Applicability Of Lean Concept In Malaysia Construction Industry Construction Essay

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This work aims to develop a theory-based conceptual framework for analyzing the applicability of lean concept in the construction industry in Malaysia. Lean production, innovated by Taiichi Ohno, is a philosophy that focuses on reducing waste in the work process while creating values to meet customers expectation (Womack and Jones 2003: 15). After achieving a great success in the manufacturing industry, lean philosophy is claimed to be also applicable in the field of construction in the early 1990s (Yu et. al 2009: 782). According to Mao and Zhang (2008: 372), the transfer of this philosophy into construction industry creates a new terminology - "lean construction". Similarly, lean construction aims at maximizing customers' satisfaction by focusing on three areas - the design of construction facilities, the design of construction process and the control in each construction stage. This concept has been adopted by various companies in the western countries and many positive results were gained (Senaratne and Wijesiri 2008: 34).

Even though this concept remains at its experimental stage (Mao and Zhang 2008: 371) and has not been widely adopted in most of the Southeast Asian countries, this study would like to take the initiative to explore the applicability of lean methodology in Malaysia. This will be carried out by identifying the possible constraints and challenges, recognizing wastes that are incurred in Malaysia construction industry and devising some lean strategies to overcome the major problems. Interviews with major industry players will be used to discuss the issue and gather some in-depths information. Secondary data such as journals, websites, books and government reports will also be used to gather information for this study.

It is expected that the level of awareness of lean concept in the local industry will be relatively low. Some of the possible constraints and challenges will be resistance to change, unreliable suppliers, unstable workers and unorganised working environments. Also, although Malaysia has always been constantly paying high attention on its construction industry, the predominant method of construction remains focusing on traditional method. Many construction projects were found to be problematic with delays, waste in materials, low in quality and having poor performance (Ibrahim et. al 2010: 300).The combination of these situations undoubtedly will increase the difficulty level of lean implementation. However, by looking at the bright side, these situations also provide the signal that the introduction of lean into the construction industry is urgent for the country to move forward and have a competitive advantage over its peers.

Some of the analysis tools that will be used to analyse the data collected are:

process mapping - show how construction process is carried out in Malaysia

fishbone diagrams - analyse the wastes and their causes

priority matrix - prioritize the process to introduce suitable lean tools and techniques

On the whole, a radical change to the construction system in the local industry is not the best solution for the implementation of lean in Malaysia construction industry. More research and trainings are needed to introduce lean concept and practice to all levels. It is hoped that this study will stimulates the interest of the local industry to explore more improvement opportunities available from lean concept.




Evaluate the available lean tools and techniques.

Analyse lean construction best practices.

Examine the national policy framework in Malaysia construction practice.

Investigate the constraints and challenge in applying lean in Malaysia construction environment.

Construct a process map, a fishbone diagram and a priority matrix to implement change in the construction environment.

Justify the suitable lean tools and techniques.

Examine the training patterns and needs to implement the change.



Project Deliverables: Report, Procedures, Recommendations etc.

A literature report on lean methodology and lean construction

A literature report on Malaysia construction national policy framework

Findings on current construction practice - constraints and challenges

Data analysis - process map, fishbone diagram, and priority matrix

Recommendations on suitable lean tools and techniques



Why are you interested in the project?

The interest in this topic is cultivated due to two main reasons.

Firstly, as argue by Ibrahim et. al (2010: 295), the construction industry is a major productive area in Malaysia. It plays an important role to improve its social living standard and facilitate the growth of other sectors. However, as far as it is concern, Malaysian construction projects are facing many difficulties such as materials wastage, delays, poor quality and shortage of manpower. In fact, many of these issues can be greatly reduced if lean concept is applied in the construction industry in this country. This study is therefore conducted to bring more awareness of lean concept to the industry so that the stakeholders (Malaysia government, contractors, surveyors, developers, workers, suppliers, environmentalists, buyers and etc.) would be able to reap the benefits. It is also hoped that the analysis and suggestions would meet the specific need of the local industry and encourage them to participate in lean construction.

