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Leiringer R T

Modelling the complexity of modern construction projects

Abstract: "The search for significant cost savings and quality improvements on construction projects is a routine activity and one where there is plenty of theory, but few results capable of being reproduced elsewhere. One reason is that the organisational infrastructure of a project is not always properly understood and defined, meaning that novel ways of bringing about such savings and improvements can be frustrated by invalid or erroneous assumptions. A case study of a large housing project, as part of a top level investigation by a government department, has shown how even domestic scale construction is not without problems in understanding the complexity of the process. The investigation is documented as a set of computer-based process models for the entire project, which have then been used to pinpoint failures in communication and information management. Of particular interest are the early, pre-design stages (briefing) and the supply chain covering the off-site design, fabrication and assembly of components. The findings show that large parts of the process are not adequately defined. The parties have difficulty in agreeing upon the amount and specifics of the activities that have and are taking place, as well as the resources and information that are necessary for the project’s successful completion. Conclusions are drawn that outline the need for clear and transparent guidelines and procedures."



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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated

Lindfors, Christian; Leiringer, Roine


Abstract: The construction industry is experiencing large and radical changes forced upon it by external influences such as changing social patterns, internationalisation, growing environmental awareness, rapid development of the IT sector, knowledgeable and demanding customers, as well as development within the industry itself. The need for organisations to adapt to this new set of circumstances is evident as companies face financial difficulties at a time when they need to come up with innovative solutions and increase their customer focus. One way of adapting – the one explored in this paper – is to make the organisation leaner. ‘Lean enterprises’ are resource and time efficient and agile to the point that they are able to respond to customer demands and expectations. Instead of having activities aligned according to functions, lean enterprises are organised along value chains of products or product families. This paper addresses the implementation of process thinking to the construction industry and presents a structured way of making a systematic representation of processes. It discusses initiatives, including the creation of extensive functional models that have been initiated to systematically identify processes within organisations and to create new models for more efficient enterprises. Conclusions are drawn that confirm the utility of adopting a process orientation for bringing about improvement and as a pathway towards establishing lean enterprises.

Keywords: Lean thinking, process orientation, customer focus


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