An integrated product and process information modelling system for on-site construction
The inadequate infrastructure that exists for seamless project team communications has its roots in the problems arising from fragmentation, and the lack of effective co-ordination between stages of the construction process. The use of disparate computer-aided engineering (CAE) systems by most disciplines is one of the enduring legacies of this problem and makes information exchange between construction team members difficult and, in some cases, impossible. The importance of integrating modelling techniques with a view to creating an integrated product and process model that is applicable to all stages of a construction project's life cycle, is being recognised by the Construction Industry. However, improved methods are still needed to assist the developer in the definition of information model structures, and current modelling methods and standards are only able to provide limited assistance at various stages of the information modelling process. This research investigates the role of system integration by reviewing product and process information models, current modelling practices and modelling standards in the construction industry, and draws conclusions with similar practices from other industries, both in terms of product and process representation, and model content. It further reviews various application development tools and information system requirements to support a suitable integrated information structure, for developing an integrated product and process model for design and construction, based on concurrent engineering principles. The functional and information perspectives of the integrated model, which were represented using IDEFO and the unified modelling language (UML), provided the basis for developing a prototype hyper-integrated product and process information modelling system (HIPPY). Details of the integrated conceptual model's implementation, practical application of the prototype system, using house-building as an example, and evaluation by industry practitioners are also presented. It is concluded that the effective integration of product and process information models is a key component of the implementation of concurrent engineering in construction, and is a vital step towards providing richer information representation, better efficiency, and the flexibility to support life cycle information management during the construction stage of small to medium sized-building projects.