A Bottom-Up Approach to Lean Construction: Increase Business Opportunities for Subs, Value for Owners

By Akio

Trade contractors that have thought about going Lean but are still waiting for the “right” project to come along may be missing major opportunities.

It’s true that as Lean first moved from manufacturing into the construction arena, its use was typically driven by a project owner’s desire to keep costs from running over budget and ensure project milestones were reached on time.

Pioneering owners led the formation of integrated teams and required everyone (construction managers, architects, engineers, GCs, and major subcontractors) to apply lean project delivery methodologies

Today, however, even a single project contributor who adopts Lean Construction practices to improve business processes will ultimately deliver increased value to the customer.


Trade contractors that adopt Lean on their own initiative are able to offer highly competitive bids while still providing safe, quality work.

In fact, improved safety is seen by trade contractors as one of the biggest benefits of Lean.

Whether from specifically implementing more ergonomic processes, or generally better managing a safety culture with integrated task hazard analysis, subs report seeing as much as a 15% improvement over industry safety averages.

Often, simply adopting reliable planning and controls will reduce the frequency of executing unplanned work with inherent safety risks.

ROI and Profit

Many subcontractors wait for top-down direction from construction managers or general contractors on “Lean” projects due to the upfront costs of collaborative scheduling and planning requirements.

However, those costs generally are recouped by overall reductions in wasted resources, materials, and time.

In addition, trade contractors that adopt Lean report seeing more consistent, reliable profit on their projects.

Positive Influence

3DS partner CornerCube reports that taking a Lean approach even to a non-Lean project can positively affect the processes and behaviors of non-Lean practitioners, driving overall project efficiency and delivering value to the owner.


According to Lean Construction: Advanced Project Delivery for the AEC Industry, a whitepaper by CornerCube,

Lean Construction can enable subcontractors to have greater control over their work—avoiding change orders and other challenges—by improving communications and collaboration among all parties.

Subcontractors that are adopting the tools related to Lean—including modeling and prefabrication—are earning reputations as “super subs.”

Many owners today are looking for trade contractors already familiar with Lean to serve as a resource early in the project.

One contractor states in the report that owners are looking for super-subs with which they can establish long-term relationships that go beyond the construction window and into the building’s operation.

By going Lean now, trade contractors can become a resource for owners and win a steady backlog for the future.


Further Reading:


The Evolution of AEC Tech: Q-and-A with CornerCube’s Fernando España

By Akio

Fernando Espana, CEO CornerCube

Fernando España is at the forefront of Lean construction practices in the US and abroad.

With over 30 years in the construction industry, España has extensive experience in the facilitation, definition, design, implementation, monitoring, and optimization of Lean solutions.

He is the president of CornerCube, a Dassault Systèmes partner located in the San Francisco Bay area, which offers Lean construction solutions, 3D technology solutions, and related technical services to the AEC industry.

España recently offered his perspectives with us regarding the current state of the industry, trends in technology, and Lean Thinking. Below is a transcript of a portion of our conversation.

How have you seen AEC technologies evolve, and where are they headed?

Over the past decade or so, the adoption of 3D modeling has been the most widespread. When I started exploring 3D parametric technologies in 1997, it didn’t exist for AEC.

We looked to the manufacturing industry for solutions before the rest of the AEC industry picked up on its value. Now, investing in 3D is a requirement.

Read the rest of this entry »

How can technology shape the future?

By Alyssa

How can technology shape the future? That is the question at the heart of a new3-part series developed by Dassault Systèmes. While the stories are distinct, they contain an underlying theme of how innovative 3DEXPERIENCEs can impact humankind. In the next few weeks we will introduce you to each story in depth.

The Living Heart Project

You will learn about how 3D modeling is giving researchers a revolutionary and comprehensive look into the human heart. Can this help reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death in humans? Will our medical treatment be able to become more personalized to our unique situation?

Living Heart

Performance Sports Apparel

Another segment focuses on advances in performance sports apparel. Will we soon expect that every piece of our athletic gear will be easily customized to improve performance and comfort? Will this create a world where blisters from running will be a thing of the past?

Sports apparel

Sustainable Cities

In the final segment, you’ll get a glimpse into the direction that urban planners are quickly moving to in order to quickly and sustainably develop cities to meet the needs of rising populations while keeping in mind the impact on the population and the environment.

Sustainable cities

Through the end of July, we will reveal each of these stories to you through videos, infographics and news articles.

For now, we invite you to let your imagination take flight by giving 60 seconds to view our new commercial that gives a glimpse into Dassault Systèmes vision for the future and how 3DEXPERIENCES can shape our lives. Watching TV? Look for the spot through July 31st on BBC World News!

YouTube Preview Image

Page 10 of 187« First...89101112203040...Last »

Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.