A service oriented framework for construction supply chain integration

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<ul><li><p>ctb, A</p><p>anionstryangtioncureoss applications is, therefore, highly desirable. We have prototyped a service</p><p>k of keppliersonally,asing u</p><p>Automation in Construction 19 (2010) 245260</p><p>Contents lists available at ScienceDirect</p><p>Automation in</p><p>j ourna l homepage: www.e lsidentied in many industries [43,53]. Supply chain integration helpsreduce cost, improve responsiveness to changes, increase servicelevel, and facilitate decision making. In an integrated supply chain,information is shared and becomes available among the members.This enhances supply chain visibility and avoids information delaysand distortions. Insufcient supply chain visibility makes membersvulnerable to quality and service level problems from businesspartners and therefore subject to risks [17,42]. Information delaysand distortions lead to an increase in demand signal variation along</p><p>focus on the development of interactive, inter-organizational relation-ships, which requires integration. However, the high fragmentationand project-based nature of the industry pose a signicant challengeto cross-enterprise integration of construction supply chains. Briscoe[10] has summarized eight key attributes to successful constructionsupply chain integration, and this research focuses on two of them managing communication and managing information ow. Thecharacteristics of construction supply chains lead to various require-ments for information and collaborative systems such as low cost andthe supply chain upstream, a phenomenon c[35]. Therefore, integration is one of the keysmanagement.</p><p> Corresponding author.E-mail address: cpcheng@stanford.edu (J.C.P. Cheng</p><p>0926-5805/$ see front matter 2009 Elsevier B.V. Aldoi:10.1016/j.autcon.2009.10.003nits and organizationsendently. The value ofhas been studied and</p><p>nately, the construction industry is arguably the least integratedamong all the major industrial sectors [25]. New [45] and Cox [20]have suggested that supply chain research in construction shouldalong a supply chain often operate indepintegrating members along supply chains1. Introduction</p><p>A supply chain consists of a networfacilities, involving end users and suservices, and information [33]. Traditiplanning, manufacturing, and purchopen source technologies. These technologies enable the SC Collaborator system to provide an economicaland customizable tool for integrating supply chain partners with a wide range of computing capabilities. Thispaper describes the overall architecture and the features of the system. Two example scenarios are includedto demonstrate the potential of SC Collaborator in integrating and managing information from projectpartners. The rst scenario is an e-Procurement example whereas the second is a rescheduling scenariobased on the data from a completed project in Sweden.</p><p> 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.</p><p>y business processes andthat provide products,marketing, distribution,</p><p>Construction is one of the largest industries in any country of theworld [28]. In the United States, the value of construction put in placewas $1,072 billion in 2008 [59], or 7.5% of the U.S. gross domesticproduct (GDP) that year [11]. There are many companies and manytrades involved in a construction project and development. Unfortu-alled the bullwhip effectto effective supply chain</p><p>system adaptabiattempts to deintegrate variouamong supply chsuch as Electronplanning (ERP)ments for managinexibility to ch).</p><p>l rights reserved.supply chains by leveraging web services, web portal, and</p><p>Open source oriented, web-based system that can provide both these capabilities. Called the SC Collaborator, this system</p><p>facilitates the exible coordination of constructionWeb services share that information acrA service oriented framework for constru</p><p>Jack C.P. Cheng a,, Kincho H. Law a, Hans Bjornssona Engineering Informatics Group, Stanford University, CA 94305-4020, USAb Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Swedenc National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA</p><p>a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o</p><p>Article history:Accepted 17 October 2009</p><p>Keywords:Construction supply chain integrationService oriented architectureWeb-based collaborative system</p><p>The benets of integratingindustries. In the constructfragmentation of the induparticipants with a wide runwilling to share informaestablishment of trust. A seion supply chain integration</p><p>lbert Jones c, Ram Sriram c</p><p>d coordinating supply chain partners have been well recognized in manyindustry, supply chain integration is technically challenging due to the high. Information, applications, and services are loosely distributed amonge of hardware and software capabilities. In addition, participants are oftenbecause the temporary nature of construction projects often impedes the, modular, and exible system that can aggregate scattered information and</p><p>Construction</p><p>ev ie r.com/ locate /autconlity. In the manufacturing industry, there are manyvelop methodologies, technologies, and tools tos applications for communication and collaborationain members. However, these technologies and toolsic Data Interchange (EDI) and enterprise resourcesystems often do not meet the needs and require-ing construction supply chains, due to their high cost,ange, and lack of system extensibility.