Last Planner System

Efficient construction processes, transparency & collaborative working.

Critical Path Method

Project Management: Critical Path Method

The Last Planner system is a collaborative production management system for one-off individual productions, such as the planning and production of a bridge. This allows project managers to increase their productivity and Considerably increase customer & user satisfaction. The Last Planner System connects people, systems & business processes. This enables project teams to use the experience and insights of all participants, so that they can maximum customer value (while generating an appropriate return for all parties involved). The LPS reduces waste and maximizes efficiency during all project phases from Project development, planning and construction. Starting with the first draft and ending with the project handover.

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Last Planner System

Project Management: Last Planner System

The Last Planner System - Summary

The system was developed in the 80s by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell. They developed the system based on research to improve productivity in construction, to improve predictability and reliability in construction production. The Last Planner System enables production planning and related decisions to be mapped at the process level. This makes it possible to develop and display all information, relationships between project participants & commitments in a transparent and collaborative way.

Last Planner was initially used as a short-cycle project planning system in civil engineering. Since then, it has enabled significant optimization of design and construction execution, reliability, productivity, speed of project execution, profit and well-being of project staff. Thus, the Last Planner System offers a method for collaborative project execution and thus for project completion on schedule. Because it identifies problems and difficulties early and accelerates the solution finding before they hinder the workflow (construction process).

It thus forms a link between the logistics and execution trades, which is why more and more building owners are specifying the LPS as the standard in project execution. This is because the promotion of collaboration and communication results in discussions between foremen and the site management at a detailed level that highlights problems before they become really critical. Finally, activities on the construction site can also be brought into a continuous flow, reducing bottlenecks and waiting times.

LPS - systematic & process-oriented for project success

Visual, structured & collaborative process planning for projects

Last Planner System: Process driven project management

Prototyping and project-based work have a lot in common. Because both are based on a process that cannot simply be dictated from above. Nor is it possible or useful to use outdated methods such as Gantt charts for project management. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to collaboratively combine the following eight factors.

  • Employees
  • Material
  • Information
  • Machines & Tools
  • Preparatory activities
  • Joint understanding of the project
  • Environmental factors
  • Safe working environment

The Last Planner System helps to achieve this goal. In the following we will show how the system basically works. Starting from this basic system we adapt the Last Planner System to your needs and projects.

Last Planner System Overall process analysis

Overall process analysis

The overall process analysis (GPA) generates an overview of the value flows in the production process. The GPA defines and visualizes the processes in each project clearly and comprehensibly. This results in a clear picture of the dependencies between the trades. Subsequently, the analysis is used to achieve a common understanding of the project with the parties involved and to develop a collaborative attitude towards the project. For this purpose, internal and external customer requirements are defined together in order to optimize the processes accordingly. Thereby possible risks and bottlenecks as well as chances and improvement potentials are directly uncovered by the Last Planner System.

Last Planner System Milestone & Phase Plan

Milestone / phase plan

A milestone/phase plan is derived from the overall process analysis, in which the weekly work packages are visualized. First of all, the relevant project milestones are defined, e.g. submission of building application, start of earthworks, sealing of the shell, completion of the technical equipment, acceptance milestones and commissioning. Subsequently, the project team collaboratively develops a pull plan (see also Pull principle) for the validation of milestone planning from back to front. Especially in the planning phase, the LPS illustrates the deadlines for necessary decisions and enables easy communication with the customer. This allows the effects of a delayed decision to be presented in a simple and transparent manner.

Last Planner System six-week preview

6-week preview

Based on the milestone/phase plan, the 6-week preview provides a detailed, daily overview of the next six project weeks. The trades themselves define activities, dependencies, binding targets, as well as the required resources and machines on a daily basis. Through a simple, pre-structured & Post'its ® based system, the plan creation and adjustment is very easy. Finally we developed the digital solution "Yolean"to further simplify the process and enable it to take place without physical meetings.

