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A.V. Hore, R.P. West & A. Redmond

The Future Scenario of Creating a Digital SME Community in the Irish Construction Industry

Abstract: The problems associated with the Construction Industry not being able to manage and communicate electronically product and project data between collaborating firms and within individual companies is compounded by the large number of small companies that have not adopted advanced Information Communication Technology (ICT). The typical nature of the service provided in construction, being an on-site and often highly customised service are generally identified as the reason for the low ICT uptake. The majority of Irish companies in the construction sector are Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). As eBusiness opens up the Irish economy to international competition Irish SMEs should use ICT as a generator of competitive advantage to become more effective and efficient with eBusiness technologies. The Construction IT Alliance in Ireland has identified a programme that can create a digital SME community that will promote ICT services in the Irish Construction Industry in order to compete in the global economy.

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Series: w78:2009 (browse)
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Aisha Abuelmaatti, Vian Ahmed

Collaborative Environments and its Effects on Construction Companies: The Current Context

Abstract: The ability of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve and enhance organisation’ productivity as well as their competitive situation has never been greater. Emerging technologies in the UK offer the construction industry many opportunities for computer supported collaborative environments, with regards to addressing some of the aspects that result in a complicated and complex construction process. However, the organisations adopting these technologies usually fail in achieving the full benefits from their implementations. Previous studies in the area have shown that 80 to 90 per cent of ICT investment did not meet their performance objectives. The fact of the matter is that collaborative environments have been evolving and effectively employed in large organisations and are believed to have high potential for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), but the use of collaboration technology remains low among 99% of enterprises in the UK construction industry usually referred to as SMEs employing less than 250 employees. The growing popularity of collaborative environments in the construction industry has, unfortunately, not been matched by parallel empirical research for SMEs.The work reported in this paper serves two purposes. First, the results of an intensive literature review reveals general causes of failure in ICT implementations, and the key areas to focus on during ICT implementation for collaborative working. Second, results from exploratory case study that was conducted in order to assess the use of collaborative environments and their adaptation approaches are analysed in order to further explain what issues are preventing SMEs from achieving their utmost collaboration potential. Therefore, the paper blends a combination of factors which may affect the success of collaborative environments for SMEs and are believed to contribute towards the improvement and implementation of collaboration systems.

Keywords: Construction, ICT standards, re-engineering

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Full text: content.pdf (102,812 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:2010 (browse)
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Alan Redmond, Alan Hore, Roger West, Mustafa Alshawi

Building Support for Cloud Computing in the Irish Construction Industry

Abstract: The construction industry has been traditionally recognised as a fragmented sector associated with a poor level of implementation and penetration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) by Small to Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs). The ability to collaborate in parallel with a change management process system that requires a central repository that can act as a base for interoperability between various construction disciplines and their software applications has long been sought. The proposed collaborative solution is not an invention, but more of a practical innovation combining several earlier inventions into something new and compelling. Cloud computing is a collective term for a large number of developments and possibilities. It is a new layer of internet architecture that creates an open opportunity to add functionality to an increasingly global network. The characteristics of Cloud computing such as shared infrastructure, on-demand applications, elasticity and consumption-based pricing, allows all disciplines in the sector to benefit. As part of the Irish Construction IT Alliance (CITA) Enterprise Innovation Network (EIN) research on investigating eBusiness technologies for the Irish construction industry, this paper will present the findings of its research methodology in developing a Web based collaborative platform for the SME market. It is envisioned that this opportunity gap will enable SMEs to support data exchange, information sharing and supply chain collaboration across a secure and affordable network that will allow them to compete in a global environment.

Keywords: Construction, Cloud Computing, Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SME)

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Series: w78:2010 (browse)
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Alexander J, Coble R, Crawford J, Drogemuller R, Leslie H, Newton P, Wilson B, Yum Kwok-Keung

