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The Impact of Lean Construction

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Impact of Lean COnstruction Featured Web USe

W. M. Jordan Company’s corporate adoption of Lean Principles is one way that we live by our motto, “The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence”. Lean promotes a culture that targets continuous improvement through the elimination of waste, defined as any task that does not add value. Evaluating and optimizing processes reduces unnecessary steps, eliminates bottlenecks, simplifies operations, and increases value.

The company began using Lean principles in 2018 to increase efficiency, improve quality, and enhance collaboration on a major hospital project. The Last Planner System was the first Lean tool that we used on our journey. By restructuring our early project coordination process, we were able to bring in our trade partners’ employees most engaged in the project. Conducting collaborative scheduling meetings prior to the start of specific milestone activities, the WMJ Project Team and the trades work together to review activity sequencing, durations, and manpower needs while discussing any constraints preventing work from starting.

Conducting these collaborative meetings, also known as Pull Plans, allow trade partners to weigh-in on the activity sequencing and scheduling, in turn decreasing the overall project duration while increasing quality.

The Project Team uses the activity milestones shown on the project’s CPM schedule as the start and stop activities for each pull plan session. While considering their needs for each activity and obtaining buy-in from one another, the trades use their experience and knowledge to build the schedule.

Working with trade partners to establish a project schedule ensures no wasted time.
Working with trade partners to establish a project schedule ensures no wasted time.

These schedules are discussed in weekly coordination meetings and Daily Huddles held on the project site with the trade partners’ supervisors. Using tools has boosted morale, decreased waste, and provided the ability to flag potential issues early in efforts to reduce their impact on the schedule.

These early efforts reaped many benefits including increased efficiency, improved quality, enhanced collaboration, increased safety, and improved standardization. Lean construction is based on the holistic pursuit of continuous improvements aimed at minimizing costs and maximizing value. Recognizing the value this brought to the entire company, WMJ created a dedicated Lean Department in April of 2023. Led by Lauren Simone, Corporate Manager of Lean Construction Services, this new department is dedicated to finding ways to improve all facets of the business, in both the field and the office. Lean is not just about eliminating waste from daily work tasks. It requires changing people’s mindsets and behaviors.

Lauren Simone, Corporate Manager of Lean Construction Services
Lauren Simone, Corporate Manager of Lean Construction Services

Challenging assumptions, developing new ways of doing things, and using tools such as visual organization lead to small, incremental changes that add up to big results. Lauren analyzed, identified, and documented how much time and effort went into submitting an expense report, translating that into dollars. Ultimately, this led to a streamlined process that allows any employee to submit an expense report on their phone, leading to direct deposit of the reimbursement.

Mobile workstations set up in larger projects save time and allow for more organization and planning on site.
Lean Construction ensures materials are sorted and safely stored throughout the jobsite.

Rebecca Shields, Lean Data Analyst, uses Lean tools to gather data and provide actionable feedback to individual teams, trade partners, and our corporate operations staff in real time. Applying lean strategies across all aspects of the company exemplifies our relentless pursuit of excellence.