Lean production at Portakabin
A Portakabin case study

Page 4: Reducing waste

The Portakabin lean production process encourages waste reduction. Building in a modular way is a lean process. The off-site construction and installation of completed and fitted out modules means that fewer workers are required on site and there is less transport needed. Portakabin has been able to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill by 60% over the last three years. This has been achieved by:

1. Cutting out waste from the manufacturing system.

Portakabin has thought carefully about how it can improve design to reduce waste in manufacturing. Examples of how this has been achieved include:

  • clever design of the modules. This maximises the use of standard width materials and minimises cutting to fit
  • re-use of materials, for example, door and window shapes cut out from insulated wall panels are re-used for floor insulation
  • changes in materials used. For example, a new type of insulating foam has reduced material use by 10%
  • steel beams are supplied to the factory already cut to the precise length required
  • the boards used for floors in Portakabin modules are pre-sized. No trimming is required. As a result no wood particles or dust is created.

2. Recycling waste

The Portakabin Group, recycles 65% of waste generated in off-site manufacturing:

  • Staff are trained always to think about recycling. For example they learn to use colour coded bins for different types of waste. Recycling in a Portakabin factory is much easier to manage than it would be on a building site.
  • Portakabin has set up waste management teams. These are made up of a production manager and waste contractor. A permanent trainer works for the company and employees are regularly given refresher courses to update them on new ideas.
  • Pallets used for transporting Portakabin products are recycled at every stage of the supply chain.

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Portakabin | Lean production at Portakabin

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