Information and communication in construction : closing the loop

Abstract: Both nationally and internationally, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector is highly fragmented : it is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the nature of information and knowledge can be dispersed among firms and organisations, and consortia are frequently formed from geographically dispersed firms. In recognition of the potential improvements to be gained through an integrated approach to project information used throughout the design, documentation, construction and operation processes, substantial research is underway in Australia to "close the loop" of information flows between designers and constructors. The paper will explore and discuss both the technology platform in terms of information and communications technology (mobile, high-speed and wide area networking linking the design and engineering offices with the construction site) and the information platform in terms of the content of communications between project stakeholders and the requisite information (traditional spatial as well as non-spatial data) of key concern to the stakeholders at various stages of the project lifecycle. The paradigm shift that has occurred over recent years from stand-alone personal computing (which reinforced fragmentation) to mobile and Wide Area networked computing now provides a platform capable of promoting integration, accessibility and co-operation within the sector with attendant gains in efficiency. A minimum requirement to achieve these gains is access to the right information (not just simple data) at the desired level of scale and detail for a particular stakeholder’s view - information which once collected can be stored and refined and then held for use elsewhere on the project without loss and without the need for subsequent re-entry. The information needs to be available quickly and easily, that is at the right time and in the right location for maximum benefit and project efficiency. Demonstration collaborative systems to support interactive Computer Aided Design and information exchange between project stakeholders such as architects, various engineers (electrical, hydaulic, mechanical, structural) and project managers, in an innovative collaborative manner have become available to bring dispersed project members together electronically. Such systems allow project members attached to a network to undertake a range of information access and exchange from simple e-mail; through on-site access to central project data sources via handheld computers; right through to the use of optional live (or pre-recorded) video to enhance collaboration. Using communications infrastructure, this functionality can be shared in various ways - in a corporate-wide environment between regional and/or interstate offices within a company, or in a consortium situation (between offices of a consortium working together on a specific construction project). The questions then arise as to how such systems fit into industry practice, and how the industry might adapt to embrace new opportunities provided by such technological advances. Ease of access to up-to-date, accurate project information for a range of project stakeholders is being extended through research in the US and Australia to close the loop between some of the stakeholders, and this will be discussed in detail in the paper. As well, the progress of industry-based support for a level of interoperability for building and construction information by organisations such as the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI Australasian chapter) will also be discussed, plus the likely impact of the adoption of Industry Foundation Classes in the Australian building and construction industry in areas such as the design life for buildings based on durability of materials.

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Full text: content.pdf (719,511 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:1998 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.communication (0.057235) class.environment (0.023003) class.synthesis (0.022896)
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. The assistance of the editors, Prof. Bo-Christer Björk and Dr. Adina Jägbeck, is gratefully appreciated.


Anotnio Grilo, Ricardo Jardim-Goncalves

Changing E-Procurement in the AEC Sector with BIM

Abstract: The paper will analyze how the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are changing the processes within the AEC sector, namely the Building Information Modeling (BIM) approach; Service Oriented Architecture, and the emerging of Cloud Computing. The combination of these approaches enable a full de-materialization of the whole building or life-cycle and the possibility of e-procurement become more efficient and increase market competitiveness. Cloud Computing is an evolution over the traditional hosting and application service providers, though more aligned with the service-oriented environments. The advent of Cloud computing is likely to take the burden of internal and external ICT challenges off of micro-size and small-size firms, and particularly alleviate the interoperability problem and thus sustaining the possibility of having the full transactional cycle fully integrated between the public entity issuing a tender and would-be suppliers within the AEC sector, particularly when combined with the BIM approach. This will support the possibility that electronic procurement does not become a too high burden to micro-sized and SMEs companies and thus maintaining their ability to tackle e-procurement of building and construction works public goods and services.The paper describes how BIM, SOA and Cloud Computing can change traditional e-procurement functions, namely the elaboration of tendering documents, as the technical data can be automatically coupled with transactional information, as in RFP, Order, or Invoice, and published in electronic procurement platforms. The paper will present results of current R&D of the application of this approach in the construction phase of building development projects.

Keywords: Building Information Modeling, Electronic Procurement, Service Oriented Architecture, Cloud Computing

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Series: w78:2010 (browse)
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G Kapogiannis, F Khosrowshahi, J Underwood

Digital Services for Construction Small and Medium Enterprises: A Conceptual Business Model

