Lean Construction

Educational Tall Ship Inc.

2330 Marinship Way, Suite #150

Sausalito, CA 94965


Construction Management Plan

Utilizing “Lean Construction” Techniques to Build the Educational Tall Ship



Lean Construction Methods

Last Planner




The Educational Tall Ship for San Francisco will use the latest techniques in process and construction management to live as an example of how modern management techniques can save money, time and resources. Our plan at ETS is to utilize Lean Construction techniques during the planning and construction phases of the project.

Lean Production methods were first introduced in the 1970’s by the Toyota Corporation and resulted in an industrial production revolution. For decades industrial facilities around the world have adopted these techniques with great success. Only recently have these production methods been applied to ship building or construction projects in general. By utilizing these methods ETS will be on the cutting edge of ship building technology and still be able to maintain traditional craftsmanship and quality standards.

Lean Construction is still a minuscule portion of overall construction projects, but early analysis of projects that have used these methods are showing very promising results. By applying innovative management techniques ETS can serve as an example of how projects like this can be accomplished, on-time and on-budget while cutting down waste in the process.

Lean Construction Methods

Lean Construction Methods are a series of techniques that help to maximize communication and minimize errors all while increasing safety and quality on a construction site. “Lean Construction Journal” and the “Lean Construction Institute” freely distribute information and advice in order to advance the study and utilization of this innovative management technique. At ETS we will adopt the practices advocated by these organizations as outlined in the following paragraphs.*

The purpose of the Living Building Challenge is straightforward – it defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. Living Building Challenge provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment.

Last Planner System

The Last Planner System® (LPS) is a technique that shapes workflow and addresses project variability in construction. The Last Planner is the person or group accountable for operational planning, that is, the structuring of processes to facilitate improved work flow, and production unit control, that is, the completion of individual assignments at the operational level. In the last planner system, the sequences of implementation (master schedule, reverse phase schedules (RPS), six-week lookahead, weekly work plan (WWP), percent plan complete (PPC), Constraint analysis and Variances analysis) sets up an efficient schedule planning framework through a pull technique, which shapes work flow, sequence, and rate; matches work flow and capacity; develops methods for executing work; and improves communication between trades. It will achieve Should Can Will which is the key term in the weekly work plan (WWP). “Should” indicates the work that is required to be done according to schedule requirements. “Can” indicates the work with can actually be accomplished on account of various constraints on the field. “Will” reflects the work commitment which will be made after all the constraints are taken into account. Various key contributions to improve the work flow are included: two-way communication, the constraints analysis process in six- week lookahead before assignments are executed, the analysis of reasons for variance after assignments are completed, the efforts of each planner, and the training of the project team. Traditional practices do not consider a difference between what should, can, and will be done, the assumption being that pushing more tasks will result in better results.

A.) Master Schedule

The master schedule is an overall project schedule, with milestones, that is usually generated for use in the bid package. Reverse Phase Scheduling (RPS) is produced based on this master schedule.

B.) Reverse Phase Scheduling (RPS)

A pull technique is used to develop a schedule that works backwards from the completion date by team planning; it is also called Reverse Phase Scheduling (RPS). The phase scheduling is the link between work structuring and production control, and the purpose of the phase schedule is to produce a plan for the integration and coordination of various specialists’ operations. The reverse phase schedule is developed by a team consisting of all the last planners. It is closer to reality than the preliminary optimal schedule which is the master schedule. However, without considering actual field factors in the RPS, the RPS is less accurate than the WWP.

C.) Lookahead Schedules

The tool for work flow control is lookahead schedules. A lookahead schedule shows what kinds of work are supposed to be done in the future. In the lookahead window, week 1 is next week, the week after the WWP meeting. The number of weeks of lookahead varies. For the design process, the lookahead window could be 3 to 12 weeks. All lookahead durations and schedules are estimated based on the results of the RPS, and constraints are indicated in order to solve the problems before the actual production takes place. SWLA is distributed to all last planners at WWP meetings. Lean lookahead planning is the process to reduce uncertainty in the construction schedule.

D.) Weekly Work Plan (WWP)

Should, Can, and Will are the key terms in WWP. Weekly Work Plan (WWP) is produced based on the lookahead schedules, the actual schedule, and the field condition before the weekly meeting. Along with this plan, manpower from each trade will be adjusted to the need. The WWP meeting covers the weekly schedule, safety issues, quality issues, material needs, manpower, construction methods, backlog of ready work, and any problems that can occur in the field. It promotes two-way communication and team planning to share information on a project in an efficient and accurate way. It can improve safety, quality, the work flow, material flow, productivity, and the relationship among team members. WWP should emphasize the learning process more by investigating the causes of delays on the WWP instead of assigning blames and only focusing on PPC values. Variance analysis is conducted based on the work performance plan from the previous week. The causes of variance should be documented within the WWP schedule.

