An Application of Lean Concepts and Techniques to Precast Concrete Fabrication

Glenn Ballard1, Nigel Harper2 & Todd Zabelle3

1Glenn Ballard is Research Director for the Center for Innovation in Project and Production Management (dba Lean Construction Institute) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, ballard@leanconstruction.org.
2Nigel Harper is Operations Director for Malling Precast Products Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of O’Rourke Ltd., nharper@orourke.co.uk.
3Todd Zabelle is President of Strategic Project Solutions, tzabelle@strategicprojectsolutions.net

Abstract

Fabrication is a vital part of the extended production system for a construction project. As shop fabrication is a type of manufacturing and ‘lean thinking’ arose in manufacturing, use of lean concepts and techniques in the management of fabrication processes would seem to be a natural and beneficial application. Fabrication can be divided into pre-manufacturing, manufacturing, and postmanufacturing. In a separate paper, the authors have reported the application of lean ‘rules and tools’ to the manufacturing of precast concrete. This paper presents an overview of the entire intervention, which confirms the applicability of lean concepts and techniques to the management of fabrication processes, and illustrates the benefits achievable in improved management of demand, reduced cycle time, greater productivity, heightened work force involvement, and increased revenue and profitability. Suggestions are made for future research.

Keywords

cycle time, fabrication, flow, lead time, Last Planner, lean production, management, pull, production system design

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Reference

Ballard, G. , Harper, N. & Zabelle, T. 2002, 'An Application of Lean Concepts and Techniques to Precast Concrete Fabrication' In:, Formoso, C.T. & Ballard, G., 10th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Gramado, Brazil, 6-8 Aug 2002.

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