Abstract: The rapid deployment of web technologies delivers information from diverse sources in the world of digital business in a unified way. Within the construction industry the demand for investments in the digital dimension has raised very fast indicating a trend towards on-line collaboration services usually offered through a web portal. The main purpose of this research is to examine how the use of a web portal enhances the mission of construction Small Medium Enterprises (SME) in the local, national and international economy. Therefore, features and services captured from existing construction web portals are listed quantitatively to indicate those that are important to support the enterprise needs of construction managers and directors. Additionally the common practical and essential features considered in the technical and contextual design of a web portal geared for the use within the domain of construction SMEs in order to promote enterprise continuity in digital business are briefly presented. Results indicate potential support of interaction and collaboration among partners in the construction industry due to direct information accessibility as well as an attractive web platform developed based upon their daily needs. Therefore the need to develop a web business model is suggested to enhance the role of construction SMEs with a focus on online collaboration (online services). This model aspires to provide potential practical on-line dissemination of knowledge within construction SMEs to help the world of construction managers and directors in order for them to be more efficient, effective and creative when developing new businesses, new ideas and new projects. This model is partitioned to accommodate for flexible and scalable technological infrastructures that offer the necessary web services addressed to construction SMEs.

Keywords: Construction SME, Web Portal Technologies, Web Services, Virtual Organisation, Communication

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Series: w78:2011 (browse)
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Rezgui Y, Zarli A, Bourdeau M, Cooper G

Inter-enterprise information management in dynamic virtual environments: the OSMOS approach

Abstract: "IT in use in the construction industry needs to find the right balance between, on the one hand, integrated information infrastructures, tools and systems, and, on the other, the organisational peculiarities and complexities intrinsic to this sector. There is a need to support smooth co-operation between non co-located teams, and the co-ordination of their work and activities in an environment that promotes trust and social cohesion. This overall infrastructure should give construction project participants increased flexibility and effective access to project information regardless of its form, format, and location. This is, in fact, the scope that the OSMOS project will tackle. OSMOS is driven by the needs of end-users and the market, through the expertise of European leading construction businesses, including construction IT service providers: DERBi, JM Byggands, and Olof Granlund; and European leading research centres and academic: CSTB, Information Systems Institute of University of Salford, and VTT. The overall aim of the OSMOS project is to enhance the capabilities of construction enterprises, including SMEs, to act and collaborate effectively on projects by setting up and promoting value-added Internet-based flexible services that support team work in the dynamic networks of the European construction industry. In particular, the project will provide effective model-based solutions to support communication, co-operation, and co-ordination between individuals and groups collaborating in a construction Virtual Enterprise (VE), based on the specificity and information / process requirements of the Construction domain, while at the same time promoting trust and social cohesion between the partners of a VE. The OSMOS consortium will adopt an incremental and iterative approach to address the project objectives. The integrated OSMOS infrastructure, including the extensions to identified end-users proprietary and commercial systems, will be the result of a series of three iterations. First, the project will define the requirements of the OSMOS infrastructure by analysing the intra-company business processes and information management practices, along with the dynamics, type and nature of interactions taking place on multi-disciplinary construction projects. This will lead onto the definition of the architecture underlying the OSMOS system and the specification of its components. The latter, including the OSMOS models and services, will be implemented based on identified end-users proprietary and commercial systems, and will be available in the form of toolkits, plug-ins and repositories. The OSMOS infrastructure will then be tested and validated through a set of field trials involving the project end-users. Finally, the project will propose a migration path leading to the adoption and the deployment of the OSMOS solutions within the participating organisations and any other company that intends to adopt the proposed team-work solutions. The proposed paper will give a comprehensive description of the European Framework 5 funded OSMOS project. The OSMOS consortium is aiming, through its user interest groups in Finland, France, and Sweden, to provide ways of validating and translating the results to other industrial sectors."

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Full text: content.pdf (434,370 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:2000 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.social (0.049382) class.communication (0.034707) class.environment (0.017463)
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated


Sarshar M, Finnemore M, Haigh R, Goulding J

Spice: is a capability maturity model applicable in the construction industry?

Abstract: Currently the UK construction industry is in search of continuous process improvement mechanisms, in order to improve quality and reduce construction time and costs. Likewise the software industry has been in search of process improvement frameworks, in the past decade. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM), developed by the Carnegie Mellon University, is one of the most widely adopted process improvement initiatives, within the software industry. Many of the basic process improvement concepts in CMM appear generic and could potentially be applied in construction. A recent research project at Salford University set itself the task of investigating if CMM is applicable in the construction industry. The project is titled SPICE (Standardised Process Improvement for Construction Enterprises). SPICE is in search of a systematic step by step process improvement framework for the construction industry. It investigates whether the CMM framework and concepts can be reused in construction. SPICE has conducted several experiments to assess the applicability of CMM to the construction industry. So far the results show that most of the basic process improvement concepts of CMM are applicable. However, the CMM framework is not applicable in its current form. Much further research is needed to integrate the appropriate process improvement concepts from CMM and other research to develop a process improvement framework for the construction industry. In general the construction industry appears a more mature industry in its shared understanding of customs and working practices. Industry standards and data are more readily available. However, major problems stem from the supply chain arrangements. Also the cost of process improvement initiatives such as CMM may be too high for the construction SMEs, on most projects. This paper discusses the SPICE experiments undertaken to date. It high lights why the CMM framework can not be applied in construction in its present form and suggests future research directions.

