Lean Principle - 8 Categories of Waste

The first step in improving labor productivity in construction is improving everyone’s ability to see the waste.

D. Brown Management Profile Picture
Share
Field Productivity: Lean Principle - 8 Categories of Waste

The human mind is amazing at pattern recognition - that is how our brains process the world.  Consider simple categories of threat vs. non-threat that keeps us alive. Diving deeper into categories of food - bitter (many poisons) or sweet (yummy + quick energy).  Colors - there are millions of them and they start with high levels of primary colors and get subsequently broken down into more detail.  

This level of categorization helps keep us alive and allows us to communicate with each other.  We can all look at a stop sign and say “red” where a computer would communicate ‘#e70707” as the specific color.  

We know that our role is to create the “Perfect Day” and we do that by looking at every step in the process identifying only those that add value and looking at the 3 major enemies of a lean operation.  

Waste can then be broken down into 8 major categories.  Like colors these are often interrelated. Look at your day and see if you can identify any of these:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-Utilized Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Excess Processing

The acronym ‘DOWNTIME’ will help you remember.


Quiz others on your team.  Turn it into a game. This is where productivity improvements start.  

Workshop


Labor Productivity
Field labor is the often the biggest variable on a construction project - making it the biggest risk and opportunity....

Labor Productivity
Field labor is the often the biggest variable on a construction project - making it the biggest risk and opportunity....

Setting Standards and the Feedback Loop
Set the standard. Train to the standard. Certify to the standard. Plan the work to the standard. Execute to the plan and the standard. Check against the standard. Make prioritized improvements to the standard, training, planning, and execution.
Lean Principle - People First (Then Process and Tools)
To optimize productivity, a contractor must focus on their people first, then processes and tools including technology as an integrated management system with a hierarchy. This is not a linear process: S.M.A.R.T. Experiments + Continuous Improvement.
Continuous Improvement: Plan, Do, Check, and Act (PDCA)
Improving productivity in construction is exceptionally challenging. It must be embraced as a journey and not a destination. It must be made into a game so that people clearly see what winning looks like and fall in love with the process.