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Lean Construction Implementation in Saudi Arabia

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Added on  2019-10-09

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Barriers to implement lean construction practices in the Saudi Arabianconstruction industryAbstractThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed the huge scale of construction during the lastdecades. However, many projects experienced time delay, cost overrun and generatedmassive wastes. To address these challenges, lean construction has been introduced to theSaudi construction industry, however, is still at its infancy stage. This study aimed toinvestigate the current state of lean construction and specifically current barriers associatedwith the implementation of lean practices in the Saudi construction industry through a broadquestionnaire survey. Through extensive literature review 22 potential barriers wereidentified and analysed using statistical tools. Results show that “Influence of traditionalmanagement on construction” is the top ranked barriers identified by questionnaire surveyfrom Saudi construction firms. On the other hand, “Use of non-standard components” and“uncertainty in supply chains” are ranked at the bottom of the list of potential barriers in theSaudi construction industry. User end preferences and lack of training and tools are alsoimportant barriers to be eliminated for successful implementation of lean practices in theSaudi construction industry.Keywords: Lean construction, Barriers, Saudi construction industry,Implementation,Principal component analysis
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1.Introduction Poor performance of the construction industry is the result of inefficiency and ineffective oftraditional managerial approaches (Sambasivan and Soon, 2007). Lean construction hasemerged as an innovative concept based on ‘lean thinking’ to minimize waste and enhancethe value for the customer (Howel, 2001). The first Lean concept was derived from theToyota production system (TPS) and got huge appreciation, and its evolved form are usedin the construction industry which is bringing efficiency. Every stage in a constructionproject is important and lean practices emphasis on increasing efficiency of work at everystage (Banawi, 2013). Lean construction also minimizes the direct cost of effective projectdelivery management and assists in making informed project decisions at all levels of theproject. In addition, lean construction practices ensure a continuous learning environmentand lesson learned are useful for future implementation of overall construction process in afirm (Lehman & Reiser, 2000). As a result, there is an increased awareness amongconstruction industries about the benefits of using lean practices as the modern way toenhance productivity and project performance (Abdel-Razek et al., 2007). The applicationof lean construction principles, techniques and methods have the potential to address theneeds of construction at industry level. However, adoption of new management approach is not an easy process because of resistancefrom practitioners and traditional system maturity. Various studies (e.g. Johansen, 2007; Jin,2008; Alinaitwe, 2009; Abdullah, 2009; Sarhan, 2013; Husaain, 2014;) have identified anumber of barriers involved for implementation of lean construction in this respect. Some ofthe evident barriers are improper understanding and implementation of this concept. Thisraises concern in adapting the method with other methodologies such as total qualitymanagement and six sigma. Additionally, country specific characteristics such as culture,professional practices etc. play a very vital role. The individuals of different countries areprepared to work on their own unique style. Therefore, the implementation of methods thatrequire them to adapt to new practices usually calls for conflicts (David and Fahey, 2000).The construction industry of Saudi Arabia is facing problems in measuring and improving theperformance (Bannah, 2012). Common problems are not limited to time delays (Assaf, 2006),cost overruns (Harris, 2014), poor safety and quality issues (AMEInfor, 2014). Some issues like fragmentation and subcontracting are prevalent in most of the construction activities (Sarhan and Fox, 2013).To adderss these problems, lean construction has been introduced
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into the Saudi construction industry and there was no actual evidence of such practice prior to2013 (AlSehaimi et al, 2014, p. 2). Al-Sudairi (2007) reported that lean practices have significantly improved the project performance, especially at trade level by reducing waste involved in production. Desipte so, lean construction in Saudi Arabia is still in its infancy. The implementation of lean construction concepts in complex projects hasn’t taken place yet. Neverthelss, no research has been performed to date to investigate the barriers involved in theimplementation of lean construction in Saudi construction industry.+"$* 30'*::!0 ;;.%%'.$"%0'.'"0'.&&0&$"%"1$(&")$"
