Simulation of Construction Processes: Traditional Practices Versus Lean Principles

Abdulsalam A. Al-Sudairi1, James E. Diekmann2, Anthony D. Songer3 & Hyman M. Brown4

1Graduate Student, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, alsudair@rtt.colorado.edu
2Professor, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado- Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, diekmann@spot.colorado.edu.
3Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309
4Senior Instructor, Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309

Abstract

Lean manufacturing theory is founded on several key principles: specify value by product, rethink your operating methods, focus on actual objects from beginning to completion, release resources for delivery just when needed and strive for perfection. Transferring these principles from manufacturing to the construction domain is of ongoing interest for construction researchers. However, modifying real construction processes is expensive, time consuming and difficult. This paper reports interim results of a study to evaluate lean principles when applied to construction using computer simulation. Data for a structural steel erection process was modeled in ExtendÒ to form the experimental tool for evaluating lean principles. In all cases, the simulated principles improved project performance. Performance improved dramatically when all principles are simultaneously applied. However, the erection process became volatile and fragile when it was subjected to changes and uncertainties from outside of the process. Maintaining a zero buffer at the erection site made the process extremely fragile. This study demonstrates the need for a broad systems view when one is considering lean modifications to a construction process.

Keywords

Lean principles, lean construction, process simulation, buffer size, volatility.

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Reference

Al-Sudairi, A.A. , Diekmann, J.E. , Songer, A.D. & Brown, H.M. 1999, 'Simulation of Construction Processes: Traditional Practices Versus Lean Principles' In:, 7th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Berkeley, USA, 26-28 Jul 1999. pp 39-50

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