Construction and the Toyota Production System

Folks have tried over and over again to make construction more efficient by applying lessons from manufacturing. Typically this means producing buildings in factories, instead of on-site by hand. And while it’s possible to build a building, and a profitable business, using factory methods, it hasn’t resulted in a quantum leap in construction efficiency - it often yields no cost improvement at all. My takeaway from this is that if we hope to achieve the kind of productivity improvements in construction that manufacturing has seen, we need to go beyond surface-level understanding (“factories make things cheaper, so we’ll build buildings in factories”), and drill down to the exact mechanisms at work in an improving manufacturing process.

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