American Society of Civil Engineers

Lean Techniques in the Management of the Design of an Industrial Project

by Abhijeet S. Deshpande, Ph.D., (corresponding author), A.M.ASCE, (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn Univ. 238 Harbert Engineering Center, Auburn, AL 36849. MI. E-mail:, Larry E. Filson, (Director of Preconstruction Services, Walbridge, Detroit, MI 48226. E-mail:, Ossama M. Salem, P.E., M.ASCE, (Yabroudi Chair of Sustainable Civil Infrastructures, Professor, Construction Engineering and Management, 151 Link Hall, L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, Syracuse Univ., Syracuse, NY 13244. E-mail:, and Richard A. Miller, P.E., (Professor, Civil Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Univ. of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0071. E-mail:

Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol. 28, No. 2, April 2012, pp. 221-223, (doi:

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Document type: Technical Note
Abstract: Lean production techniques developed by Toyota Motor Corporation have been widely applied in the manufacturing sector to reduce waste, ensure just-in-time delivery, create effective value streams, and ensure continuous improvement. Over the last two decades, significant efforts have been made to develop the theoretical foundation and practical tools to implement these techniques in the construction process. The construction process is similar to production, in that it involves the assembly of raw materials into a product. The design process, on the other hand, involves conversion of the client’s requirements into manufacturing instructions using creativity and technical knowledge. This makes it challenging to implement the principles of lean production directly to design. This technical note presents the techniques used by a midsize industrial construction contractor: purpose built facility, making decisions at the last responsible moment, lean audits, and 5S in the design of industrial projects to encapsulate and implement techniques of lean production in the management of design.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Lean construction
Industrial facilities

Author Keywords:
Lean design
Industrial projects