The Power of Continuous Improvement in Construction
The origins of the company date back to the end of the XIX century, with the construction of chimneys for factories in the Textile Industry. In the 90s, the company invested in the design area and started to develop projects from “A to Z”, taking on large projects for national and multinational companies. It specializes in the Design & Build of industrial, logistic, commercial, and residential buildings. It offers an integrated service that, depending on the needs, can go from the choice of a location to the construction, including the design, ensuring a result on spec, time, and budget.
This company faced a decrease in net income and the consequent awareness of the decrease in the organization’s efficiency. It was necessary to rethink the entire strategy, from people to processes, and define a growth strategy with solid foundations to leverage operational results.
In an external context of increased investment and possible attraction of new customers and projects, it was necessary to increase efficiency and identify everything considered waste, directing the focus to optimize processes. In parallel, external difficulties emerged due to labor shortages and the demands posed by customers for increasingly shorter deadlines in an increasingly competitive market.
The project’s primary goals were to ensure the agility and quality of the execution of processes in the support areas, minimizing rework; improve the quality of execution and management on site; adopt visual management processes and increase productivity on site; review the procurement process; improve productivity in project execution (Multi-Projects) release resources for value-added activities (more projects) and design and implementation of a strategic planning process to increase profitability to continue to invest and sustain growth based on operational indicators – Increase in business volume in non-core areas, on-time delivery of projects, margin per project.
The implementation process entailed two cycles.
During the 1st cycle, the focus was to build base teams and identify core areas that needed improvement. Then, the 2nd cycle, after the operational improvements, was about defining a strategic improvement process to grow and consolidate the 1st cycle improvements, together with identifying new opportunities.
Mission Control Room
The implementation of the Mission Control Room marked the beginning of the project. The Mission Control Room is a visual control room for project management, which presents the project’s main indicators, a summary A3 for the follow-up of ongoing initiatives, and includes a routine of meetings for presentation and follow-up of the project.
Another aspect addressed was project management with the definition of the meeting cascade, implementation of a sales funnel, definition and analysis of load-capacity per project and creation of the project manager role, and creation of structured meetings to pass information between the commercial and the multi-projects team.
Simultaneously, a Daily KAIZEN management and development model provided visibility to each team’s work plan, definition and analysis of each team’s process indicators, and timely reaction to deviations.
This team alignment and development model allows for greater involvement and participation of all team members in the processes and their improvement.
Improving the teams’ work involves mapping and identifying the main processes to simplify and eliminate associated waste. The mapping of the critical processes of each team generated a series of points to standardize: the creation of an indicator of execution hours and the standardization of models.
The construction site was also the focus of improvement implementation. All construction sites worked on visual management. Each construction site included a control room with visual management, allowing for monitoring of the main elements for project management. Some of these elements were the construction planning, the map of needs, and tools such as the last planner and pull planning for managing the entire project.
The project also implemented some actions to physically organize the construction sites, resulting in gains in productivity and safety.
Such actions counted on coaching and a lot of behavior reinforcement to succeed. The process has been rolled out across all teams and works in progress. Frequent audits accompanied all this.
The second implementation cycle focused on improving the purchasing process, with its standardization and request for supplier consultation and evaluation and defining a supply chain control process.
Man-hours on site
Another area of work in this second cycle was the reduction of man-hours on site with the development of solutions to increase work performance and reduce waste hours.
Finally, we worked on the strategic plan defining disruptive objectives in Growth, Quality, Cost, and Service. We defined the key processes to improve by assigning metrics and resources needed for implementation.
This transformation journey has profoundly impacted the growth and success of the business, setting a benchmark for excellence in the marketplace. The company achieved solid and sustainable financial results with increased net income and turnover through a focused approach to resource management and identifying savings opportunities.
One of the standouts was the 42% improvement in on-time delivery. This achievement reflects the company’s commitment to meeting strict deadlines and ensuring customer satisfaction. It directly results from teamwork, adopting best practices, and optimizing planning and execution processes.
In addition, the company achieved a 25% reduction in purchasing time, optimizing and streamlining the materials acquisition process. This reduction in purchasing time allowed the company to respond quickly to market requests, ensuring the availability of essential resources.
The success of this project was mainly due to the involvement of more than 800 employees, internal and external. Commitment, dedication, and collaborative efforts were vital to implementing the changes and fostering a culture of continuous improvement throughout the organization.
The outstanding results and positive impact generated in the construction industry are a reason for celebration. This case exemplifies how a continuous improvement project can empower operations, ensure efficiency, and reinforce the company’s commitment to outstanding service.
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