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"$"<*+"$* 30'*::!0 ;;.%%'.$"%0'.'"0'.&&0&$"%"1$(&")$""$"<*Therfore this paper aims to understand what hinders the implementation of lean constructionpractices in the Saudi construction industry. Using a broad questionnaire survey, differentbarriers and challenges will be identified. The findings of this research will help differentstakeholders better understand and overcome such barriers, specifically those highly
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important. Eventually, the benefits of lean construction practices can be achieved effectivelyby the Saudi Arabian construction industry in the wide spectrum. 2.Overview of barriers for lean construction implementationRecent years have seen a growing international academic interest in lean construction(Koskela, 1992; Alarc¢n, 1997; Howell and Ballard, 1998), mainly seeking to investigate theextent to which the Japanese model of lean production can be applied to the constructionindustry. The term 'lean production’ is commonly used to describe the Toyota manufacturingsystem as applied within the car industry (Womack et al., 1990). The concept of lean has itsfoundation in the deployment of reproduction activities by Fredrick Winslow Taylor(Taylor’s theory) and its best historical implementation was based on Henry’s Ford’sconveyor belt invention that led to mass production observed in the 19th century (Vieira&Caehadinha, 2011). In the UK, the ideas of `lean thinking’ have been strongly endorsed inthe influential ‘Egan Report’ (DETR, 1998). Flanagan et al. (1998) and Saad and Jones (1998) have advocated the application of leanthinking to construction. They have asserted that the inclusion of lean thinking to theconstruction bring appreciable changes in the way things are carried out on the ground. Theapplication of lean thinking impacts the existing procedures and brings efficiency if followedproperly.The barriers concerning culture and human attitudes, finance, and reliance on traditionalmethods are evident (Sarhan and Fox, 2013). Researchers all over the world are concerned with investigating the different barriers andhurdles in the successful implementation of lean practices in the construction industry. Thesuccessive sections discusses the various areas that are under consideration. Managementand leadershipAdopting new techniques and implementing it successfully much relies on the commitmentof top managment as they are policy maker for any firm. Since top management in anyconstruction firm is much more concerned about profit of the company, they may not beaware of the current practices and trend in construction. Support and commitment from topmanagement has been considered very important for lean implementation (Radnor, 2010;
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Suárez-Barraza and Ramis-Pujol, 2010), and specifically necessary element in implementingJust in Time (JIT) and Total Quality Management (TQM) in construction (Low and Teo,2004; Low and Chan, 1997). Otherwise, some management policies may hinder in successfulimplementation of proper lean practices, which has been observed and discussed in Germanyand Finland construction industry (Johansen & Walter, 2007; Koskela, 1997). Organizational culture Organizational culture is of great importance to people and they normally don’t want tochange it. They prefer staying in the comfort zone for long (Hornstein, 2015). The inclusionof lean methods would call them to get out of their comfort zone and adapt to something new.Such changes are bound to face resistance from these employees or people. A lean culture hasspecific dimensions that define the behaviour of the employees (Womack and Jones, 1996)This requires a different attitude and can be sometime difficult to follow through if one isunaware of the importance and activities under consideration.People don’t want change and it’s difficult to convince someone to adopt a new practice andleave what they used to do for a very long time. In order to adopt lean practices workers areasked to follow new production systems, working relationships, expectations aboutproductivity, quality. All of these can be scary and uncomfortable for workers (Sim andRogers, 2009; de Souza and Pidd, 2011). There are many stakeholders in a complexorganizational hierarchy of any big construction firm.Techincal knowledgeLean construction is a relatively new concept and it needs proper understanding andsufficient konwldge for its implementation..It has been observed in many construction firmsthat they want to adopt lean construction practice, but not skilled enough and did not haveenough training to adopt new tools in their firms. In order to successfully implement leanconstruction in any construction firm, there should be a proper understanding of the technicalissues and all the steps involved. Special training and skills are required, for example to run asoftware for better implementation (Liker, 2004). Lack of technical knowledge is one of thegreatest barriers identified by the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) in its 2007 survey. If aconstruction firm adopts lean construction practice, but there are deficiencies in technicalsector and they are not adopting complete technical tools, then the results will not be muchfruitful (Liker, 2004). The traditional design and construction approach is very much different
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