Application of Lean Principles to Manage a Customisation Process

Sergio L. Kemmer1, Cecilia G. Rocha2, Lisyanne O. Meneses3, Ana Valeria L. Pacheco4 & Carlos T. Formoso5

1Research Assistant, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK,
2Ph.D Candidate at the Building Innovation Research Unit (NORIE), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil,
3Architect, Construtora C. Rolim Engenharia Ltda., Fortaleza-CE, Brazil,
4Civil Engineer, Quality and Technology Manager, Construtora C. Rolim Engenharia Ltda., Fortaleza- CE, Brazil,
5Associate Professor at the Building Innovation Research Unit (NORIE), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil,


The increasing diversity of dwellers lifestyles and requirements demand changes in the house building industry. The adoption of customisation strategies by constructions companies will increase the product value. Nonetheless, a major challenge is how to increase product variety while maintaining an efficient production process. This paper describes a set of practices developed by a medium-sized construction firm for managing customisation during the construction phase. This firm builds housing units for high-end customers who value quality as well as product flexibility. As a result, customisation is considered a strategic asset by the firm and therefore requires the introduction of several changes in the production process so that customers’ requirements could be fulfilled without compromising the efficiency of site and office operations. In order to implement this process, the firm had to change the longstanding view that design changes required by customers harm site operations to the one which recognized that carrying out those changes could in fact add value for customers from the market niche targeted by the firm and thus increase sales. The customisation practices introduced by the firm were strongly based on Lean Construction concepts and principles, such as process transparency, reducing the share of non-value-added activities, increasing output value through systematic consideration of customers’ requirements, increasing output flexibility, batch size reduction, focusing on controlling the whole process, constraint analysis, among others. This paper focuses on three house-building projects that had high levels of customisation and how the customisation process was managed.


Customisation, value, business strategy, housing.



Kemmer, S.L. , Rocha, C.G. , Meneses, L.O. , Pacheco, A.V.L. & Formoso, C.T. 2010, 'Application of Lean Principles to Manage a Customisation Process' In:, Walsh, K. & Alves, T., 18th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Haifa, Israel, 14-16 Jul 2010. pp 306-315

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