McCaffer, R. (2004), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 11 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2004.28611baa.001Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Editorial 11.2 fits a well established pattern of papers drawn from the international community and addresses a number of wide-ranging issues. If anything the flavour of 11.2 is set by two papers that address fundamental and basic engineering problems, site layouts and sewer design and to these we add a third fundamental problem materials and their supply and control. The other papers contribute at a more strategic level, e.g. management support systems, managing multi-project portfolios and improving negotiations and conflict resolution.
As always the true test of the research reported here is will it get applied and it would be interesting to receive papers describing the real-life applications of previously reported research work.
The six papers presented took no fewer than 19 authors to produce reflecting, no doubt, the increasing “teamwork” approach to research as well as a growing “collaborative” approach across institutions and countries supported by the internet.
Two papers have two authors, two have three authors, one has four authors and one has five. Two papers are multi-institution and country one being UK and the Netherlands and one being UK, Australia and Hong Kong. The international distribution of authors is Hong Kong 6, Australia, Kuwait and UK all 4 and the Netherlands 1.
The papers in this issue are as follows.
Mawdesley, Askew and Al-Jibouri return us to a basic engineering problem, the design of site layouts for efficient construction. Their interest is in “earthworks for road projects” or as they technically describe it “linear projects”. The authors review the techniques, knowledge acquisition currently used by project managers and they go on to attempt to automate these existing systems based on the traditional mass-haul diagrams. They conclude with an attempt to introduce artificial intelligence in an effort to extend the modelling in a more realistic way.
Al-Tabtabai and Thomas argue that measuring the tangible and intangible issues and the quantification of the perception of gains and losses in the negation and resolution of a conflict is often not attempted. To do so they claim would help improve negation amongst the parties involved.
The authors' solution to this deficiency is the use of analytical hierarchy process (AHP). AHP has been used in many decision support systems and the research community is intent on exploring where it can be applied. This is another example of such an exploration. What is needed is concrete examples of its use.
Liang, Thompson and Young address another basic engineering problem the design of gravity waste water collection systems or sewers. Optimising the design of sewer networks is time- consuming, based on trial and error and copes with a large number of variables. The overall objective is usually minimum cost. The authors have produced a genetic algorithm and a tabu search technique to solve this optimisation problem. They claim that the techniques used can reduce construction costs in comparison to traditional design methods. Time will tell if such an approach is adopted. I enjoyed this paper as memories of youth flooded back as I spent some time immediately after graduating in the drainage department of Babtie, Shaw and Morton.
Blismas, Sher, Thorpe and Baldwin argue that most research and literature relates to a single project yet in reality most construction clients have ongoing portfolios of projects. The authors identify factors exerting the greatest influence on project delivery within a multi-project environment. These factors were identified by studying six construction clients whose portfolios were heavily influenced by environmental, client, third party and planning factors. The authors model these factors in order to enhance the efficiency of project delivery.
Koushki and Kartam return us to construction's endemic problems of delays and cost over-runs. Their study of these is confined to housing projects in Kuwait. The authors studied 450 residential projects in 27 metropolitan districts and the owners were all interviewed. This paper reports only the issues relating to construction materials on delays and cost over-runs. Material selection, type of material, availability and the presence of a supervising engineer were all major factors.
Kumaraswamy, Ng, Ugwu, Palaneeswaran and Rahman take us further into the development of management support systems using information communication technology and artificial intelligence. They present an over-arching framework of a management support system, multi-agent support for improved collaborative working in design, supply chain management and also for web-based quality management. The motivation for the effort is to support the project stakeholders in taking “fully-informed” and “well-balanced” decisions.