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Complexity and learning in timber frame housing: the case of a solid wood pilot project
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

An extensive governmental evaluation of the Swedish construction industry shows that it is possible to reduce production costs in housing construction through industrialisation, customer orientation, and a more efficient construction process. Today large construction companies are more and more focused on dealing with systems and coordinating large projects and the real production is getting less important. This means that the construction companies expect and demand that the suppliers handle a larger part of the production and that they can develop and deliver system based solutions. The focus on the earlier stages in the building process makes them more or less neutral to the material in building products, in contrast to their historical focus on concrete. From a general construction perspective, the construction companies handle the technical solutions, purchase of products and services demanded for the project, coordination of the project and the handling of the financial risk. Because of the strategic development in the building industry the supplier’s responsibility for the system development of prefabricated building component systems is increased. There are high demands on lowering the costs of construction and shortening construction time. One way of dealing with these demands is to use a higher proportion of prefabricated building systems, which involves a higher degree of industrialisation in construction. A strategy to increase the efficiency of Swedish housing construction suggests increased use of timber in housing construction. The cost of timber material does not make the most significant contribution to potential cost savings; rather, the main reasons for the cost reducing potential are, e.g. possibilities to increase prefabrication, improve logistics, and improve the construction process. Several scholars of construction have pointed out the lack of a theoretical foundation of construction as a barrier to economical and quality progress. One component of such a theoretical basis would deal with the understanding of the processes of planning, design and management that engineers use.. Another component would be the understanding of processes of knowledge creation and of the reduction of technical and social complexity. These processes are dependent of the strategic choices made by the managers of companies involved in construction projects, both for the company in total and for a single project. This study presents a pilot project where a timber frame is tested in a set of high rise flat buildings. The project has been studied by a case study methodology with the main purpose to describe and explain the construction process at hand. Another more practical purpose was to see how the actors in a construction pilot project handle the complexity and uncertainty introduced by the introduction of a new frame material and its producer and how the actors can learn and create knowledge from such projects. The choice of a single case study is based on a three different prerequisites. First, the Swedish construction market does not offer too many display projects at all, as the activity in the high rise apartment building market has been quite low. Secondly, this construction project offered a unique opportunity to follow the entire process from planning to completion. Thirdly, as I haven’t been the only researcher involved in the project I have had the opportunity to compare and discuss my findings with others and thereby increase my understanding of what is happening. The results indicate that complexity, in all important parts, is still handled by contractual agreements but also, to some extent, by building in larger time buffers, never the less this does not completely solve the problems encountered in projects with a high degree of complexity. At the time being the interest in learning is large at the timber frame supplier, who is striving to get a foot onto the market, but many of the other actors are more interested in manuals and handbooks than creating personal, or organisational, knowledge. Hence, to make the knowledge created in pilot projects, because there is for certain knowledge created within them, available and usable for the actors on the timber frame housing market, it is very important to transform the tacit knowledge, within the actors heads, into explicit knowledge, in handbooks and manuals. The conclusion is that complexity can be handled in more efficient ways than today maybe through other management practices and a different form of cooperation between the actors; this might also lead to higher incentives for writing down the knowledge encountered in single projects to, with time, some kind of iteratively working manual.

Abstract [sv]

Startpunkten för ökad användning av trä i flervåningshus var en lagändring år 1994 som öppnade upp för byggnation av flervåningshus i trä. Trots detta har inte utvecklingen mot ökat byggande av denna typ av hus utvecklats så positivt som många aktörer hade hoppats och förväntat sig. För att utnyttja marknadspotentialen och öka effektiviteten i byggandet i trä, krävs en ökad teoretisk och praktisk förståelse för affärs- och processutveckling, som knyter samman den rena teknikutvecklingen i byggnation och prefabricering i trä med marknadens föränderliga krav på utveckling, kundanpassning, resurssnålhet och allt detta till konkurrenskraftiga priser. Denna avhandling presenterar en fallstudie av ett pilotprojekt i Sundsvall där flervånings hus med massivträstomme byggts. Syftet har varit att beskriva och analysera husbyggnadsprocessen när nya material och aktörer introduceras, samt att finna metoder för att hantera komplexitet och osäkerhet i framtida projekt där trä används som stommaterial i höga hus. Resultaten visar att osäkerheten i byggprocessen i huvudsak hanteras genom kontrakt men också genom att öka tiden för projektering. Stomleverantören är mycket angelägen om att lära sig mer om byggprocessen och på så sätt öka sina chanser att bli en konkurrenskraftig aktör på byggmarknaden. De andra aktörerna är mer intresserade av att få tillgång till handböcker och manualer som beskriver stomsystemet och hur det ska hanteras än av att öka det egna kunnandet om systemet. En slutsats är att osäkerheten som uppstår av känslan av att trä är ett komplext material i huvudsak uppstår genom bristen på gemensam kunskap om, och planering för, den nya tekniken och de nya aktörerna. Osäkerheten bör därför kunna minskas genom att införa nya metoder för projektstyrning, t.ex. lean construction, och genom att aktörerna bygger närmare relationer till varandra. Fyra riktlinjer för framtida trähusbyggande ges i avhandlingen: (1) arbeta med relationsskapande aktiviteter, (2) undvik teknikutvecklingsarbete, (3) om teknikutveckling ändå är nödvändig gör klart detta för alla inblandade och, (4) ha ett systemperspektiv på projektering och produktion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2005. , 145 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544 ; 2005:43
National Category
Building Technologies
Research subject
Timber Structures
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-26068Local ID: c7297aa0-5166-11db-9592-000ea68e967bOAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-26068DiVA: diva2:999227
Note
Godkänd; 2005; 20061001 (ysko)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2017-11-24Bibliographically approved

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