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Lean Construction

Lean Construction & The Last Planner® System (LPS):

Lean Construction is an approach to the construction industry that applies the principles of Lean Manufacturing to optimise the construction process, maximise value, and minimise waste. It focuses on enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving quality and safety. Key principles and practices of Lean Construction include:

  1. Define Value from the Customer's Perspective:

    • Focus on understanding the client's values in the construction process and final product.

    • Tailor all activities and processes to meet these customer-specific requirements.

  2. Optimise the Whole Project, Not Just Parts:

    • Look at the construction project as a whole rather than optimising individual activities.

    • Ensure that improvements in one area do not cause inefficiencies or waste in another.

  3. Identify and Eliminate Waste:

    • Eliminate non-value-adding activities (waste) in design, planning, and construction processes.

    • Common forms of waste in construction include defects, overproduction, waiting time, non-utilized talent, excess processing, transportation, and inventory.

  4. Use Pull Planning and Just-In-Time Delivery:

    • Implement pull planning, where work is scheduled based on demand and downstream activities.

    • Apply just-in-time delivery of materials to reduce inventory costs and minimise on-site storage needs.

  5. Enhance Workflow and Reduce Variability:

    • Streamline the workflow to ensure smooth, continuous progress on the construction site.

    • Minimize variability in construction processes to avoid delays and rework.

  6. Implement Collaborative Project Management:

    • Foster collaboration among all stakeholders, including contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and clients.

    • Use integrated project delivery (IPD) approaches where possible.

  7. Apply Value Stream Mapping:

    • Map out all processes and identify areas for improvement to add value and eliminate waste.

    • Continuously monitor these processes for potential improvements.

  8. Continuous Improvement (Kaizen):

    • Encourage a culture of ongoing improvement where feedback is sought and lessons learned are applied.

    • Regularly review and refine practices, from design to construction and handover.

  9. Respect for People:

    • Engage and empower all team members, from workers on-site to project managers.

    • Recognize that respecting, training, and investing in the workforce is key to improving productivity and quality.

  10. Focus on Quality:

    • Prioritise quality to reduce rework, a significant construction waste source.

    • Implement quality control processes throughout the construction lifecycle.

Lean Construction aims to cut costs and maximise value for all stakeholders, improve worker safety, enhance product quality, and reduce the project's duration. By applying these principles, construction projects can achieve greater efficiency, better client satisfaction, and decreased environmental impact.

Last Planner® System (LPS):


The Last Planner® System is a specific lean construction tool designed to improve project planning and management. Developed by the Lean Construction Institute, LPS focuses on collaborative planning and commitment-based project management. Key components include:

  1. Master Scheduling: Outlining the overall project timeline and significant milestones.

  2. Phase Pull Planning: This involves working backwards from a project milestone to plan each phase. Stakeholders collaborate to determine the sequence of tasks and their dependencies.

  3. Make-Ready Planning: Preparing tasks for execution. This involves ensuring all prerequisites for a task are completed before it begins, thereby reducing delays and disruptions.

  4. Weekly Work Planning: Detailing work that needs to be accomplished in the coming week. This plan is more granular and specific than the overall project plan.

  5. Daily Huddles: These are short daily meetings to discuss the day's work, address potential issues, and make adjustments as needed.

  6. Learning: Regularly reviewing what went well and what didn't to improve the planning and execution processes continuously.


The synergy between Lean Construction and LPS:

Lean Construction provides the philosophical and methodological foundation, while the Last Planner® System offers a practical, hands-on approach to implementing these principles. Together, they enhance construction project management by:

  • Improving Predictability: Reducing variability and ensuring that tasks are completed as planned.

  • Enhancing Efficiency: Streamlining workflows and reducing the waiting time between tasks.

  • Increasing Collaboration: Involving all project members in planning and decision-making processes, leading to a shared understanding and commitment.

  • Focusing on Value Delivery: Aligning project activities more closely with customer needs and expectations.

While Lean Construction offers a broad framework for efficiency and value, the Last Planner® System provides specific techniques and tools to realise these goals in day-to-day project management. This combination has led to more reliable project delivery, higher quality outcomes, and greater client satisfaction in the construction industry.

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