The Concept of Lean Construction

As cities are advancing, so is the construction industry. Cities have always been considered engines of growth and the ballooning demand for infrastructure has a strong association with the growth in cities. Amidst the bright side of the development in the cities, the increased demand puts pressure on our natural resources, as a result, academicians and engineers have tried to explore sustainable options for meeting the demand from the construction sector while also balancing the negative consequences caused by the construction industry. Against this backdrop, the concept of ‘Lean Construction’ is resonating in the construction industry while examples from United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been quite significant.

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Learn More through this blog analyses and discusses the concept of ‘lean construction in the construction sector. A series of blogs have already been written on managing construction activities and materials during the construction process. The concept of lean construction also signals the same incidence but with new thinking.

What is Lean Construction

At the most initial level, the concept of Lean Construction revolves around reducing construction waste and consumption during the whole process of construction. The concept also talks about improving the delivery systems which in return increases the financial management and cost-efficiency. Thus, it can be said that the lean construction methods are not only restricted to controlling the construction waste rather it talks about incorporating sustainable and efficient practices at every step of the construction. Moreover, the phenomenon also talks about diminishing those activities that do not produce any value but are a burden in the whole process.

The concept in the construction industry is borrowed from Toyota Motors, Japan who over the period of time have induced efficiency in their production systems by decreasing the waste in their production methods along with focusing on customer satisfaction.

Elaborating Waste

Under the concept of lean construction, waste is not only the material that has been wasted or destroyed in the process of production rather the term also incorporates ‘overproduction’ as a waster, slack in the process, unnecessary transportation and lack of safety is also termed as waste. Therefore, waste is anything that has a negative impact on the construction process whether in the form of delays, poor management or long waiting times. Lean construction is rapidly gaining significance in the construction industry as it is introducing efficiency in the whole process.


Overproduction is also identified as waste if a quantity is produced more than what is required. Since the specifications have to meet the requirements of the client, therefore, the procedures and the project management should be done such that the material is not wasted on the overproduction. This also increases the quantity and quality issues which compromises the overall quality of the project. Furthermore, the resource allocation owing to the overproduction is also compromised along with the incurred costs on the wage and labour.

Time Lapses and Waiting

Time Lapses and Waiting also qualify as waste in lean construction as both factors contribute to the delay in projects which is not encouraging from the perspective of the client. It is mostly caused by poor synchronization between the various groups working on the same projects. Often the contractors are blacklisted by the government for not meeting the deadlines and for not streamlining the project. This also results in the increased duration of the projects caused by the delayed provision of raw materials, engineering and quality assurance results.

Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management is an integral part of lean construction where the coordination among the groups is of the utmost importance since all the coordination in lean production is dependent on this tenant. Often the delayed supplies by the contractors contribute to the delays in the projects. Therefore, while identifying the value streams in the project management supply chain is given special attention to eliminate time delays and the efficient disbursement of resources.

Material Management is also an important determinant in lean construction since it ensures that the materials used are as per the requirement of the client and no substitute materials are used. Bill of Quantities is often used in project management for the correct estimation of the cost, quantities and time.


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