Lean Construction: Motivations for and Experiences from Norwegian Construction Industry
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The Construction industry worldwide, according to researchers, is characterized as slowly progressing industry with numerous problems like poor productivity, poor quality and poor occupational safety. With problems like poor productivity and ever increasing cost of construction, the need for more cost effective construction was evident for the implementation of profitable projects. This led to the increased focus on innovative practices like Lean Construction. There has been growing interest and awareness of adoption of lean principles among Norwegian construction firms. Till now various construction companies in Norway are adopting lean construction in some form either by developing their own system or by adopting standard tools and techniques. Some of the companies have already come a long way while some are just preparing to implement Lean construction. The main objective of this study is to find out what is motivating these companies to adopt lean methodologies and what are the experiences so far with implementation of different lean tools and techniques. Furthermore it presents short reviews of different lean principles along with tools and techniques. In addition it will also attempt to understand the perception of lean practitioners towards different stakeholders on LC implementation and will briefly compare the on-going practice of LC in Norway with countries like Denmark and UK. The first part of report deals with review of the origin of the Lean Production (LP). The central idea of Toyota Production System was to reduce waste and non value adding activities to achieve best quality, lowest cost and shortest lead times. Lean principle have been modified and expanded by many other industries like Aerospace, Software and Shipbuilding over the decades by those in other industries who are adopting and transferring lean principles and ideas to their respective industries. Along with other industries the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has also poured worldwide effort to apply lean principle and practice in order to address traditional problems and shortcomings of construction industries. Evidently, the Lean Construction-way of perceiving and managing the building process have grabbed attention of academics as well as people working within the construction industry. This study is entirely based upon literature review , previous reports on similar topics and data collected during interviews. As asserted by EM Rogers in his book ' Diffusion of Innovations' different kinds of studies related with innovation tends to have pro innovation bias, it appeared to be true in case of Lean Construction as there were very few publication that took critical approach towards lean while most of the publications appeared to have significant bias in favor of lean construction. This have certainly affected to some extent to the content of this report. The data collected from interviews were analyzed and compared with the information from literatures and discussed in order to answer the research questions. From the results of the interview and discussion five primary source of motivation were identified, 18 success factors for implementation of LC were identified and were categorized into three groups, Leadership and Management Factors, Organizational Cultural Factors and Resource, Skill and Expertise Factors. Likewise 13 barriers for implementation were identified and were grouped into five groups, People related, Management related, Nature of the industry, Resource Barriers and Other. Furthermore 20 benefits realized from implementation were identified and were categorized into four categories, Improved Efficiencies, Improved Effectiveness, Improved SHE and Others . The study further revealed the perspective of lean practitioners towards different stakeholders. It reveals that among different stakeholders, Industrial groups and networks in general in Norway are very much actively involved and are inviting other actors to participate in lean implementation process. While owner/ customer, subcontractors were observed to be less active. Existence of multiple Lean models across the industry is evident from the literatures and different countries have understood LC from various perspectives. From literature it can be asserted that the two countries differ in their approach to lean construction. This study also revealed that the ongoing LC practice in Norway is in many way different than in Denmark and UK.Finally, Lean Construction is not just about tools and techniques it is a new philosophy and to achieve the greatest benefits, long term vision, commitment of different actors and considering the construction firm as a whole, is necessary.