LCi – Embracing Lean Thinking

Ireland’s Construction Sector embracing Lean Thinking through Lean Construction Ireland (LCi)

With over 1,600 members and an ambitious 3-year development plan, Lean Construction Ireland (LCi) have recently made the decision to incorporate and have now appointed a Board of Directors. This initiative, to incorporate, will allow the Directors to concentrate on growing the association and the development of lean principles within the Irish construction sector through new relationships and strategic partnerships with the public/private and academic sectors.

With increasing regulation, international competition and a push on improving efficiencies to reduce project costs, delays and quality issues; many successful Irish companies in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector are utilising tools and techniques developed in other highly productive sectors such as the manufacturing and services. These companies improve efficiencies and ultimately become more competitive by consistently delivering projects better and faster through effective teamwork, collaboration and the use of lean thinking.

Apart from implementing digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and associated data management, companies are also looking at optimising their entire supply chain through the use of lean tools and the creation of a lean culture within their organisations. These new structures utilise various lean tools such as 5S, Value Stream Mapping and Last Planner to reduce the 8 known wastes such as defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilised talent, transportation, inventory, motion and extra processing.

The LCi Board of Directors has been established to ensure all key sectors and influencers are involved and working groups have been established to manage the important elements of Lean in Contracts, Training/Education, Media & Communications and Product/Services enhancement.

The following are recently nominated Board of Directors for LCi:

No. Name Board Position Company
1 Richard Fitzpatrick Chairperson / Director NPHDB
2 John French Vice-Chairperson / Director Intel
3 Kevin White Company Treasurer / Director Jones Engineering
4 Angelyn Rowan Company Secretary / Director Eversheds-Sutherland
6 Joe O’Sullivan Director / Board Member Sisk
7 Gary Widger Director / Board Member Mercury Engineering
8 Trevor McSharry Director / Board Member IT Sligo
9 Elizabeth Wheeler Director / Board Member Henchion-Reuter
10 Richard Casey Director / Board Member DPS Engineering
11 Jason Casey Director / Board Member Ardmac
12 Derek Sinnott Director / Board Member Waterford IT
13 Avril Behan Director / Board Member Dublin IT
14 Denis Leonard Director / Board Member GRAHAM Construction
15 Niall Stone Director / Board Member Designer Group
16 Perry Haughton Director / Board Member BAM

The depth and breadth of knowledge within the association is second to none and with a vision to delivering projects better, faster and together – anyone working within the Irish construction sector will certainly benefit from becoming a member and having the opportunity to regularly network with some of the leaders of home building, commercial construction and public-sector projects.

Richard Fitzpatrick (LCi Chair) says; “Activity within the Irish construction sector has now risen continuously for the past 4 ½ years and this is an extremely exciting time for the industry. With growth projected to continue, the LCi is best placed to assist construction companies (large & small) and their clients to develop a lean management culture throughout their organisations and projects.”

Lean Construction Ireland, and its Directors, are tasked with promoting the application of lean thinking and practices within the Irish AEC industry and to continue to assist companies achieve value added construction projects. Their ambition is to challenge the status quo of current project thinking and delivery methods and advance the business case for lean construction knowledge & skills.

LCi encourages all stakeholders within the construction sector to visit their website for further information about lean, how to get started, service providers etc. There are some excellent resources such as case studies and webinars which are constantly being added to. worth checking out : boulder architecture firms

Lean Construction – Why should I start and Where can I get help

Pictured (From Left): Darrin Taylor (WIT), Richard Casey (DPS Engineering), Sean Downey (CIF) & Perry Haughton (BAM Ireland)

This evening 24th April in the Tullamore Court Hotel – Lean Construction Ireland (LCi) & the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Midlands Region were delighted to bring the regional a collaborative engagement evening which was attended by construction companies from the Midlands.

The theme of the event was: “Lean Construction and The Champion– Why should I start and Where can I get help?” and contribution panel included:

Gillian Murtagh (Shay Murtagh & CIF Midlands Chairperson); Justin Molloy (CIF Regional Director Midlands); Perry Haughton (BAM & Board Member of LCi ); Richard Casey (DPS ATG & Board Member of LCi); Senan O Riain (IDA Ireland ); Michael Devaney (Enterprise Ireland); Jolene Hall (Laois Offaly Education & Training Board); Andy Brophy (Lean 2 Innovative Thinking); Darrin Taylor (WIT & LCi & Lean Business Ireland).

For further information visit:

10 companies receive the Lean Construction Ireland Commendation in Dublin

Sean McCarthy (Cluain) presented with the LCi Commendation from Richard Fitzpatrick.

