Who Will Build the Future
May 17, 2018
The construction industry, like many others, is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. From 2007 to 2011, following the recession, more than 2,000,000 people left the industry, either retiring or finding work in a less volatile industry. Today, for every five people retiring from the industry, only one is getting in. This presents a significant challenge for those of us who have established a reputation for delivering buildings on time. We no longer have the safety net of throwing more bodies at the problem. So what do we do?
The answer lies in Lean. By implementing a lean production system utilizing the Last Planner System, construction companies will be able to reduce the amount of waste in a typical construction project. By working more productively, the same number of people will, by definition, be able to produce more work. We simply have to learn how to produce more with the same or fewer numbers of people.
Multiple studies of construction productivity have produced the same data. Approximately 50% of the time spent in the field is not direct production. Time is either spent on getting ready for activities or it is wasted (recoverable lost time). The pie charts demonstrate the difference in productivity between manufacturing and construction. In our world, waste is everywhere. It is so prevalent that we often don’t even see it. Reducing waste should be our collective mission.
This presents a tremendous opportunity for us and our customers. Imagine if we can deliver our customers more program faster and at a lower cost? Imagine also, if providing such value to our customers also results in margin aggression for the contracting community? It’s a no brainer.
Becoming Lean in a non-linear, variable environment like construction is no easy feat. It takes discipline and humility while learning new ways of behaving. I would argue, however, that we have no choice. If we are to succeed in this ever changing marketplace, we have to be willing to change with it.
Article by Joe Massaro, President and CEO of Massaro Construction Group