A construction project provides a valuable asset. Some entrepreneurs hire contractors to build commercial and residential properties from the ground up. Homeowners will also seek contractors to help with a renovation. Unfortunately, most construction projects waste time and money. A contractor may buy too many materials and sit on a large inventory. In addition, miscommunications between multiple parties can stall progress and extend deadlines.
The lean approach has gained momentum in the construction industry. This method reduces waste and increases value. It also increases productivity and leads to quicker turnarounds. We will discuss how to incorporate lean principles into your contracting business and how Billd can help.
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What Is Lean Construction?
Lean construction simplifies each stage of the construction process and benefits all parties. The general contractor, subcontractors, project owner, and workers meet to discuss roles, responsibilities, and deadlines. Getting everyone on the same page about what must be done will remove bottlenecks in the construction process. Everyone approaches the project as a team and clearly understands how to achieve each project milestone.
The Benefits of Lean Construction
Lean construction offers several advantages, but not just for the contractor. Workers, project owners, and architects will also benefit from this approach. We have highlighted some benefits of lean construction below.
Reduce Overall Project Cost
Some contractors spend too much on materials and make multiple orders. These actions lead to several instances of transport and shipping, which increase costs without providing additional value. When everyone is on the same page, you can purchase the required materials in fewer orders and save on shipping. You also won’t waste money on materials your client doesn’t want to use. These actions will speed up the project, lowering the amount you pay to workers. Workers can work on other projects sooner instead of staying stuck with the same construction.
Lessen Construction Time
No one enjoys construction delays. Conversations between contractors and customers can get tense during slowdowns. Lean construction establishes each step of the project and conveys these details to workers. This process creates more synergy and leads to shorter construction times.
A safe atmosphere keeps workers safe and preserves productivity. Contractors often prioritize any safety measure that makes workers feel more comfortable at their jobs. Contractors know the consequences of inadequate safety measures. Poor communication can lead to significant injuries because workers are unaware of the dangers. A worker can suffer a lifelong injury and file a lawsuit against your company. The lean construction method cultivates communication between workers and helps them detect issues. Workers will be happier to work with you since you prioritize their safety.
Construction projects have many moving parts, and a single miscommunication can hurt the project’s quality. For example, a project team may do its own thing without consulting other teams and inadvertently slow down the project. Lean construction gets workers to engage with each other and move together with each step. When everyone works as a team, the project will come out better and reduce conflicts.
When everyone works as a team, fewer bottlenecks hold up production. Construction teams know what they must do and how their work connects with other teams. The project owner will provide their specifications before construction starts, leading to less friction.
Increased Profits and Turnovers
Spending less on materials and increasing worker productivity strengthens your bottom line. You can transition from one project to the next with less delay. These dynamics can help you gain market share and get more client gigs. You’ll increase margins on each project and get more work.
The Drawbacks of Lean Construction
Lean construction presents several advantages if done correctly. Unfortunately, most systems have weaknesses, and lean construction is no exception. We’ll discuss some drawbacks of lean construction so you understand both perspectives.
Everyone Needs to Be on Board
Lean construction puts everyone on the same page. Project owners, architects, contractors, and workers know the plan. This dynamic creates more synergy, but not everyone may want to commit to the initial meetings. The project owner may not have enough time for lean construction. They may prefer to have you handle everything and provide vague details. Scenarios like these can put a damper on lean construction efforts.
Management Guidance Is Crucial
A great management team can successfully lead a lean construction effort. However, not every executive knows the lean construction principles. As a result, they may forget important details or fail to communicate with the other groups. Management will make or break the lean construction model.
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Training For the System Could Take Time
Lean construction requires a different approach from the conventional method. Some workers and project owners may not have the patience to learn the new system. If you force this methodology on construction teams, it will take time for them to master it. The learning phases will reduce productivity in the short term. While the outlook can get better in the long term, some projects don’t need as much work. Some contractors believe it’s better to avoid complicating a short project and go with the conventional approach.
What Are the Principles of Lean Construction?
Lean construction can increase cash flow and productivity, but you must know the principles. We have outlined the principles of lean construction below.
1. Determine What the Client’s Values Are
Value is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is your client. Ask them about their goals for the construction so you can provide a great result. Knowing what clients value will direct your efforts.
2. Create a Value Stream
A value stream is a list of objectives that the client values. Contractors create this value stream and determine the most effective ways to deliver for the client.
3. Reduce/Eliminate Waste
Waste increases your costs and delays projects. Creating a value stream also helps you identify waste. Anything that does not add value to a client is waste. If you remove waste from production systems, you can lower costs across the project.
4. Streamline Process Workflow
Lean construction boosts productivity by getting every team member on the same page. Synergies streamline processes and lead to quicker construction times. Contractors should monitor lean construction efforts to make sure everything is going smoothly.
5. Implement Pull Planning and Scheduling
Lean construction focuses on one step at a time. The construction project does not advance to the next task until the current task gets completed. Pull planning and scheduling create this structure. You can work backward from the deadline and identify the order of tasks and the deadlines for each task.
6. Continuously Improve the System
Any system can get better. Contractors can monitor productivity and cash flow and offer feedback to construction teams. You can take lessons from each project and apply them to future clients.
Best Practices for Lean Construction Implementation
Are you excited about improving your cash flow and completing projects sooner? We offer several strategies to implement lean construction, so you get those benefits.
Establish Strong Relationships
Lean construction is a team effort. Therefore, you’ll have to build strong relationships with project owners, architects, and workers. Any weak relationships can sabotage the lean construction method and lead to frustrations. Building strong relationships from the beginning will minimize issues in the workplace.
Set Project Goals and Objectives
Goals and objectives give everyone a way to measure progress. Construction teams can monitor if they are on pace, ahead of schedule, or falling behind. Approaching deadlines typically increase productivity, and setting several mini-milestones makes deadlines more frequent.
Commit To Project Success
A construction project is a significant undertaking. Lean construction adds more effort since you have to get everyone involved. However, this methodology can increase cash flow and productivity, two critical metrics for any construction. Contractors shouldn’t leave everything to the workers and project owners. Instead, they should orchestrate the construction and exceed the client’s expectations.
Some construction projects slow down because the client doesn’t provide funds right away for materials. Billd helps you speed up material deliveries so you can keep moving on the project. Billd provides commercial construction material financing with 120-day terms. You can use the materials now and pay the loan back once your client pays. You can fill out the form for more details about how to enroll for free with Billd.