20.10.08

IBS: Critical Succes Factors 1

Planning and Control of the Internal Process

Planning - Compared to traditional method, the design, manufacture, assembly and other related processes in IBS's project requires more coherent structure of process planning and control from the start to the end of the project in order to reduce defects and errors (Gibb, 2001) (Warszawski, 1999). In general, the contractor was responsible to organize, plan, schedules and control the field of work and become the system integrator of whole construction process at site. Therefore, contractors should have a systematic planning in place to manage complexity in transportation, logistic and complex interfaces between system. (Pan et al. 2008) (Hamid et al. 2008) (Blissmas, 2007). Pan et al, (2007) suggested agile and flexible planning. Changing on building regulations must be acknowledge and solved in order to get the full benefits from IBS implementation. One of the most important aspect in planning IBS project is logistic planning. Evidences suggest that the primary focus of the logistics concept in construction process is to improve coordination and communication between project participants during the design and construction phases, particularly in the materials flow control process (Agapiou et al, 1998). As IBS is viewed by many as a new innovation in the industry, critics have acclaimed that the current planning process and approach in construction management is tending to dampen condition for innovation. As such, good internal planning must consider this aspect in planning process and provide a platform for innovation throughout the project sequences.

Monitoring of IBS Components and Installation - Excellent co-ordination and monitoring systems should include systematic record of all components delivery and assembly sequence. As such, any problem appear at site can be channel to correct responsible component’s providers. Latest innovation such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and chip technology are become more relevant to assist monitoring of components. RFID involves the use of miniature read/write transponders that are capable of storing data in harsh environments (Jaselskis, 1995). They can read and change or add information to the tags as they pass. Potential construction applications for RFID technology include concrete processing and handling, cost coding for labor and equipment, and materials control (Jaselskis, 1995). RFID also allows for a ‘birth certificate’ so any item can be tracked back at any point in the building’s construction and life. Currently RFID technology are being used for inter model container identification, rail and truck rolling, stock identification, flexible manufacturing (tracking and control), cutting tool identification, vehicle identification / access control and personnel identification in access control (Abderrahim et al, 2005). The execution of the processes in project sequences will be only run smoothly with low ammount of defects and error if systematic monitoring systems are in place.

Standardisation and Tolerance - Standardization as observed Verweij & Voorbij (2007) would benefit IBS in term of reduce costs by simplification of business process between organizations, increase in efficiency on how organizations carry out their work, simplifies communication, reduced time to align business processes and systems and improved utilisation of human resources. This argument is supported by Pan et al (2008) in his survey to the housebuilders in UK about IBS implementation. ISO 9000 and ISO 1400 are well known international recognise standard to deal with quality management and environmental management respectively. In the specific perspective, Gibb (2003) had observed that the most important area for standardization is actually the interfaces between the components rather than the components themselves. Therefore issues such as tolerance at interfaces between different systems faced by the contractors and should have to be closely coordinated. Such interfaces might include the joints between differing modular or panel systems, interfaces between new and existing construction, details of pipework and electrical connections between factory made products and site-installed mains. Failure to deal with the complexity of interfaces at an early stage with these issues will neglect some of the potential benefits to be gained in using IBS (Senderson, 2003). Literature prove the concern over standardisation of information flow between different parties and suppliers of the building components. Johansson et al (2007) had proposed standardisation solution using Part Request Form which is basically a standardised sheet where the system owner can specify the requirements for the specific part to the subcontractors to easily understand those requirements.

Critics- The implementation of standardisation in IBS and construction industry in general is not stand without critics. Ranns & Ranns (2005) had observed that the existing international standardisation such as ISO 9000 and 1400 is more concern on about the process or way in which the organisation goes about their work but not about the end result. It resulting a lack of focus on result orientation process and not encouraging any innovation adoption. There are also a limitation for RFID technology for construction applications include proximity of equipment, nearby metallic objects, costs, and workforce attitudes (Jaselskis, 1995).

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