Ecppm 2004 wednesday afternoon notes part 2ΒΆ

See the overview page for the links to the rest of my notes.

During the coffee break, Tamer El-Diraby kindly tried to convince me that I should not underestimate my writing skills and that I should develop them further and make more use of them, they're a real asset. Hm, I've never considered it in that way. Tamer, I'll take your advise and think about using this skill more. Thanks

Good first candidate: finish my PhD dissertation real quick now. Second candidate: writing essays for the research part of my website. Real empty at the moment. I'd love to fill that with 2-3 page essays. Essays: short articles written to develop my thoughts more on a certain topic. Read Paul Graham who wrote a great essay on the writing of essays!

Now on to the notes. Rasso Steinmann (Nemetschek) - Mobiko: mobile cooperation in the building industry based on wireless communication technologies

The Mobiko project wants to support mobile communication and cooperation in the construction industry.

Conceptually, they have a central database with the (user)data, which is served using various networks (wlan, umts, gsm, gprs).

The rest of the presentation was mostly screenshots of the implementation of the various applications using the wireless possibilities. It looked like they have an attractive set of applications with which to demonstrate the utility of wireless usage in the construction industry.

Sander Blokpoel (University of Twente, the Netherlands) - Cooperation and product modelling systems

An alternative to direct paper-based exchange is to store everything in one database. Alternatively you can exchange directly, but by using standard file formats (say IFC). The fourth alternative is to use the standards, but also the central database.

A very important prerequisite for getting use out of a product modelling system is that it must be possible to have a design loop, a feedback cycle between the engineer and architect, allowing refinement. Such a design loop is one of the great things a product model theoretically offers.

But, when looking at the construction practice, this prerequisite isn't fulfilled most of the time. Likewise the other prerequisites (which I didn't mention here). This way, many benefits just disappear.

Important, therefore, is cooperation in the construction sector. For instance, strategic behaviour by participants in the process: delibirately doing things not in the interest of the project, just for the company's benefit; hurting the other players in the process.

(My idea is that a lot of these things are a variant of the chicken-egg-problem. The industry operates in a certain way (as no good communication and cooperation is possible), that way of working doesn't fit in a new communication/cooperation technology, the technology is not accepted, the industry.... etc. I get the impression that most companies are forced to optimise for their own good instead of for the project's good. The normal kind of contract almost doesn't allow other behaviour. If you don't screw the other, the other will screw you. Example? The client selects on price, which is often too low. But the client makes mistakes in the specification or changes his mind. Aha! The contractor screws back and demands a hefty premium for the extra work. Couldn't they cooperate in the first place? Probably a better price/value for both! Yes, they can, but that means changing the contract type. And needing better communication methods. Better methods that won't get accepted as...)

(Sounds negative, but I've got high hopes for small, web-based applications that can cooperate and build upon eachother, focussed on the small contractors, suppliers, etc. Which should, each standing on its own, provide a useful, time-saving service to the user. Stand-alone use halps adoption. If a combination with other, similar web-based tools provides even more use, a positive feedback loop is born. So there.)

B Otjacques (centre de recherche public, Luxembourg): Usefulness and ease-of-use assessment of a project management tool for the construction industry

The goal is to predict the degree of acceptation of new technologies. One of the most well-known models to assess this is David's technology acception model.

The rest of the presentation was about the asessmetn of a prototype's acceptance, with figures to illustrate the process.

A thing that came out of the discussion was the importance of the cost-relevance of the data (or whatever) managed by an application. If something means money, everything dealing with that autmoatically is more important, as it has the possibility to reduce costs. So: money means interest. (Hm. Interesting.)

Nash Dawood (University of Teesside) - Roadsim: an integrated simulation system for road construction management

Road construction is difficult to plan and to budget. The geographichal information can be incorrect, the weather can wreak havoc, environmental issues can delay the process, etc. The manager's experience is very important for the success. This last point also means that the manager figures out a solution and that there is often no formal comparison of alternatives.

Roadsim has a knowledge base containing expert roadbuilders' knowledge and rules of thumb. They also analised 124 road construction contracts to come up with 50 basic road construction operations. Also basic equipment, basic equipment productivity, individual tasks, etc.

Using autocad integration, roadsim allows the visualisation of the progress of the earthworks in the project in time.

They had successful pilot runs. Preliminary tests were done on the A25 in Portugal. The roadsim outputs are similar to the results of the traditional planning methods, but with a meaningful saving of time.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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