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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the implementation of lean philosophy within a specialty trade Shabehpour, Noushafarin


Construction projects are dynamic and complex systems; their planning, execution and delivery involve considerable collective effort and coordination on the part of multiple individual stakeholders that come together to form a temporary project organization (TPO) for a project’s duration. In contrast, traditional construction project management practices are static. They often rely on inadequate and early assumptions of a handful of individuals in the TPO that try to predict and plan the execution of the project in great detail in the early stages of a project. To manage uncertainties, contingencies and buffers are introduced into the planning process. This static approach to construction management often results in variability which leads to waste and loss of value. Innovative tools and approaches such as building information modeling (BIM) and Lean construction have emerged over the years and aim to eliminate waste and inefficiency resulting from current practices in the construction industry. These approaches, however, require significant reconfiguration of the interactions within a TPO, among other things, which introduces significant challenges in their adoption and implementation. This manuscript presents the findings of a 16 month action-research project undertaken with a specialty trade. The research project aimed to investigate the implementation of lean principles within the organization and the potential impact on a complex, mixed-use project. Several performance metrics, such as planned percent complete (PPC) and degree of change in scheduled tasks, were utilized to measure and assess the reliability and efficiency of the planning efforts on the project. Reliance and dependency of following specialty trades on upstream trades performance was also analyzed. The findings highlight the challenges a specialty trade faces in shielding their production from upstream uncertainties when they have no control over the tasks assigned to them or the preceding tasks to their work. The planning efforts undertaken by the project team were also compared to guidelines of the Last Planner System to uncover differences in planning approaches. Suggestions for further performance enhancement and evaluation such as more collaborative planning and continuous look-back and learning processes are proposed to bridge the gaps uncovered between traditional and novel approaches to planning.

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