My Path to Lean Construction

My background was scheduling, estimating, project controls and ERP. The production on the construction site was not in my focus. However, when I spent time on site for an IoT project things changed.

My Experience on Site

The Problem

When we implemented EVM (Earned Value Management) for our customers, their main struggle was collecting actual data from the construction site. Time keepers (or time & attendance systems) collect the times for each worker on a daily basis.

But for EVM you need to know the (labor) cost per WBS (Work Breakdown Structure). The time keeper (or the time & attendance system) has no clue about a project structure. So a site QS (quantity surveyor) had to add all this information.

Our IoT Approach

In order to reduce this effort we installed Readers and handed out Beacons to workers. By triangulation and other measures the RTLS (Real Time Location System) provided us with the exact location of the worker.

As the WBS usually follows locations and trade (e.g. 3rd floor/block work) we wanted to determine the WBS from the worker’s location and generate timesheets automatically.

Our IoT Approach
Readers placed on site

The Last Planner® System

But how would you plan where each worker should be each day (there were over 2,000 workers on this site)?

I remembered a speech during a BIM event where they put Post-it notes on a grid. The columns were the days and rows represented locations. The Post-it notes were the tasks. In the morning the foremen would pick the tasks they promised to deliver.

The speaker reported improvements in communication and collaboration. And obviously they avoided planning two tasks at the same location and time.

I didn’t know that this was the Last Planner® System developed by the Lean Construction Institute.

The Last Planner® System
Züblin Strabag at GLCI meeting 2018 Berlin

Site Cockpit

For me this was a breakthrough. If our customers would use a Last Planner© System then we could provide both planned and actual location of workers.

Of course there needed to be a digital version of the planning board. And workers needed to be assigned to tasks so that I could generate the timesheets I originally wanted to automate.

I found some early Last Planner© apps. But they just digitized the Post-it notes. With some of them you could add the headcount to the description of the task. But there was no way assigning individual workers.

So I started Project First and we developed Site Cockpit. With Site Cockpit you create tasks from Lean Recipes. Lean Recipes know the skills that are required and Site Cockpit searches for workers and crews that are suitable and available.

Tasks are also assigned to shifts. Shifts know their working hours, breaks and time types. Site Cockpit generates daily timesheets for each worker with a breakdown of tasks performed in each time type. Based on wage classes and uplifts for overtime the labor cost is calculated. And the comparison with the working hours of the shift gives you the productive KPI.

These and many more features you can explore at

Workforce assignment - crews and workers are suggested based on required skills
Workforce assignment - crews and workers are suggested based on required skills
Generated timesheet with breakdown to tasks and cost calculated based on time types
Generated timesheet with breakdown to tasks and cost calculated based on time types