AP Utilizes Lean to Impact Schedule and Cost on the Windings Expansion and Renovation Project


Lean is a methodology/culture that relies on a collaborative team approach. Lean is designed to systematically identify/eliminate problems, variation and inefficiency. Companies who have embraced Lean methodology have noted a positive change in culture and mindset, maximized efficiency, increased profitability and are able to provide a better response to customers’ needs.

At Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP), efficiency in execution and application of lean methodology set us apart from our competition. Lean methodology is part of our culture and is an added value that AP provides our clients. By implementing Lean tools on our projects, clients benefit from efficient team members, experience cost savings from being ahead of schedule and managing the project buyout.


AP has worked tirelessly to incorporate Lean methodologies into our company culture and implemented Lean processes and tools on all our projects which include:

  • Last Planner® System
    • Pull Planning
    • Weekly Work Plans
    • Daily Huddles
    • Percent Plan Complete
  • ProCore®

Last Planner® System

The Last Planner® System is a Lean tool that was developed by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell. It is an all-encompassing system designed to produce predictable workflow with rapid continuous improvement implementation. This collaborative tool promotes conversations between the entire project team (ie, project managers, tradespeople and women and subcontractors). To ensure success, project team members are expected to communicate potential issues before they become critical. These conversations occur within a collaborative team environment and increase the opportunity to produce predictable workflow and rapid learning in programming, design, construction and commissioning of projects.

The Last Planner® System recognizes that personal relationships and peer pressure are critical to the success of the overall process. This system specifies who will execute the work, utilizes collaborative planning to remove constraints and verifies that promises made regarding project milestones and commitments are firm and without ambiguity.

Pull Planning

Pull planning is a Lean practice where project key stakeholders meet before the start of a project to collaboratively create an overall plan. By starting with the project’s end goal and working backwards to the start date, each milestone in between is discussed. Collaborating with key project stakeholders, the team members work together towards a common goal. Active participation in pull planning sessions ensures everyone’s voice is heard and their expertise is utilized to benefit the team.

During pull planning activities, a visual timeline is created by utilizing a variety of color-coded sticky notes. Each sticky note has a specific hand-written task. Sticky notes are used to create a timeline that allows stakeholders to visualize the overall order of events needed to achieve milestones, project requirements and identify any potential overlap that may cause delays.

Pull planning improves project efficiency in the following ways:

  • Increased Collaboration: As the project team works towards a common goal, each stakeholder has a voice and unique experiences that they bring to the overall discussion. This method encourages the team to communicate with each other prior to beginning the project.
  • Big Picture: This style of planning illustrates how each stakeholder contributes to the overall project goals and fosters a sense of teamwork and appreciation for each team members specific role and the ability to visually see how it impacts the team.
  • Schedule Adherence: Allows stakeholders to identify potential roadblocks. Early detection of roadblocks allows the project team to be proactive. This effort reduces waste, redundancy and reduces downtime.
  • Continuous Improvement: An important aspect of pull planning is learning. Each time participants complete a project, they learn something new and do not repeat prior mistakes. This will result in each project being more efficient than the last.

Weekly Work Planning

Weekly work planning is an effective way for teams to routinely meet to talk about the project and make commitments. Mandatory weekly meetings are scheduled to allow an opportunity for the project teams to connect in person. Each member comes prepared to the meeting with a list of what they are ready to commit to and intend to accomplish during the coming week. Each week team members come prepared to discuss the following at a detailed level:

  • Weekly tasks of key stakeholders
  • Ability to collaboratively make timely modifications to the plan (if necessary)
  • Capture and track commitments made to the team/project

These weekly meetings are important because team members refine their plans for the upcoming week prior to the actual meeting and are committing to completing identified tasks on specific days. The overall goal is to hold team members accountable and will result in others being able to start their tasks on time. This will reduce time in additional meetings if these expectations are met each week.

Daily Huddles

Daily huddles are an open forum that provide a voice to all participants and encourages engagement with team members. These huddles are brief and generally do not exceed fifteen minutes. They typically occur at the beginning of a shift or shift change. The purpose of the huddle is to check in with team members and discuss what their day will look like, as well as provide an opportunity to share information and deliver project status checks. Participants usually gather around a visual management board. The visual management board includes metrics, continuous improvement ideas and project status.

