Beyond the Build

Continuing Education

Lean Part 2: Beyond Manfacturing

On Tuesday, I posted about our local partner Superior Mechanical and their use of Lean, a system that fuels efficiency. The Lean Enterprise Institute summarize well by saying, “The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

I was intrigued by what Lean was doing for Superior and how it might have applications to our work, so I asked our CFO Del Allen to take an exploration trip. He visited Basic Lean, home of Lean training and implementation consultants, located in Midway, Kentucky. He then crossed into Indiana to see the system in action at Jasper Engines.

He came back with notes on the 7 wastes of Lean, which I think are helpful to all:

Over-Production– More product is produced than can be purchased.
Inventory-Extras beyond raw materials, works in progress or finished goods.
Transportation-Product movement increases risk of damage/loss/delay.
Motion-Unnecessary worker movement.
Waiting-Time a stationary product is waiting to be worked on.
Defects-Mistakes mean reworking…and extra costs.
Over-Processing-More work is done than required.

I asked him for a few observations on how Lean might apply to the corporate and construction world, and he shared great takeaways.

 Lean is embraced by upper management. At Jasper Engines, everyone from CEO to cleaning crew is held accountable for productivity and waste. For Lean to work, it needs to be system-wide. No exceptions.

Lean is process-oriented. People adjust to processes rather than vice versa. Your company should have time tested systems in place, and your team should follow them exactly.

Lean theory would work well for construction project managers. We hope to use the ideology to eliminate waste with our subcontractors, saving everyone time. For example, we are perfecting our pre-project meeting procedures, establishing a precise order for subcontractor visits.

We’ve already seen benefits of Lean by eliminating duplicated efforts and unnecessary report filing in our accounting department.  How could Lean work for your business?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.