What is Lean Construction?
The definition of this type of production is in its name: to trim the fat off the construction process as it is currently done in any chosen industry and streamline it to its optimal production process. It helps a company to re-establish their focus on how they can create more value overall as opposed to concentrating on one specific component of a process and how to manage it.
This is done by focusing on managing the actions of every component of a construction process so that the end result is a highly unique product for the consumer. This means taking a microscope to the cost and time spent on the construction process so that each project becomes its own singular and customized production system.
Lean construction begins by organizing a centralized schedule of work for everyone who has a hand in the construction process. So, when a project manager begins to put together the workings of a new project, a lean construction strategy tells that individual that they need to look at the production system first and foremost and not the individual activities or responsibilities; these should flow out from the initial analysis of what the production needs are as assessed by the project manager. This will ensure that no one will receive an assignment that does not end up being counter-productive to the project overall.
The important aspect of this is that everyone who is within this workflow understands fully and is in agreement with the goals of the project and knows that the most important end-goal is to get all the materials for the construction process moving in concert with all the components of the process to create a product that brings optimum value to the customer.
If this creation of a lean construction or construction environment is accomplished and the process of production commences, then the company will inevitably see an improvement in the following areas:
- Increased customer satisfaction in product quality
- A reduction in product waste
The Basics of Lean Construction
Because lean construction is simply a framework by which each project is foundationally built, the basics of the strategy are a template that is customized to the project at hand based on the following elements:
- Waste Reduction- this not only means actual physical waste product and byproducts but the activities of workers to get their part of the process completed in as few steps as possible so that the process is streamlined, smooth, and efficient.
- Organized project site- if lean construction is in place which means the site manager has looked at the overall project planning and assessed the role of each worker and what they need to accomplish their activities. If this occurs before work begins, then the organization is a natural offshoot of that process and is monitored throughout the project so that everyone stays on their given task.
- Tools and Machinery Assessment-this is the importance of management to consistently monitor the needs of each worker to complete their job including re-supplying them with any tools of the trade as soon as they need them for uninterrupted work flow and unnecessary downtime.
- Monitoring quality-as each step of construction process begins, management monitors the work, notes any flaws, defects, or errors related to labor quality, product quality, or production flaws and adjusts accordingly through to the final steps of the project.
The Role of Lean Construction in the Oil and Gas Industry
With North America, and specifically the U.S. making strides toward being independent in the energy market, lean construction of oil and gas is an important consideration for improving the manufacturing process of these products.
The exploration and production of oil and gas involve many singular components within the entire process:
Exploration means physically digging through the Earth to prospect for oil and natural gas itself. This may involve using explosives to shake the shale formations for deposits down to the layer of mantle near the Earth’s core. This may involve hundreds of different fields that are being explored at one time with each one having its own unique project specifications. This is in line with the basic principles of lean construction.
What does not fit with the core principles of lean construction and are issues common to the gas and oil industry on these project sites is having to endure days and sometimes weeks of downtime for tools and machines to be delivered to the fields as well as waiting for maintenance technicians to fix defective parts. Lean production should alleviate these issues if a project manager uses the template of the basic principles of the strategy.
This includes assessing the number of wells that will be needed to move on to the production process once an oil or natural gas product is found, and then works from there to anticipate future needs for a number of workers for each activity on the site and any anticipated issues. Then, the process is consistently monitored as the project progresses so downtime for maintenance and other unforeseen issues is minimized and possibly eliminated.
Additionally, the following individual processes within the scope of these projects can incorporate lean construction principles:
- Creating roads for site access
- Clearing and grading activities
- Management of waste products
- Construction or transporting of support structures onto the field site
- Consideration of other infrastructure to extract and remove the product
Each of these can be set up and strategized into a lean production process to maximize efficiency and the quality of the final product.
Read more about getting started with Lean Construction at https://info.bim360.autodesk.com/hubfs/2017_Assets/2017_Content/Getting_Started_Lean_Construction_eBook_Final.pdf?t=1499988461413&utm_campaign.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Federal Steel Supply, Inc., a leading steel tubing suppliers of carbon, alloy and stainless steel pipe, tubes, fittings and flanges.