By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development

The Toyota Production System is a process of eliminating waste to increase customer value. It introduces the eight wastes as Defects, Over Production, Over Processing, Excess Inventory, Unnecessary Movement, Unnecessary Transportation, Waiting, and Unused Employee Creativity. Lean companies analyze their processes to eliminate waste. When an anomaly occurs, management and front-line workers engage in an analysis to modify the process and correct the deficiency.

Many people in architectural design and construction contracting do not believe that the Toyota Production System applies to the construction process. They believe that these waste elimination processes are suitable for manufacturing because the outcome is many similar products. In construction, the outcome is a custom creation that does not fit the manufacturing model. At Vogel Bros., we do not agree. Construction is a process and as such, it follows the lean principles of Toyota.

Vogel Bros. is on a journey to become a lean enterprise from top to bottom. This is much more than applying lean tools to our production systems. It includes a thorough look at every process within the company to discover areas of improvement. One such area we have applied the lean principles to is our safety program. We are proud of our safety record. Vogel Bros. firmly believes that people are the key to our success. This includes the craft worker. If our employees are healthy and safe, the employees, the company and our clients will benefit. To put the proper emphasis on safety, Vogel Bros. has defined a ninth waste – accidents.

By elevating accidents to a waste category, we can focus on eliminating this waste. Accidents cause injury to our craft workers (who are key to our success). Therefore, Vogel Bros. does not tolerate accidents. Every accident is an anomaly that is reviewed by management and the front-line worker. We analyze the causes of the accident down to the process level. We seek fact-finding and not fault-finding. We do not believe the employee causes accidents, but rather the process has a fault that resulted in an accident. We are determined to find the true root of the accident and change our process to make the work safer. We share what we learned in the root cause analysis with everyone in the company so all employees enjoy a safe environment.

Lean is taking action to eliminate waste. We believe that all jobsite accidents are preventable. By classifying accidents as waste, we put the necessary emphasis on the elimination of accidents.