Load Planner System Detailed Planning

Upcoming week

The weekly Lean Meetings enable agile and efficient control of the construction processes. This allows you to coordinate planned activities and identify potential risks immediately. Due to the collaborative approach of the Last Planner system, deviations are detected immediately without causing more serious problems. Consequently, you minimize firefighting activities and save costs. As the project progresses, the duration of these meetings is usually shortened enormously. Because the focus is exclusively on process planning. Subsequently, necessary technical details are clarified in a construction meeting. As a result, this construction meeting is also shortened considerably, as the topics can be discussed in a much more precise and efficient manner.

Last Planner System Evaluation

Evaluation of the past week

From the activities and disruptions of the past week, the trades in the lean meeting draw conclusions for optimizing the planning for the coming week. The collection of key figures helps to become even faster and more efficient. Thus the Last Planner System actively supports the continuous improvement (Kaizen). This is even better possible with lean construction software, so that key figures can be collected automatically and across projects. This allows processes to be improved beyond the boundaries of project teams.

Your project - Our solution

Why you should use the Last Planner system!

As early as 1988, the Last Planner System was explicitly mentioned as one of the few methods in the Egan Report "Rethinking Construction". Subsequently, several planners, site managers and the airport operating company BAA advocated the use of the LPS in all their projects, because it ...

  • Completing projects more safely
  • draw up a more predictable construction plan
  • reduce the project duration
  • keep a tighter grip on costs
  • reduce the stress of project management staff
  • improve the entire construction process
  • Projects reliably prepared for just-in-time deliveries
  • and it also works when the traditional method of the critical path fails

In a study carried out in 2012 with 26 individual case studies, it was shown that the Last Planner System
even exceeds these expectations and has other advantages.

  • Increased reliability of the work flow (work processes)
  • Improved supply chain integration
  • Reduced project execution or production time
  • Improved communication between project participants
  • Fewer firefighting actions or daily problems
  • Better quality of working methods on construction sites
  • Improving management practices in construction projects
  • Knowledge enhancement and learning from and with each other in the project team
  • Reduced stress on construction sites

The fact that the Last Planner System really works is due to the Stadium construction for the Olympic Games in London showed.

All advantages of the Last Planner system at a glance

Last Planner as early warning system

Bad news provides good information. So the sooner you get the bad news, the better! If you recognize problems early, you can react to them early. Therefore it is also easier to take corrective action before the problem affects the following trades and can no longer be solved (or only with considerable effort). After all, the Last Planner system quickly brings bad news to light before it becomes a big problem.

Prevents expensive firefighting operations

A large part of construction management activities are "fire-fighting actions" - this means that construction managers try to find things that went wrong and get them back on track. If you take up this metaphor, you can say that the Last Planner system is an integrated fire protection system. It uses collaborative phase scheduling to identify problems early on, helping the team to develop countermeasures. Preparation for Execution identifies and eliminates constraints and problems before they affect the planned production. Then, collaborative production planning reduces potential problems even further. Continuous learning is the basis for improvement, to avoid repeating mistakes and to collaborate more effectively on new problems that arise. Because learning bad news early means that project managers and final planners have time to weigh options for countermeasures to mitigate risks and their perceived impact, rather than going into "fire-fighting mode".

Minimizes stress for site managers and project participants

Connection between stress and diseases

Stress is one of the biggest triggers of illness and mistakes in the job Involving all minds, from the project leader to the execution leader (foreman/foreman), gives everyone a sense of the vision and direction of the project. It also makes everyone think about risks and how to manage them together. In this way, the stress for all project participants can be reduced to a minimum. Because the collaborative approach allows for early identification of disruptions and problems. Therefore, significantly fewer problems occur during the course of the project. Finally, fewer problems also mean less stress for all those involved.

Minimizes stress for site managers and project participants

Stress is one of the biggest triggers of illness and mistakes in the job Involving all minds, from the project leader to the execution leader (foreman/foreman), gives everyone a sense of the vision and direction of the project. It also makes everyone think about risks and how to manage them together. In this way, the stress for all project participants can be reduced to a minimum. Because the collaborative approach allows for early identification of disruptions and problems. Therefore, significantly fewer problems occur during the course of the project. Finally, fewer problems also mean less stress for all those involved.

