Needless to say, the construction industry is badly broken and needs fixing. How does the industry rise up and meet the challenges of customer demand for higher quality, improved profitability, and the shortage of skilled workers?
The first step is to cast aside the not invented here syndrome and embrace a time-tested manufacturing solution -the Toyota Production System-commonly called Lean.
Why should construction company managers even consider Lean as a way to improve their business? Here are some eye-opening facts about the U.S. construction industry:
- 60% to 85% of construction time is spent waiting or fixing mistakes
- The average construction worker operates at 40% efficiency
- Critical shortages exist in qualified and skilled workers
- The return on equity for construction pales in comparison to all other U.S. industries
- Customers are frustrated with poor quality, confrontation, excessive change orders, and scheduling delays
These are some of the same or similar issues Japanese companies like Toyota faced in the 1950’s. Lean construction can help remediate the dire conditions described above. While Lean is no silver bullet, lean construction offers substantial improvements to the problems facing the construction industry. If construction companies want to prosper in the 21st Century then they should move toward lean thinking.