Daily huddle participants should be prepared to discuss:

  • The previous day/shift’s performance
  • Identify performance issues related to safety, process, cost and quality
  • Team’s overall plan for the day
  • Status of problem-solving efforts
  • Issues the team is experiencing. (If there is an issue, identify as a team who is responsible for resolving it)
  • Status of problem solving from prior day
  • Identify and process improvement needs

Gathering the team for daily huddles provides a foundation for driving a cultural change and encourages transparency, accountability and positive peer pressure to perform.

Percent Plan Complete

To gauge the success of AP’s lean efforts, we use Percent Plan Complete (PPC) as a basic measure of the efficiency of the Last Planner® System. It gauges how reliable the team’s plan was for the given week. PPC is a visual percentage of the activities completed as planned in each week divided by the total number of activities planned.


As PPC increases, project productivity and profitability also increase. Weekly measurements are often used by the project team as the basis for learning how to improve the plan.


AP is now utilizing ProCore® software on our projects. This software fully integrates multiple programs used in the construction industry. ProCore® manages all project phases from pre-development and bidding through project completion. One of the software’s key features is document management capabilities that can be easily accessed by all project team members. ProCore® encourages collaborative communication by ensuring everyone associated with the project (both on the job sites as well as main office locations) have access to accurate and up to date information.

Key Findings

Windings Expansion and Renovations – New Ulm, MN 

Project Start Date: February 25, 2019

Anticipated Completion Date: October 18, 2019

Actual Completion Date: September 20, 2019

Original Budget: $4,295,895

Project Description: For more than 50 years, Windings has provided engineered electromagnetic solutions for critical applications in aerospace, defense, automotive, medical, oil and gas and general factory automation. Windings has been operating out of three buildings in New Ulm, Minnesota, but decided to expand to better accommodate operations. To increase efficiencies, Windings decided to consolidate the three buildings and bring all operations under one roof.

The project includes a 10,100-sf, one-level addition to an existing building for offices and administration services, a 5,120-sf remodel of existing office space, a 7,200-sf new expanded office space within the existing building and remodel of the 50,000-sf manufacturing floor.

AP’s project team implemented our Quality Process Program. This program is an excellent example of our commitment to continuous improvement and is a culture that we established on this project during our preconstruction efforts. Quality was “built-in” to all installations influencing the way quality was perceived from the start of design through project completion. The team promoted the following concepts while delivering this important project:

  • Value-Centered Mentalities: Every installation performed on site needed to provide value to the “client”, wherein the client was anyone who received a deliverable of the work.
  • Waste-Conscious Thinking: Non-value-added steps in the design/installation processes were removed concentrating only on the steps supporting value, resulting in fewer steps in the overall design and construction process.
  • Continuous Workflow: Encouraged smaller batch sizes to reduce the risk of larger defects making corrections easier to identify and correct.  These balanced workflows allowed smaller experienced crews to perform the installations throughout the duration of the project.
  • Upstream Leadership: Promoted and empowered the designers/installers performing the work to elevate issues so that they were addressed at the point of design/installation(s).
  • Analysis and Continuous Improvement: Applying the processes above and continuously analyzing the teams’ work, outcomes and lessons learned from our mistakes was paramount in our success.

Although no cost savings were recognized, $124,272 was saved and reinvested into the project via the construction contingency and general conditions savings. These savings allowed the client to purchase the following:

  • New vinyl composition tile in the existing lunchroom
  • New walk-off mat in the existing entrance corridor
  • New ceiling tile throughout numerous existing spaces in the renovation
  • MEP fit-out of the Varnish Room
  • Demolition of existing client’s furniture
  • Insulation and sheetrock installations in two rooms outside of the renovation work scope
  • Installation of an existing unit heater in one of the Production Rooms
  • Upgraded lighting fixtures
  • Existing exterior precast wall panel repairs in the renovated manufacturing spaces

The AP project team’s commitment to Lean methodologies and integration of the Last Planner® System including pull planning, weekly work planning, daily huddles, airtight buyout and collaboration and coordination, positively affected the project overall. Through fostering a lean culture and implementation of AP was able to complete the project four weeks ahead of schedule.


Incorporating Lean methodologies into our company culture and the implementation of the Last Planner® System and ProCore® software. AP has helped to increase efficiencies within their project teams, delivering projects underbudget and ahead of schedule all while maintaining a high level of quality and customer service to each of their clients.

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