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21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 756

Assessment of Lean Construction Practice in the Nigerian Construction Industry


Adegbembo, Taiwo Fadeke1*; Bamisaye, Olorunfemi Paul2 & Aghimien, Douglas Omoregie3
1,2&3
Department of Quantity Surveying, Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria
*
taifad2001@yahoo.co.uk

ABSTRACT
Lean Construction offers valuable techniques to manage construction at improved workflows and
minimal waste generation. This research therefore seeks to assess Lean Construction practices in
the Nigerian Construction industry by exploring construction practitioners‘ extent of knowledge
of Lean Construction and its approaches as well as evaluate how often these approaches are being
utilized, to assess its benefits and the barriers hindering its implementation in the Nigerian
construction industry. The target populations were construction professionals in the construction
industry, consisting of Architects, Quantity Surveyor, Builders and Engineers. Data collection was
done through the use of a structured questionnaire administered to these professionals. The data
were analyzed using Mean score ranking statistical tool and results were presented in tables. The
results showed that most of the construction professionals are aware of Lean Construction and its
approaches. Also, Project needing immediate attention given more importance, Identification of
client needs and Look – ahead schedule (program of work) were the most utilized approaches in
the construction industry, while improvement of project delivery methods, more satisfied clients
and the delivery of products or services that enable clients to better accomplish their goals were
the major benefits identified. The study therefore recommends that more should be done on lean
awareness and understanding as well as training for exposure to the need to adopt the lean
concept.

Keywords: Construction, Lean Construction, Professionals

INTRODUCTION
The construction Industry not only provides infrastructure for all other industries, but also
constitutes one of the largest single sectors in the economy on its own (International
Investment and Services Directorate, 1999).In many large cities in the world, Waste has been
considered to be a major problem in the construction industry (Al-Moghany, 2006). Non-
value adding activities (NVA) in the construction process such as waiting time, material
handling, over production, inventories, re-work and movement of workers have been
discovered to constitute waste which forms about 30% of construction cost (Koskela, 2000).
Lean Construction has therefore been introduced into the construction industry as it is a
concept in construction specifically set out to increase the sector‘s productivity level through
the elimination of activities and actions deemed to generate waste in the construction process
(Abdullah,Abdul-Razak, Abubakar and Mohammad2009).
The emergence of the lean construction concept is seen as a current approach that can be used
to produce best practices because it was viewed as an effort to bring construction industry
towards a more optimum productivity level with the efficient usage of resources as well as to
produce the utmost value. Lean construction is understood as a new paradigm for project
management, thereby challenging the traditional thinking about construction and project
management (Ballard and Howell, 2004).The direct application of the lean construction
concept in a construction project will bring an effect of change towards the way work is
conducted by an organization responsible in realizing the related construction activities. This
will then forcibly alter the traditional work practices normally undertaken by the construction
firms according to the needs and suitability in line with the objectives and principles
established in the lean construction concept itself (Abdullah et al. 2009).According to Howell
(1999), managing construction under Lean is different from typical contemporary practice

Adegbembo, T. F.; Bamisaye, O. P. & Aghimien, D. O. (2016). Assessment of Lean Construction Practice in the Nigerian Construction Industry.
In Ebohon, O. J., Ayeni, D. A, Egbu, C. O, and Omole, F. K. Procs. of the Joint International Conference (JIC) on 21st Century Human Habitat:
Issues, Sustainability and Development, 21-24 March 2016, Akure, Nigeria, page number 756-764
21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 757

because it; has a clear set of objectives for the delivery process; it is aimed at maximizing
performance for the customer at the project level; t designs concurrently product and process,
and it applies production control throughout the life of the project.
According to Johansen and Walter (2007), the application of the lean concept in the
construction industry is still very restricted and sluggish, although various countries gained
large benefits by adopting Lean Construction concepts, there seems to be little
implementation of lean in the United Kingdom construction industry over the last two
decades, because there appears to be some barriers preventing its successful implementation
(Mossman, 2009).One of the major barriers to implementation of lean concepts in
construction is the low level of awareness among construction professionals in the
construction industry. In relation to this, a research work carried out by Olatunji (2008) in
Nigeria to determine the awareness level of construction professionals about lean indicates
that the level of awareness is very low stating that only two out of the ten respondents signify
that they have heard about lean.
Thus, the aim of this study is to assess lean construction practices with a view to know the
present state in the Nigerian construction industry. To achieve this, the level of awareness of
lean concept among construction professionals in the Nigerian construction industry and the
lean principles used in the Nigerian construction industry were assessed.

