Lean Construction: Improving Efficiency at a Construction Site

Apr 13, 2021Equipment, Construction Industry

Resources play a significant role in setting construction trends. Due to many different circumstances, the scarcity of resources keeps on changing. 

To help solve the issue of scarcity, the industry can use Lean Construction. This method of construction focuses on reducing waste throughout the project by finding innovative ways to maximize productivity and efficiency.

It also helps a construction company improve productivity and efficiency on the site.

The Construction Industry and the Environment

Most, if not all, construction resources come from nature. The industry needs to adjust to accommodate changes in environmental regulations to ensure productivity while reducing harmful effects on the environment.

Lean construction pushes companies to create a culture built around innovation and efficiency. This method is beneficial to the construction industry and it minimizes waste which is good for the environment.


Benefits of Switching to Lean Construction

Lean construction is a construction management style that aims to achieve sustainable business success. It improves the way employees solve problems, view morale, and measure success.

Here are some of the benefits of switching to lean construction:

  • Reduced amount of process waste
  • Decreased risks of monetary loss
  • Increased capacity for innovative methods and ideas
  • Better adaptability to issues and challenges
  • Enhanced employee morale

Implementing lean construction is by no means easy, but its correlated benefits can transform a company into an innovative, self-sustaining business.


Types of Wastes in a Construction Site

construction waste

Here are the different types of wastes in a construction site:

  • Defects – materials or components that are completed incorrectly or erroneously.
  • Process waste – extra steps that do not add value for the clients.
  • Production waste – tasks that are completed in excess of requirements resulting to waste of materials and time.
  • Time waste – the waiting time involved while waiting for the next steps due to scheduling or production waste issues.
  • Talent waste – underutilized talent
  • Inventory waste – construction materials present ahead of schedule causing a clog site or pipeline.
  • Movement waste – unorganized sequential steps resulting in unnecessary movement of workers throughout different parts of the worksite.
  • Transportation waste – construction materials or equipment transported ahead of schedule resulting in wasted effort.


Six Principles of Lean Construction


lean cosntruction

Source: BuilderSpace

Ideally, implementing lean construction can help a company become a self-sustaining model. This construction method needs each employee to work efficiently by planning, doing, studying, and adjusting.

They need to:

  • Plan and identify areas that need improvements.
  • Do or enact the changes for better output.
  • Study to quantify the impact of the plan.
  • And, adjust and modify as needed.

These steps encourage management and employees to create more opportunities for improvement. That said, lean construction has principles that the company must follow to ensure success.

Here are the six principles that shape projects in a lean operation:

Value what the client values.

Lean construction is a more empathetic approach which is why connecting with the client and understanding their values should be a priority. 

Connecting with the client on their values will help the construction company establish trust right off the bat.


Map the value stream.

One of the main benefits of lean construction is reduced waste during the construction project. A construction company can achieve this by value stream mapping.

Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to help identify any opportunity to maximize returns and minimize project wastes.

Aside from being a useful planning tool, a value stream map allows the client to understand how the process work and how it can improve efficiency, lower cost, and minimize waste.

Reduce waste accumulation.

Lean construction aims to eliminate the different types of wastes mentioned above.

Eliminating the sources of these wastes can significantly boost efficiency and value in the construction site. Reducing wastes results in more opportunities.

Understand the sequence flow.

Streamlining work processes should be enforced since the sequence flow plays a major role in delays in construction projects. Each construction process has steps that have preceding requirements that must be met before the team can continue.

It is important to plan for predictability and encourage clear communication to ensure that all teams involved are on the right track.


Implement schedules.

Setting goals and deadlines create a timeline for project completion. This helps both the construction team to operate seamlessly.

Accomplishing one task activates the next task in the process. This method streamlines workflow by creating concrete expectations, establishing responsibilities, and appointing contact for handoffs.


Keep on improving.

Aside from waste reduction, creating opportunities for improvement is one of the selling points of lean construction. Continuous improvements set the self-sustaining potential of the company in motion.



Preserving resources and maintaining sustainability are rising to the forefront in many discussions across the industry. Eliminating wastes and ensuring that each process and resource in the construction site is possible through lean construction.

Lean construction uses successful, traditional principles that not only help construction companies but also help employees improve themselves while also helping reduce the negative impact of construction on the environment.

United Hoist has been excellent to work with from the initial pricing phase throughout on site operation.  They have met all the dates needed on site to erect the hoist and have continued to service as scheduled/needed.  Our estimating, management and field staff have been pleased with United Hoist on our projects.

Heath M.

Vice President

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