Despite much research and debate on the subject, the definition of lean construction is still under question. Contrary to the linear evolution of production systems from craft to mass and lean, with agile production following as a clearly defined management strategy, construction systems have not developed from craft to industrialized and lean. The focus of industrialized construction is on prefabrication in off-site industrial facilities, and cannot be considered to be the equivalent of mass production in construction. One of the world’s most impressive building construction projects, that of the Empire State Building, highlights the existence of another construction system and justifies the introduction of the term ‘mass construction’. Lean construction derives in large part from lean production, but in fact lean construction systems are rooted in three construction systems: craft, industrialized and mass construction. These often co-exist in modern construction projects, making their management complex. One of the challenges for application of lean construction is to identify the right methods to cope with an industry that as a whole has not evolved from craft to mass construction, but one that remains mixed between them.
agile production, craft construction, flow, industrialized construction, mass construction, production system design, tall buildings
Partouche, R. , Sacks, R. & Bertelsen, S. 2008, 'Craft Construction, Mass Construction, Lean Construction: Lessons From the Empire State Building' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 183-194