Kanban in Construction

Roberto Arbulu1, Glenn Ballard2 & Nigel Harper3

1Consultant, Strategic Project Solutions, [email protected]
2Research Director for the Center for Innovation in Project and Production Management (dba Lean Construction Institute) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, [email protected]
3Managing Director, Laing O‚ÄôRourke, [email protected]


Kanban is a lean approach developed in the automotive industry to pull materials and parts through production systems on a just-in-time basis. A particular type of kanban is called supplier kanban which transmits a replenishment signal to outside suppliers. This paper presents a material management strategy that uses supplier kanbans to signal the need for replenishment of selected products from preferred suppliers to site. The objective of this strategy is to accomplish material management functions with least waste; e.g., unnecessary inventories and processing time, waiting time, and physical waste. The primary means for achieving the objective is to simplify the processes of acquiring, storing, distributing and disposing of selected made-to-stock products on site. The kanban strategy is being implemented in the construction of a major international transportation hub in the U.K. The paper highlights one of the most important findings from the implementation phase of the strategy: the need to rationalize stock profiles.


Inventory, just-in-time, kanban, lean construction, made-to-stock, material management, pull, supply chain integration, value stream, waste.



Arbulu, R. , Ballard, G. & Harper, N. 2003. Kanban in Construction, 11th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -. doi.org/

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