</p></li><li><p>246 J.C.P. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 19 (2010) 245260With rapid development of communication technology, theInternet has become ubiquitous and instantaneously accessible. Theproliferation of the Internet makes it the most cost effective means ofdriving supply chain integration and information sharing [36].Companies increasingly take advantage of the Internet to create avirtual value chain where individuals and business partners cancommunicate and collaborate with each other. Utilizing the Internetas the communication network, the web services technology hasemerged as a promising tool to integrate distributed informationsources and software functionalities in a exible, scalable, andreusable manner. Web services technology enables a service orientedapproach for the integration of distributed information and applica-tions on a network which supply chain members can connect to. Theservice units act as the components for various business functions andcan be reused and aggregated into a complex business process orworkow.</p><p>Web portals have been used for information repository andsharing within a company as well as across organizations. Becauseof its customizability of layouts and access control, a web portalprovides a secure, tailored way to deliver the right information to theright user at the right time. Although current web portals can bedeveloped to discover and to deploy services, their functions areusually xed and cannot be changed or extended to external systemsexibly. Portal systems can become more exible if the serviceoriented architecture (SOA) is adopted. In a service oriented portal-based framework, information and system operations are deployed asdiscrete web service units, which can be combined to performdifferent business tasks. Exposing the web service units also allowsinternal information and system operations to be integrated withother systems and applications, increasing the usability of the systemand allowing automation of business processes. In this paper, we willdescribe the service oriented portal-based framework and present theSC Collaborator system, a prototype system that we have developedfor managing construction supply chains.</p><p>This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 provides the generalbackground of construction supply chain, suggests the requirementsfor collaborative systems for the construction industry, and discussesthe existing tools for supply chain integration and their shortcomings.Section 3 presents how some of these shortcomings can be avoidedusing a service oriented approach. Section 4 presents the serviceoriented portal-based framework, describes the architecture andfunctionalities of SC Collaborator for supply chain management, anddiscusses its suitability for the construction industry. Section 5presents two example scenarios to demonstrate the features of SCCollaborator for integrating various information and business func-tionalities. The second example scenario is drawn from a completedconstruction project in Sweden. Section 6 concludes the paper with abrief summary and discussion on future works.</p><p>2. Information systems for construction supply chain integration</p><p>2.1. Construction supply chains</p><p>Construction supply chains are characterized by the involvement ofmany companies from a wide variety of trades [48]. A constructionproject involves a diverse group of participants including contractors,architects, engineers, laborers, and developers [29]. A project ofmedium to large scale typically involves hundreds of differentcompanies supplying materials, components, and a wide range ofconstruction services [21]. The multi-participant and multi-domaincharacteristic is partly caused by the high fragmentation of theindustry. According to a study on the construction industry in theUnited States [40], the top eight architectural, engineering andconstruction (AEC) companies control less than twenty percent ofthemarket sharewhile by contrast the top companies in the aerospace</p><p>industry control over seventy-ve percent of all trades within theindustry. This is probably due to the fact that the construction industryis comprised of countless companies frommany different trades, mostof which are small to medium in size. Furthermore, AEC companiestend to use a wide range of hardware platforms and softwareapplications for their own operations, posing many technical chal-lenges in integrating the construction supply chains.