Removing Wasteful Processes

As a productivity specialist at Faith Technologies, my mission is to identify opportunities to assist our construction projects by improving productivity. Maintaining a focus on process improvement is key to increasing productivity. To improve processes on projects, we look for the most detrimental and easily identifiable barriers to productivity: waste. One way we do that is through the application of “TIM WOODS,” an acronym in lean construction that helps to identify types of waste. Once identified, each type of waste has opportunities to be reduced or eliminated. Please see the overview below:

TRANSPORTATION: Unnecessary movement of tools, equipment and material is a very common form of project site waste. There is opportunity to greatly reduce this form of waste through development of a material logistics plan before the start of a project. This plan should include appropriately trained site logistics teams, just-in-time delivery (JIT), properly located material laydown areas, strategically placed storage areas near work areas and a 24-hour material planning process for crews. These efforts can pay off exponentially to prevent waste related to multiple movements, loss or damage of material and ensure crews receive necessary material.

INVENTORY: Another form of waste that can be prevented through a well-developed material logistics plan is excess or deficient inventory. Highly congested project sites present challenges for space to store inventory. There are several ways to prevent inventory waste:

  • Developing a JIT delivery process. Planning material deliveries at the point they are needed for installation eliminates the need to hold inventory.
  • Incorporate vendor-managed inventory (VMI). Setting and updating appropriate minimum and maximum inventory levels as work scopes change is critical to successful VMI.
  • Look for opportunities from vendors to warehouse buyout material and release as needed.
  • Timely management of tool and material returns/disposal. Holding on to unnecessary material reduces storage and can restrict project site flow.

MOTION: Excessive steps taken by crew to perform assigned tasks is another form of waste. Reducing excess motion can be achieved by:

  • Properly staging work areas. Utilizing tool belts and material carts, and staging material near the point of install to keep work areas organized can help reduce the number of steps taken while performing tasks.
  • Planning and reviewing task flow to reduce the number of steps taken while performing value-added work.
  • Developing a 24-hour material plan for crews to order and receive material through their site logistics team allows crews to focus on install work. Properly planned material orders prevent value-added crew members from excess movement while gathering materials.

WAITING: When crews are forced to stop and wait to perform their work, this wasted time can be highly frustrating and costly. Trade stacking, out of sequence work, lack of information or materials and weather delays can all be influencing factors to waiting time. Developing plans for alternative work, proper communication/planning among site leadership, 24-hour material planning and developing a communication strategy (such as utilizing iPads) to share information in real time can reduce waiting time.

OVER PRODUCTION: Incorporating manufactured assemblies has become a common practice for projects. Ordering assemblies too soon, or in too large of amounts before they are needed, can lead to overproduction waste and contribute to inventory waste. Overproduction can also lead to loss of opportunity to fix defects or implement improvements.

OVER PROCESSING: Excessive or unnecessary steps taken in processes on a project site can be referred to as over-processing waste. Meetings can be one example of over processing when they are scheduled excessively, include more individuals than necessary or review redundant material. Planning meetings to meet agenda items, including only accountable individuals and having regularly scheduled dates are ways to reduce this waste. Another example of over processing is adjusting manufactured assemblies after receipt on the project site. Early communication of assembly adjustments back to the manufacturer will prevent further waste on the project site.

DEFECTS: Rework due to defects is an all-too-common form of waste on project sites. Damage, incorrect installation or defective material causing rework results in loss of productivity, additional cost and potential safety risks. Ensuring that crews are supplied with correct information and quality material, and that they understand customer requirements are ways to help reduce rework.

SKILLS: Underutilizing the talent of your team is a more recent waste concept identified in lean construction. Recognizing the skills, knowledge and potential of your crew opens the doorway to creativity and innovation. Encourage more experienced crews to positively mentor the next generation. Create an environment that is open to new ideas. Push your team to work outside their comfort zone to build experience.

Each member of a project team has the ability to identify and eliminate waste. Continuing to build a productivity culture takes ownership by each team member to review daily activities, identify waste and take action to eliminate it. At Faith Technologies, we encourage our teams to walk their project sites regularly and look for opportunities to eliminate waste and redefine what’s possible, one of our core values.

How can you apply the ‘TIM WOODS’ acronym to eliminate waste in your organization?