In the Irish Management Institute (IMI) Dublin on the 17th of April we saw 10 companies receive the Lean Construction Ireland Commended award. Presented by Richard Fitzpatrick (Chairman of Lean Construction Ireland) the lean service providers proved themselves to be true leaders in lean management within the Irish construction sector. Having met a number of strict criteria, the companies who received the award included:

• AccountsPLUS
• Cluain
• Education, Training and Organisational Services (ETOS)
• Jigsaw Consulting
• Lean Construct Limited
• Paramount Decisions
• RP Consulting
• The Lean Way
• V.A.E. Consultancy Limited
• VFECTO Limited

Stuart Nelson (Jigsaw Consulting) presented with the LCi Commendation from Richard Fitzpatrick.

Lean Construction Ireland would like to congratulate all Commended lean service providers on achieving this award and wish them every success in the future.

To view the full list of LCI Commended Lean Service Providers, or if you would like to submit an application, please visit:

Efficient Construction Planning with Last Planner

Efficient Construction Planning with Last Planner

Kevin White and Simon Watson of Jones Engineering Group talk to Irish building magazine about introducing the Last Planner System, the benefits it has brought on the Group’s past projects and its early use on the New Children’s Hospital Project.

In Issue 3 of 2017, Irish building spoke to Lean Construction Institute Co-Founder and Last Planner System Co-Creator Glenn Ballard about the Last Planner System. Here we learn about the application of the tool from a specialist services contractor’s perspective. Jones Engineering Group have been heavily involved in Lean Construction Ireland and are using a variety of Lean tools, including the Last Planner System.

Kevin White describes his personal involvement and the Group’s involvement
in Lean Construction Ireland (LCI), “I am
a founding member of the LCI and Jones Engineering Group have supported it since its foundation, including running events and the website, and representing general contracting and trade elements in the LCI.”

Last Planner

Last Planner System (LPS) is a production planning and control system with subsystems. As described by Glenn Ballard in his Issue
3 interview, there are significant differences between LPS and traditional planning. In
the traditional planning method, there is a distinction between planners and the people undertaking the work. Traditionally, planners would plan the work and the gangs and subcontractors would do the work. In LPS those undertaking the work plan the work
they are going to do within the project targets set. LPS is also different in that commitments (reliable promises) are made between the supervisors, as opposed to them being asked
to agree to a set time period. With LPS there is an emphasis on learning and avoiding mistakes through continuous improvement.

Kevin White is Division Manager and Simon Watson leads Team Development at Jones Engineering Group and they tell us about their use of LPS and Lean adoption. We ask Kevin White when Jones Engineering Group first became interested in Lean and LPS. He says, “Our interest first started in 2003 with the BRE (Building Research Establishment) and CLIP (Construction Lean Improvement Programme) and we first used LPS in 2008, initially based on in-house research.” CLIP was set up in 2003 to improve the financial performance of the UK Construction Industry and to provide better products and services to customers. TheCLIP programme operated under the control of the BRE and Constructing Excellence. CLIP has worked for companies throughout the construction supply chain, from main contractors to manufacturers and suppliers.

LPS was introduced at Jones Engineering by in-house researchers and the use of external consultants and experts. Initially, internally through in-house research in 2008 and supplemented with training from DPS in 2014 and Paul Ebbs, a Lean Consultant in association with Umstot Project and Facility Solutions from San Diego, who are LPS Consultants.

Speaking about the popularity of LPS in construction media and its future in the Irish Construction Industry, they say “Much has been written lately about the use of the ‘Last Planner System’ to assist with scheduling of construction projects. Based on the learnings of those who have been involved in its use, we will see this tool used more and more in our industry. ”They describe the system for readers: “ e main function of this system is to involve the experts, from each of the stakeholders on the project, in a planning process where they can actually make their own commitments and promises.” Jones have significant experience of using this tool and know its benefits in comparison to traditional planning.

Experiences of Traditional Planning and Introducing Last Planner

“Over the years, we have learned from experience that being handed a project schedule developed by someone else simply doesn’t work! When the team have some ‘skin in the game’ and have to make their own commitments on what can be done, they feel a deeper sense of responsibility to fulfill these promises,” they tell us. “It also means they have had to plan for the upcoming tasks themselves in advance and are more aware of what they need to have in place to succeed i.e.; material, access, and information. These are the three fundamental items that all of our teams are taught to review in advance of starting a task. If they are missing any one of these items for a specific task, they must move on to the next task, as they will be unable to complete this one.”

