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Bjork, Bo-Christer

The RATAS project - developing an infrastructure for computer integrated construction

Abstract: Computer Integrated Construction (CIC) is a target state for construction computing characterised by extensive digital information flows between computer applications. Fully developed CIC requires an infrastructure of data structuring and transfer standards, digitised construction information services, changing patterns of organising projects etc. The creation of such an infrastructure is currently a high priority area for research and development in many countries. In Finland this work has been organised as a fruitful co-operation between industry and researchers. The process known as the RATAS-project was initiated in 1983 and is still continuing. This paper describes the background of the project, its organisation and major phases, and gives brief descriptions of a number of its technical subprojects. The paper ends with an evaluation of the impact of the project on commercial software development and practice.

Keywords: RATAS, IT, National strategy, product modelling, standardisation

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Bjork, Bo-Christer

Requirements and information structures for building product data models

Abstract: The term computer-integrated construction (CIC) is often used to describe a future type of construction process characterised by the extensive use of information technology. The key to successful CIC is the comprehensive integration of currently isolated computing applications in different phases of the construction process. Among the several types of data exchange standards needed to support such integration, the standards for structuring the information describing buildings (building product data models) are particularly important. No fully operational building product data models have as yet been formally standardised either on the national or international level, but the topic has been a subject of intensive research during the last few years. Building product data model proposals are usually defined using object-oriented information modelling techniques. The research which is presented in this summarising thesis was carried out primarily during the years 1988-92 at the Technical Research Centre of Finland. The report begins with a brief introduction to the general background of research concerning CIC and building product data models. Fundamental concepts of object orientation and product modelling are explained in a separate chapter. In order to position the author's research results, the "state of the art" in this research field is briefly reviewed. The research results are presented against the background of a kernel-aspect model framework, in line with current thinking among several leading researchers in this field. The results can loosely be classified into three distinctive groups: a number of requirements which building product data models should fulfil; specific information structures in building product data models; and the integration of product models with other types of information used in the construction process. The specific information structures which were studied include the abstraction hierarchies used in building product data models, the type object mechanism and information structures needed for modelling spaces and enclosing objects. The report ends with a discussion of the results, comparing them with the proposals and results of other researchers. Some directions for further research are also outlined.

Keywords: Building Product model, computer-integrated construction

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Bjork, Bo-Christer

Information Technology in construction: domain definition and research issues

Abstract: This article discusses the scope of research on the application of information technology in construction (ITC). A model of the information and material activities which together constitute the construction process is presented, using the IDEF0 activity modelling methodology. Information technology is defined to include all kinds of technology used for the storage, transfer and manipulation of information, thus also including devices such as copying machines, faxes and mobile phones. Using the model the domain of ITC research is defined as the use of information technology to facilitate and re-engineer the information process component of construction. Developments during the last decades in IT use in construction is discussed against a background of a simplified model of generic information processing tasks. The scope of ITC is compared with the scopes of research in related areas such as design methodology, construction management and facilities management. Health care is proposed as an interesting alternative (to the often used car manufacturing industry), as an IT application domain to compare with. Some of the key areas of ITC research in recent years; expert systems, company IT strategies, and product modelling are shortly discussed. The article finishes with a short discussion of the problems of applying standard scientific methodology in ITC research, in particular in product model research.

Keywords: Information technology, construction, research, integration, methodology

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Bjork, Bo-Christer; Huovila, Pekka; Hult, Sven

Integrated Construction Project Document Management (ICPDM)

Abstract: The emphasis in research concerning methods for computer integrated construction has recently been on advanced data base techniques (product models) and AI applications. Another type of computer-aid for integration which could have a significant impact on practice in a shorter time-frame focuses on the management of the different documents which are produced by the different participants in the construction process. A functional description of such an integrated construction project document management (ICPDM) system is presented in the paper.

Keywords: Document management, Integration, conceptual model, EXPRESS

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Bjork, Bo-Christer; Nilsson, Anders; Lundgren, Berndt

The construction and facilities management process from an end users perspective - PROFACIL

Abstract: There is an increasing need for all actors involved in the construction- and facility management process to have a common framework for describing their work and creating a more efficient business process. In this paper we present a theoretical framework model from an end user perspective using IDEF0 methodology. The presented model is intended to be used to support more detailed construction- and facility management process modeling work being carried out in the multinational MoPo (Models for the Construction Process) project. It can also be used by any of the actors involved in the described process to detail their own processes.

Keywords: process model, IDEF0, construction, facilities management, MOPO

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Christer Finne

Perceived customer value in construction information services

Abstract: The information needed to design, construct and manage a building is nowadays mainly produced, stored and made available in digital form. Information is produced partly in the design process itself. Design and procurement documents refer only to information produced elsewhere as external printed matter or databases (for example, describ-ing building products). An important channel for such external information is provided by specialized information service providers. In order to meet competition from companies’ homepages, search machines, internet start-up companies etc, established info-mediaries need to rethink their services as well as their business processes. A key issue is achieving a deep understand-ing of how customers perceive the value of these services and products compared to those of new competition enabled by the internet. A study of new business patterns and networks provides the empirical support for the concepts exam-ined in this paper. Traditionally, value is regarded as something inherent in the product; and which is handed over to the customer. More recently, research argues that value cannot be pre-produced. Value is co-produced by the customer, partly as a result of interactions between the customer and the supplier or the service provider. For services, value is, according to this view, produced and consumed simultaneously. Using this theoretical framework as a basis, the conclusions of the study are that it is not enough for construction infomediaries to produce just digitised versions of their traditional products, e.g. printed standards, and product sheets. They also need to gain a thorough understanding of their customers' busi-ness processes and, instead of producing products (or services), become facilitators of value creation for customers.

Keywords: construction infomediaries, customer value, information service providers, product information

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Rob Howard, Bo-Christer Bjork

Building information models – experts’ views on BIM/IFC developments

Abstract: The goal of the single building information model has existed for at least thirty years and various stan-dards have been published leading up to the ten-year development of the Industry Foundation Classes. These have been initiatives from researchers, software developers and standards committees. Now large property owners are becoming aware of the benefits of moving IT tools from specific applications towards more comprehensive solutions. This study addresses the state of Building Information Models and the conditions necessary for them to become more widely used. It is a qualitative study based on information from a number of international experts and has asked a series of questions about the feasibility of BIMs, the conditions necessary for success, and the role of standards with particular reference to the IFCs. Some key statements were distilled from the diverse answers received and indicate that BIM solutions appear too com-plex for many and may need to be applied in limited areas initially. Standards are generally supported but not applied rigorously and a range of these are relevant to BIM. Benefits will depend upon the building procurement methods used and there should be special roles within the project team to manage information. Case studies are starting to appear and these could be used for publicity. The IFCs are rather oversold and their complexities should be hidden within sim-ple-to-use software. Inevitably major questions remain and property owners may be the key to answering some of these. A framework for presenting standards, backed up by case studies of successful projects, is the solution proposed for better information on where particular BIM standards and solutions should be applied in building projects.

Keywords: building information models, standards, IFC, CAD, cases, benefits

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