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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 1: Chapter 5


Lessons for the United States From Asian Nations

Volume 11 Number 1

Applying Lean Production in Factory Homebuilding

Jordan Dentz
Isabelina Nahmens
Michael Mullens

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. government at large.


This article serves as a resource to factory home builders seeking to use lean thinking to slash waste from their production operations. Lean refers both to a general way of thinking and to specific practices that emphasize using less of everything (time, money, materials, and so forth) to satisfy the customer by delivering the highest quality product at the lowest cost in the shortest time. While providing an overview of lean production, this article focuses on two fundamental lean tools: Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) events. This research follows a case study approach to document the application and benefits of lean production in the factory homebuilding industry. The target population for these case studies was a group of nine manufactured and modular homebuilding plants that initiated lean production efforts in 2006. VSM was used to identify waste and to target specific portions of the production process for improvement. RPI events were then conducted in targeted areas. The results were dramatic. Labor efficiencies were increased by 10 percent to more than 100 percent. Defects in finished drywall were reduced by 85 percent. Taken as a whole, lean production activities were shown to increase the efficiency and quality of building operations, boost worker morale, and improve communication between management and workers.


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