The practice of lean thinking at the pre-contract stage of building construction projects by selected Ghanaian firms

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Construction Firms in the construction industry are faced with the challenge of aptly delivering services and products to clients at the possible minimum cost in order to remain competitive in the industry. The need to address this challenge of delivering valuable but less expensive products and services to fit clients’ needs has become imperative owing to a growing desire by clients to opt for project delivery approaches that will minimise cost but ensure return of value for money. It is, therefore, crucial for construction firms to “think lean” by exploring project delivery systems which focus on delivering value to clients and minimising waste in the project delivery process. The concept of lean thinking is a production based project delivery approach which originated from the manufacturing sector to minimise waste and maximise value in the production process. Increased cost of production, delays in delivering construction products and services, as well as the incidence of waste associated with production are some of the common problems that confront construction firms in Ghana which the study seeks to address. The aim of the study is therefore to establish the possibility of adoption of lean production principles by construction firms in order to address the problems of delays, high cost of project delivery and waste. The objectives of the research among others included identification of the extent of practise of lean thinking and the limitations to the practice of lean construction in Ghanaian construction. The main tools for the collection of primary data included administration of questionnaires, conduction of interviews and personal observation. Secondary data was obtained by reviewing relevant literature in textbooks, journals, reports, research papers and so on. The target population for the data collection included consultants and contractors in the construction industry. Statistical Package for Social Scientists, version 15 (SPSS Version 15) and Microsoft excel were then used to analyse the data. Inadequate familiarity of the construction firms with the concept of lean thinking was among a number of limitations identified in the possible application of the concept Ghanaian construction industry. The possible transfer of knowledge in the application of the concept from foreign construction firms operating in Ghana was one of the opportunities identified for the practice of lean thinking in Ghanaian construction industry. It is recommended among others that consultants in Ghanaian construction industry should become abreast with the lean thinking through professional and academic training programs.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Construction Management,.