Construction: One Type of Project Production System

Glenn Ballard1

1Research Director for the Lean Construction Institute and Principal in Strategic Project Solutions. [email protected]


The application of lean concepts and techniques to construction often seems to be driven by the idea thatconstruction is,orshouldbe,atypeofmanufacturing. IntheU.S.,andbroadlyintheinternational community, lean construction has been taken up with the idea that the project is a more fundamental form of production system than the factory. For the author, construction is one of many types of pro- jects for which theorists and practitioners are developing theory and tools, alongside air and sea ship- building, performing arts productions, software development, product development, fabrication (job) shops,oilfielddevelopment,healthcaredeliveryandworkordersystemssuchasplantmaintenance. This paper reports developments in thinking since the author’s 1998 IGLC paper on this topic, including a critique of the current model for categorizing production systems, specification of conditions in which job shops can be redesigned as flow lines, a critique of the value concept derived from Gilbreth’s model of flow and waste, and the role of buffers in experimentation and learning.


Designing, Production, Project, Project production system, Value, Waste



Ballard, G. 2005. Construction: One Type of Project Production System, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 29-35.

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