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Lean Construction: Enhancing Value, Efficiency, and Continuous Improvement in Construction Projects

Lean Construction: Enhancing Value, Efficiency, and Continuous Improvement in Construction Projects
July 29, 2023

In our latest blog we discuss the importance of Lean Construction, and how TEG Projects utilise the concepts of lean construction to deliver client projects in the food and beverage industry. 

In the construction industry, maximising value, reducing waste, and improving project outcomes have always been crucial for success. Lean Construction, a production management approach adapted from Lean Production techniques, offers a framework for achieving these objectives. In this blog post, we explore the main tenets of Lean Construction, with a focus on how TEG Projects utilises these tenets to enhance project delivery for our clients in the food and beverage industry.

Identifying Value From The Owner’s Perspective

At the heart of Lean Construction is the concept of identifying value from the owner’s perspective. This involves understanding the end-user’s needs and expectations and ensuring that project activities align with these requirements. A client defines value on a project based on their specific needs, goals, and expectations. Such as:

Project Objectives: The client may define value by assessing how well the project aligns with their desired outcomes and objectives. For example, delivering a high-quality final product, achieving cost savings, meeting specific timelines, or enhancing operational efficiency, for instance in a Fonterra Cold Chain project we achieve project objectives which centered on economic viability and sustainability goals.

Return on Investment (ROI): Clients often evaluate value based on the return they expect to receive from their investment in the project. This could include factors such as increased revenue, improved market position, reduced expenses, or long-term cost savings. Such as our George Weston Foods project, the objectives outlined at the beginning of the project, and reached at handover were that a more consistent product meant costs were kept down, while volume and quality remained high.

Stakeholder Satisfaction: Value can also be measured by the satisfaction and positive impact the project brings to various stakeholders. This may include internal teams of production and maintenance personnel, end-users, regulatory bodies, or the community. 

Innovation and Differentiation: Our food and beverage clients often seek value by encouraging innovation within the project. This involves incorporating cutting-edge technologies, sustainable practices, or unique features that set the project apart from competitors and create a competitive advantage. It is often the reason that TEG Projects are called upon. As outsiders, joining an internal team, and with Lean Construction key to our planning, our fresh perspective naturally encourages innovation. 

Risk Mitigation: Factors such as adherence to regulatory requirements, minimising disruptions, ensuring safety and quality standards, and effective risk management contribute to overall project value. 

Long-Term Impact: Value can be assessed by considering the long-term impact of the project. This could include factors like sustainability, environmental impact, adaptability for future needs, scalability, and the project’s contribution to the client’s long-term growth and success. Fonterra’s Picasso was one such project. Fonterra plays an integral part in the dairy industry throughout New Zealand, their operations impact both the environment and communities, therefore protecting the environment and safeguarding all communities is a long term goal at the heart of the work we carry out with them. 

At TEG Projects we work with food and beverage industry clients at the planning stage of a project to establish and understand their values. We also normally work with clients over a series of projects and over the course of years we develop a deep understanding of client values and expectations key to implementing Lean Construction.

Eliminating Waste

Eliminating waste is a key principle of Lean Construction. Waste refers to any activity or process that does not contribute to the end-user’s requirements or overall project success. By identifying and eliminating wasteful steps, project teams can optimise their efforts and resources. TEG  Projects seeks to identify potential areas of waste in the planning stage of any project. This is a key step in project management best practice. In terms of the Fonterra Tirau Waste-Water project TEG Projects identified several areas of potential waste, such as duplicated reporting and redundant meetings between Fonterra and contractor partners. By streamlining these activities, the construction team were able to redirect their time and energy towards value-adding tasks, ultimately enhancing project efficiency.

Focus on Process and Flow

Lean Construction emphasises the importance of process and flow optimisation. Our project teams work collaboratively to analyse and improve workflows, identifying bottlenecks, and eliminating non-value-adding steps. When our team evaluates a construction project, we identify opportunities for streamlining and enhancing the flow of work. As well as this initial planning stage, process and flow optimisation can be achieved during handover. For instance after commissioning the Waitoa Treated Water Plant Upgrade TEG Projects worked closely with Fonterra through the handover stage. This part of the process formed a significant component as the upgrade considerably modernised operations and required a relearning of systems and processes, and a redevelopment of work streams for the plant and its operators. A careful handover meant process and flow was achieved. A focus on process and flow through the lifecycle of a project enhances productivity and ensures smoother project execution.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a fundamental aspect of Lean Construction. It can be a humbling process asking the difficult questions about what worked and what didn’t. Through the questioning process our aim is to uncover the ‘lessons learned’. These lessons are intrinsically valuable as we plan projects going forward.  At TEG Projects we value documenting and sharing project learnings within our core team as well as with our clients. This ensures that valuable insights contribute to the development of best practices and the ongoing improvement. Through a culture of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, TEG Projects aims to achieve increasingly reliable outcomes and continuous growth.

Lean Construction offers a powerful approach to project delivery, placing emphasis on identifying value from the owner’s perspective, eliminating waste, optimising processes and flow, and promoting continuous improvement. By implementing these principles, construction projects managed by our team enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver high-quality outcomes that align with the owner’s expectations. With a focus on collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to learning from past experiences, Lean Construction helps us to efficiently deliver projects for clients.

Are you a Project Manager or Project Engineer with experience in the food and beverage industry? We’d love to hear from you, get in touch today.