A process to assist technology investment decisions in construction - a case study on labour productivity

Kriel, Jean-Jacques (2013-12)

Thesis (MEng)-- Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Worldwide the civil construction industry is one of the biggest and most influential industries but has proven to be lacking in the development of technology-aided construction. In contrast, the automotive manufacturing industry is very reliant on the use of highly advanced technology. Literature showed that specific focus is being put on increased technology investments and development of infrastructure in South Africa in order to solve various problems in the country. In light of these realisations, the objective of this research study was to establish a process that can be used to assist technological investments that solve areas of concern in the construction industry. The research was conducted by following a procedure of identifying problematic areas in construction, scrutinising the biggest problem to identify its key elements and finally selecting a decision support model to select technological solutions. The research sequence therefore established the steps of a process that can assist technological investment decisions that solve areas of concern in the construction industry. The first step of this process necessitated the identification of the most influential area of concern in South African construction. A series of interviews and surveys with experienced senior managers in different divisions of the South African civil construction industry showed that the low productivity of labourers is the most influential area of concern in terms of impact on construction projects. Consequently, labour productivity was scrutinised as part of the second step of the process. It was found that there are different methods to measure productivity and that factors influencing labour productivity can be grouped into managerial practices, labour effectiveness and material timeliness. The scrutiny, together with the productivity improvement system and lessons learned from other industries, gave input to the third step of the process, viz. to identify technological solution alternatives for the area of concern. Wireless technology and visual analysis were identified as two groups of technology that could improve labour productivity. The final step of the process evaluated the effects the different solution alternatives could have on a company and a tailored set of criteria together with a fuzzy multi-criteria decision model was proposed for use in this step. The research study identified that there are generic areas of concern in construction and that technology can be used to improve problem solving processes in companies. Furthermore, a generic and flexible four step process was formulated that can incorporate multiple criteria, stakeholders’ opinions, business strategy and the necessary benefits the problem requires in one evaluation model. This process was found to be able to assist technological investment decisions in the construction industry specifically to eliminate or improve on existing areas of concern.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die siviele konstruksiebedryf is een van die grootste en mees invloedryke industrieë wêreldwyd, maar is bewys om agter te wees in terme van ontwikkeling in tegnologie-gesteunde konstruksie. In teenstelling hiermee is die motor-industrie afhanklik van die gebruik van hoogs-gevorderde tegnologieë. Literatuur het getoon dat daar spesifiek gefokus word op die investering in tegnologie- en infrastruktuurontwikkeling in Suid Afrika sodat bestaande probleme in die land opgelos kan word. In die lig van hierdie bevindinge, is die doel van hierdie studie om ‘n proses te vestig wat kan help om besluite rakende tegnologiebeleggings te vergemaklik sodat probleem areas in die konstruksie industrie met dié beleggings opgelos kan word. Die eerste stap van die navorsingsprosedure was om probleem areas in die konstruksie industrie te identifiseer en daarna is die probleem met die grootste impak op konstruksie projekte in diepte ontleed om die eienskappe daarvan te bepaal. Laastens is ‘n besluitnemings model gekies sodat tegnologiese beleggings geëvalueer en gekies kan word. Die navorsingsprosedure het daarom die struktuur gegee om ‘n proses te vestig wat gebruik kan word om besluite oor tegnologiese beleggings te vergemaklik om sodoende probleme in die konstruksie industrie op te los. Die eerste stap in hierdie proses het vereis dat die probleem met die grootste impak op konstruksie projekte in die Suid-Afrikaanse konstruksie industrie geïdentifiseer moes word. Na afloop van ‘n reeks onderhoude en opnames met ervare senior bestuurders in verskeie afdelings van siviele konstruksie, is gevind dat lae arbeidsproduktiwiteit die mees invloedryke probleem area is. Lae produktiwiteit van arbeid is om hierdie rede in diepte ontleed as deel van die tweede stap in die proses. Daar is gevind dat daar verskillende maniere is waarop produktiwiteit gemeet kan word en dat faktore wat produktiwiteit beïnvloed gekategoriseer kan word in bestuur praktyke, arbeid effektiwiteit en stiptelikheid van materiaal. Die ontleding, tesame met die produktiwiteitsverbeteringstelsel en lesse wat geleer is in ander bedrywe, het gelei tot die derde stap van die proses, naamlik die identifisering van tegnologiese oplossings-alternatiewe. Draadloostegnologie (“wireless technology”) en visuele analise is geïdentifiseer as twee groepe van tegnologie wat die produktiwiteit van arbeid kan aanspreek. Die finale stap van die proses het gebruik gemaak van ‘n stel kriteria en ‘n ‘fuzzy multi-criteria’ besluitnemingsmodel om die verskillende tegnologie alternatiewe te evalueer. Hierdie navorsingstudie het daarin geslaag om te identifiseer dat daar generiese probleem areas in die konstruksiebedryf is en dat tegnologie gebruik kan word om probleme op te los en om dienooreenkomstig siklusse in maatskappye te verbeter. Verder is 'n generiese en buigsame vier-stap proses geformuleer wat verskeie kriteria, opinies van belanghebbendes, korporatiewe strategieë en die nodige voordele om die probleem op te los, alles in een evalueringsmodel inkorporeer. Hierdie proses is bewys om te kan help om tegnologiese beleggings in die konstruksiebedryf te vergemaklik om sodoende reeds-bestaande probleme op te los.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85828
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