This paper presents the results of an exploratory study investigating the application of the “mobile cell manufacturing” concept within the construction environment. The investigation was carried out using a case study research method and focused on the drywall process. The initial phase of the project involved a diagnosis of drywall practices in a medium sized company. That diagnosis pointed out a number of problems such as equipment improvisation, poor workflow planning and the absence of adequate drywall design plans. In order to tackle these problems simultaneously we experiment with the idea of “cell manufacturing” in one case study. Using Hyer and Brown (1999)´s list of cell manufacturing enablers we conclude that our cell got to the stage of a “latent physical cell” because it was characterised by spatial proximity, but with deficiencies in time and information linkages. The study indicates that the concept of “mobile cells” is feasible in construction and deserves further research and dissemination in industry as it enables (and requires) a simultaneous integration of all lean construction ideas within a single environment. Future studies on this topic need to start right from the beginning of the construction project in order to prepare the site for the new production dynamics required by “mobile cells”.
Drywall, mobile cell, cell manufacturing, innovation