LITERATURE REVIEW
The Construction Industry in Nigeria
The construction industry according to Leibing (2001) is the tool through which society goals
of urban and rural development can be achieved. It embraces a wide range of loosely
integrated organizations that collectively construct, alter, refurbish and repair a wide range of
different building and civil engineering structures. The industry all over the world has not
been static and the reasons for this include: clients‘ growing demand, complexity of
construction projects, advancement in technology and introduction of new innovations
amongst others (Oke, 2009).
Construction work covers site acquisition, design, contract, site operation (construction),
operations and management. It has a great impact on the economy of all countries (Leibing,
2001). In Nigeria, the construction industry continues to occupy an important position in the
nation‘s economy even though it contributes less than the manufacturing or other service
industries, (Aibinu and Jagboro, 2002). Olowo-Okere (1985) gave the genesis of construction
in Nigeria as far back as the 1940s when few foreign companies came together under an
organized construction contracting in Nigeria and began operation. Since then the Nigeria‘s
economic growth over the last decade according to Isa, Jimoh and Achuenu (2003) has been
high and the contribution of construction sector has risen steadily leading to sustainability.
The Nigerian construction is no different from its counterpart around the world where waste
abounds. Thus, it is the duty of the professionals to gear up and put into action, new ways of
avoiding this common problem.
Professionals in the Construction Industry
In most cases, construction professional who are regularly engaged by the government and
other clients include but not limited to: Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers, Builders
and Project Managers. All these construction professionals according to Gyadu-Asiedu
(2009) are regulated by their professional institutions. On a general note, the Architect is a
person involved in the planning, designing and over-seeing of a building‘s construction. He
translates the user‘s need into the builder‘s requirements and he thoroughly understands the
building and operational codes under which his or her design must conform. The Architect is
21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 758

charged with being generally familiar with the work and reporting the general progress and
quality of the work, as completed, to the client. Hence, the standard of care is that the
Architect should be responsible for discovering and reporting nonconforming work that is
available to be seen (Simson and Atkins, 2006; Anyanwu, 2013). Anyanwu (2013) observed
that the Engineers (civil, structural and building services) are very important members of the
design team whose responsibilities are to assist in the overall design of the project within the
scope of their specialist fields. They also produce drawings, specifications, schedules and
other relevant data that may be required for the overall construction of the project. The
Quantity surveyor according to Hussin (2009) is concerned with managing and controlling
costs within construction projects and may involve the use of a range of management
procedures and technical tools to achieve this goal. A Builder is a professional at the centre of
the physical construction of buildings (Anyanwu, 2013). He is a man-power capable of
interpreting the specifications of other survey and design professionals. A Project Manager
represents the client on the site and his role is to inspect quality of materials and the
workmanship to ensure that they all comply with the drawings and specifications. According
to Russell (2006), the services offered by Project Managers vary considerably, as do the
qualifications and experience of the people that act in this capacity. The qualifications and
experience of people practicing as Project Managers may come from the professional side of
the construction industry, as in Architects, Quantity Surveyors or Engineers, or may stem
from the contracting side, such as in the management teams of major main contractors.
All these professionals are saddled with achieving one goal, which is delivering the
construction project within the budget, at the shortest possible time and with the best quality
achievable. Therefore, avoiding waste in terms of time, cost, labour, materials and the likes
which according to Al-Moghany (2006) have been a major problem in the construction
industry, should be paramount to these professionals.
Lean Construction
Lean concept is a Western interpretation of the Japanese Production Philosophy in the car
manufacturing industry (Bertelsen and Koskela 2005).The core concept behind Lean
Production is to enable the flow of value creating work steps while eliminating non-value
steps (Dulaimi and Tanamas 2001). Howell (1999) highlighted Lean production concepts as:
identifying and delivering value to customer by eliminating anything that does not add value,
organizing production as a continuous flow, perfecting the product and creating reliable flow
through stopping the line, pulling inventory, distributing information and decision-making
and pursuing perfection by delivering on order a product meeting customer requirements with
nothing in inventory. Abdul-Razeket al. (2007) believe that the core idea of Lean
Construction is to reduce or eliminate waste, represented in non-value adding activities, and
increase the efficiency of value adding activities.
Lean is essentially all about getting the right things to the right place at the right time, in the
right quantity and at the same time, minimizing waste and being open and responsive to
change. Lean production has an underlying philosophy that, by eliminating waste, quality can
be improved, and production times and costs reduced (Kempton, 2006). According to
Koskela (1999), lean construction shares the goals of lean production which is; elimination of
waste, cycle time reduction, and variability reduction. Lean thinking is lean because it
provides a way to do more with less human effort, less equipment, less time and less space,
while coming closer to providing customers satisfaction (Mossman, 2009).
Lean Principles and approaches to achieving Lean in Construction
Lean concept is all about getting the right things to the right place at the right time, in the
right quantity whilst minimizing waste and being open and responsive to change (Kempton,
21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 759

