LEAN, Mean and Honing Construction Efficiency

Creating more value for customers with fewer resources while minimizing waste.

That’s the simple definition of the LEAN approach to construction. While that might seem like a slam dunk for Canadian construction companies, they haven’t necessarily been quick to adopt its practices.

That’s the word from architect Brian Watkinson, principal of Strategies 4 Impact!, a professional service firm established to deliver strategic advice and support to businesses in the design and construction sector. He’s also an associate with The ReAlignment Group, founded to help clients understand and implement LEAN design and construction principles.

“In the U.S., LEAN started with construction and moved outward,” he says. “It’s happened in reverse in Canada and has taken longer for construction companies to adopt. A few years ago I would ask good friends in the construction sector what they were doing about LEAN and their answer was ‘not much.'”

Working with Canadian construction companies, Watkinson uses a series of prescribed “LEAN tools” to help them overcome waste and bring greater efficiency to each project.

He notes that LEAN is often stronger when combined with two other concepts:  Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), a philosophic approach for designing a production or delivery system that maximizes value to the owner; and Building Information Modeling (BIM), the process of generating and managing building data during a building’s lifecycle.

“We call this trio the project delivery hat trick,” he says. “Each of these components can add value to design and construction on their own, but when used together they represent a state-of-the-art approach that provides maximum value to project owners with minimum waste.”

Even projects that are currently heading off the rails aren’t beyond “realigning,” provided stakeholders are motivated.

“The earlier you recognize that a project is being overcome by waste and inefficiency, the better the chances of realigning it for success,” adds Watkinson.

This article was written by Peter Kenter and published by Daily Commercial News. Republished with permission.

As a LEED® Accredited Professional, Albert has performed reviews for the USGBC and CaGBC on projects applying for LEED certification. He previously sat on the City of Vancouver Urban Design Panel – only the second mechanical engineer to serve in this capacity. He has a wide range of experience in Canada, USA, and Asia including the SMP for several university campuses, and consulting services for mixed-used developments in North America and Asia. Albert brings not only technical expertise but recognizes the importance of business case and value analysis.

Interest(s): Construction, Engineering Date: December 16, 2015