Lean Construction

Will a reduction of operating cost be the difference between winning or losing a bid? Is your competitor using a professional service to ensure their operating cost is the lowest? Don’t think you are lean, ensure you are lean.

Do you fully understand lean?

Lean Construction is a widely misunderstood term. You do not attract customers by advertising that you are a “Lean Contractor”, doing so is an indicator that you do not understand Lean. You attract customers by being a “Lean Contractor” that can do the project more efficiently and at a lower cost than the competition. Lean is reflected in your bottom line, it is not an advertising cache phrase.

Lean is the daily progress towards ensuring your operating cost are at 0% waste. In the construction industry, labor and material waste are often accepted and considered a normal cost of doing business. The truly lean contractors and suppliers realize this is not true and have the opportunity for greater profit and lower bidding.

Lean can quickly become a money pit if you do it incorrectly. We ensure you do it correctly based on your actual needs.

General Contractors – Subcontractors – suppliers – prefab

All divisions of construction benefit from lean practices.

How we are different

We come to you and evaluate your situation. Lean strategies in the construction industry are more challenging than traditional manufacturing and there is not a one size fits all solution (no matter what the people trying to sell you stuff say). In fact, if your primary leadership is not fully on board with lean strategies or does not fully agree with the various concepts, it can be a huge waste of time and money.

During our evaluation, we will fully explain lean, give you some ideas on how to immediately cut cost, and discuss the best direction for your company.

what we do not do

  1. High-pressure sales of some cost-saving product or software.
  2. Push a one size fits all set of process steps.
  3. Offer educational or certification certificates. 

Advanced education, training, or software may be valuable to your company, or it could be a huge waste of time and money at this point. Let us show you what you really need.

Lean will not be achieved by simply purchasing a product or single training program. 

what we do

  1. We come to you and see what is really going on. Every company is unique.
  2. We talk and explain everything. We give the why and why not, and answer any questions you may have.
  3. Basic concepts are explained for immediate cost savings even if a deep dive into the lean philosophy is not for you.
  4. We plan your next steps in lean construction. Even if you do not plan to take that journey with our help.

Our only goals are to give you a complete understanding of lean and help you determine if any further investment will have an acceptable rate of return.

We offer additional services to fit your needs. Everything from complete lean transformation, single solution needs, yearly evaluations, to help with hiring full-time staff that truly understand all of the lean concepts. We are here for as much or little as you want.

Beware of the cache phrases

Lean, green, environmental sustainability are all different things. Lean is operating at the lowest expense while not sacrificing quality. Green is about wisely using our current resources to limit the impact on nature. Environmental sustainability is about reducing the consumption of our current resources and providing economic and social benefits. It is easy to see where these things can overlap but they are still different and often misunderstood. 

Lean construction education – Some “lean construction” educational programs are just a repackaged industry-specific six sigma process. And to justify this repackaging as something new, it can be more complicated and time-consuming than needed. The idea is that a set of process steps saves you money by TRYING to ensure no variable is missed during the project planning and construction phases. Because missing something can cost you money so not missing something saves you money. Now how much you spend on the program and extra time spent to follow their preplanned process of checks and double checks to hopefully not miss something is a value only you can determine.

Pull System – If you understand the difference between push and pull systems this is a little silly to use as a topic of benefit in the construction industry. ALL construction with exception of prefabricated buildings is a pull system by nature. Unless you have figured out how to pre-build a Starbucks and have it sitting on your shelf for sale.

Other industry terms like kanban, SMED, TQM, takt time, and a multitude of other Japanese terms or acronyms are valid in lean construction but not nearly to the extent they are in lean manufacturing. Companies will often use these terms to sell a product or program. 

Manufacturers and software programs may estimate cost savings of their product based on variables that do not actually apply to your current situation or actual use. Buyer Beware.

Construction is a type of production, but lean manufacturing concepts do not all fit or show the same results in lean construction. Construction is an off-site custom manufacturing system. The stories of manufacturing companies saving 30-50%  in production cost will not apply to you. But operating for less than your competitors will.

Continuous improvement

To be lean you must fully understand the term “continuous improvement”. This means that when you have figured out the best way to do things at the lowest cost, you spend every day after that trying to improve on it anyway. There is no finish line where lean is concerned.

One of the major pitfalls in continuous improvement is that companies reach an acceptable goal and believe improving on it is a waste of time. This misconception is what your competition will rely on to ensure their cost is lower than your cost. Plus continuous improvement helps ensure your original lean policy does not fall by the wayside.

Larger companies have an employee dedicated to lean and continuous improvement and still call us for regular evaluations. While this position helps companies stay on track, it can also succumb to desensitization. This is not a flaw in the persons’ ability, it happens to all of us. You know when you can’t find the peanut butter sitting on the shelf right in front of you? People become desensitized working in the same place on the same projects every day. People also discount ideas based on the expected reaction of their superiors or industry norms. This is where we come in, a fresh set of eyes and ideas with no concern about a superior’s reaction to our findings or a great understanding of the way it is normally done.

The major signals of a problem are the terms “It is how we have always done it”, “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”, “that is how everyone does it”, and so on. If you never find a better way or do it like everyone else, how do you expect to be better than everyone else?

Hiring Davis Conway Consulting

We base our estimated fees on company size, location, and the number of satellite facilities.

Cost? Probably less than that software or training program you are looking at.

Call or email for a quote. (636) 294-6055 info@davisconway.com