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Boxtree Lane development

SDB Contractors

  • Lean construction enables growth during turbulent times

Established in 1990, SDB Contractors specialises in sustainable social housing, both new build and refurbishment projects.

The London-based company has a directly employed workforce and the expertise to offer its clients a full range of services spanning design and build, site finding, pre-construction advice, team and project management, and comprehensive environmental guidance to ensure cost-effective sustainability.

The challenge

When the UK moved into recession in 2009, cost became a driving force within the construction industry with the cheapest tenders often being successful as clients moved away from negotiated contracts to open tendering.

Dedicated to quality and sustainability, SDB Contractors found it increasingly difficult to win contracts in this environment. To thrive without compromising its values, the company recognised that lean construction could be the key to its survival.

The solution

Loughborough University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering has expertise in lean construction techniques and a history of working with large construction companies. Working with SDB Contractors gave the School the opportunity to introduce the lean approach within an SME.

During a 30-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), partfunded by Innovate UK, the company was able to establish new, leaner ways of working to ensure time efficiencies and cost reductions – maximising value and minimising waste – without ceding quality.

The benefits

The company maintains that the KTP helped it to overcome the challenges presented by the worst housing recession since the Second World War. Adopting lean techniques across its operations, the
company reported improved production and operational efficiencies – eliminating waste and speeding up construction whilst maintaining its credentials for high-quality, sustainable buildings.

The change also helped the company to achieve the quality management standard, ISO9001, whilst also becoming more competitive on price.

What’s more, the 30-month project established a culture of learning and continuous improvement within the company, helping it to become more robust and deal with challenges as they arise.

A KTP is an excellent tool, particularly for small businesses. It not only brings a bright and highly skilled individual into the company, but also provides access to the University’s knowledge base.

Richard Garland
Managing Director – SDB Contractors