2006). Lean primary principles were observed to include: reduction of waste within the value
stream; synchronising, aligning and providing transparency as part of the planning process;
and integrating Transformation Flow Value production theory as part of the lean
implementation process (Chestworth et. al, 2011). Kempton (2006) further argued that the
principles of Lean include: perfect first- time quality - achieving zero defects, revealing and
solving problems at the source; waste minimization - eliminating all non-value-adding
activities and maximizing the use of resources; continuous improvement - reduction of costs,
increase quality and productivity; pull processing - products pulled from the consumer end;
flexibility - production of different mixes and/ or greater diversity of products, without
compromising efficiency; and Relationships - building and maintaining long-term
relationships with suppliers. Other researchers have proposed wider principles (Liker, 2004;
Ballard, 2006; Robert & Granja, 2006; London, 2004) but the application might differ from
one organization to the other (Liker, 2004).
In achieving these principles within a construction project, several approaches are available
to the construction professionals. This include from; identification of client needs, project
needing immediate attention given more importance, look – ahead schedule, timely delivery
of construction materials to site, continuous improvement, conducting of weekly meetings,
regular performance measurement of site workers, strict criteria for the selection of
subcontractor, involvement of project participants in making of schedules, uninterrupted
workflow etc (Chestworth et. al, 2011; Liker, 2004)
Benefits of Lean Construction
The introduction of the Lean Construction concept and its application within the construction
industry is reported to have birth a lot of benefits (Abdullah et al., 2009). Evidence of the use
of lean thinking has shown that there are many benefits to be made from applying lean
principles to construction. These benefits claimed include: improved productivity, increased
reliability, improved quality, more client satisfaction, increased predictability, shortened
schedules, less waste, reduced cost, enhanced build-ability improvements to design, and
improved safety (Mossman, 2009). Also the implementation of Lean Construction in the
construction industries will lead to improvement of project delivery methods, delivery of
products or services that enable clients to better accomplish their goals, more satisfied clients,
productivity gains, minimization of risks and maximization of opportunities, greater
predictability, shorter construction periods/ reduced project time, injection of reliability,
accountability, certainty and honesty into the project environment, improved design just to
mention a few.
Barriers to the Implementation of Lean Construction
There seems to be a number of barriers militating against successful lean implementation.
Several studies have been carried out in different countries worldwide to identify the barriers
in implementing the Lean construction (Mossman, 2009). Bashir et al. (2010) classified
these barriers different categories based on a thorough and critical review of international
literature relating to the take up of lean practice. These include; lack of training, lack of
interest from the client, waste accepted as inevitable, delay in material delivery, etc.
According to Abdullah et al.(2009) lack of attentiveness and commitment from top
management, difficulties in understanding the concept of lean construction, lack of exposure
on the need to adopt the lean construction concept, lack of proper training, weak
communication among clients, consultants and contractors, the tendency of construction
firms to apply traditional management concepts as opposed to productivity and quality
management concepts, attitude and ability to work in group, and long implementation period
of lean concept in construction processes, are some of the major barriers to the
implementation of Lean construction in the construction industry. Bashir et al. (2010)
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therefore suggested that the measures to these barriers are timely delivery of materials to site,
organizing of trainings employees on lean concept and companies being client focused.

METHODOLOGY
The aim of this paper is to assess the Lean construction practice in the Nigerian construction
industry with a view to know the present state in the Nigerian construction industry. In
achieving this, a survey design was used. This involved the use of questionnaires
administered to Quantity surveyors, Architects, Civil Engineers and Builders in the Ondo
state, Nigeria. A total of 93 questionnaires were distributed with 77 returned out of which 74
were deemed fit for analysis. This represents a response rate of 79.57% which is far above the
usual response rate of 20-30% for questionnaire surveys in construction management studies,
as suggested by Akintoye (2000). Mean Item Score (MIS) was used to analyze data gathered
using the formula:
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Where M = Mean Item Score


X = range 1 – 5 with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest
F = Frequency of respondent in each factor
The MIS is ranked in descending order with the highest MIS ranked 1st and others in such
subsequent descending order.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS


Respondents Background Information
The respondents sampled include 37.8% Quantity surveyors, 29.7% Engineers, 17.7%
Architects and 14.9% Builders. 36.5% of the respondents have between 1 to 5years of
working experience while 32.5% have between 6 to 10 years experience. 12.2% of the
professionals have 11-15years, 5.4% have between 16 to 20years while 13.5% have above
20years of experience in building construction. Thus, it can be said that the data gathered
from the respondents can be relied upon since 63.5% of the respondents have above 5years
working experience, hence information would have been given based on their wealth of
experience. Research also shows that 50% of the respondents are aware of Lean Construction
either through professional practice, school, seminar/conference, printed material/literature,
or from colleagues, while 28.4% are strongly aware, 12.2% are somewhat aware while a
meager percentage (9.5%) of the respondents are not aware of Lean Construction in Ondo
State. This huge percentage of awareness can be attributed to the vast years of experience and
exposure of the respondents in the construction sector.
Level of awareness and adoption of the different ways of delivering Lean construction
From table 1 below, it shows that there is an appreciable level of awareness of the different
approaches through which lean construction can be delivered in any construction project.
These approaches were slightly rewritten as a means to simplify potential awareness and
understanding by the respondents. Result reveal that identification of clients need has the
highest level of awareness among construction professional with a mean score of 4.22 while
Project needing immediate attention given more importance and Look –ahead schedule and
Continuous improvement ranked 2nd and 3rd with a mean score of 4.17, and 4.07
respectively. Continuous improvement and involvement of construction professionals right
from the inception ranked 4th with a mean score of 4.06 each while direct involvement of
foremen in decision making is the least on the table with a mean score of 3.36.
21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 761

Result showed that in practice, project needing immediate attention is given more priority as
this ranked 1st with a mean score of 3.84, while identification of clients‘ needs and Look –
ahead schedule follows with a mean score of 3.78 each. Just-in-Time (JIT) delivery,
Continuous improvement and involvement of construction professionals right from the
inception ranked 3rd, 4th and 5th with a mean score of 3.73, 3.72, and 3.68 respectively, while
and while direct involvement of foremen in decision making is the least on the table with a
mean score of 2.89.
Table 1: Level of awareness and adoption of the different ways of delivering Lean construction
Approaches Level of awareness Level of Adoption
MIS Ranking MIS Ranking
Identification of client needs 4.22 1 3.78 2
Project needing immediate attention given more importance 4.17 2 3.84 1
Look –ahead schedule (program of work) 4.07 3 3.78 2
Continuous improvement 4.06 4 3.72 4
All parties involved in the design (involvement of
construction professionals right from the inception) 4.06 4 3.68 5
Weekly meetings 3.94 5 3.59 7
Percent Plan Complete 3.91 6 3.37 12
Regular performance measurement of site workers 3.89 7 3.47 9
Just-in-Time (JIT) delivery (timely delivery of construction
3.86 8 3.73 3
materials to site)
Using computer software for estimating 3.85 9 3.61 6
Training of employee 3.83 10 2.98 15
Personnel responsible for procurement 3.83 10 3.52 8
Strict criteria for the selection of subcontractor 3.79 11 3.43 10
Involvement of project participants in making of schedules 3.70 12 3.39 11
Uninterrupted workflow 3.69 13 3.25 13
Site daily meetings 3.56 14 3.14 14
Direct involvement of foremen in decision making 3.36 15 2.89 16

Benefits of Lean construction


Result in table 2 reveals the respondents view of the benefits of Lean Construction in the
construction industry. Improvement of project delivery methods was ranked the highest,
having the mean score of 4.40 while more satisfied clients and Delivery of products or
services that enable clients to better accomplish their goals followed respectively having
mean scores 4.07 and 4.00. However, lower degree of disruption of activities (i.e. reduction
in variation), less idle time and Increment in workers motivation were the least ranked of the
benefits having mean scores of 3.68, 3.56 and 3.49 respectively.
Table 2: Benefits of Lean construction
Benefits MIS Ranking
Improvement of project delivery methods 4.40 1
More satisfied clients 4.07 2
Delivery of products or services that enable clients to better accomplish their goals 4.00 3
Promotion of continuous improvement in project delivery methods through lessons learned 3.99 4
Minimization of risk and maximization of opportunities 3.97 5
Delivery of products or services on time and within budget 3.93 6
Delivery of customers product instantly without waste 3.92 7
Increased Percent Plan complete 3.90 8
Less rework 3.86 9
Minimization of direct costs through effective project delivery management 3.85 10
Injection of reliability, accountability, certainty and honesty into the project environment 3.85 10
Reduced project time 3.75 11
Lower degree of disruption of activities (i.e. reduction in variation) 3.68 12
Less idle time 3.56 13
Increment in workers motivation 3.49 14
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Barriers to the Implementation of Lean Construction