They speak from experience about the difficulties in traditional planning. “Starting
a task when you know you are outstanding either material, access, or information is non-productive. If your field install teams are working this way you will findthere is a lot of wasted time leaving tasks unfinished, only to have to return when the missing piece of the puzzle has been received.”

Kevin and Simon describe their first encounter with LPS. “Our first experience of using the Last Planner System on a large project was
a couple of years ago. A similar project had just been completed for this client…behind schedule, over budget, and with the team disheartened. When the next project was due to start with all of the same contractors in place, the client saw the need to take a different approach and so instigated the Last Planner System. e difference was astounding!” They add, “Introducing LPS was not the only change taken on board by Jones Engineering that made the difference on this project. ere were a number of other improvements introduced, these also helped significantly, but LPS was the catalyst that pulled all the contractors together to work as a unified single team.”

Since this project Jones Engineering have developed the experience of using this tool and are recognised in the industry for their expertise. “Since then, we have carried out LPS training for specific cross-functional project teams within Jones Engineering Group prior to them commencing projects where LPS is used.”

“One of the other key outcomes from using LPS on projects is the bonding of the entire project team,” Kevin and Simon state. “Having all these folks in the room together and going through the various stages of LPS from Milestone, Phase, Pull, Weekly and down to Daily Plans, is like walking through the whole project before works have even commenced. All the key players get to know each other and develop an understanding of each other’s work scope in a far more accelerated manner than on a project where traditional planning methods are used.”

“The main function of this system is to involve the experts, from each of the stakeholders on the project, in a planning process where they
can actually make their own commitments and promises.”

Last Planner on the New Children’s Hospital Project

Jones Engineering Group are currently working on the New Children’s Hospital Project where LPS is due to be used throughout the project, and it has already had early application. Because of the scale of this project, recognised Lean experts with experience of introducing LPS to similar healthcare facilities around the globe have been sourced and will be in place to facilitate its adoption on the project.

Kevin and Simon tell us about the contractor’s early use of LPS on the project. “During the initial project phase where we are diverting existing services out of the footprint of the building, it was decided to introduce LPS and get everyone acclimatised before the main project scope starts. Working through the Phase planning process has already thrown
up some fundamental changes to the way the tunnel structure could be built to allow earlier access for Mechanical & Electrical trades. Without LPS, it is unlikely all of the right people would have talked through the build sequence and identified this opportunity for earlier access.” LPS could be critical to the planning of work and this project could be a great case study for the use of LPS in Ireland. “ e stage is now set for LPS to be the catalyst that makes this hospital project a great success. Watch this space!”

As we can see from the metrics below,
Last Planner allows you to actively pursue constraints whilst allowing you to manage your activities 6 weeks in advance of becoming an issue. It also enables real-time tracking of the teams PPC (Planned Percent Complete) which highlights the opportunities to stretch your goals within the schedule. If your PPC is 100% you are not setting hard enough goals and there will be Float in your plan which is waste. Also shown below is the Constraint Removal ID Health. is helps the team focus on removing the constraints to enable the work planned. Constraint removal ahead of the work is preferable and late removal is tracked to identify common issues that are di cult to remove.

The work of Jones Engineering Group is a great example of the work of Irish Contractors adopting the Lean Philosophy, using Lean tools and supporting the Lean Construction Ireland Community to enhance the value delivered by the Irish Construction Industry to its clients. If you want to find out more about the Last Planner System and Lean Construction in Ireland, visit the Lean Construction Ireland website and read past issues of Irish building magazine.

See Jones Eng. PDF here








What do Hospitals and Construction Projects have in common?


In their article Why Hospital don’t learn from Failures, Anita L. Tucker and Amy C. Edmundson completed a study of nine high performing hospitals to determine why the same problems seem to occur over and over again in the Hospital environments.  To gather this information the research team completed a direct observation study on the frontline workers (Nurses) as they went about their daily business to determine what type of issues occur on a daily basis and how the issue are dealt with.

The direct observation team identified 194 issues that they categorised into problems and errors.

Problems were defined as issues that were caused by issues outside the direct control of the frontline workers

Errors were defined as issues caused by the frontline workers themselves

The data showed that that 85% of issues that front line workers were dealing with were caused by problems that were outside out of their control but because of the need to keep the work going 100% of the issue were being addressed using what the research team called first order problem solving.

What is First Order problem solving?

First order problem solving occurs when a worker fixes the issue that they are presented with to solve the problem as it is presented. For example, a staff member sees’ a bed not ready for a patient, they go get clothes from another bed in another ward. They make the bed ready, the problem is solved.

The pro’s of first order problem solving is that the activity, while interrupted for a short period of time, gets back on track as soon as the solution is found.   The con’s is that the actual root cause of the problem is not resolved and the problem has a high probability to re-occur.

