On cooperation and efficiency in the construction-related wood industry

Abstract: Multiple studies have raised concerns about the construction area and issues such as low quality, high costs, low profitability and lack of innovations. Major parts of the processes are project based and characterised by one-of-a-kind setups in which the unique characteristics come from production setup, site, and temporary organisations. The process is characterised by multiple process steps including multiple actors in different parts of the process in a system that has poor information systems in comparison to what is shown by known efficiency theories. The one-of-a-kind nature of projects, site production, temporary multiorganisations injecting new members in the interaction chain, and regulatory intervention are known peculiarities of construction. Problems caused by these peculiarities are lack of feedback cycles, flow configuration difficulties, variability problems, problems in communication of knowledge across organizational boundaries as well as lack of accumulation of improvement in processes. The objective of this thesis was to identify patterns regarding interaction between companies in the construction industry and the sub-suppliers of joinery products. A second objective was to find factors hampering efficiency and cooperation and give some tentative proposals for how to improve communication and cooperation effectiveness. The study shows that the construction related wood industry is mainly orientated towards the traditional construction process, meaning that the organisations are mainly reactive and delimited islands in the value chain. The main visible pattern is that the traditional construction culture means variation and ad-hoc handling in the process. The factors found that hampers efficiency development is lack of cooperation, lack of standardisation, information deficiencies and poor design- and product-quality. The tentative suggestion for the construction industry to be able to come to terms with some of the criticism and problems is to increase the level of industrialisation and cooperation, using efficiency and cooperation philosophies. For a future development in the studied area the tentative suggestion would be to; (1) define the process and the routine actions in the different part processes, (2) define the hand-over points in the value-chain, (3) determine the level of information in the hand-over point in cooperation, (4) increasing the feedback in the system in order to find errors early in the process and (5) increase the general cooperation level preferable with help from external supporters. Added to this a will to change must be introduced in the value-chain, the incitements for change probably must come from society acting, not just criticising.