Lean & 5S' in Construction #9 March 2006
***************** Inventory – Solutions to Causes
In our last newsletter we discussed causes of waste by keeping inventory. This and the next few issues will share some answers:
Cause: Poor quality work in the shop and in the field
Solution: This is an age-old challenge in construction. The solution is straightforward but not easy. To improve quality it starts with a clear definition of what is and is not quality work. It can’t be wishy – washy such as “I know it when I see it!” Once defined all workers need to understand the quality requirements and that they are expected to meet the requirements. Work handed to them that does not meet the requirements should be sent back for rework. The work that they perform should be reviewed by them to ensure quality before passing it on. At Toyota they say – Don’t get it – Don’t make it – Don’t send it, in terms of bad quality. To produce quality work one must be committed to doing it right the first time, measuring poor quality and implementing prevention countermeasures through root cause analysis. It all starts with supervision believing that defects can be eliminated and prevented, and not passed on.
Cause: Poor material delivery to the job sites and to actual work areas at the site.
Solution: There are many root causes for this problem so solutions also vary. These include:
- Better up front planning by field operations. Often we get material late because we ordered it late. Sometimes we order more than we can install in a reasonable work time. This causes material to be stored in the site yard and may lead to damage, five-finger discounts or other crews taking your material for their jobs. Excess material delivered to a job site often stops work while the material is being unloaded and stored. Order what you need and when you need it no more, and certainly no less.
- Being clear at the job site where material is to be delivered and when.
- Kitting the material so all that is needed for installation is together.
- Doing proper packing of the material for deliver. One contractor was receiving duct that was damaged about 1 in 20 pieces, This caused additional field work or delays due to returning the duct to the shop. The problem happened because the material delivery people wanted to get as much duct in each trip to reduce trips to the field. They stuffed the duct real tight. They even had a worker get on top of the duct in the truck/trailer and jump on it to pack it in tight! When they focused on making sure all duct was properly stored while transporting it instead of stuffing it, material problems at the site declined.
- Better planning of delivery schedules and proper maintenance of vehicles and trailers can also improve material delivery.
More ideas will be in the next issue. Send your own as well.
***************** Standardize the 4th “S”
The forth “S” translates into English as ‘standardize.’ However, to the Japanese, it does not just mean standardize operating processes (SOP), which we all know is good to do. It means that we standardize the location of parts, tools and equipment in the shop, on service vehicles, in gang boxes and even files in offices and construction trailers. We want to standardize where items are located to minimize the amount of human motion needed to find and use it. We want do it the same for all locations and work areas so when employees move to new assignments they don’t have to learn a new system. We want to locate frequently used tools in the strike zone so they are within easy reach. Documenting standard procedures is very useful and if focused on the core processes is most valuable. But it is also very time consuming and hard to motivate teams to do it. Try it in chunks – only do one core process a year. But before doing or in parallel to doing SOPs, try creating standard locations for tools, files, reference material and equipment.
***************** Systems Alignment
For Lean implementation to be more than islands of success, management must ensure that the other systems are aligned and not conflict. These areas need alignment:
- Keeping Score – measures
- Employee involvement opportunities
- Employee Rewards & recognition
- Process management
- Performance reviews – individual & company
And most important the Lean initiatives must be part of the overall company strategy. A company cannot have a Lean strategy and a business strategy exist separately. Lean should be part of the business strategy.
***************** Last Planner System improves Job Planning
Hal Macomber does a good job of outlining how to improve job planning using the Last Planner System, He writes:
The planning system is likely to become more reliable just because you are giving your attention to reliability; it follows the axiom: what gets measured gets done. However, without deliberate systematic attention to the design of the system planning system performance will settle on a plateau.
Planning (un) reliability is a function of (at least) five factors: dependence, variation, uncertainty, system design, and competence. The processes of making work ready, promising publicly, and reporting complete by announcing when you are done are usually sufficient for building competence for operating as last planners within the system. The acts of promising, re-promising, and estimating times to perform build the capability for doing those actions more competently through time. Using the Project Meeting Protocols (Look-Ahead Planning, Weekly Work Planning, Daily Coordination and System Improvement) improves performance. But there is generally more to improve beyond what individuals responsibilities.
