Roles of Supply Chain Management in Construction

Ruben Vrijhoef1 & Lauri Koskela2

1Research Scientist, TNO Building and Construction Research, Department of Strategic Studies, Quality Assurance and Building Regulations, P.O.Box 2600, NL-2600 AA Delft, The Netherlands, +31 (15) 2695228, fax: +31 (15) 2695335, [email protected]
2Senior Researcher, VTT Building Technology, Concurrent Engineering, P.O. Box 1801, FIN-02044 VTT, Finland, +358 (9) 4564556, fax: +358 (9) 4566251, [email protected]


Supply chain management (SCM) is a concept that has flourished in manufacturing, originating from Just-In-Time (JIT) production and logistics. Today, SCM represents an autonomous managerial concept, although still largely dominated by logistics. SCM endeavors to observe the entire scope of the supply chain. All issues are viewed and resolved in a supply chain perspective, taking into account the interdependency in the supply chain. SCM offers a methodology to relieve the myopic control in the supply chain that has been reinforcing waste and problems. Construction supply chains are still full of waste and problems caused by myopic control. Comparison of case studies with prior research justifies that waste and problems in construction supply chains are extensively present and persistent, and due to interdependency largely interrelated with causes in other stages of the supply chain. The characteristics of the construction supply chain reinforce the problems in the construction supply chain, and may well hinder the application of SCM to construction. Previous initiatives to advance the construction supply chain have been somewhat partial. The generic methodology offered by SCM contributes to better understanding and resolution of basic problems in construction supply chains, and gives directions for construction supply chain development. The practical solutions offered by SCM, however, have to be developed in construction practice itself, taking into account the specific characteristics and local conditions of construction supply chains.


Supply chain management, construction supply chain, interdependency, myopic control



Vrijhoef, R. & Koskela, L. 1999. Roles of Supply Chain Management in Construction, 7th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -.

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