Collaboration through Last Planner

Coordination is particularly important in construction. Because, whatever the plan may say, activities are carried out after individuals and teams have given each other mutual commitments as to what needs to be done by when. That's why the Last Planner system is used to discuss commitments at the right time, at the right level and throughout the entire process. LPS creates trust between the trades and supports efficient cooperation. Furthermore, the visualization of dependencies and commitments ensures that even with demanding projects, completion on schedule is possible.

Last Planner shortens the project duration

By reducing waiting times, scheduled buffers can also be reduced. In addition, the commitment cycle creates trust within and between teams and supports the smooth flow of activities. As a result, the total project duration can be reduced by an average of approximately 20%.

Last Planner improves work safety

Statistics on accidents at workThe number of accidents in the construction industry worldwide is three times higher than in other industries. The LPS helps to improve these accident and injury statistics. For example, a Danish study shows that construction projects using the LPS have 65% fewer accidents at work and up to 70% fewer absences due to illness. Furthermore, a comparable study from Chile shows that even 75% fewer occupational accidents occur compared to projects in the same company that are implemented without the LPS.

Action instead of reaction

Traditional project management focuses mainly on identifying things that have been done wrong in order to react to them. Accordingly, this can be called reactive behavior, for example, when a missed milestone in the schedule is detected. In contrast, the focus of the Last Planner System is on the individual activities. This is because it ensures that the activities can be carried out as they were planned, so control works proactively rather than reactively.

Reduce waiting times

Systematic process planning ensures that all necessary resources are available at the beginning of an activity. Thus, there are no waiting times for

  • Access
  • Planning information
  • Building materials or plants
  • the previous trade or planning team,

that are causing the flow of work to stagnate.

All project sizes

With the Last Planner System you have a simple and efficient tool at hand, which is very suitable for small as well as large projects. As mentioned above, it was used during the construction of the Olympic Stadium in London. It has also been used in the construction of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport with a project volume of £400 million. However, we have already had very positive experiences with the LPS in small projects such as the conversion of a farmhouse into holiday apartments. However, in large projects, we recommend using software support, such as Yolean, to make the system accessible to everyone easily and from anywhere.

Oriented to the value stream

Often added value depends on definition and approach. The Last Planner System supports the focus on customer added value. The benefit for the subsequent trade also plays an important role here. Ideally, the value for each trade is interpreted in such a way that they know exactly what they have to do to generate the value that the subsequent trade needs and thus deliver high-quality work. In the same way, the high degree of flexibility and responsiveness offered by the LPS helps to respond to changing customer requirements. Consequently, this combination of focus on added value and flexibility helps projects with the Last Planner system to be implemented more cost effectively while delivering higher quality work.

Enables the management of conflicting objectives

In projects, there are contradictory goals for the various parties involved. After all, project participants strive to maximize profits or minimize costs. However, managing these goals requires a high degree of cooperation, communication and commitment, which the LPS promotes.

Decisions are taken in a decentralised and collaborative manner

Construction projects are becoming increasingly complex, faster and more uncertain. Therefore decentralization is important in order to remain able to make decisions. For this purpose, Last Planner provides the last planners, i.e. the foremen/foremen and the planning team, with the authority, information and space they need to make joint decisions on the use of resources for project execution. At the same time, the LPS helps those involved to develop their skills as decision makers.

Develops your employees

The Last Planner system enables foremen to plan their weekly activities and evaluate the performance of their teams on a daily basis, as well as make an accurate forecast of the required workers per week/day. Consequently, this plan is based on facts and not on a wish list from the site management. Once the foremen have understood the Last Planner system and are confident in using the documentation, the frequency of site visits by the consultants & trainers can be reduced. This is because the foremen are able to deal with situations that arise, as their decisions are based on facts that are documented weekly.

Source: Mossman, Alan: "Last Planner 5 + 1 crucial & collaborative conversations for predictable design & construction delivery".
In April 2013. [16.07.2018]