Continuous Flow for Structural Design in Prefabricated Concrete Structures

Iamara Rossi Bulhoes1 & Flavio Augsto Picchi2

1Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Group of Building Management and Technology,
2Director, Lean Institute Brazil, Rua Topázio 911, São Paulo-SP, Brazil, CEP 04105-063, Tel.: +55 11 5571-6887, Fax: +55 11 5571-0804,


In industrial building, the assembly process is often carried out in large batches, i.e. a large number of structural elements (columns and beams) are assembled before placing slabs and roof parts, increasing the amount of work in progress. One of the factors that contribute for that is the large size of design batches. Often the first elements to be designed are the ones that have more repetition. This paper discusses the implementation of the principle of continuous flow on the structural design of prefabricated industrial buildings, emphasizing the reduction of design batch size. An action research empirical study was carried out in a large prefabricated concrete structure manufacturer from the State of São Paulo, Brazil. This study was divided into three stages: (a) an overall analysis of the design activities; (b) a detailed analysis of the design process of one project; and (c) preliminary results of the implementation of design, prefabrication and assembly continuous flow in a construction project. The implementation process is based on core Lean Thinking concepts and principles. The expected results are the reduction of total (design, prefabrication and assembly) cycle time, increase in productivity, work in progress reduction, and improved process stability.


lean thinking, continuous flow, small batch, design process,



Bulhoes, I.R. & Picchi, F.A. 2008, 'Continuous Flow for Structural Design in Prefabricated Concrete Structures' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 169-181

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