Playing Games: Evaluating the Impact of Lean Production Strategies on Project Cost and Schedule

Luis F. Alarcon1 & David B. Ashley2

1Professor of Civil Engineering, Universidad Católica de Chile, Escuela de Ingeniería, Casilla 306, Correo 22, Santiago, Chile, [email protected], Visiting Professor, The Ohio State University.
2Dean, College of Engineering and The John C. Geupel Chair in Civil Engineering. The Ohio State University, 142 Hitchcock Hall, 2070 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210- 1278, [email protected].


There are several games which are used to demonstrate the practical implications of some Lean Production Concepts such as the impact of uncertainty on productivity and project duration, push and pull approaches to production or the impact of multitasking. These games are very appealing to the players and the observers by illustrating the detrimental impact of some current practices on project performance. They are also useful by illustrating the impact on some of these practices on project results. This paper reports an attempt to take the benefits of a simple game, the “Dice Game”, one step further by using a simulation model inspired in this game to explore some research questions which can not be addressed in the original game. The paper presents the results of an extensive analysis of project conditions where production variability and buffer size were used as the main input variable and project cost and schedule were used as the main output variables. The analysis addresses among other research questions the impact of buffering on project duration and cost, the impact of production variability on project productivity and suggest some guidance to select buffer sizes for minimum project cost.


Lean production, lean construction, buffering, management games, project planning, simulation.



Alarcon, L. F. & Ashley, D. B. 1999. Playing Games: Evaluating the Impact of Lean Production Strategies on Project Cost and Schedule, 7th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 263-274.

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