G. Greene News

July 13, 2023

Is LEAN Obsolete Post Pandemic?

LEAN construction’s “just in time” method relies on a stable supply chain. With the supply chain bobbling since March 2020, is LEAN defunct?

A core principle of LEAN contends that companies should keep only just enough inventory in their possession; timing small batch deliveries to arrive at the last responsible moment. Excess material creates clogs and bottlenecks in workflows, slowing the overall process and adding unnecessary cost for redundant material handling, security, and warehouse space. In an age of overabundance, LEAN was meant to throttle oversupply. It never considered a severe global shortage.

The pandemic threw a wrench into the cogs of the global supply chain. The whirring gears of international trade ground to a shrieking halt. Typically readily available materials became scarce. Lead times shot to astronomical levels. Vendors who practiced “just in time” manufacturing were caught short. Those with the anti-LEAN practice of stockpiling materials prevailed.

So, is LEAN Still Relevant?

Greene’s analysis: Embrace the tenets that work; shed the ones that do not; constantly reevaluate.

We embrace the LEAN concepts of “sort” and “straighten”. Our job sites are tidy, clean, organized and efficient. Marie Kondo would be proud.

We shed the idea of keeping minimal materials on hand. We’re gluttonous with our materials, and for us that sparks joy. We purchased conduit in bulk, allowing our civil conduit crews to keep working on critical utility infrastructure projects. We’re expanding our yard at Hyde Park and are building new warehouses in Foxborough to house our growing equipment and material needs.

We embrace the idea of a pull plan..kind of. We espouse the idea of working backwards from the target completion date. A pull plan also contends that the schedule durations should be set by those performing the work (i.e. subcontractors). However, when the material lead time is greater than the duration of the project, we cannot afford to take this approach. This is particularly true in the case of HVAC equipment. The G. Greene pre-construction team will vet and pre-purchase long lead HVAC equipment, ensuring we can meet the target completion date.

We wholeheartedly embrace the idea of continuous improvement. We strive to be a builder for tomorrow by constantly reevaluating our processes and service to our clients to ensure it’s the best in the industry. With our eyes on the horizon and our feet firmly grounded in the indelible values of strong work ethic and integrity, we look forward to adapting to and meeting future industry challenges.

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