Lean Tools

A3 Thinking    An A3 report is a practice started by Toyota to capture the problem, the analysis and the countermeasures and action plan all on one sheet of paper. The paper is the “A3” size (11″ by 17″).
5S’s    The 5S’s are key to reducing waste in the shop, field, service and office. It reduces treasure hunts, leading to improved productivity. They are:

  1. Sorting (Seiri) – sort out the necessary from the unnecessary.
  2. Simplifying (Seiton) – put everything (that we determined necessary in Sorting) in a designated place and mark it so it can easily be seen.
  3. Sweeping (Seiso) – physically clean up the work area; deliberately pick up all parts and materials that are out of place and return each to its assigned place.
  4. Standardizing (Seiketsu) – create standard ways to keep the work areas organized, clean and orderly, and standard ways to do the 5S’s.
  5. Self-Discipline (Shitsuke) – follow through with the 5S’s agreements.

    Behind each tool on the board is a shadow of that tool.

    Behind each tool on the board is a shadow of that tool.

Last Planner System®    LPS is a Lean tool developed and registered by the Lean Construction Institute. It is a unique Lean application to project management.
Kaizen Events    Kaizen means continuous improvement in Japanese. The Kaizen Event (sometimes called a Kaizen Blitz) is a quick-hit method for doing Lean process improvement.
Kanban    Kanban means “a signal to replace or refill.” Kanban is a communication tool or signal used to tell workers to deliver more material or to refill material containers to a specified predetermined level.
Muda Walk    Muda means waste. We can see waste  everywhere if we look for it. We want to drive the waste out of our operations. Go to where the work is done – where value is added, and watch.
Poka Yoke    Poka-yoke is a Japanese term meaning “error proofing.” It is a mistake-proofing method or device applied to prevent any errors or defects from happening or being passed on to the next operation.
Quick & Easy Kaizen    This term describes a method for getting everyone to come up with improvements – to change the way we do work.
Reduced Setup Time    Lean contractors are always trying to reduce wait time. Typical job setup time is wait time and thus waste.
Root Cause Analysis    In construction we seem to be solving the same problems over and over. We don’t usually share lessons learned resulting in new people repeating the same mistakes.
Rules of Release    Rules of Release are established to ensure the hand-offs are done right the first time and meet the next-in-line’s requirements.
Spaghetti Chart    A physical map of the work area is used and one draws the “actual” path taken by a specific product, form or person being observed.
Value Stream Mapping    A process map is a flowchart identifying all the activities, operations, steps and work times for a process. The process is mapped and then analyzed to identify waste. Each step is categorized into 1) value added, 2) non-value added but necessary, or 3) non-value added and not necessary
Visual Control    Visual Control is displaying tools, schedules and performance reports in full view of front-line workers so everyone can see the status of work and their unit’s performance. Its purpose is to let workers and managers quickly and easily see if everything is performing as it should.

“Excellence is achieved by mastery of the fundamentals.
Even the greatest football teams spend most of their time
practicing blocking, tackling, and handling the ball.” 
~ Vince Lombardi


The seven basic types of ‘waste’

  • Defects: It includes doing the wrong installation, defects in fabrication, punch lists and many kinds of change orders and not meeting the required code.
  • Overproduction of goods: Fabricating or ordering material too early and stockpiling material either in the shop, in a warehouse or at the job site. Office overproduction can include printing more job plans or making more copies of a report, material orders or invoices than needed. This waste causes other wastes, including inventory, transportation and motion.
  • Inventory: This includes unfabricated material, work-in-process and finished fabrications. Any material not yet installed and being used by the customer is inventory. This includes spare parts, unused tools, consumables, forms and copies, and worker stashes and personal stockpiles.
  • Motion: Workers looking for materials, tools, information, where to work, etc., is the waste of motion. These “treasure hunts” happen frequently on job sites, but also in the shop, office and worksite trailer.
  • Transportation: This waste happens as material moves around the shop, is loaded on the truck or trailer, or is hauled to the job site and unloaded. It includes when the material is moved from the lay-down or staging area to the installation point, or moved to get out of another trade’s area. Some research shows that material is moved on average about 2.5 times at the work site before being installed.
  • Waiting: This includes when a crew waits for instructions, inspections, change orders and materials at the job site; when a fabrication machine waits for material to be loaded; and when payroll waits for the late timesheets.
  • Overprocessing: This includes overengineering, requiring additional signatures on a requisition, multiple handling of time sheets, duplicate entries on forms, completing reports no longer necessary, and getting double and triple estimates from suppliers. Any step in a process that is not value added is overprocessing.

Visit the website for the Lean Construction Institute  http://www.leanconstruction.org

and view their excellent glossary of Lean Construction terms at  http://www.leanconstruction.org/training/glossary/