Timber volume element prefabrication : production and market aspects
Sammanfattning: Problems discussed within the Swedish housing industry are lack of competition, quality and increased costs. Improvements to cope with these problems have shown to be low compared to manufacturing and other industries. Explanations are argued to be industry specific differences, peculiarities and the culture of construction, and thus implicate a need for development of innovations that can manage the peculiarities and culture of construction. The industry specific differences between manufacturing and construction also detain transfer of competitive management principles from process oriented manufacturing to project oriented construction. Timber prefabrication is argued to be a possible catalyst for improvements towards industrialization and process orientation in Swedish housing construction. The comprehensive aim of this research is therefore to develop the understanding of obstacles and feasible improvements in Swedish housing based on timber prefabrication through the investigation of timber component supplying generally and timber volume element prefabrication specifically. The study embrace one comparative multiple case study including five different material component suppliers, and investigates differences in business and market strategies for timber components suppliers compared to steel and concrete components suppliers. Secondly a multiple case study including the five leading Swedish timber volume element manufacturers are performed. The case study describes hindrance and possibilities of timber volume element production. Third, a survey of 57 possible customers of timber volume element prefabricated houses is performed to increase the understanding of the low adoption rate of timber volume element prefabrication in commercial buildings and multi-family and multi-storey housing. To support and develop the understanding of hindrances and possibilities for timber prefabrication and timber volume element prefabrication, literature studies are executed within complex system theory, innovation diffusion and adoption theory and lean and agile production. To reach the same improvements as manufacturing and to enable transfer of management principles to construction, the results in this thesis has shown a need for increased structure in construction. It is argued that timber volume element prefabrication has the possibility to increase structure and hence the building system can serve as a platform for transfer of management principles from manufacturing to construction. However, findings also demonstrate that there is a missing link for customer adoption of timber volume element prefabrication in multi-storey housing. The building system has not always the possibility to respond to customers' needs of contemporaneous flexibility in design together with low costs and short lead times. Potential customers are positive to timber volume element prefabrication for two-storey houses, but findings also suggest that adoption is prevented by a distrust of timber volume element prefabrication as a building system for multi-storey housing. To obtain increased use of timber prefabrication and thus potential development in housing, this study indicates that there is a need for increased information transfer to potential customers to obtain trust towards the timber manufacturers and the building systems. Thus, to enable adoption of innovations in housing construction that is deep-rooted in historical knowledge and attitudes, this research shows that innovation diffusion and adoption have to be supported by visual and personal experienced knowledge, e.g. via demonstration objects and strategic alliances.
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