Alliance Lean Design/Construct on a Small High Tech Project

Robert S Miles1

1P.E., 16607 NW Norwalk Drive, Beaverton, OR 97006; Phone: 503-423-3998 ext. 2-1976; email: [email protected]


It is the author’s conviction that Lean Production will largely influence a lasting Lean change in the construction industry not from the top down, but from the bottom up. It will grow though the proven productivity gains of Lean practitioner firms. It will grow even more dramatically through the formation of informal and formal alliances between individual practitioners of Lean Design and Construction. This paper describes one such example. A leading international high technology facility design firm2 and a visionary domestic design/construct firm3 joined in an informal alliance and tested their conviction that Lean Design and Construction can lead to world class results on a small, but challenging , high technology facility project. This unlikely relationship itself was largely a result of the two firms’ involvement in the Lean Construction Institute of the USA and the Lean Thinking revolution growing in a yet small but expanding part of the industry, internationally. This project case study showcases the answers to a number of previously untested theses: That the Owner can be convinced to try Lean practice for the first time, based upon the “selling” of the concept by their design and their construction firms. That two firms that had previously never worked together can establish an informal alliance that lasts the testing of a construction project with Lean Thinking as the glue to the relationship. That Lean practice can be performed on a design/construct project using many of the same tools that have previously only been used independently, not across the full project design/construct life. That the Last Planner and production planning can be effectively implemented in the design effort, with a staff that are Lean Thinking novices. This paper describes the formal contractual relationships, as well as the informal relational “contracts”. It presents the “Schematic Design in a Day” process. Training efforts are described. Lean production metrics are defined, and the resultant project data is reported. Lastly, lessons learned are shared and suggested next steps of continuous improvement are presented.


Lean design, lean construction, alliance, high tech.



Miles, R. S. 1998. Alliance Lean Design/Construct on a Small High Tech Project, 6th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -.

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