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CommONEnergy introduces the Lean Pool methodology: a hands-on training on how to efficiently manage construction works

One of the biggest challenges for the construction sector is the unreliability of the works, often caused by inadequate planning. For a project to finish within time and budget, multiple processes, including diverse actors, technologies and equipment, need to connect smoothly.

In an efficient process:

·         the accurate tools and equipment are available when needed,

·         workers do not have to wait for proper conditions (materials to be delivered, previous activities of the construction process to be finished, safety conditions or access to the area, etc.), and

·         the accurate measures are taken in a precise order. To avoid time waste, it is common practice that construction workers take on another task while waiting for the right equipment, sometimes leading to expensive reworks. 

CommONEnergy’s Lean Pool methodology, also known as WE_Build, the Collaborative Planning Simulation Game, applies a “customer perspective”, which helps construction managers to avoid such efficiency losses.

The customer perspective is key for an efficient construction process, which aims to reduce the gap between designed and actual performance. The idea of the Lean Pool is to start planning from the “last assembly step”, in other words, from the end-product the customer expects. The whole process, including all activities involved, is planned backwards, from the end to the beginning.

For instance, to perform painting, the windows should be installed; to install windows, the floor should be ready, and so on, up to the “first brick”. 

This approach, called “collaborative pull-planning”, comprises all service providers involved in the construction process. The actors share all their relevant information regarding the upcoming construction process, and at the same time verify their respective planning assumptions. By doing so, they minimize misunderstandings and wasted time. This modus operandi facilitates a more reliable process, where the multiple activities are more efficiently linked with each other, and enables the project to finish within the agreed time and budget.

The training – going deeper

CommONEnergy succeeded to put theory into practice by creating the Lean Pool training session, where participants can learn the “collaborative pull-planning” approach. After the training, the method can be applied straight away to the construction site. The Lean Pool method, “WE_Build”, was elaborated by IDM Suedtirol Altoadige, Construction Ecosystem on request of EURAC Research, in cooperation with “Istituto Lean Management”.

A team of 10 participants is divided into 5 groups: 4 suppliers (e.g. electrical installation, drywall construction) and 1 project management unit.

In the first round, the team has approximately 30 minutes to complete a hypothetical refurbishment of a retail store located in a shopping centre. Typical information details (plans, descriptions of the required activities, drawings, etc.) are provided to the respective teams. In this round, they are expected to conduct the task as they would usually.  

After the first round, the results are evaluated and discussed, before the “collaborative pull-planning” method is introduced. Participants are then invited to use the new planning method before starting the second round of construction works. After the second round, the changes and performances are again evaluated and discussed. Between the two phases, team participants are shuffled in order to avoid improved solutions due to familiarity of the game rules.

The Lean Pool methodology is available under the Creative Common license “CC BY SA”. Other actors are free to use (also commercially) this methodology, as well as to share and adapt it, under two conditions:

(i)                 Credit must be given to the authors

(ii)              Any changes to the game must be communicated to the authors. The modified version must be shared under the same “CC BY SA” conditions.

A user manual is available (only in Italian), created to maximise the dissemination of the “collaborative pull-planning” method.

The average efficiency improvement between the two phases is around 30%. But an even bigger benefit relates to better “working conditions”. In the second phase, the activities flow flawlessly, mistakes are reduced to nearly zero, and the general mood is more positive and constructive.

The Lean Pool methodology was developed by EURAC Research and IDM – Construction Ecosystem. More information and contacts in the flyer.

  

(Images from Lean Pool training session in South Tyrol, Italy)

To know more and see the training happening, check this short video: