Interventions in Effecting Change Towards Lean for Australian Building Contractors: Defect Management as a Case of Reference

Salinda Perera1, Steven Davis2 & Marton Marosszeky3

1PhD Candidate, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Phone +61 422 179 306, sperera@evanspeck.com
2Lecturer, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Phone +61 2 9385 5052 , sdavis@unsw.edu.au
3Executive Consultant, Evans and Peck Pty Ltd. Level 6, Tower 2, 475 Victoria Ave, Chatswood, NSW, 2067, Australia, Phone +61 2 9495 0576, Email mmarosszeky@evanspeck.com

Abstract

Australian building contractors have been hesitant in embracing lean construction principles to date. The perceived gap between current practice and lean thinking, lack of simplified, user friendly tools to gain buy-in at site level have contributed as barriers. Others who have attempted some up-take have been discouraged due to lack of supporting cultural change to sustain the implementation of initiatives. The research conducted aims to reduce this gap through interventions to develop and refine simplified tools to effect cultural change towards defect avoidance. The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of two years of action research in characterising current rework perceptions and progress made through defect incident records. An action research methodology that combined surveys and other empirical investigation for data collection and a cyclic process for interventions for change facilitation was adopted. Research was conducted on seven building construction sites in Sydney, Australia. The results confirm the gap between current practice and lean philosophies, greater risk, hesitance and buy-in difficulties at site level in implementing lean thinking. The broader framework developed for defect management and Defect Incident Record was implemented successfully on the pilot projects. It provided a significant step towards change in belief in defect free thinking. There are limitations in generalising the outcomes of this research as quantitative comparison of outcomes as a cause of interventions between construction projects are prohibitively difficult given the variety of variables observed. However, the qualitative comparisons provide valuable insights to further develop tools that may be used as a step towards the implementation of lean principles in construction.

Keywords

Defect Incident Record (DIR), Defect Management Framework, Lean Construction, Defect avoidance, Construction rework, Culture change

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Reference

Perera, S. , Davis, S. & Marosszeky, M. 2011, 'Interventions in Effecting Change Towards Lean for Australian Building Contractors: Defect Management as a Case of Reference' In:, Rooke, J. & Dave, B., 19th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Lima, Peru, 13-15 Jul 2011.

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