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October 29, 2018
Lean Construction

Presentation Summary from LCI Congress

Last week, the team that renovated the Harper College Library presented at the 2018 LCI Congress on their grassroots experience with Lean Construction, titled Field-led Lean Consruction: The Key to Unlocking Conversion in Our Industry. During the project, they remained committed to the process and overcame two main hurdles every team faces: getting started and maintaining momentum in adversity - despite no top-down mandate or previous experience implementing Lean. Their practical advice is worth sharing.

Getting started

The idea to use Lean principles originated with Senior Project Manager Tim Lumpp, who was on our Lean Committee but had yet to implement Lean on a project. Before bidding the work, he sat down with Senior Superintendent Dave Tallon and spelled out the constraints and the case for Lean:

  • Safety concerns with confined interior space
  • Schedule with liquidated damages
  • Complex logistics and phasing with highly-coordinated staging and traffic plan
  • Unforeseen conditions (as with most large renovations)
  • Public procurement

Though a skeptic, Dave did his own research and agreed to give it a try. They came back together and decided to implement four key principles:

  1. Streamlined pull planning, which shortened the pull plan sessions to 15 minutes.
  2. Pepper's Nothing Hits the Floor program, where electrical cords were hung from the ceiling and materials were stored on pallets.
  3. Site-wide daily huddles, involving every trade person onsite in 10-minute meetings to discuss the scope, safety and coordination issues.
  4. Paperless process, where the project was managed electronically onsite through the 3D model.  All documents were updated daily so trades had the latest information at their fingertips each day.

Maintaining the momentum

It's not uncommon for teams to struggle implementing Lean throughout a project's duration and from one project to the next. So, how did Tim and Dave make it successful? Here are their tips for staying committed:

  1. Create an onsite culture: Be consistent and eliminate back doors.
  2. To gain trade buy-in and hold them accountable, have upfront conversations about what's expected.
  3. When going paperless, invest in the field technology. Don’t bring any paper onsite. Note: they found that going paperless actually saved money.
  4. To make daily huddles valuable to everyone, use the time to solve problems.
  5. When implementing a program like Nothing Hits the Floor, look at the job site from the trade person’s perspective.
  6. As the construction manager, be the leader. Be active and involved in the plan rather than leaving it to the trades to figure out.
  7. Last but not least, stop talking. Start doing. Don’t wait!

To read more about their story, check out Lean and Learning in the Library. If you have questions or would like to learn more about Lean Construction, contact us.