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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2012

Samuel Forsman, Niclas Björngrim, Anders Bystedt, Lars Laitila, Peter Bomark and Micael Öhman

The construction industry has been criticized for not keeping up with other production industries in terms of cost efficiency, innovation, and production methods. The…

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Abstract

Purpose

The construction industry has been criticized for not keeping up with other production industries in terms of cost efficiency, innovation, and production methods. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the knowledge about what hampers efficiency in supplying engineer‐to‐order (ETO) joinery‐products to the construction process. The objective is to identify the main contributors to inefficiency and to define areas for innovation in improving this industry.

Design/methodology/approach

Case studies of the supply chain of a Swedish ETO joinery‐products supplier are carried out, and observations, semi‐structured interviews, and documents from these cases are analysed from an efficiency improvement perspective.

Findings

From a lean thinking and information modelling perspective, longer‐term procurement relations and efficient communication of information are the main areas of innovation for enhancing the efficiency of supplying ETO joinery‐products. It seems to be possible to make improvements in planning and coordination, assembly information, and spatial measuring through information modelling and spatial scanning technology. This is likely to result in an increased level of prefabrication, decreased assembly time, and increased predictability of on‐site work.

Originality/value

The role of supplying ETO joinery‐products is a novel research area in construction. There is a need to develop each segment of the manufacturing industry supplying construction and this paper contributes to the collective knowledge in this area. The focus is on the possibilities for innovation in the ETO joinery‐products industry and on its improved integration in the construction industry value chain in general.

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