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HIT4010 Research Methods

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Course Code: HIT4010
University: Swinburne University Of Technology

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Country: Australia

A report is required for the topic “Lean Construction” 
Lean Concept generally uses a number of different kinds of tools that can be said to be a solution that makes it possible to create a flexible system which at the same time will be able to react at an instant to different kind of changes that happens within the construction firm or the surroundings of the organization. 

The good thing about lean methodologies is how they can be applied in different industries.  The Toyota production system first used this methodology. They aimed at eliminating waste at manufacturing system. However, lean is a new concept in the construction industry. For a very long time, the construction industry has greatly suffered because of lack of system improvement and innovation (Pasternack, 2008). One of the significant challenges facing the construction industry is the delay and lack of higher costs. This has made the productivity of the construction industry to be falling behind at a worrying rate. Safety standards are said to have gone down as many injuries and death are reported to occur at different construction sites globally which have been associated with the design process (Pasternack, 2008). Labor efficiency has also decreased. Thus most of the executives in the construction industry feel that there is a need for the implementation of lean methodologies to solve some of these problems. The lean method can be used to improve, streamline and transform processes in the construction industry.
Lack of improvement in this industry may have been caused by various reasons including craft-oriented culture. Poor possess innovation, poor safety standards, increased regulation, industry fragmentation, and lack of mutual trust between those who are involved in it. Thus many of the organization are now turning to lean methodology to look for solutions to these issues (Conte, 2002). Applying lean methods in construction has so far assisted in:

Improving safety standards
High productivity
High profits at a reduced cost
Proper risk management
Reduced project schedule

What is LEAN?
Lean happens to be a methodology aiming at maximizing value and reducing waste and cost in a production process. It was first developed by the Toyota Company when it was looking for a way in which it would have competed effectively with its western competitors. Toyota came up with different practices which were named the Toyota production system. The practices were aiming at maximizing the value created and minimizing waste. Through this principles, Toyota was able to compete effectively with its competitors. Lean methodology became well known after different manufacturing organization started adopting the Toyota manufacturing practices. However, organization that tried to copy this practices without understanding them failed terribly. However, those company that holistically applied lean methodologies saw a significant improvement in productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, and safety
After many years other types of methodologies emerged from the lean method. They included lean six- sigma, the theory of constraints, just in time and quality management. Because of its effectiveness lean is used in manufacturing industries. It is usually viewed as a cost-cutting measure. However, the primary goal of lean methodology is not to cut cost but coming up with a general process by which an organization can improve profits and create value
Businesses in different industries use the lean methodology to reduce cost, streamline their workflow, and to improve quality and mainly in software developments teams.
How to apply lean in construction industries
Just like the automotive industry in the mid-twentieth century, the construction industry is ready for significant changes (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). However, the construction industry faces some very specials challenges that make the application of lean methodology in this industry different from other` industries. Many of the construction projects tend to be varied and complex. They also need to be completed in unclear environments, at given time and with a lot of pressure (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). Thus many organizations are looking at how they can use the lean methodology to improve how practices, processes, and people are tailored together to complete a construction project effectively.
However, in construction projects, primary goals and priorities are always the same. They include reducing costs by performing tasks based on the schedule, improving workflow reliability, reducing the inventory of tools and material (Conte, 2002). However, there is different variation in the construction industry. These are inventory issues, inaccurate plans, inclement weather, and change of requirements.
However, the primary aim of the lean construction is not to get rid of this differences because that cannot be an attainable or realistic goal (Pinch, 2005).  However leans aims at making sure that in every project there is an opportunity to reduce the effects caused by this variability (Picchi &Granja, 2004). Thus lean methodology helps people to recognize the different areas of improvement which they can act upon in a conductive, valuable and measurable manner (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). Lean methodology needs to be seen as a replacement to the traditional methods. Thus lean construction helps the people involved to know how information, people and materials, can be used appropriately to give high-quality results according to the budget and time
Lean construction building blocks
Companies implement lean methodologies differently. However lean construction is based on the following ideas

Continuous improvement- practices in different processes should always be improved for optimization
Optimize the whole- Improvement efforts need to be done for the whole process not just some of its parts
Process first- variation should be reduced by aiming at standardizing processes.

This is as shown by the following diagram.