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Full text: content.pdf (75,285 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:1999 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.retrieve (0.013182) class.economic (0.009967) class.impact (0.009877)
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by the Research Press of the National Research Council of Canada. The support of the editors, particularly Dr. Dana Vanier, is gratefully appreciated.


Stewart R, Miller C, Mohamed S, Packham G

Sustainable development of construction small and medium enterprises (SMEs): it impediments focus

Abstract: Construction Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) face numerous impediments preventing their sustainable growth and development. These impediments include: operational factors; financial constraints; limited marketing and human resource management expertise; limited strategic planning; and ineffective Information Technology (IT) implementation. These factors are all contributing to the stagnated growth of these smaller, mostly privately owned companies. In an attempt to enhance the growth opportunities of SMEs, this paper firstly presents a conceptual framework incorporating the above-mentioned impediments. Secondly, the paper hones in on the IT implementation impediments in order to target the IT-specific barriers facing SMEs. Finally, the paper proposes some possible coping strategies to ensure more effective implementation of IT in SMEs.

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Full text: content.pdf (197,949 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:2003 (browse)
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by the University of Auckland. The assistance of the editor who provided the full texts and the structured metadata, Dr. Robert Amor, is gratefully appreciated.


Tah J H M, Carr V

How do small and medium-sized consultancy practices perceive information technology in the new economy?

Abstract: Information Technology (IT) is very much an enabler, and there are many perceived benefits from its successful implementation within an organisation, including time savings, reduced waste, better information exchange, and even cost savings. However, the rapid changes taking place in this area are potentially problematic for the many small businesses involved in what is essentially a very fragmented construction industry. A series of five recent workshops, held at South Bank University in collaboration with the Construction Industry Council, the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, and the Information Technology Construction Best Practice programme, aimed to deal with this issue, and to solicit the opinions of those most closely involved. Attendees were invited from a number of professions, including engineers, architects, building surveyors, and quantity surveyors, all of whom were from consultancy practices which can be considered to be small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) within the construction industry. The IT knowledge of the attendees varied from novices who realised their computing skills were lacking, to IT managers and directors whose knowledge of systems and support issues was considerable. Presentations were made on the future of IT within the construction industry, and by professionals with considerable experience of implementing IT strategies in construction organisations. The ensuing discussions covered many areas of concern, including: the problems and difficulties associated with implementing a successful IT strategy within a construction SME; the merits and flaws of moving away from document-driven models to a data-repository-driven central project model; the potential for E-commerce and the use of the Internet within construction; the rise of construction web portals, and the use of web-based collaboration; problems and concerns associated with interoperability and standards within the construction software domain; and the role of other technologies, such as virtual reality, within the industry. There were many concerns from the attendees regarding the current use of IT in construction. It was generally seen as something which was necessary – even vital – to the success of organisations, but many felt that, as a consequence, they were being forced to deal with issues which shouldn’t exist ideally (such as the lack of computer-aided drawing (CAD) standards, and the multiple vendors in the CAD software market.) Also, some felt that they were being pushed down IT routes they wouldn’t have previously considered due to the requirements of clients. Indeed, a number of attendees felt that something which was sold as being greatly beneficial to many organisations seemed to consume vast quantities of resources in some cases, yet there was still very much a feeling of a need to ‘be in there.’ Details of the demographics of the attendees are presented, and the subjects of greatest concern during the discussions are detailed thoroughly. The paper aims to provide a snapshot of the IT concerns of SMEs in the construction industry as it enters the 21st century.

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Full text: content.pdf (174,541 bytes) (available to registered users only)

Series: w78:2001 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.collaboration (0.069301) class.economic (0.044484) class.communication (0.037222)
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by CSIR Building and Construction Technology. The assistance of the editors, Mr. Gustav Coetzee and Mr. Frances Boshoff, is gratefully appreciated.


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