How Can We Use Lean Six Sigma In The Construction Industry?

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How Can We Use Lean Six Sigma In The Construction Industry?

We are often asked how can we use Lean Six Sigma in the Construction industry, when it was started and developed in manufacturing?

But the problem of waste on a construction site is all too familiar. 

Various studies in the US and Europe have revealed that quality costs due to non conformance can be up to 12% of total project costs, poor materials management can be up to 10-12% of total project costs. excess consumption of material (on sites) is on average up to 10% of total costs and working time on non value adding activities on sites can be up to 60% of total time. (Source: Construction Industry Institute, USA)

To give some examples, vast amounts of time is wasted on construction projects waiting for deliveries to arrive on site, for labour to arrive, or for sign-off of work before subsequent stages can begin.  There is also a lot of wasted, or non-utilised, talent. Waste might be driven by inefficient processes, or due to use of people for simple tasks that could be automated, and some is due to lack of appropriate training.

The single biggest proportion of delivery to construction sites is surplus material that ends up being thrown away. Materials brought from unnecessarily distant locations, double handing of goods and plant movements on site are excessive. 

Construction is carried out in ways that require excess people movements – people travelling long distances to the site, or just moving too much during the course of their day at work. The just-in-time concept used in manufacturing is rarely applied in construction due to programme and design uncertainties. 

There is over-processing waste such as unsuccessful tendering, duplication of tasks and unnecessary checks.

And finally, defects emerge during the construction process in the form of rework and at handover in the form of snags. These defects alone can eat up a significant proportion of project cost. 

These are all areas in which Lean Six Sigma can help. LSS focusses not just on doing things right, but doing the right things right. 

The key benefits of lean and six sigma include providing structured methods of improvement to reduce waste, shorten production time, reducing cost, reducing lead times, promoting concurrent work, accelerating activities, improving planning and control and ultimately high levels of customer satisfaction.

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