What is Second order problem solving?

Second order problem solving occurs when the worker, in addition to doing first order problem solving, also takes further action to address the actual reason why this problem occurred. For example, a staff member sees’ a bed not ready for a patient, they go get clothes from another bed in another ward. They make the bed ready, the problem is solved.   Then, they contact their manager to describe the issue and ask’s for the manager to check why this happened and to ensure that it does not happen again.

The pro’s of second order problem solving is that if the root cause of the problem is addressed then the problem is solved and does not reoccur. The Con’s is that it takes time, influence and skills that the front line worker may not have

So how do you move from First Order to Second Order problem solving?

The authors propose that in order to move to a second order problem solving the following steps need to be implemented

Step 1: Management must increase their support to allow for training, structures, process and time to be allocated to problem solving.

Step 2: Management need to create a safe space where workers feel free to talk about problem they are encountering without fear of ridicule or punishment.

Step 3: Management must follow through on suggestions for improvement from the frontline workers.

The gains of facilitating these process look like an increase in resources and therefore funding but, in the study referenced for this article, the research team argue that an elimination of just the worker waiting time, calculated at 8% would yield a savings of approx. $256,000 per year in lost time at a 200 bed hospital.  How much would it save in lost time on a project???

So where is the relationship between Hospitals and Construction?

Like Hospitals, Construction performance is based heavily on the performance of its frontline workers and the majority of people that work in construction are those at the frontline. In fact 48% of value added construction activities are generated by the frontline trades over a full project cycle.

The McKinsey Report on Reinventing construction outlines that construction firms in Europe with more than 250 employees account for less than 1% of all construction companies while 94% of construction companies have less the 10 employees. These are the construction industries frontline workers.

The same report shows that these frontline workers have a baseline productivity that is 20% lower than the sector average. An analysis completed recently by DPS Group to determine the main drivers for construction productivity losses during the construction execution phase shows that pre-requisite works not being ready and material delivery and management on site.  Both which are out of control of the frontline worker but have a direct impact on their productivity.

Finally, for the frontline companies, their margins are tight, they have deadlines and they need to meet their targets or they will risk having a loss on the project.    If they see a problem, they will resolve the problem in front of them and they will use first order problem solving to do so.

Therefore, Like the Hospital example, the majority of value added work on construction projects is completed by the frontline workers. Like the frontline staff in hospitals most construction projects suffer from problems that are outside of the daily control of the frontline worker and finally the most common method for problem solving is in construction is the first order kind.

So how do we ensure that we move to second order problem solving in construction?   The answer is the same as with the Hospital study but in this case the management are the larger Construction companies or the General contractor.   As these companies tend to be less fragmented, they have the infrastructure to mimic the Toyota process of coaching and helping their supply chain to improve their productivity.

Like the Hospital study in order to move to a second order problem solving the following steps need to be implemented

Step 1: Large Construction Companies must increase their support to allow for training, structures, process and time to be allocated to problem solving.

Step 2: Large Construction Companies need to create a safe space where their frontline workers are free to talk about problem they are encountering without fear of ridicule or punishment.

Step 3:  Large Construction Companies must follow through on suggestions for improvement from the frontline workers.

There is plenty of evidence that most successful projects use Lean problem solving techniques such as direct observation, last planner, PDCA, Kaizen and Kata’s to identify and resolve issues to the root cause to prevent them from re-occurring.

The LCI’s own data shows that project that use Lean processes are three times more likely to complete ahead of schedule and twice as likely to come in under budget.

Like Toyota, the larger construction companies must take the lead in the improvement of the construction supply chain by first implementing lean practices in their own companies and then into the companies that work for them. The larger construction companies need to lean the implementation of standard Lean practices on projects (Last Planner, Direct observation, Waste walks and Kata sessions) and to take ownership of administrating these processes on projects.

And as per the hospital study, the gains of facilitating these process look like an increase in resources and therefore funding but, if the elimination of just the worker waiting time, calculated at 8% would yield a savings of approx. $256,000 per year in lost time at a 200 bed hospital, how much would it save in lost time on a large capital project?

Lean Construction USA, 2016. The business case for lean construction…there is a better way. [Online] Available at: WWW.LEANCONSTRUCTION.ORG/LEARNING
[Accessed 24 Feb 2018].

Mckinsey Global Institute, 2017. Reinventing Construction A route to higher Productivity, s.l.: McKinsey & Company.

Tucker, Anita L, Edmundson, Amy C. 2003. Why Hospitals Don’t learn from Failures. California Management Review, Vol 45 No 2. Pg 55-72

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