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Lean construction project is very different compared to traditional construction project management where Lean approach aims to maximize performance for the customer at the project level, set well-defined objective clearly for delivery process, design concurrent product and process and applies production control throughout the life of project (Howell, 1999).
Construction is a key sector of the national economy for countries all around the world, as traditionally it took up a big portion in nation's total employment and its significant contribution to a nation's revenue as a whole. However, until today, construction industries are still facing numbers of contingent problems that were bounded to be resolved since the past time. The chronic problems of construction are well known such as Low productivity, poor safety, inferior working conditions, and insufficient quality. (Koskela, 1993) and the phenomenon of the poor performance and conditions in construction had long been witnessed and recorded by academics and practitioners throughout the world regardless in developed countries e.g. England (Eaton, 1994) or in developing countries e.g. Chile. (Serpell et al., 1995)
Nowadays, increasing foreign competition, the scarcity of skilled labour and the need to improve construction quality are the key challenges faced by the construction industry. Responding to those challenges imposes an urgent demand to raise productivity, quality and to incorporate new technologies to the industry. A lack of responsiveness can hold-back growth, and to development of the needed infrastructure for the construction industry and other key activities in the country. (Alarcón,1994).http://www.scribd.com/doc/37230963/Lean-Construction(lps left)
Pertaining to the challenges faced by the construction industry, numerous researches and studies had been carried out for the past decades to identify the causes to the construction problems and some of them had went on to suggest and recommend solutions to rectify those identified problems. The early phase of these studies mainly focused on the "end" side of the construction process with the introduction of new technologies and equipment to speed up the construction process and improve overall productivity. It was only until late 1980s where a new construction improvement movement was being initiated by looking into the "mean" side of the construction process-related problems in a more holistic and structured way based on the philosophy and ideology of lean production. With the lean construction paradigm, construction industry had started to be reviewed and evaluated in the possibilities of implementing these new lean perspectives of production concepts in the construction processes to optimise the overall construction performance on construction stage as well as design stage. However, in construction, there has been rather little interest in this new production philosophy. (Alarcón, 1994) This matter laid on whether or not the new production philosophy has implications for construction and will give any significant impacts on the productivity improvement.
According to the scholars and researchers in Lean Construction, the new construction production philosophy is laid on the concepts of conversion and flow process. Therefore, performance improvement opportunities in construction can then be addressed by adopting waste identification/ reduction strategies in the flow processes in parallel with value adding strategies with the introduction of new management tools and with proper trainings and education programs. Unfortunately, these new lean construction concepts especially those on wastes and values most of the times are not well understood by construction personnel. Particularly, waste is generally associated with waste of materials in the construction processes while non-value adding activities such as inspection, delays, transportation of materials and others are not recognised as waste. (Alarcón, 1995) As the result of that, the productivity of construction industry cannot be fully optimised due to the narrow interpretation on the concept of waste current adopted. In this case, substantial education programs need to be arranged for all related parties involved in order to implement the new process improvement strategies successfully throughout the construction process cycle.