At Nabholz, we are always looking for ways to incorporate Lean construction principles on our jobsite. Lean construction is not just another initiative at Nabholz or a program to market our relevancy. Rather, Lean focuses on driving waste out of our business. Moreover, Lean policies go hand-in-hand with Nabholz’ guiding principle of innovation. Recently, on a school jobsite in Kansas, we focused on implementing the “Nothing Hits the Floor” Lean policy with fantastic results.
The “Nothing Hits the Floor” policy eliminates time used to move materials and equipment and prevents injuries from repetitive movement. The name encompasses its main principle—bring materials off the floor and to countertop level. To accomplish that, trades and subcontractors use rolling carts, racks, and dollies to move and store tools and equipment. This does two things. First, it ramps up production. Craftspeople no longer waste valuable time transporting equipment and material. Second, bringing materials to counter height helps prevent repetitive motion injuries caused from bending over to reach materials or tools and eliminates many tripping hazards.
By accomplishing those two goals, the “Nothing Hits the Floor” taps into the real power of Lean—by creating a better work environment, contractors can improve scheduling and budget results. We are seeing these results on Nabholz’ K-12 project at Pleasanton USD 344 in Kansas. For this project, Nabholz is serving as Construction Manager at Risk for an 11,000-square-foot addition that includes four classrooms and a cafeteria, as well as numerous remodels to the remaining school that added new main sanitary lines and flex learning spaces.
We implemented the “Nothing Hits the Floor” policy on this project specifically because we were working on an occupied campus. By making all materials mobile, it forces subcontractors to focus on how much material they will need to complete certain sections of work. This, in turn, makes for more thoughtful deliveries and storage of building materials, two things key in keeping construction sites in occupied spaces safe.
Of course, this takes planning and buy-in from the project’s subcontractors. To ensure that all subcontractors were on board, we started highlighting the intentions and principles of the “Nothing Hits the Floor” policy at the pre-bid meeting. We expanded on the principle in the directions and expectations section of the CM Manual. Finally, we put the policy itself in the bid packages.
Often, even putting policies in writing does not ensure implementation. Nabholz took things a step further, pushing the policy during scope meetings, highlighting it during pre-install meetings, and regularly gathering input with subcontractors on how to further implement the policy. If all these other measures fail, the weekly meetings and daily walk-throughs our project management team conducts with subcontractors ensures that all parties hit their targets.
In addition to gains in both budget and schedule, our clients are benefiting from a cleaner jobsite. By putting the trash carts on wheels, the jobsite is notably cleaner. As messy jobsites are one of the biggest complaints in our industry, one small change (making cleaning up easier by making trashcans mobile) can help turn a first-time client into a repeat client.