Integration of Lean and Information Technology to Enable a Customization Strategy in Affordable Housing

Eder Martinez1, Iris D. Tommelein2 & Ariana Alvear3

1PhD, Global Process Manager, Hilti AG, Feldkircherstrasse 100, Schaan, Liechtenstein, email: [email protected]
2Professor, Civil and Envir. Engrg. Dept., Director, Project Production Systems Lab., Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, email: [email protected]
3MS Engineering and Project Management, Assistant Project Manager, Webcor Builders, San Francisco, CA, email: [email protected]


Affordable housing developers in Latin America would benefit from moving away from mass housing construction and expanding the variety of choice they offer to their customers in order to create greater customer satisfaction. Admittedly, offering variety poses operational challenges that may increase cost and extend construction time, so the challenge is for developers to find the means to deliver variety without significantly affecting housing affordability. Firms outside of the construction industry have made long-term investments to integrate Lean thinking and Information Technology (IT) into production systems aiming to deliver variety with efficiency. However, such investments may be hard to replicate in the construction industry, in which investment in process innovation and technology tends to be limited. This paper presents the experience of an Ecuadorian developer who integrated Lean and IT to support a customization strategy in affordable housing delivery. The developer faced several operational challenges as a result of allowing customers to select different features of housing units. The authors describe such challenges and present the development of a novel IT tool to enable Lean construction delivery. The evaluation demonstrates that Lean with IT integration improved internal communication enabling a faster response to meet customer choices.


Lean construction, affordable housing, information technology, housing customization, Latin America



Martinez, E. , Tommelein, I. D. & Alvear, A. 2017. Integration of Lean and Information Technology to Enable a Customization Strategy in Affordable Housing, 25th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 95-102.

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