Improving Productivity in Building Construction – by Repetitions in Products, Processes, and Organisations

Baris Bekdik

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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    Abstract

    This thesis builds on several studies with connection to the lack of productivity in build-ing construction. It seeks to enhance the conditions for improving productivity in the fragmented building construction industry, by exploring how a modular thinking of products, processes and organisations can be reapplied on new building construction projects. Complexity theory is used for diagnosis and modularity theory for the remedy towards the high degree of complexity, which is seen as the root of unproductivity. De-sign Research Methodology is followed to structure and organise the different studies of the thesis into descriptive study I, exploratory study, prescriptive study and descriptive study II stages. In the descriptive study I the status quo of public hospital building in Denmark is investigated in order to demonstrate the high degree of complexity imped-ing flow and hindering a better utilisation of the repetitions effect across projects. In the first part of the exploratory study, a general contractor’s attitudes and experiences with modularity in building projects are examined in order to highlight the many pitfalls and potential difficulties that modular designs represent from the practitioner’s perspective. In the second part of the exploratory study, examples of the fragmented kinds of modu-lar applications around the world are compiled in order to demonstrate the inconsistent use, but still universal appeal that the approach carries with respect to building construc-tion. Next, the prescriptive study first tests two applications of the Qualitative Compara-tive Analysis (QCA), one relating to the tender result and one relating to the occurrence of a dispute. The QCA is presented as a tool to utilize the repetitions effect across pro-jects to predict processes and make choices accordingly, thus avoiding undesirable out-comes. The first part of the descriptive study II tests an activity-clustering tool, the De-sign Structure Matrix (DSM), which allows one to split the construction process into separate modules, making dependencies clear. Together, the two tools represent meth-ods of increasing productivity by taking advantage of the patterns existing within and across projects. Finally, the second part of the descriptive study II shows how a map-ping of the complete product and information flow throughout the whole building pro-cess can highlight the chances to implement modularity and thereby increase productivi-ty further. Taken together, the studies pave the road for breaking down the overall pro-ject organisation into smaller parts and thus preparing it for modularisation. All in all, this thesis aims to show the potential of modularity not only at product level, but also at the process and organisation levels in building construction. Although the gain may not be immediately visible, it is worth the effort for all parties involved to zoom out before each project start, visualise the iterative patterns and possible pathways of modular solu-tions in the specific project environment and then set off together. With an eye to taking advantage of the repetitions occurring within and across projects, this thesis advocates that processes and organisations can be made remarkably more productive and that there is a great unused potential in the projects’ inherent repetitions effect.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherDTU Management
    Number of pages291
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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