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Lean Construction – Debunking the Myths

Sanat Sankrityayan 2015-12-28

Lean Construction is about concentrating on identification, reduction and elimination of non-value adding activities of any construction flow. It is a focused approach on eradicating the conventional practices of the Industry by adopting Continual Improvement as a way of the company. People write daily on Social Media, on different sites related to Construction about the way the finances work on property rates and so many more stories. Due to repetition of the way things are done currently holds the foundation of our paradigms. Lean Management philosophy comes in as a whiff of fresh air for the chronic issues of the Construction companies.

We have tried debunking some of the myths prevalent in the construction circle.

Myth 1: Adding more people can bring faster efficiency [1 Training in Construction]

Workers are available, but skill inventory is an issue. Unskilled Worker can also do same work, but Training can really do the help. Training and Mentoring is an organizational task, because people stay longer where there is more connect personally.

For example, Kushal Initiative is an excellence idea that has been dealt pretty mildly so far. It talks about the Skills that are required at an entry level of tasks like Carpentry, Plumbing and so. Thereby adding more people is not a sure-shot way of boosting productivity at site, rather adding more skills at site is the right way to take.

Myth 2: Contractors are not our people, their inefficiency does not affect us

Indian Society allows for a surplus labour from agricultural cycles to come to cities seasonally. This is a cyclic phenomenon to observe, however, most of our meetings are a sordid story of labour shortages halting the work at site. Estimating the completion date of any Activity is a hefty task for the Contractor where the Labour predictability is volatile. They calculate based on Work Packets, but the reliability is poor so the schedules go haywire. It affects us. It delays our projects, whereas the Contractor gets the cheese sooner or later, even when projects get delayed further.

Myth 3: Cost goes up with delays, but the price points also move up with delays

Cost Imperative is a messy business, where the costs are mostly hidden. Cost of Rework is hardly calculated. Rework accounts to 15-20% of the total Project Tasks. The Inventory Carrying Cost is around 20-25% of the Inventory Value per annum. Loss of brand name is another hidden loss that cannot be calculated but is felt really hard and deep on business. Earning more zeroes at the end is not the end of the story. Wherever people live, they see, talk and publicise. Non Value Adding Wastes in Construction as per Construction Industry Institute, US is scored at 57% of the total Project.

Myth 4: Old Methods are still convenient because that is what we know

How to check the work done is a technical stream altogether. However, inspecting the work done by self is not a far-fetched idea. We all can check our work, with a little help on checklists and formats. Someone else finding faults with our work can really put us off. However, we inspecting our own quality is really admirable, and encouraging. It means chiding and scolding self for deviations, correcting them, and learning every time we can spot a deviation. The work will be finally approved and handed over to Customer.

Compare the Quality of Work versus speed of work. If the work gets done faster, then we should suspect if the right Quality Standards have been adhered to. Quality is not rushed, it requires the right process to be followed. We must therefore be sure about the priorities, Quality is the word. Quality brings Safety with it.

Myth 5: Wastes in Construction are calculated only for the material cost, whereas Process is not a concern. Here are some

- Waiting for the right drawing

- Unutilised Capability

o   People are doing a role below of what they are actually capable of

o   Machines are working at half the speed and quarter of the feed

o   Project Directors going to the site to count the right material that has come on the site, whereas the Project Director should be working on building better alliances, better customer engagement and branding the project

- Over-processing happens when the same process is ordered to multiple parties and ultimately no one stays back to do it.

- Multiple trips of the labour to transfer small bags of material, rather than using wheel barrow, leads to Motion losses

- Moving earth material from place to place, only because we have not thought about the end point of usage for the material

- Inventory is lost to rains and wind because it was unloaded at “any” place

- Making more homes than is demanded

We need to see things from new set of eyes. It is definitely going to free up space, release more manpower, speed up the work, and help us achieve Schedules on time. Let’s learn to see it first!!

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