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Efficient on-site construction: learning points from a German platform for housing

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ This research aims to analyse the implementation of a German platform for housing projects through a successful case on modern methods of construction featuring efficient on-site construction. Through continuous development, the platform has been carefully designed to suit a carefully selected market ‐ optimising cost and value. Based on the platform, the company has managed to create a high-quality product at low cost. In fact, they have managed to reduce costs by more than 30 per cent, enabling the company to sell houses to people that normally would not be able to afford a house of their own. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper adopts a case study approach combining a qualitative collection of empirical material with an analytical framework drawing upon classical modelling techniques for development of product platforms. Findings ‐ The paper identifies some central learning points from the German platform such as: platform does not imply that "off-site manufacturing" is the most optimal production method, rather it is a matter of handling complexity; strong commitment and loyalty from the whole organization is needed; importance of having a specific customer focus (target costing); and incremental rather than radical innovation. Originality/value ‐ The findings challenge the predominant understanding of industrialisation of the construction processes, illustrating how substantial improvements can be achieved through platform thinking, on-site production and traditional construction practices.

Keywords: Germany; Housing; Innovation; Mass customisation; Platforms

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14714171111149043

Publication date: July 12, 2011

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