E.) Percent Plan Complete (PPC)

The measurement metric of Last Planner is the percent plan complete (PPC) values. It is calculated as the number of activities that are completed as planned divided by the total number of planned activities. The positive (upward) slope between two PPC values means that production planning was reliable and vise versa. According to Ballard (1999), PPC values are highly variable and usually range from 30% to 70% without lean implementation. To achieve higher values (i.e., 70% and above), additional lean construction tools such as first run studies have to be implemented.

F.) Increased Visualization

The increased visualization lean tool is about communicating key information effectively to the workforce through posting various signs and labels around the construction site. Workers can remember elements such as workflow, performance targets, and specific required actions if they visualize them. This includes signs related to safety, schedule, and quality. This tool is similar to the lean manufacturing tool, Visual Controls, which is a continuous improvement activity that relates to the process control.

G.) Daily Huddle Meetings (Tool-box Meetings)

Two-way communication is the key of the daily huddle meeting process in order to achieve employee involvement. With awareness of the project and problem solving involvement along with some training that is provided by other tools, employee satisfaction (job meaningfulness, self-esteem, sense of growth) will increase. As part of the improvement cycle, a brief daily startup meeting was conducted where team members quickly give the status of what they had been working on since the previous day’s meeting, especially if an issue might prevent the completion of an assignment. This tool is similar to the lean manufacturing concept of employee involvement, which ensures rapid response to problems through empowerment of workers, and continuous open communication through the tool box meetings.

H.) First Run Studies

First Run Studies are used to redesign critical assignments, part of continuous improvement effort; and include productivity studies and review work methods by redesigning and streamlining the different functions involved. The studies commonly use video files, photos, or graphics to show the process or illustrate the work instruction. The first run of a selected craft operation should be examined in detail, bringing ideas and suggestions to explore alternative ways of doing the work. A PDCA cycle (plan, do, check, act) is suggested to develop the study: Plan refers to select work process to study, assemble people, analyze process steps, brainstorm how to eliminate steps, check for safety, quality and productivity. Do means to try out ideas on the first run. Check is to describe and measure what actually happens. Act refers to reconvene the team, and communicate the improved method and performance as the standard to meet. This tool is similar to the combination of the lean production tool, graphic work instructions, and the traditional manufacturing technique, time and motion study.

I.) The 5s Process (Visual Work Place)

Lean construction visualizes the project as a flow of activities that must generate value to the customer. The 5s process (sometimes referred to as the Visual Work Place) is about “a place for everything and everything in its place”. It has five levels of housekeeping that can help in eliminating wasteful resources: SORT refers to separating needed tools / parts and remove unneeded materials (trash). SRAIGHTEN (or set in order) is to neatly arrange tools and materials for ease of use (stacks/bundles). SHINE means to clean up. STANDARDIZE is to maintain the first 3Ss. Develop a standard 5S’s work process with expectation for the system improvement. SUSTAIN refers to creating the habit of conforming to the rules.

This tool is similar to the 5S housekeeping system from lean manufacturing. The material layout is commonly used for acceleration of 5S implementation on the construction site. 5S is an areabased system of control and improvement. The benefits from implementation of 5S include improved safety, productivity, quality, and set-up-times improvement, creation of space, reduced lead times, cycle times, increased machine uptime, improved morale, teamwork, and continuous improvement.

J.) Fail Safe for Quality and Safety

Poka-yoke devices were introduced as new elements that prevent defective parts from flowing through the process. Fail safe for quality relies on the generation of ideas that alert for potential defects. This approach is opposed to the traditional concept of quality control, in which only a sample size is inspected and decisions are taken after defective parts have already been processed. This is similar to Visual inspection (Poka-Yoke devices) from lean manufacturing. Fail safe can be extended to safety but there are potential hazards instead of potential defects, and it is related to the safety risk assessment tool from traditional manufacturing practice. Both elements require action plans that prevent bad outcomes.


By utilizing Lean Construction Techniques the ETS project will benefit from a compressed building schedule, cost savings and conservation of energy and resources. In addition, Lean techniques allow for smaller yards sizes thus overcoming the challenges of a potentially smaller yard.

Incorporating Lean Construction Methods is just another example of how ETS plans to be on the cutting edge of projects and serve as a model to other programs of this type around the world.


The bulk of the information regarding Lean Construction Techniques is taken from articles published in the Lean Construction Journal (www.leanconstructionjournal.org) and available on the Lean Construction Institute – UK website. (www.lci-uk.org).


For More Information Contact:

Matt Suddaby

Educational Tall Ship

2330 Marinship Way, Suite #150

Sausalito, CA 94965