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The Continuing & Growing Importance of Lean Construction Principles in 2021

With the emergence of new technologies aimed at driving efficiencies across the construction industry, it is worth reflecting on the continued – and arguably growing – importance of these principles in construction today. 

Lean principles have helped to shape industry best practice for the most recent generation.  While it’s origins can be traced back to Toyota’s factory floor in the 1950s, it took several decades to translate the streamlining methodologies of manufacturing onto busy construction sites. Of course, with the rise in offsite construction and other modern methods of construction (MMC), the line between building and manufacturing is getting finer. At its simplest, ‘Lean’ as a productivity term refers to the most efficient use of all necessary resources and minimising waste in order to maximise value for the client and the business, which is good for the industry at large. Meeting clients’ needs and expectations, while using fewer resources, is certainly possible, however, it requires exceptional project management and lean principles help to keep this on track.

There are many benefits to Lean Construction, for both the contractor and the client. Some of these benefits are obvious, whereas others emerge as points of competitive advantage for construction companies. At Townmore, we have benefited from reduced costs, enhanced quality and greater productivity gains, which allows us to better reward our team and our supply chain. Our clients benefit from shorter, more cost-effective and more predictable build programmes. Some of the less obvious, but powerful, benefits include improved design with fewer defects, which has a positive impact on health and safety. 

As new technologies emerge to automate and digitise the application of Lean principles for construction, it opens up new opportunities for the team at all levels to collaborate in a deeper way across the supply chain in order to promote innovation and innovative practices. We have seen this in action at Townmore through the establishment and rollout of new HSEQ protocols in response to the ongoing pandemic. 


Principles of Lean Construction

Following the principles of Lean Construction, our team will work to identify and understand ‘value’ from our clients’ perspectives. This involves looking beyond the prescribed outcome to understand the project in a more holistic way. By doing this, we can better design the process to deliver this value, which includes eliminating any unnecessary waste in terms of labour, equipment and other resources.The value of minimising waste cannot be understated. This refers not only to efficient estimating and procurement, but to getting things right the first time. Careful management of transport, logistics and labour onsite is another key aspect that reduces or eliminates unnecessary waiting periods for tradespeople (common feature of traditional construction sites). The ideal we strive for is a frictionless, uninterrupted project workflow. Scheduling and clear communication are the only ways to make this happen, in this regard, technology has become a great enabler over the past decade. 

Finally, one of the most important elements of embracing Lean Construction is the principle of Continuous Improvement. This is a Townmore mantra across all of our sites nationwide. And for this reason, we are proud to be a corporate member of Lean Construction Ireland (LCi).


Lean Construction Ireland (LCi)

Significantly, the LCi is launching their Lean Construction Ireland Annual Book of Cases 2020 today. The LCi Annual Book of Cases is a hugely valuable resource and reference for the Irish construction sector, providing detailed and practical examples of Lean being implemented on capital projects as well as within sectoral organisations. For further information on downloading a digital version of the Book, please visit

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