Pull planning Lean construction: The ultimate guide on improving project efficiency

Hana Block

pull planning lean construction

There are many different methods used to approach Lean construction. When looking specifically at lean methods for planning and scheduling your construction materials, the pull planning method, also known as the last planner system, is one of its many trademark applications.

Before diving into it, let’s chat about what’s the two between “push” and “pull” scheduling models and how they operate:

  • In a push-based supply chain — traditionally used in construction — materials and tasks are pushed through the supply chain from the top down. This means that production happens based on demand forecasts.
  • Whereas, in a pull-based supply chain, procurement, production, and distribution of materials and tasks are demand-driven rather than based on predictions. 

Lean construction recognises that creating reliable workflows depends on work being released based on downstream demand. This is best completed by the “last planners”, or otherwise known as the subcontractors. The pull scheduling model encourages subbies to communicate and collaborate closely with each other to determine the schedule of materials tasks. 

This enables subcontractors with project wide collaboration and accountability. Being the ones on the ground and in the project, they are able to make more accurate forecasts of inventory levels and project scheduling. Which can cut out costs and waste that may impact the project’s efficiency. 

What is Pull Planning lean construction?

Pull planning is a method of lean construction that encourages every stakeholder to work together from the very onset of the phase or project. It requires a high degree of collaboration that is unique from any other Lean construction method.

When used correctly, the pull method is one of the most effective ways teams can positively influence efficiency on a project.

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What is the pull planning process:

Pull planning involves every key stakeholder on a project. It is a collaborative approach to project scheduling that takes a reverse approach to sequencing. It involves everyone involved on a project  at the start of the build to get together to identify and isolate key project milestones. The team then works backward to sequence and add all details and requirements.

How does pull planning help productivity?

There are many benefits to pull planning in construction and this method can benefit your construction productivity in the following ways:

  • Collaboration: Pull planning involves everyone on a construction project to work together towards the same goals. This reduces the amount of competing interests and increases communication among those who are directly responsible for supervising work. 
  • Transparency: There is open communication, so everyone understands their own roles and how they’re doing, as well as what is going on with the rest of the team.
  • Optimization: By focusing on pull planning as a component of lean construction, team members learn to cut down on mistakes and optimize their practices.
  • Efficiency: Pull planning helps projects stay on time because of the clear responsibility and communication streamlining the process. Using this system also will often highlight opportunities for efficiencies, such as smaller batches of work, just-in-time delivery and reduced lead times.

How a material and tracking software can help enable pull planning 

A material tracking system is a tool that gives “the last planners” full control and accountability of their materials. This allows subcontractors the ability to run better projects and offer a better service to their clients. 

Visibility on material quantities and their status helps call up the right materials to site at the right time. This helps to avoid having too much or too little of stock that can create major project delays and expenses.

Knowing when materials are arriving to site allows the site team to prepare the receiving area and work area. This can help reduce mishandling of materials that can lead to potential defects and time wasted. 

And lastly, having the visibility of knowing when materials are arriving to site or are delayed further allows subcontractors to plan and make sure the workforce/worksite (and their required equipment) is ready only when it needs to be.

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