AN APPRAISAL OF THE READINESS OF NIGERIAN BUILDING CONSULTING FIRMS TO ADOPT LEAN CONSTRUCTION PRINCIPLES

AN APPRAISAL OF THE READINESS OF NIGERIAN BUILDING CONSULTING FIRMS TO ADOPT LEAN CONSTRUCTION PRINCIPLES

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ABSTRACT

Studies have shown that construction projects are susceptible to problems such as low productivity, poor safety, inferior working conditions, insufficient quality, lack of timely communication and coordination amongst project stakeholders, and rising litigation. The adoption of lean construction principles within the manufacturing and other industries had led to notable improvement and resulted in improved time-to-market, reduced production cost, improved quality of the product and active customer involvement. The study was aimed at appraising the readiness of Nigerian building consulting firms to adopt lean construction principles. The method of study involved a critical exposition of related literature and empirical study employing the mean scores and VERDICT readiness assessment model for analysis. A structured questionnaire was issued to a sample size comprising 130 firms drawn from a finite population of 360 Nigeria building consulting firms operating within Northern Nigeria. The result of the study revealed that the level of awareness of lean construction principles is increasing. Also, reduced cost and less waste were identified as the most important benefits of adopting lean construction principles; availability of trained professionals and education and skills development are the most important facilitators for adopting lean construction principles; inadequate exposure to requirements for lean implementation and inadequate preplanning are the most important barriers to adoption of lean construction principles in Nigeria construction industry. Nigeria building consulting firms has process/project readiness to adopt but do not have management, people and technology readiness to adopt lean construction principles. The study concludes that Nigeria building consulting firms are not yet ready to adopt lean construction Principles. The study recommends continuous awareness campaign of lean construction principles and its potential benefits via education and training to professional bodies, tertiary institutions offering any building construction related programmes and stakeholders in the construction industry.

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

Construction is a key sector of the national economy of nations contributing a big portion to their

total employment and revenue generation. The problems facing construction are well

documented such as low productivity, poor safety, inferior working conditions, insufficient

quality, lack of timely communication and coordination amongst project stakeholders and rising

litigation (Koskela, 2000 and LePatner, 2007). The UK Government initiated reports such as the

Latham Report (1994) and the Egan Report (1998), both of which recommended the

improvement of the construction industry‘s business performance.

The Nigerian construction industry suffers from all the above mentioned problems. It has

severally been characterized as inefficient with low productivity and lack of capacity to deliver

and satisfy its clients. Oyewobi et al. (2011) attributed the drop in the Nigerian construction

industry‘s contribution to GDP between 1980 and 2007 to poor performance and low

productivity. Similarly, Idrus and Sodangi (2007) asserted that the Nigerian construction industry

produces nearly 70% of the nation‘s fixed capital formation yet its performance within the

economy has been, and continues to be, very low. Other criticisms facing the industry are time

and cost overruns (Kuroshi and Okoli, 2010; Ameh and Osegbo, 2011; Ogwueleka 2011),

inadequate planning and budgetary provisions, contract sums inflation, inefficient and poor

service delivery (Kolo and Ibrahim, 2010).

Aibinu and Jagboro (2002); Oyewobi et al. (2011); Idiake and Bala (2012) emphasised the need

for improved performance and efficiency if the industry is to deliver value for money and

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effectively satisfy the needs of the clients. However, there are several responses to these calls for

flattened organisation structures, the elimination of waste, teamwork, efficient use of resources

and co-operative supply chain management, continuous improvement in efficiency and

productivity of the Nigerian and the global construction industry from different perspectives.

The need for greater co-ordination and integration within the industry has led to the adoption of

various concepts from other industries, for example; partnering (Ibrahim and Price, 2006),

concurrent engineering (Khalfan et al., 2000), technological innovations in design and

construction processes such as 3D, CAD and modelling (Isikdag and Underwood, 2010;

Olatunji, et al., 2010); BIM (Abubakar, 2012) and Lean Construction (LC) (Ballard and Howell,

2003).

Lean construction has been defined in several ways by different authors. The most popular

definition by Koskela et al. (2002) states that lean construction is a way to design production

systems to minimize waste of materials, time, and effort in order to generate the maximum

possible amount of value. This approach is intended to cause the developers, from the outset, to

consider all elements of the product life cycle from conception through disposal, including

quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements. In the context of the construction industry, another

definition states that lean construction is a holistic facility design and delivery philosophy with

an overarching aim of maximizing value to all stakeholders through systematic, synergistic, and

continuous improvements in the contractual arrangements, the product design, the construction

process design and methods selection, the supply chain, and the workflow reliability of site

operations (Abdelhamid, 2004).

In order to introduce aspects of lean construction in the construction project delivery process,

various researches reported that lean Construction Principles have recently received attention as

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a modern way to improve construction performance and labour productivity (Abdel-Razek et al.,

2007; Idiake and Bala, 2012), including continuous improvement, flattened organisation

structures, the elimination of waste, teamwork, efficient use of resources and co-operative supply

chain management (Womack and Jones, 1996).

It is critical to note that while lean construction is identical to lean production in spirit, it is

different in how it was conceived as well as how it is practiced. Implementing lean construction

has its benefits reaped by not only contractors, a popular misconception, but the architect and

owner as well, who are set to gain a lot by this practice. Sutter Health, a California healthcare

provider, has requested that its contractors use a lean construction approach in their 2004-2012

$6 billion dollar construction program. Sutter Health states that their first lean construction

project alone saved $100,0


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