The construction industry has a reputation for delays, bad quality and unsafe working conditions. This makes it a prime candidate for the implementation of lean principles and techniques. The idea of ‘lean construction‘ has been around since the early 1990s, when a group of academics in California started to look at opportunities for the application of lean in the sector. One of the results of this early work was the introduction of the Last Planner System to better manage construction sites.
The lean construction movement soon spread to other parts of the world, starting with the UK – where it influenced a number of organizations and large projects, like the construction of St Pancras station in London. Large construction companies quickly took on lean management. Like in other industries, at the beginning the adoption of lean focused heavily on the application of tools, whereas more recently the strategic importance of lean management has been recognized by the industry.
Technology is providing new opportunities for the sector, with 3D and 4D software tools taking the lead. Technological advances, coupled with the adoption of solid improvement practices, like lean construction methodology, in the construction industry, means we can design and build better, safer and lasting buildings – also guaranteeing working infrastructure for our increasingly urban world.