Case Study: Purcell Construction

Implementing Last Planner®  System (LPS)

Purcell Construction Case Study Crystal Lean Solutions

Purcell Construction is a leading Irish Building Contractor, operating from offices in Galway & Dublin. In 2020, the company embarked upon a project to introduce LEAN across their business and took to sourcing a partner for the deployment. Crystal Lean Solutions (CLS) were appointed as their LEAN partner.

Purcell Construction selected CLS as a partner for a number of reasons, including their experience of LEAN within the construction industry, and guidance in helping to select the right LEAN programmes. One of these programmes tasked included the Last Planner® System and with enthusiasm from all, the rollout planning phase began.

The Last Planner® is a production planning system designed to produce predictable work flows and rapid learning in the programming, design, construction and commissioning of projects.

The Last Planner® System (LPS) offers many benefits which include;

  • Enabling work flow
  • Enables planning in more detail week to week
  • The plan has engagement as it is built by those actively involved
  • The plan drives a change in behaviour and mindset and enforces accountability by each of the stakeholders within the project

Working in a Covid Environment CLS Last Planner Implementation in Covid

Following the appointment of the team, Covid-19, the global pandemic struck. This moved all activities in relation to LEAN implementation into an online environment. The project was championed by senior team members including a dedicated facilitator, contracts managers and their construction planner. The goal of the project was to:

  • Support collaborative planning
  • Introduce sequencing of work
  • Ensure milestone dates were met
  • Optimise the flow of information
  • Focus on successful handoffs

In August 2020, the CLS team began Yellow belt training with the Purcell leadership team. Following the success of that training, three more of their teams were trained between October and into January 2021. The team provided excellent customer care with a positive down to earth approach and understanding of working in a challenging working environment as a result of the pandemic.

Once the LPS Team were appointed, the next steps of the approach included:

  • Onboarding of Sub Contractors
  • Assignment of a Last Planner coordinator
  • Training of the LPS team
  • Set up of Digital Pull Plan
  • Set up of Standard week for LPS deployment
  • Management of Weekly Work Plan using CoPlan
  • Appoint a mentor for the project

    Purcell Last Planner Implementation CLS

Once training was complete, the Purcell’s team set out on using the Last Planner® System on a pilot project – a 40 million euro critical national infrastructure project at the National Train Control Centre (NTCC) in Dublin. The project was a complex & highly technical project, including 5,000m2 of raised access floors, 22km of cable tray, 14km of site ducting and 110km of data cabling.

Training then extending in March 2021 to Purcell sub-contractors with CP Skillnet Support.

Active engagement

With all teams actively using LPS and six week lookaheads, the team then transitioned to the ‘Big Room’ for the next six months, using both virtual white boards and CoPlan – an Last Planner® System digital solution.

The Big Room is a LEAN concept designed to support collaboration and ensure that all relevant information is in the same location. The name Big Room also reflects that as there is a lot of information including plans, drawings, project plans etc popped up on the walls – requiring a big room approach.

To ensure continuous improvement, throughout this deployment, the team conducted a Lessons Learned Workshop which highlighted robust conversations, an improved and collaborative approach between contractors and overall ownership and accountability for the project improved. Some wins for the team were the ability to proactively respond to potential challenges and ability to see constraints in a timely manner. In addition, engagement from sub-contractors improved as they arrived to meetings with prep work already completed.

Ensuring all the relevant parties were in the same room was a challenge in a Covid environment, however with the communication approach improved and the use of digital tools and processes, it meant that all subcontractors were aware of the expectations and planning schedule in place in a timely manner.

What Purcell Construction says:

“ The Crystal Lean Solutions team supported the Last Planner® System deployment using CoPlan and other virtual frameworks. Their coaching skill an adaptability resulted in the successful replication of the “The Big Room” environment, necessary to foster the behaviours that lead to high levels of collaboration created entirely within a virtual real.

Given the Covid-19 situation, this innovative technology and approach meant that our teams could remain socially distanced and safe with o negative impact on the efficiency of the LPS process.”

In relation to the pilot project:

“The LEAN initiative has significantly enhanced our overall management style. As a result, we are on target to deliver a 40 million critical national infrastructure project ahead of schedule, despite the significant impact of Covid-19 and many other challenges facing the construction industry.”


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