Extent of Utilisation of the Linear Programme Planning Technique for Scheduling Road Construction Works in Ghana

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Construction projects possess unique characteristics which make individual planning of each project essential. Planning entails the determination of how the job would be done, in what order and with what resources. There are many planning techniques available which could be applied to manage construction projects. Some of the planning techniques available for construction projects are the bar chart analysis and network analysis (suitable for simple and complex building construction works respectively). Others include line of balance analysis (for repetitive works) and linear programme analysis which is widely popular technique in the United Kingdom for scheduling road works and other linear projects like railways and tunnels. The most appropriate planning technique(s) must therefore be chosen when planning for any particular project in order to ensure optimum use of available resources, since certain planning techniques are more suitable for certain types of projects. In the Ghanaian road construction industry, there are four planning techniques available for the purposes of scheduling road works. These are; the bar chart, the network analysis, the line-of-balance and the linear programme techniques. The choice and extent of use of the available techniques for scheduling road construction works in Ghana is influenced by certain factors. Research findings indicate that, professionals in industry regard some factors as having significant influence on their choice and use of a planning technique than others. Seven factors were identified to be significant, out of a total of fifteen factors which featured in the study. The significant factors include; Client / Consultants’ Preferences, Suitability of Technique, Knowledge and Flexibility of Technique, Simplicity of Technique, Efficiency of Technique, Availability and Cost of Software Package and Contractor’s Preferences. The Linear programme technique has been an effective planning tool used to schedule road or highway construction projects and other linear projects measured by chainages for many years now in some of the world’s major economies like the United Kingdom. The technique has successfully been used to schedule highway construction projects where the Critical Path Method and the bar chart planning techniques have woefully failed to accurately model and manage such linear road projects.According to the research findings, the linear programme planning technique is rarely used by the road sector in Ghana for the sole purpose of scheduling and managing activities involved in road works, despite its efficiency and suitability for managing linear projects. The state-of the- art planning technique largely used to schedule road works in the country is the traditional bar chart. Thus compared to the bar chart technique, the linear programme technique enjoys very low patronage among the professionals in the road construction industry as far as programming and scheduling road construction works in the country is concerned; a situation which could be blamed on the factors which influence professionals’ decision on the choice of a planning technique for scheduling road construction works. The future prospect of the linear programme as a planning technique for scheduling road construction works in the country, nevertheless, remains auspicious, since results and feedbacks from professionals who featured in the research work indicate awareness of the existence of the linear programme technique; a very encouraging first step towards the full integration of the technique into the operations of the road construction industry in Ghana. In fact, a fraction of professionals in the industry have also actually been using the linear programme technique in combination with the bar chart, to a much lesser extent to schedule road works in the country which is also a promising and a good beginning for the linear programme in industry.A comparative description of the linear programme technique and the bar chart technique is also made using a case study of an on-going road project work in Ghana.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of Master of Science degree in Construction Management, April-2013