One significant impact on group performance is the design of the project. For instance, if work has been fractionalized by specialty, then the effects of dependence (you can't start 'til I finish) are increased. One of the usual (greatest) reasons for planning failure is the prior work of others wasn't completed. Often times work can be structured in a way that decouples one person's work from another. That, in turn, increases the reliability of the project. Another common reason is a constraint was uncovered once the task was started. This would point to a failure of the make-ready process of look-ahead planning.
What can you do? At least once every three weeks conduct a meeting with the project team to review the accumulated reasons for plan failure. Organize the reasons for failure in a Pareto chart. Look at both the frequency of the failures and the significance of the failures. Use CEDAC* or other problem-solving approaches to understand the underlying causes of the failures. Decide in the meeting what actions you will take to eliminate the underlying reasons for the planning failures. Follow-up on each of the actions each week until all have been accomplished.
Regular attention to the functioning of the whole planning system can make the difference between just good performance and a project that is a real joy for all involved. (Feb 7, 2006, Hal Macomber)
* CEDAC stands for 'Cause-Effect Diagram with the Addition of Cards'. It uses Cause-Effect Diagrams with Post-it Notes or 3" x 5" cards for listing the causes. Using the cards allows shuffling around of the causes and also letting several people participate simultaneously.
If you want more information about the Last Planner System, contact the Lean Construction Institute at LeanConstruction.org
***************** 5S In the Construction Trailer
Dean Reed, a DPR Lean Coordinator, recently shared how a DPR team applied the 5S’s to their construction trailer at a job site in the Bay area. DPR Construction Inc. of Redwood City, CA is a general contractor. The DPR team feels there is a great improvement by reducing “treasure hunting.” Some action they have taken include: revising the layout of the office trailer, adding and labeling cubbies and cabinets, and posting RFI and Submittal logs in clear pocket folders accessible near the plan tables. They dumped junk like chairs that did not work and were unused since the initial trailer set up. They set up a system to replace older ones such as submittals, drawings and documents with newer versions. They standardized ‘high flow’ processes including RFIs, submittal review and filing, drawing log updates, post record documents, subcontract administration and inspection and review by the jurisdictional agency. Drawings were grouped in logical subdivisions and placed in a central location with easily seen labels. Dean said the benefits of this 5S effort include creating an organized, disciplined and professional work environment; saved time, especially in finding status on RFIs and submittals; supplies are always readily available and things are where they are supposed to be! For more information contact Dean Reed at email@example.com
***************** Lean Training Opportunities
- March 30 - Lean Applied to Construction presented by Dennis Sowards at the Partners in Progress Conference, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV – SMACNA & SMWIA
- March 30 – Last Planner System presented By Greg Howell of LCI at the 50th Annual CSI Show & Convention, Las Vegas, NV ( www.thecsishow.com)
- April 7 – Applying Lean Techniques to the Field presented by Dennis Sowards– Scottsdale AZ – Sponsor Construction Contractor’s Alliance
- April 20 - Job Planning that Works (Lean Construction tools) presented by Dennis Sowards - Phoenix AZ - Sponsor: PIPE and 469 JATC
- April 20-21 - Introduction to Lean Construction - Production System Design and Control - Cincinnati OH - sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (www.Leanconstruction.org ) and University of Cincinnati
- May 8 – Lean Works in Construction – Oakland, CA presented by Dennis Sowards – Sponsor: Bay Area SMACNA Chapter
- May 18 -5S’s for Lean Construction presented by Dennis Sowards - Phoenix AZ - Sponsor: PIPE and 469 JATC
Contact Dennis Sowards or the sponsor organization for details.
***************** A Quick Thought
All we are doing is looking at the time line from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that time by removing the non-value added waste. Taiichi Ohno 1988.
*** Share your Lean successes – Let me know your Lean success stories and I may include them in future newsletters.