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Lean Kaizen in Construction

Piyush 2010-09-03

A nation’s development potential is directly proportional to the infrastructure’s capacity. The construction capability is thus an imminent propeller of nation’s growth. By being better at Construction, we would not only be building infrastructure, we build the nation. I am pleased to post this note for you on the latest trends in Construction Sector.

Traditional Construction is when we are referring to the most prevalent practices in the construction sector. Problems faced by traditional builders are many and we have captured a few here.

  1. Accidents due to negligence
  2. Lack of motivation among Laborers (unskilled, untrained)
  3. Poor decision making at the ground level
  4. Over purchasing and wrong purchasing of Raw Material
  5. Schedule delays due to machine breakdowns, spoilages
  6. Communication Issues

These are more reasons to outline the major threats and losses faced by Construction Sector. However, we are still missing out on the most crucial – waste in processes. Projects fail to meet deadline so many times due to this.

Evolving methods – latest technology is being promoted as the solution to these problems. Money is used freely to cover up these shortcomings & thus we end up being on time but burnt out on budget.


I would draw your attention to Lean-Kaizen as a mighty potential set of philosophy and tools that address these existing problems.

Lean-Kaizen Construction is the relentless identification and elimination of waste (non-value added activities and resources) that get in the way of providing customers exactly what they need when they need it. Lean-Kaizen is optimizing the flow of value in our Value Stream to match customer demand. Value is always defined from the customer point of view.


Lean-Kaizen construction is not just another specific approach to construction, but rather a challenger of the conventional understanding and practice of construction.

5 principles of Lean-Kaizen:

  1. Specify Value
  2. Map Value Stream
  3. Create Flow
  4. Generate Pull from Customer
  5. Practice and Seek Perfection

Mr. Ohno of Toyota Production System used a revolutionary approach to cut down on the cost of production and simultaneously increase productivity and profits. He identified wastes in the processes and then devised strategy to reduce and eliminate them. It has given stupendous results in Manufacturing, Hospitality, and Service Industry like Hospitals, Offices etc.

The 8 wastes are: (I have also given the wastes we create in construction industry)

Sr. No. Waste Corresponding Waste in Construction
1 Over-production Making more homes than demand in market
2 Over-processing Walls treated with POP coating for evenness
3 Inventory Purchase more or wrong
4 Waiting For people or Pending design confirmation
5 Transport Repeated trips for material
6 Rework/Reject Wrong design, Decisions at the site
7 Motion Manual Labor without PPE, consideration of movement
8 Employee Potential Unutilized Human potential of supervisors, managers, and workers


I believe this proposed method when used in Construction sector would give dramatic results. Some of the potential benefits could be:

  1. Project lead time reduction by 30-40%
  2. Profits up by 15-20%, Cost reduction
  3. Inventory of material and tools to go down by 20-25%
  4. Productivity rise by 60-70%

I shall ensure that the topic is driven in with full conceptual clarity in subsequent blogs. My recent research surveys are going to be released very soon here on the blog. Keep reading!!


Sanat Sankrityayan

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