Continuous improvement
In any learn practice continuous improvement is significant for optimization. It is based on the fact that perfection is achieved through improvements and that companies should always be learning to test and growing their ideas (Picchi &Granja, 2004). It is through continuous enhancements that construction individuals can be able to deliver economic, efficient and effective projects (Höök,& Stehn, 2008). However in knowledge-based tasks it more comfortable to notice some improvement opportunities but that is not the case in construction industries. In construction projects, the cycle time happens to belong because the value stream is also complicated. Any changes to the plan can bring about adverse changes in the whole process (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). Thus changes in such projects should be keenly though about and communicated all the participants in the project.
To keep progressing in construction projects, continuous improvement must adhere to a strict cycle of planning and control (Salem& Zimmer, 2005). Planning entails coming up with ways and strategies to succeed while control entails making the events follow the plan (Salem& Zimmer,2005). Those controlling and planning makes the individual in lean construction to be based on the schedule while still ensuring improvements in the processes
Optimize the whole
Initially, many construction and management methodologies concentrated more on optimizing activities on individual levels (Höök,& Stehn, 2008). For example many were trying to reduce the time roofers, builders spend doing the work (Salem et al., 2005). However, this is not effective when it comes to considering the whole process. It might promote more waste in the process (Salem& Zimmer,2005). The waste created in any originations system usually originates from problems and issues that arise in the process (Höök,& Stehn, 2008). Lean methodology acts as a challenge to all the stakeholders for them to come up with effective means of managing the construction process (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). This is necessary because it is only by understanding how information and materials flow in the different activities that construction individual can be able to optimize processes.
Coming up with a production system that can be able to deliver a valuable project based on the time and budget requires the unity of all the participants especially at the beginning of the project (Salem et al., 2005). In lean construction, collaboration is beyond contractual arrangement or contractibility reviews (Pinch, 2005). Thus every stakeholder is given a chance to influence and affect plans right from the begging of a project. Thus providing a opportunity to the entire system to handle variability earlier.
Optimizing the whole process may further mean allowing value to flow by being able to eliminate hindrances of value creation and other parts of the process that do not add any value to the end product (Locatelli& Mancini,2012). For stakeholders to be able to do this, they must first understand how value flows through the process and thus eliminate any other thing that is not part of that process. This usually is possible through a process known as the value stream mapping
Process First
However construction individuals must know how to manage materials flows while still managing the spatial flow of workstation as the project continues (Pinch, 2005). However, the work environment in the construction industry keeps on changing making it difficult to come up with measures of layout planning and visual control (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013). The decentralized production also makes it problematic to come up with improvement activities and to benchmark. All these variations are said to contribute to a lot of waste in the construction industry (Picchi &Granja, 2004). The main aim of lean construction principle is to assist stakeholder’s identify the different courses of variation thus also eliminating adverse side effect brought about by these variations (Locatelli.,& Mancini, 2010). Variations have an adverse side effect on the workflow and production operations. Even small alteration by one of the crew members can cause disruptions and delays for people in the downstream.
Why I would recommend the lean methodology to construction companies
When implemented effectively lean construction helps to reduce waste and also improves efficiency. However, there are various other benefits associated with the lean methods which include:

High-quality work

Lean projects depend heavy on trust and respect of the people involved. It helps in making value-driven decisions earlier before the projects begin. Thus ensuring high-quality work is performed.

Increases employees collaboration and accountability

Lean construction depends on how the entire team relates to each other. It also includes encouraging the whole team (Locatelli.,& Mancini, 2010). One of the different ways to ensure collaboration is by using technology (Picchi &Granja, 2004). One of the most commonly used software in construction projects is construction collaboration software (Locatelli, Mancini & Romano, 2013)

Greater project satisfaction

Lean construction benefits call on everyone to align with the owner’s goals and objectives (Höök,& Stehn, 2008). When owners discover that their interests are the base of decisions made on the project, issues are always solved quickly allowing the project to be finished on time and meeting all the customers’ requirements

Increases ROI

Through the application of lean construction management principles companies are said to have increased productivity by applying lean construction management principles (Locatelli& Mancini, 2012).
For those organization that has implemented the lean construction approach it has become more of a culture rather than just a set of some principles, whether you want to refer to it as a methodology, philosophy or movement, lean construction is slowly taking hold (Locatelli& Mancini,2012). Many businesses and firms are known for using lean construction principles.
Pinch, L. (2005), “Lean construction: eliminating the waste,” Construction Executive (online) Vol. 11, pp. 34-37. Available at:https://www.academicpub.org/fce/paperInfo.aspx?paperid=4985  Accessed on (18th September 2018)
Pasternack, R. (2008), “Building information modeling and lean construction,” (online) vol. 12pp 40-47 available at https://www.rebeccapasternack.com/files/ pdf/IIEpaper.pdf (18th September 2018)
Picchi, F. A. &Granja, A. D. (2004), “Construction sites: using lean principles to seek broader implementations,” Paper presented at the 11th annual conference of the international group for lean construction, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Conte, A. S. (2002), “Lean construction: from theory to practice,” (online) 10th Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Accessed at: https://iglc.net/Papers/Details/178 (18th September 2018)
Höök, M& Stehn, L. (2008), “Lean principles in industrialized housing production: the need for a cultural change,” Lean Construction Journal (online) Vol. 2, pp. 20-33. Accessed From: https://www.leanconstruction.org/media/docs/ktll-add-read/Lean_principles_in_industrialized_housing_production_The_need_for_a_cultural_change.pdf (18th September 2018)
Locatelli, G.,& Mancini, M. (2010), “Risk management in a mega-project: the Universal EXPO 2015 case”, International Journal of Project Organisation and Management(online) Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 236-253. Accessed From: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250309286_Risk_management_in_a_mega-project_the_Universal_EXPO_2015_case (18th September 2018)
Locatelli, G. & Mancini, M. (2012), “Looking back to see the future: building nuclear power plants in Europe,” Construction Management and Economics (online) Vol. 30 No. 8, pp. 623-637. Accessed From: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254252323_Looking_back_to_see_the_future_Building_nuclear_power_plants_in_Europe (18th September 2018)
Locatelli, G., Mancini, M. & Romano, E. (2013), “Systems Engineering to improve the governance in complex project environments,” International Journal of Project Management – IN PRESS, (online) vol 33. Pp 6-10 Accessed From https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/91141/1/Accepted%20version.pdf (18th September 2018)
Salem, O., Solomon, J., Genaidy, A., Luegring, M. (2005), “Site implementation and assessment of lean construction techniques,” Lean Construction Journal (online )Vol.2 No.2, pp. 1-21. Accessed From: https://www.leanconstruction.org/learning/publications/lean-construction-journal/lcj-back-issues/volume-2-issue-2-october-2005/ (18th September 2018)
Salem, O.&, Zimmer, E. (2005), “Application of lean manufacturing principles to construction,” Lean Construction Journal (online)Vol.2 No.2, 51-54 Accessed from https://experts.syr.edu/en/publications/application-of-lean-manufacturing-principles-to-construction (18th September 2018)

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