Home
Project Summary
Members
Project Proposal
Presentations
Publications
Test Case 1
Test Case 2
Download

Project Summary

Construction Supply Chain
The AEC supply chain is fragmented in the same way as most information management processes in the industry are. An integrated supply chain would include activities from design, procurement to installation, performed by different parties and organizations. As the current practice indicates, having information available as needed can significantly reduce lead-time as well as increase accountability for tracking purpose. Sharing of information within and across companies is critical in effective supply chain management.
Construction Supply Chain However, this is not an easy task: the information sources are often scattered in several locations, utilizing different software and hardware platforms and not easily accessible. Specifying proprietary-designed representations and "one-time" information channel to exchange data and knowledge is not viable or justifiable because of the "One-of-a-kind nature of project, temporary multi-organization" nature of the AEC business. In addition, different goals and objectives of project participants deter information sharing. If these difficulties can be overcome, there is a lot to be gained in the AEC industry.
Interoperability
The purpose of interoperation is to increase the value of information when information from multiple and, likely, heterogeneous sources is accessed, related and combined. Specifically, interoperability allows two or more information sources (which could be computer systems or software components) to exchange information and to re-use the information for further purposes. Interoperation thus provides added value to each individual source and, in particular, enhance efficiency and productivity in a supply chain. A study by NIST has shown that inefficient interoperability costs more than $15.8 billion, in the year 2002 alone, to the construction industry on the design, construction and maintenance of large commercial, institutional and industrial buildings.
Information Interoperability
The need for efficient information exchange in engineering has been a subject of active research and development since the mid 1980s. Probably, among the most recognized industrial exchange standards is the ISOís STEP effort. Within the AEC industry, there have been many product models such as CIS/2 for the steel industry, PlantSTEP and AEX for the process plant industry and the IAIís IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) for the building and construction industry. While the earlier models focus primarily on product description data, recent developments have also incorporated data definitions for cost estimation, project management and supply chain. As opposed to the manufacturing industry where product model standards have become common practice in product lifecycle management (PLM), the AEC industry has just started to realize the importance of information sharing and exchange.

Information Interoperability by Ontology Mapping
System Interoperability
With the rapid development of the Internet and networking technologies, the computing environment is evolving toward an interconnected web of autonomous services, both inside and outside of enterprise boundaries. A "web service" can be described as a specific function that is delivered over the Internet to provide a service or information to users. Web service integration is important for the automation of application-to-application or organization-to-organization cooperation using the Internet infrastructure. However, it is not easy for a user to perform a complex task which composes of many sub-tasks and requires access to many web services. To integrate distributed services over the Web, not only information interoperability standards need to be employed, so that results can be reused by other applications, network communication and mechanisms for invoking and terminating applications over the network have to be provided.

System Interoperability by Web Services
Should you have any comments or suggestions, please contact Jack Cheng at cpcheng@stanford.edu.
All rights reserved. Engineering Informatics Group, Stanford University.