A Survey of the Take-Up of Lean Concepts Among UK Construction Companies

Gavin Common1, Eric Johansen2 & David Greenwood3

1Construction Manager, Keycare Northern Ltd, gcommon@compuserve.com
2Senior Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, University of Northumbria, Ellison Place Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2, 3NN, UK. 0191-227-4691, eric.johasen@unn.ac.uk.
3Senior Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, University of Northumbria, Ellison Place Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2, 3NN, UK. 0191-227-4691, david.greenwood@unn.ac.uk.

Abstract

There are a number of initiatives designed to encourage the take-up of lean principles in construction. The aim of this research was to test the transfer of lean principles to construction by investigating their penetration into large construction companies in the UK. A conceptual framework with key indicators was developed and a survey carried out among a sample of general contractors. The first objective was to explore whether there was any consensus on what constituted lean construction. Then the indicators that had been selected were tested for validity. The third objective was to explore whether the indicators were indeed present in the study organisations, and if so, whether lean principles were restricted to board level, or had actually filtered down into the site production process. Finally, the respondents, were questioned about the likelihood of lean production techniques being adopted in the construction process. The survey revealed only a limited knowledge of lean construction techniques at both boardroom and site levels. There has been some adoption of lean techniques, but these exist side-by-side with traditional approaches. There was a great variation in perceptions: only a minority recognised the importance of the issues of design and planning. Many respondents professed to have embraced lean culture while further questioning suggested otherwise. Further research should investigate the reasons for this, and ultimately address the fundamental question of the transferability of lean principles to construction.

Keywords

Lean production, take-up, transferability, survey.

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Reference

Common, G. , Johansen, E. & Greenwood, D. 2000, 'A Survey of the Take-Up of Lean Concepts Among UK Construction Companies' In:, 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Brigthon, UK, 17-19 Jul 2000.

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