Conferences and exhibitions provide a unique opportunity to interact with the big players – both in academia and the construction industry. IGLC 2022, held in Edmonton, Canada gave us a unique chance to hobnob with the big names in the industry. But before we get there, we take a look at 2022 and what it means for Lean in Construction.
3 decades and counting
The year 2022 is a significant one for Lean methodology in construction. First developed as a system for improving processes by the Toyota Production System (TPS) in the early 20th century, there has been a strong association between Lean methodology and manufacturing for many years. It has been 30 years since the construction industry adopted Lean. Over the last 3 decades, Lean has gained momentum, evolved and become more widely accepted. However, there are still miles to go and discussions to that effect happen around the globe with like-minded people and practitioners coming together.
The International Group for Lean Construction’s annual conference is a major event in the industry. This international multi-conference brings together academic and industry professionals to discuss pressing topics in lean construction research and practice.
The keynote speaker
We had the pleasure of listening to the keynote speech delivered by the stalwart Dr. Glenn Ballard. He started his career in construction as a field worker where he learned the skills of the trade but soon came to realise that the builder’s success is hampered by externalities such as lack of information, materials, and space for work. In addition, he noted that crew-level planning was missing from the managerial planning process (Ballard, 1981). The Last Planner® System2 (LPS) (Ballard 1994, 2000c) emerged from the identification of this gap.
We Listened to
The intense discussions with Patricia Tzortzopoulos, Iris Tommelein, and many other like-minded professionals were very insightful. A deep dive into Industry 5.0 & Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), opportunities, challenges, and key elements for project team success by Patricia Tillmann and Cory Hackler caught our attention while the speeches by Olli Seppänen and David Umstot were inspiring.
It will be exciting to integrate the concepts and ideas we have discussed and shared with like-minded professionals on lean construction and integrated construction practices into our development plans for the future.
VisiLean had the great opportunity to present our research paper authored by our Solution Specialists, Paramjit Lota, and Vijayashree T M, and CEO, Dr. Bhargav Dave at IGLC recently. The paper titled, ‘Projects are becoming ‘Lean’, but not Organisations.’, takes a critical look at how despite the proven benefits of their projects and the knowledge and skills for successfully implementing lean, organisations, as a whole, still fail to change their approach towards driving efficiency in project delivery company-wide.
We start with the premise that there is significant evidence of successful lean implementation at the project level. However, over the years we have seen that there is limited evidence of Lean percolating through organisations in both literature, as well as industry. While the critical aspects of strategic adoption of lean to overcome organisational resistance have been clearly highlighted, the implementation is in most cases limited to select projects and not all projects across an organisation’s portfolio.
This is because the entire focus is taken away from the benefits of deploying lean to achieve efficiency in project delivery and performance improvement, and instead looked at as a check-box exercise of doing ‘lean’. Some of the key problems with this approach are highlighted below.
- Ad-hoc Approach
- Push based Approach
- Lack of faith