To demonstrate the potential of using e-business in construction a representative BRR model was developed using the information channel (IC), one of the UK’s leading collaboration tools at the time (Construction Plus, 2001).
This representative business process model provides an insight into how the then current working practices of the construction supply chain could be better managed using the IC. To achieve this an assessment of the IC for its functions and capability was carried out. An initially functional level analysis showed that the IC creates a hub-center network of information and communication between project partners and uses the principle of a single source for information sharing, thereby reducing the number of communication passages.
Thus, for a given project, if any one of the stakeholders updates the project information, then all other relevant
stakeholders are immediately informed of the revisions. Such functionality allows fast and easy interdisciplinary communication in a secure environment through the central hub.
At the time this BPR model was developed, it was proposed that the IC would incorporate an additional feature called the I-components (intelligent components) that would facilitate the capture of inteligent data during the project life-cycle. It was projected that the I-components would provide the same advantages as the IC, but in relation to the content of the documents. Being intelligent components, the I-components could learn about themselves as the project progresses.
They could also be programmed to know what they are, where they are and how they should respond to their location in space, functional area or perhaps what they are connected to, for example, a door. It was also foreseen that the
I-components could support the use of construction modelling systems by allowing users to exchange design components for the manufactured equivalents that contractors actually purchase – and therefore test for any
fits or clashes (BIW, 2000). The re-engineered construction product procurement process incorporates the use of these l-components.
The model presented is decomposed into the following six levels:
- Node iClAO: The context diagram (above photo) representing the top level process giving a generic view of managing construction projects.
- Node A0: Represents the process of managing project drawings.
- Node A2: Represents a specific process of managing project architectural drawings.
- Node A25: Proposes the method of finalizing architectural drawings.
- Node 4253: Represents the selection process of a product supplier (in this case the door supplier as demonstrated in Figure 3.2).
- Node 42535: Describes a specific product ordering process (i.e. door ordering process) using the IC.