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Lean This Way

Team Seeks Low-Carbon Supply Chain

14 July 2016

Costain recently hosted its inaugural Production Control Conference, which gave delegates an insight into how Costain’s Water and Highways Sectors are embracing ‘Production Control’ and ‘Lean’ methodologies to increase productivity and improve efficiencies in project delivery.

Over 60 people from across the business and the supply chain attended the event at the Chartered Institute of Marketing near Maidenhead recently.

The event was organised by Gavin Pearce, Production Control Manager for Thames Water’s eight2O alliance, Project Manager Andy Fielding and Brian Mackay, Innovation and Efficiency Manager, and supported by the Bourton Group, specialists in ‘Lean’ consultancy.

Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply referred to as ‘lean’, is a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing production system. Costain has embraced Lean Engineering Principles to deliver significant cost savings for its customers.

Being lean means creating value for the customer by cutting waste and making the best use of the resources that are available. Lean Principles have been used in industry for a number of years as a way of establishing a continuous improvement culture, removing waste and making operations more efficient. This approach has become increasingly important for the construction industry as customers face tighter budgets while under increasing pressure to deliver a quality service.

The focus of the day was on embedding change, sharing knowledge and driving Production Control, which all support the UK Government’s Construction 2025 strategy and the Costain Water sector’s ‘Factory Thinking’ strategy, which promotes a more systems-led engineering approach, including offsite prefabrication and a more standardised approach to construction where product selection, prefabrication and offsite construction can lead to a much swifter and safer onsite assembly process.

The day was opened by Ross Mackenzie, Costain Water Sector Director, followed by contributions and presentations from the Woolston 4D team, Thames Tideway, Severn Trent, Highways Sector M1 team, and eight2O Beddington team.

The keynote speaker was Darren Witcomb, Managing Practitioner at UEP Supply Chain, which is part of the Unipart, the international logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and consultancy Company.

“Darren gave us a fascinating account of the journey that Unipart has taken to improve efficiency, and it also gave us a different perspective from another industry sector,” said Brian.

Brierley Stubbs, an industry expert in ‘Lean’ and a member of the North West Community of Practice (CoP) of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) UK, also gave a presentation.

Brierley said: “It is really great to see Costain driving the industry forward to improve productivity.”

Tony Blanch, Costain Business Improvement Director and Director of the Lean Construction Institute UK gave an overview of wider Costain initiatives and strategy in the context of Business Improvement and collaboration.

The day included a number of workshop sessions, where attendees discussed opportunities to improve how Production Control is delivered and make recommendations for improvements.

Each participant left the day with a bag of information to help them improve Production Control on their projects.

Costain’s Brian Mackay said: “The conference achieved its objective of bringing together the practitioners of Production Control to share their experiences and learn from each other.”

Gavin Pearce, Production Control Manager at eight2O, added: “The conference was a great success. Production Control in Costain is really gaining momentum and becoming ‘business as usual’. This will improve our Productivity, delivering increased benefits for our customers.”


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