Secondly, though many studies have been done on the construction industry in Malaysia in the past, it is hard to find studies that have been on the application of lean construction in Malaysia. Therefore, it is hoped that this study will stimulate others interest to conduct further research in this area in future.



What research methods do you intend to use?

Both primary and secondary data sources are intended to be used for this study.

Generally, primary data can be collected in different methods such as questionnaires, interviews, focus group interviews and observations. Among all of these, semi-structured interview is chosen specifically for this study. It is believed that this method is most suitable as it is less formal and is able to stimulate discussion for gaining deeper information. Also, with numbers of closed and open-ended interview questions, both quantitative and qualitative information can be obtained. The data will be reliable and validate because they will be collected from different sample groups, such as contractors, architects and government officers. Having some friends and relatives involving in the field of construction in Malaysia, it is very likely that the interviews could be carried out successfully. However, as great sensitivity and skills are required for this method, much time and effort will need to be spent on learning the skills before this study is conducted. Other risks such as the possibility to introduce bias and deviate from the original purpose of data collection should be paid close attention at the same time (CEMCA 2008).

The secondary data will also be used to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data will be collected through newspapers, journals and books. Quantitative data such as government statistics on the number of contractors in the industry will be obtained mainly through reliable websites and government reports. Coventry University Lanchester Library will be used to access the information of most of the secondary data. Though the use of secondary data helps to improve the understanding of the study, there might be problems such as data outdated and data accuracy unknown (Management Study Guide 2010).

As both primary and secondary data have its advantages and disadvantages, using both resources will be the best solution to provide the best understanding and interpretation of this study.



What primary and/or secondary data sources do you intend to use?

Semi-structured interviews will be used to collect the primary data as this will give the respondents the freedom to express their views and opinions. The targets will be mainly managing directors of local contracting firms, architects and government officers in the construction industry. These people are focused because they are more exposed to the current construction practice in Malaysia and more likely to provide in-depths information. The interviews will be conducted in two different ways: face-to-face and telephone. The interview questions will be prepared ahead of time. Some of the questions will be:

Have you ever heard about lean construction?

Can you rank the wastes in your construction process?

What are some of the barriers if lean is to be applied in the construction industry?

Two aims and reasons for these interviews are:

Examine the construction process and wastes incurred in the industry. This is essential to identify the most common wastes and their causes. The information gathered will be used to draw the process map, fishbone diagram and priority matrix.

Collect and analyze their views and opinions on the barriers of the implementation of lean construction. As barriers vary in different country and culture, these views and opinions are crucial inputs to recognize the unique barriers of lean application in Malaysia. These opinions will also be useful in deciding what are the most suitable lean tools and techniques in their current stage.

Though primary data is important to collect the first hand information in this study, secondary data remain useful as many precious researches have been carried out previously. Books, newspapers, company documentations, websites and journals are the means to obtain the secondary data in this study. Databases such as EBSCO, Emerald, ScienceDirect and Compendex will be used for journals search. The secondary data are used mainly to collect the previous studies conducted on lean methodology, lean construction and the national policy framework.

Draft Chapter Heading for the Report








Literature Review

Lean production

Lean construction

National construction policy framework

4. Data Sources

4.1 Primary data

4.2 Secondary data

5. Findings and Observations

5.1 Current practice of Malaysia construction industry

5.2 Applicability of lean construction

5.2.1 Challenges and constraints

5.2.2 Process map

5.2.3 Fishbone diagram

5.2.4 Priority matrix

6. Discussions

6.1 Suitable tools and techniques

7. Conclusions

6.1 Concluding word

6.2 Limitations

6.3 Recommendations on training patterns and needs

8. List of References



Please attachor outline a project schedule (Gantt chart)which incorporates the phases of your project and activities to undertake, duration, start and end dates, any milestones/ deliverables and major dependencies.

For soft copy,

Please click on the link below to see a larger image:

C:\Users\user\Desktop\Master Project Gantt Chart.xlsx

For hard copy,

Please refer to Appendix 1 for larger image.