July 29, 2019

Four Benefits of Using Lean Construction

Why go lean? Because it results in better outcomes for building owners.

Lean construction is a research-based method for creating more value by improving productivity and reducing waste. The philosophy has its roots in the auto manufacturing sector, but its principles can be applied to any industry, including construction.

Construction firms that embrace the lean philosophy hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability. They understand that success is about creating an environment that benefits all stakeholders. These firms are able to create a level of trust that is not always present with less transparent construction methods.

As a result, lean projects deliver many and well-documented benefits to building owners. Among them: a more cost- and schedule-competitive project of higher quality, along with overall better experience.

Lower Costs
One of the primary tenets of Lean is waste reduction. Waste encompasses everything from defective materials and excess inventory to idle time and unnecessary movement. Eliminating waste through better project scheduling, prefabricated components, just-in-time delivery, and other cost-cutting measures reduces both upfront and downstream costs. The savings that result can make the difference between a facility that includes only the “must-haves” and one that fully realizes the owner’s vision.

Faster Time to Market
Another tenet of the lean philosophy is higher productivity. On a construction project, this translates to a faster time to market. There are multiple tools and strategies under the Lean umbrella to achieve this. But what it comes down to is close collaboration between stakeholders to schedule the project, identify and mitigate potential hurdles early on, and to stay on task. As a bonus, many of the methods used to reduce waste—such as preassembly and prefabrication—also compress the project schedule.

Higher Quality
Continuous improvement is another foundational component of lean construction. Construction firms that use lean methodology are constantly searching for proven, creative strategies for improving their processes and products. At a time when labor and material costs are skyrocketing, firms that use lean construction can more quickly employ innovative solutions for keeping costs in check without sacrificing quality.

Greater Satisfaction
When lean principles are fully applied, owners gain greater value for fewer resources. That’s because lean construction is focused on paying exceptional attention to owners’ conditions of satisfaction, what they value, and what will make the project a success for them. Every stakeholder is engaged in the same mission from the start: to deliver on the owner’s vision. Surprises are minimized, if not eliminated, and projects are more likely to be completed on time and on (or even under) budget.

Lean construction in action
At Miller-Valentine Construction, lean is not a buzzword. It is ingrained in our culture. Our history as a company is rooted in finding new methods to deliver value to building owners. We have long applied lean principles in our work.

What does this look like in practice? Frequent communication, meaningful collaboration, and clear-cut accountability. Whenever possible, Miller-Valentine brings the owner and the project team to the table at the outset to ensure everyone is on the same page from day one. And if a problem arises on-site, owners will not see a round of finger-pointing. Rather, they will witness the rapid assembly of resources to identify the cause of and a solution to the problem.

The use of prefabricated and preassembled elements are another hallmark of lean principles in action on Miller-Valentine sites. Tilt-up construction, which uses wall panels that are pre-cast on the floor slab and then lifted into place, are one example. Recently, Miller-Valentine also began using cross-disciplinary teams of ironworkers, pipefitters, and electricians to prefabricate sections of a roof structure, including the sprinkler piping, electrical conduit, and lighting fixtures, prior to installation.

Using prefabricated components and modular sections enhance productivity, quality control, and inspections. It also improves safety. It’s easier and safer to prefabricate systems on the ground than out on a 40-foot boom lift basket.

Experience the Lean Difference – To ensure our customers gain the full value of our lean approach, we work to create exceptional teams. This means we partner with design and engineering firms and subcontractors that also use lean principles. As a result, the inevitable variability, challenges, and complexity of any given project become an opportunity to bring value to our clients together.

The aim is not just to deliver a project faster or at a lower cost. It is to provide building owners with an easier, more transparent, and more enjoyable experience than they expected or experienced with other firms. It’s how we deliver on our promise to build dreams, change lives, and exceed expectations.

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