An Engineering Perspective on Lean Construction Theory

Anders Bjornfot1

1PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering – Timber Structures, Luleå University of Technology, 97187 Luleå, Sweden, Phone +46 920 492067,


The diversity of Lean Construction research and applications is extensive. Due to this diversity, it can be argued that Lean Construction theory has been overextended and lost some of its fundamental ideas. Even though much theoretical progress has been achieved, theoretical development shows inadequate relation to practical construction. Therefore, theory development is of limited interest for the construction community. The aim of this paper is to make Lean Construction more accessible for construction participants who are interested in learning more about the advances of Lean Construction theory, but are unable to do so due to the vast availability of associated theories. The view of the engineer, representing such a construction participant, is used to revivify and organise Lean Construction theory through a classic structural engineering problem, the column-buckling case. Similar to the engineering case, the delivery team should consider four dimensions when designing a stable production system; these dimensions are product standardisation, process standardisation, workload reduction, and organisation strength. Application of these aspects in a systematic manner has potential to reduce variation while improving system stability and control.


lean construction, construction theory, production system design, engineering design,



Bjornfot, A. 2008, 'An Engineering Perspective on Lean Construction Theory' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 15-26

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