Process Improvement of the Building Services Engineering Industry: The Transatlantic Challenge

Charles Fowler1

1Charles Fowler is the leader of the Reading Production Engineering Group, Department of Construction Management & Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, UK.


Currently, the UK construction industry is under great pressure to make radical improvements in its productivity and cost performance without lowering the quality of the finished product. The industry must thoroughly evaluate its processes as it moves from a base in traditional crafts to a value for money, integrated production process encompassing the whole supply chain. In response to this challenge, the best practice production techniques and processes of the building services engineering industry in the US were identified and appraised for their potential application in the UK. A typical new building in the USA may contain a higher level of engineering services than its equivalent in the UK; its construction is at the same time considerably less expensive. The visit, sponsored by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, took place between 24 November and 7 December 1996. Meetings were arranged with a variety of construction professionals from different areas, from Pittsburgh to San Francisco via St Louis, Chicago, New York, Houston and Denver. The group recorded its findings, and this paper discusses their relevance to the UK industry. Recommendations are given in the form of an Action Plan by which the UK construction industry may in the future maintain its high quality while increasing its productivity and cost effectiveness.


building services engineering, process improvement, productivity



Fowler, C. 1997, 'Process Improvement of the Building Services Engineering Industry: The Transatlantic Challenge ' In: & Tucker, S. N., 5th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Gold Coast, Australia, 16-17 Jul 1997. pp 27-38

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