10 July 2020


On tech-powered growth modules

Lean Construction and Information Management Systems are the new mantras to escalate operational efficiencies. N Neelakanteswaran, Executive Director (Operations), Capacit'e Infraprojects shares his insights in an interview with Construction Opportunities.


What is the thrust area in your efforts at implementing lean construction?

Our primary objective is to ensure on-time completion of construction projects undertaken by us within the budgeted costs, by assuring compliances involving statutory, contractual and procedural purposes. Establishing reliability and predictability in construction activities is essential to minimise waste and maximise value generation. Aligning content sequence, time and outcome of competent activities with the project activities is of crucial importance in a project. The expenditure of resources in any aspect other than the direct value creation for the end-customer is wasteful. Any facet that consumes, time, resource or space and adds zero-value to the product or service is a waste. Such elements hence are direct targets for elimination.

Wastage of resources can be avoided by preventing unnecessary transportation, piling up of stock, idling of resources, over-work/over-consumption or over deployment, repairs/rectifications or rework activities. Hence, we mostly focus upon minimising the total time cycle of activity, inventory, resource deployment, avoiding wasteful expenditure and by maximising productivity and resource utilization. Our approach in lean construction is on making reliable work flow by structuring and managing the project as a value generating chain of processes.


How have you implemented the lean construction drive?

We have engaged a technical consultant with vast experience in this field, for guiding us through the process of implementing lean construction at our project sites. We have proceeded to standardise the processes by refreshing our standard operating procedures and coming out with pocket books / hand books. These books involve various aspects of construction management activities, besides refreshing key performance indicators and other measurement parameters.

We have set out the following sequence of action in undertaking this exercise:

  • Focus on Project goals - considering contract requirements and cost of delays
  • Select key processes by identifying critical path and committed resources
  • Map the value stream of key processes on an ‘as-is’ basis
  • Decide the future state map of key processes desired, cutting waste and establishing reliability
  • Plan, communicate and implement the shift from the ‘as-is’ stage to the desired stage


What are the specific things you are looking for in such an exercise?

The lean construction drive aims to meet ‘Efficiency, Effectiveness and Empowerment requirements. The process focuses to achieve this by minimising waste and maximising value. We are especially the targeting to achieve the following results:

  • Reduce time-cycle, stock / work-in-progress and material waste/scrap
  • Improvement in productivity, earned value and KPI
  • Standardisation of processes, sustainable improvements and training activities


What are the difficulties you are anticipating in implementing the lean construction practice?

Primarily, creating a conducive environment at project sites to accept such approaches are essential. A willingness to change the daily routine, especially relating to the activities which lead to waste generation is essential. Another essential facet is to safeguard from being misplaced in the crowd of jargons and templates; and to concentrate our prime focus upon the primary objectives and the intended outcomes. Last but not the least is the sustainability of the lean construction drive. This can be achieved only by empowering the project teams to carry forward processes and means of minimising waste and maximising value.


Why is lean construction important for Capacit'e?

Capacit'e was incorporated just two years ago and has already built an Order Book in excess of `40 billion. The compounded annual growth rate of sales is therefore very high. Such exponential growth requires robust project delivery mechanism to be established with systems and workforce to complement and drive each other. It is in this context that Capacit'e has decided to undertake the lean construction drive to minimise waste in meeting the primary objectives aimed at value creation.


How important are Information Management Systems in ensuring operational efficiency and better productivity?

Capacit'e believes in taking informed decisions in a timely manner, followed by effective communication and well monitored implementation. In today’s electronic age, information is the key. Collecting, organising and managing data in a live, accurate and proper manner is therefore essential for meeting this requirement.


Detail us about the need for Capacit'e Infraprojects’ recent incorporation of Intranet system on IBM Lotus Domino platform and the benefits that have accrued?

We have configured our Intranet in three parts:

  • Information sourced from the management, uploaded from project sites and various departments
  • Collaboration process flows for decisions/approvals
  • Personal space detailing payroll and entitlement info

Under the information from the Management segment, the message from the Managing Director, upcoming programmes/events, training calendar, new project information, news ticker etc are disseminated in the landing page of Intranet. The vision, mission, objectives, policies, procedures, formats, circulars, newsletters, training materials, contact details etc, are displayed in the Resource category of Intranet enabling access and benefiting each employee. Contractual information including agreement copies, baseline/revised construction programmes, progress mark-ups, minutes of meetings, contractual correspondence, registers of correspondence/drawings/hindrances/ variations/NCRs etc., progress photographs, project quality plans, HSE plans, BG copies, labour license and other applicable permits, material source approvals etc. are uploaded by the respective project personnel under each project page in Intranet.
Every department has been provided with information domain for uploading files, reports, scan copies of important documents etc. This enables easy access and retrieval of information from a common resource pool, in a structured and secure manner. Access control is defined on need basis, thereby enabling data security. All data and documents crucial for our business operations are pooled in the Intranet, benefiting all the concerned in a live and current manner. The corporate IT Cell of Capacit'e administers the Intranet well in this regard.


Please detail us about the collaboration process flows?

We have successfully implemented a construction-industry-specific ERP system in quick time, without seeking any modification or customisation of the software, by adapting to meet its configuration. However, the number of documents, requests for approvals, decision requirements, resource requirements etc. flow outside of the ERP typically, through email and spread-sheets/word documents. By its inherent nature, such process of collaboration involving the initiators and decision makers, with scrutinisers in between, is unorganised and hence unreliable in terms of timeliness. In order to streamline the flow of documents and the flow of information/request/requirement etc from the initiator to the intended recipient in a sequential manner, we decided to configure the process flows in Intranet.Thus, a simple Document Transmittal with attachments can flow from an initiator to the intended recipients. A request for any resource like staff, subcontract labour force, formwork asset, plant & machinery asset, specialized agencies etc can be initiated for flow through the Project In-charge and the Project Coordinator to the concerned Head of the Department (HoD) for needful action. Furthermore, the request processes are on-line and the case history can be tracked anytime by all the concerned individuals. The information captures the budget provision as well.

Similarly, a request for bank account opening, bank guarantee / corporate guarantee, insurances, applicable permits, power of attorney, administrative requirements etc. can also be raised for flow through the Project In-charge and the Project Coordinator to the concerned HoD, for needful action. The biggest advantages in the collaboration process are traceability of requests and timeliness of decisions. The case history is logged as well, enabling instant access and retrieval of data that is so important in contract management.

How different is the data storage from an FTP or a shared folder on the office network?
The advantages of data storage in Intranet are in terms of data classification, presentation, and relevance, for different sets of users. Data is actually uploaded by various personnel at different project site locations in a structured manner without overwriting/deleting/disturbing other factors. Availability of the entire data in the Head Office— as the Server is in-house— makes it more beneficial.



Causes for wastage

  • Unnecessary movement / transport
  • Piling up of stock & work-in-progress
  • Idling of any resource for want of work
  • Overwork /over-consumption /over-deployment
  • Repairs / rectifications / rework


Strategies to avoid wastage

  • Minimising activity cycle time,
  • Minimising inventory,
  • Minimising resource deployment,
  • Maximising productivity,
  • Maximising resource utilisation
  • Avoiding wasteful expenditure

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