Implementation of the lean approach in sustainable construction: a conceptual framework

Ogunbiyi, Oyedolapo Ekundayo (2014) Implementation of the lean approach in sustainable construction: a conceptual framework. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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There has been a growing awareness of the adoption of lean principles within UK construction organisations. The UK Government has recognised the importance of the construction industry in achieving the overall goals of sustainable development. Therefore, the Government has put several policies and strategies in place for achieving more sustainable construction. Assessment and performance improvement have been advocated by many researchers, and there is a substantial interest in performance measurement by construction organisations. Assessing the implementation efforts and benefits of lean approach in sustainable construction has become more critical to organisations in pursuit of continuous improvement. The inadequacy of many frameworks and tools developed to address this advancement in the area of lean and sustainability provided the motivation for this research. Therefore, the aim of this research was to develop a conceptual framework for assessing the implementation efforts and benefits of the lean approach in sustainable construction within contracting organisations.
The objectives of this study were to explore the process of implementation of the lean approach throughout all the levels of construction organisations, investigate the linkages between lean and sustainable construction, review the concept of lean and its application to sustainable construction, analyse the barriers and success factors, and to identify the benefits of lean in sustainable construction.
An exploratory method of investigation and study involving both quantitative and qualitative methodology was utilised in this research. An in-depth literature review and questionnaire survey was conducted among UK-based construction professionals on issues relating to sustainability and lean in order to identify the barriers, success factors and linkages between sustainability and the lean concept. The data collected were analysed with SPSS 19.0 version software using the percentile method, factor analysis, Kruskal Wallis test, Cronbach's Alpha reliability test and the Severity Index Analysis. A case study was also used with content analysis, in order to allow for a better understanding of the implementation process and drivers of lean at the organisational level.
The success factors in implementing lean and sustainability were subjected to factor analysis. A factor analysis of the data yielded two (2) critical success factors, which were labelled as management and resource factors and organisational culture factor. All the identified benefits of implementing lean construction were classified into economic, social, and environmental benefits. Also, the drivers of implementing lean were discussed and classified into internal and external drivers.

The research further revealed that reduction in waste is the most important benefit of synchronising lean and sustainability. The most significant barrier is resistance to change. The adoption of lean techniques will impact significantly on the realisation of sustainable construction as there are linkages between lean and sustainability. The developed framework of lean implementation process at the strategic level is made up of three sections, namely: policy and strategy deployment, assessments criteria, and the application and the implementation phase (with their respective sub sections). The framework highlighted the need to understand the implementation issues within a contracting construction organisation as well as the drivers of implementing lean. This study has theoretical, practical and methodological significance for successful lean implementation in contracting construction organisations in the UK.

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