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Learning to see work flow: an application of lean concepts to precast concrete fabrication

Glenn Ballard (Glenn Ballard is Research Director at Lean Construction Institute, Oakland, California, USA.)
Nigel Harper (Nigel Harper is Operations Director for Malling Products, O’Rourke Ltd, Grays, UK.)
Todd Zabelle (Todd Zabelle is Principal at Strategic Project Solutions, San Francisco, California, USA.)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 1 February 2003



Reducing the lead time for engineered‐to‐order products can allow more time for exploration and testing of design alternatives, reduction of project durations, or some combination of both. Combined with improved reliability of work flow on site, more fabricated products can be pulled to site when needed, thus avoiding unnecessary inventories. Lead time reduction benefits both the design and the construction phases of projects, and it benefits the fabricator as well. Integration of engineering and detailing may offer the greatest potential for lead time reduction. However, fabrication lead times can also be reduced. This paper describes the application of lean production concepts and techniques to structural precast concrete fabrication. The key change was learning to identify and utilise work flow as opposed to focusing management effort on keeping workers and plant busy. Results included shop cycle time and lead time reduction, increased throughput rate, and improved productivity.



Ballard, G., Harper, N. and Zabelle, T. (2003), "Learning to see work flow: an application of lean concepts to precast concrete fabrication", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 6-14.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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