LeanCon (Lean Construction)

The objectives of the Lean Construction concept introduced by HOCHTIEF are to increase productivity, plan processes efficiently, and cooperate in advance to avoid waste. The concept is modeled after the Kaizen principle applied in the automotive industry. Kaizen (Japanese for "change for the better") is a management concept in which the employees gradually optimize products and services. Lean Construction has been so successful that it is not just used in production and assembly, but in a wide range of work areas of different industries and companies.

Action areas at HOCHTIEF

Lean Construction goals are developed with Kaizen methods as part of the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP). To start off the CIP process at HOCHTIEF, a multidisciplinary team analyzed where defects occur and why. The team identified the four core areas of planning, work preparation, construction site/subcontractor, and quality and found that defects occur most often when a work process is not sufficiently prepared. That is exactly the point Lean Construction will address in our company.

Lean management

As specified by the corporate management, the employees play an active role in making the necessary changes to the work processes in line with the principles of CIP. In contrast to a newly introduced innovation product, Kaizen makes gradual improvements and once a change has become the standard, the next one can be addressed. Lean companies in the definition of LeanCon place the value creation process at the center of their actions by structuring and stabilizing local processes at the construction site. Each work step is planned with precision.

Improvement of process quality

Accordingly, "process quality" is also a synonym for profitability, product quality, staying on schedule, and customer and employee satisfaction.

We start from a specific level and keep improving by learning from one another and from others. This learning occurs simultaneously and represents a continuous process.

Avoiding waste

Lean Construction focuses on avoiding waste caused by waiting times, the need to repair defects, or keeping overly high or low inventories. In this definition, any activity that does not create value for the customer is a waste and no work should be duplicated or be done unnecessarily. Lean management in the construction industry relies on the same rule of 5Rs that applies in lean automotive production: The right part must be available in the right quality at the right time in the right quantity in the right place.

Planning in takt time

The takt principle plays a large role in lean management. In automotive production, vehicles move from one workstation to the next in fixed intervals. In the construction industry, such a takt interval could be three days. This would give every subcontractor a fixed time window in every batch, for example on a floor level, to work alone. In this manner, materials could be provided on time and the individual tradesmen would not interfere with each other's work. This also applies to quality management, which we want to improve with CIP. It involves defining and agreeing to risks ahead of starting any construction project and establishes who controls what and when during the course of a project.

Just-in-time logistics

Just-in-time delivery is another important aspect of Lean Construction. Virtual visualization techniques can be used to help plan the work steps along with construction logistics, such as crane locations and transport paths. Other aspects of work preparation include standardization of schedules and regular comparisons of target dates and actual progress.

Inclusion of subcontractors

In actual construction, the work preparation team cooperates on site with the construction managers and subcontractors. This means that subcontractors have to be included in the project planning at an early stage. Close cooperation modeled after approaches in the automotive industry stabilize the process flow and increase shared savings potential. At the same time, reliable communication with all participants must be a high priority. When schedule planners and project managers work together, the project management can identify and respond to scheduling delays at an early time.

Project examples

HOCHTIEF Solutions has extensive experience with the implementation of lean concepts in the construction of civil engineering projects.

A number of engineering pilot projects of HOCHTIEF Solutions test ways to make the project flow more efficient and to avoid sources of error from the start. The Lean Construction unit supports the on-site teams in this effort.

Gartenstadt Bingen

The Rhine-Main branch office constructed 26 high-quality condos and an underground garage with 41 parking spaces directly on the banks of the Rhine. The project represented an early construction phase for a development segment of the future State Garden Show premises.

Freiherr-vom-Stein School (FvS), Frankfurt/Main

The branch offices PPP and Frankfurt jointly managed the new construction of FvS School near the city's southern train station. The high school, established in 1909, became the most modern and best-equipped school in Frankfurt in the summer of 2009. A temporary school building consisting of trailers was provided during the demolition of the previous school and the construction of the new building. HOCHTIEF planned and built the new structure and will operate it under a lease agreement with the City of Frankfurt as part of a PPP project involving four schools in the Frankfurt metropolitan area until 2029.

Uferpalais, Essen-Kettwig

The Uferpalais brought together the expertise of the units formart NRW and Wohnungsbau West to combine modern living quality with historic construction styles. In consultation with the authority for the preservation of historic buildings, the former weaving plant was turned into 36 high-end condos with parking spaces. The units, which are located close to the waterfront and the attractive old city center of Kettwig, were completed in the fall of 2010.

Emporio, Hamburg
© www.datenland.de

The Hamburg branch office acted as a general contractor for the inner city urban development project "Emporio," completed in 2011. HOCHTIEF Solutions was involved in the planning phase of the €138 million project to optimize the former Unilever high-rise in cooperation with the customer, using the PreFair business model. The new construction resulted in office and retail spaces, apartments, and a hotel with 325 rooms. The existing 90-meter high-rise is subject to historic preservation. HOCHTIEF Solutions worked to remove the core and added two floor levels. A new portion was built at the same time. The total above-ground utility area of both building parts is approx. 60,000 square meters.

Tower 185, Frankfurt/Main
© Vivico Real Estate

The Rohbau/Industriebau branch added the spectacular Tower 185 to the Frankfurt skyline between the Frankfurt fairgrounds, the central train station, and the Financial District. The 50-floor level tower is one of Germany's highest buildings with a total height of 185 meters. HOCHTIEF Solutions built the shell for €60 million. The building opened in the spring of 2011 and offers some 100,000 square meters of lease space with business and conference rooms, retail space, and eateries.

An St. Magdalenen, Cologne

The units formart NRW and Wohnungsbau West constructed the high-end apartment complex "An St. Magdalenen" in the southern part of Cologne. The project features 60 apartments and an underground garage.