Lean manufacturing and lean construction aim to eliminate waste in all production processes by implementing intelligent and controlled processes that are specifically optimized for speed, quality, and reliability. Lean manufacturing is a collective discipline of practices that are designed to improve and advance manufacturing activity through systematically eliminating inefficiencies through a reduction of labor and materials costs. Lean manufacturing principles are derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), a well-known, globally-recognized quality system that has been used by hundreds of manufacturing and other businesses to significantly reduce their total cost of production and, ultimately, to improve profitability.
Lean manufacturing is a collaboration of science and management dedicated to optimizing the performance of a manufacturing or construction process by eliminating wastes associated with that process. Lean concept and its underlying logic is based on the “Lean” Method, which is an efficient, scientifically proven method that allows a business to decrease the cost of doing business through a focused set of strategies and actions. These concepts have since become popular and are now used to optimize almost every aspect of the manufacturing and construction process, from beginning construction to manufacturing and installation, and end-to-end.
Lean manufacturing and lean construction are strongly influenced by the Theory of Constraints, which is a description of the business-cycle environment in which an organization operates. The theory states that companies face three major constraints: resource constraint, overall productiveness, and end-to-end customer satisfaction. Because of these constraints, organizations must change their overall business model and focus on improving efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing customer satisfaction. Lean focuses on improving each of these three factors, but there are additional aspects of the process that must be implemented in order for the entire system to be effective. These additional aspects include inventory control, order tracking, and quality management.
Inventory control is one of the first principles of lean manufacturing. It refers to the reduction of non-essentials in an activity so that more necessary elements can be focused on. This principle encourages an organizational approach that requires companies to reduce costs associated with non-essentials such as transportation costs. In addition to reducing transportation costs, inventory control improves the planning process of a company by ensuring that materials and supplies are made available at the right time and in the right quantities. This leads to improved production rates and better profitability, especially when applied to the broad scale that most construction efforts wind up involving.