The Value Of ‘Non-Value Adding’ Activity

Tara Brooks, John Bruen, Michael Curran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Lean Construction seeks to make construction more efficient through the elimination of so called ‘non-value adding’ activity. The act of labelling activity and time as ‘non-value adding’ is a value judgement which to date has been largely unexamined. Stuart Green challenged the concept of lean construction and examined the human cost of lean production in the 1990s and 2000s but did not specifically focus on non-value adding activity. This study aims to start to fill this gap in knowledge through a review of the literature and analysis of three long, unstructured interviews - extended conversations - with construction site managers to explore the activity that has been described as ‘non-value adding’. The findings indicate that during ‘non-value adding’ time (for instance driving to and from site, taking breaks, walking around site to pick up material) the interviewees plan upcoming tasks and evaluate completed work. In addition, ‘non-value adding’ time allows for team building and friendship formation which helps to build mental resilience, which is of genuine value when we consider the mental health crisis amongst construction workers. There is clearly room for improvement in the site efficiency of construction workers; however, the impact on those workers of efficiency measures should be clearly understood before being imposed to avoid unforeseen adverse consequences. This paper contends that ‘non value adding’ activity is not without value, and that a more appropriate term should be found.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication36th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM) Conference: Proceedings
PublisherAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 08 Sept 2020


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