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Paper w78-2001-23:
Product identification systems for construction and facility management

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Engdahl S

Product identification systems for construction and facility management

Abstract:This paper presents a study of the concept of a common construction product identification system with a focus on the establishment of principles for its use within computer integrated construction and facility management processes. An analysis of current systems for product identification utilized within the Swedish sector of construction and facility management is presented in an addition with a discussion of the concept of object and class identification in information systems development. The study is a part of the industry doctorate research project ‘Product information in computer-integrated construction and facility management processes’, which aims at studying methods for handling product information and contribute to the development of computer based systems for product information management. A main hypothesis within this project is that an information platform enabling efficient integration of IT in handling construction product information is composed of an identification-, classification-, and an attribute system. These components should be mutually independent and implemented as sector wide standards. This study specifically deals with the first component, a common system for identification of construction products. During recent years an increasing amount of research has been dedicated to define methods to integrate and utilize information technology in handling the vast amount of information used, created and transferred within construction and facility management processes. In Sweden, the focus has been on classification systems and product models as central means for establishing a framework for information handling. A common system for product identification would in general facilitate handling of product information in computer integrated construction and facility management processes. Specific advantages would be to enable; - Dynamic invocation of distributed components (e.g. CORBA) representing the product via a link relation residing in a database connected to the Internet. - Direct product information retrieval in case of a present identifier on a product, catalogue page or advertisement. - Exactness in production follow-up, i.e. when consumed production resources are registered. A common system for product identification is considered to be relatively easy to define and implement in comparison with common standards for product classification, attributes and product models, since the latter ones are aspect dependent and involve numerous actors and divergent interests. The purpose of this study is to identify and analyze current systems for product identification used within the Swedish sector of construction and to demonstrate the role of such systems in IT based environments for handling construction product information. The study shows that separate actors within the building process so far have developed systems for product identification without support for the process as a whole. Among the systems analyzed is EAN-13 regarded as most suitable since it is international, non-sector specific, in correspondence with a barcode standard for automatic data capture and has the widest propagation. However, the EAN-13 system, like the other systems, lacks explicit norms that guarantee valid identification in a historical perspective especially required for product information management within facility management processes. EAN-13’s main disadvantage in the construction context is its total focus on trade items, thus its deficient handling of standard product units, which is the common view for actors outside the sector of trading. The conclusion implies that a common system for product identification with characteristics of being international, non-sector specific, without property or class referencing attributes and with explicit criteria regarding changes of identifiers as a result of property alteration would be most advantageous and that such system is a central component in an information platform with means for achieving efficient utilization of IT. None of the systems in current use is featured with all these characteristics.


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Series:w78:2001 (browse)
Cluster:papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class:class.retrieve (0.020441) class.software-software (0.015031) class.bestPractise (0.012129)
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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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