largest study of lean construction programs ever conducted in the United States. The study reports that a lean strategy enabled San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) to save an average of $900,000 per project and $13.6 million in change orders over past experience, yield an additional $7.7 million in project savings, and reduce maintenance costs by 53 percent over a three-year period.


The success story dates back to 2008, when lean design and construction principles and practices were introduced roughly one-quarter of the way through an 18-year, $1.6-billion capital improvement program, providing suitable conditions for a pre- and post-lean comparative analysis.


“After reviewing 35 completed projects totaling more than $584 million in construction value, it was apparent that the changes were yielding significant waste reduction and cost savings,” according to La Mesa, Calif.-based Umstot Project & Facilities Solutions LLC (UP&FS), whose president recently co-authored a paper on the analysis. “More than $13.6 million was saved in reduced change-order rates in the 15 projects completed with lean practices compared to the 20 projects that were not.”


In achieving the cost savings, program officials employed various lean practices, including required use of building information modeling and the Last Planner System. Among the other features of the lean strategy were target value design, facility management benchmarking and goal setting, design-builder selection criteria, and staff training in lean behaviors. 


The paper, “Metrics of Public Owner Success in Lean Design, Construction, and Facilities Operations and Maintenance,” recently was presented at the 2014 International Group for Lean Construction Conference in Oslo, Norway. UP&FS President David Umstot wrote the paper with Dan Fauchier of The ReAlignment Group in Del Mar, Calif., and Thais da C.L. Alves of the J.R. Filanc Construction Engineering and Management Program at San Diego State University.


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes the transcript of an interview that ConstructionPro Week conducted with Umstot.



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