Result in Table 3 below shows the various barriers to the implementation of Lean
Construction. Lack of lean awareness and understanding and Lack of exposure to the need to
adopt the lean concept were ranked the highest having mean scores of 4.27 each, while lack
of proper training and difficulty in understanding lean concepts were ranked second and third
with mean scores 4.11 and 3.94 respectively. Meanwhile, Lack of buildable designs,
Fragmented nature of the industry and lack of long term relationship with suppliers were
ranked least with mean scores of 3.58, 3.51 and 3.32 respectively.
Table 3: Barriers to the Implementation of Lean Construction
Barriers Mean Ranking
Lack of lean awareness and understanding 4.27 1
Lack of exposure to the need to adopt the lean concept 4.27 1
Lack of proper training 4.11 2
Difficulty in understanding lean concepts 3.94 3
Weak communication among clients, consultants and contractors 3.90 4
Waste accepted as inevitable 3.86 5
Inefficient use of quality standards 3.85 6
Poor communication 3.83 7
Delays in material delivery 3.79 8
Delays in decision making 3.79 8
Lack of agreed implementation methodology 3.77 9
Lack of attentiveness and commitment from top management 3.75 10
Incomplete designs 3.74 11
Lack of interest from clients 3.73 12
Lack of long term commitment to change and innovation 3.73 12
Inefficient use of quality materials 3.71 13
Lack of information or help from other organizations 3.65 14
Long implementation period 3.65 14
Ability to work in group (teamwork) 3.59 15
Lack of buildable designs 3.58 16
Fragmented nature of the industry 3.51 17
Lack of long term relationship with suppliers 3.32 18

Discussion of Findings
Findings revealed that a greater number of the respondents of this study are seemingly aware
of the term Lean Construction and its techniques. However, this is contrary to Olatunji
research in 2008 in Nigeria which indicates that the level of awareness and knowledge of lean
is low stating that only two out of the ten respondents signified that they have heard about
lean. The level of awareness might have increased drastically considering the year interval
between 2008 and 2015.
Also findings revealed that that project needing immediate attention given more importance,
identification of client needs and Look –ahead schedule (program of work) are the most
utilized approach to Lean construction in the construction industry in Ondo State, Nigeria.
This was proven in a study carried out by Satish et. al. (2005) were identification of client
needs and the Look- ahead schedule (program of works) were mostly used. They were part of
the most utilized method of delivery Lean construction used by 16 companies in New York
City and various benefits were recorded like cost savings, reduced project time, reduced
rework and increased Percent Plan Complete (PPC). Findings from the research shows that
the use of lean approach in construction will lead to improvement of project delivery
methods, provide more client satisfaction and delivery of products or services that enable
clients to better accomplish their goals followed respectively.
Lack of lean awareness and understanding, lack of exposure to the need to adopt the lean
concept and lack of proper training were the major identified barriers to the implementation
21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development 763

of Lean construction in Nigeria. This was in concordance with the research study carried out
by Sarhan et.al. (2013) in United Kingdom (UK) were lack of Lean awareness and
understanding was a major barrier identified. This can be mitigated through adequate public
awareness and organizing of training of employees on lean concept as suggested by Bashir et
al. (2010).

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION


Conclusion
This study assessed Lean Construction in the Nigerian Construction Industry which
afterwards reveal the following conclusions;
i. A good number of construction professionals in Ondo State are well aware of Lean
Construction through professional practice.
ii. Identification of client needs, project needing immediate attention given more
importance and look – ahead schedule are the popular approaches of delivering lean
construction among professionals, while the most used is project needing immediate
attention given more importance.
iii. Improvement of project delivery methods, provision of client satisfaction and delivery
of products or services that enable clients to better accomplish their goals are some of
the main benefits of applying lean in construction. Also lack of lean awareness and
understanding, lack of exposure to the need to adopt the lean concept and lack of
proper training are the major barriers to the implementation of lean construction in the
Nigerian construction industry.
Recommendation
Based on the conclusions the study therefore recommends that Lean Construction should be
incorporated in the school‘s curriculum so that students can have better knowledge of it and
can easily build on the foundational knowledge during practice. Also Lean Construction
trainings should also be organized in construction companies, government parastatals, and
consultancy firms which will be very helpful in moving lean thinking faster into the
mainstream of construction education. The findings of the study provide possible directions
for further studies in that the researcher was able to assess Lean Construction practice in the
construction industry in Ondo State, Nigeria. Further studies can be extended to other
locations so as to have a wider study area and also to know the level of awareness in other
locations in Nigeria.

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