Investigating the barriers and potentials of applying lean principles in the Egyptian construction industry : an action research approach for applying value stream mapping Hamdy, Ahmed; Ali, Mohamed R.; El Anwar, Omar H.
Lean construction principles are not yet well known to the Egyptian construction industry. Introducing lean principles is often reported to be faced with considerable resistance to change. In this research, the authors follow the action research methodology to apply some lean construction tools on an ongoing construction operation in Giza, Egypt. The operation at hand is the manufacturing and installation of steel fences and gates in a new residential complex. The operation involves material procurement, off site manufacturing, off-site finishing, transportation, installation and on-site finishing activities. The investigated sample includes four steel workshops, two painting workshops, and an on-site installation crew. The lean construction tool applied is value stream mapping. The main challenges faced by this operation are costumer’s demand fluctuation and a resisting crafts-men culture. The customer demand unforeseeable fluctuations (1) affect the subcontractors’ ability to order large quantities of materials from the suppliers with sufficient lead-time; (2) results in an unstable cash flow to the subcontractors; and (3) generates an unbalanced workload distribution among the on-site and off-site crews. The supervisors of the workshops and on-site crews attempted to adopt some operation plans that according to their experience is best suited for mass production. These plans incorporated many wastes and needed significant modifications to respond in time to the fluctuation of the customer’s demands. Hence, value stream mapping is investigated as a possible solution to the aforementioned challenges. The authors succeeded to change and improve the operations of some participants, cutting the response time to customer demands by half in some cases. However, the authors failed with other participants, mainly because the crafts-men and their supervisors showed a significant resistance to change their operations design. This paper describes the lean construction initiatives, their results, and the main barriers and potentials identified through this research project.
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