</p><p>The temporary project-based nature of construction projects alsohinders integration of construction supply chains. Even though theprocesses can be similar for construction projects of a specic kind,most construction projects create new products or prototypes andconsist of temporary supply chains that organizations need to berecongured for each project [61]. Sharing of information andintegration of systems require trust and coordination. Since construc-tion supply chains are highly dynamic and the organizational structureand the project team change frequently, it is, therefore, unlikely forproject participants towork together long enough on a project to buildenough trust and to share information willingly. A secure andcustomizable support system may help establish trust and encourageintegration during short-term partnerships. A exible system mayfacilitate adapting to new congurations and changes in supply chains.Based on the characteristics of construction supply chains, literaturereview, and feedbacks frompractitioners in the industry, the followingsections summarize the desirable requirements of a collaborativeplatform to enhance communication amongmembers and integrationof services in a construction supply chain.</p><p>2.2. System requirements for construction supply chain integration</p><p>2.2.1. Ease of installation and congurationAs discussed in [58], an information infrastructure to interface the</p><p>members of a supply chain should simultaneously satisfy threerequirements: (1) accommodating members with varying degrees ofIT sophistication, (2) offering a wide range of functionalities, and(3) allowing constantly changing pool of suppliers and customers. Thethird requirement is particularly important for construction supplychains because additions, removals, and changes of project participantssuch as the second tier suppliers are common in construction projects.Furthermore, construction companies often need to extensively cus-tomize each individual business application before usage, because everyconstruction project is characterized by a unique set of site conditions,project team, and relationships between project stakeholders [18]. As aresult, information systems for construction supply chain integrationshould be exible to allow quick installation and conguration at thebeginning of a project, and to enable easy reconguration and adaptionfor changes throughout the project.</p><p>2.2.2. Low costSmall and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a critical role as</p><p>subcontractors and suppliers in construction supply chains. Accordingto a study in the United Kingdom, about 83% of the contractingcompanies in the private sector employ three or less workers [21].Almost 98% of all the companies employ 24 or less workers, which aregenerally dened as small companies. Medium-sized companies thatemploy between 25 and 114 workers account for a further 2%. TheseSMEs are usually reluctant to invest much time, money, and effort ininformation systems and technologies. To create a network to supportdata exchange and communication among information sources andsoftware applications can be expensive. Corporations routinely spendup to 50% of their information technology budgets on applicationintegration [9]. Most of the SMEs in the construction industry are notable and/or willing tomake such a huge investment. Solutions that areeconomical are needed.</p><p>2.2.3. Ease of connection and integrationAs noted earlier, ability to accommodate users with varyingdegrees of IT sophistication is one of the three requirements for</p></li><li><p>in the manufacturing industry establish communication networksusing standards such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to connectand exchange data with partners [24,27,30]. However, the imple-mentation of such communication infrastructures usually requireshigh cost and long conguration time, partly due to the lack ofinformation standardization among trading partners.</p><p>Recently, major construction companies have adopted enterpriseresource planning (ERP) systems to integrate loosely distributedinformation and applications within and across companies [18]. AnERP system is typically employed to seamlessly integrate all theinformation owing through the company such as nances, account-ing, human resources, supply chain, and customer information [22].ERP systems can potentially enhance transparency across the supplychain by eliminating information distortions and increase informationvelocity by reducing information delays [3]. Many corporations have</p><p>247J.C.P. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 19 (2010) 245260supply chain information infrastructure [58]. The requirementespecially applies to the construction industry because participantson a construction project are from a wide variety of domains andpossess different levels of experience and educational backgrounds. Inaddition, according to the technology acceptance model (TAM) [23],the perceived ease of use of a system affects the early willingness totry and use the system and the subsequent adoption of the system.Therefore, systems for managing construction supply chains shouldprovide user-friendly and easily accessible communication interface.It is also important that the communication interface allows disparatesystems to be connected through machine understandable protocols.In this wa...</p></li></ul>

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