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Frontiers of Engineering Management

, Volume 4 Issue 1

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A review of metro construction in China: Organization, market, cost, safety and schedule
Lieyun DING, Jie XU
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 4-19.
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China is now in an era of large-scale metro construction. This paper reviews the nature of Chinese metro engineering with a specific focus on its organization and market mode, cost structure, safety control and schedule management. Then, an examination on recent research in metro engineering of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) is also conducted, which indicates that information and automation based technologies are increasingly used in practice.

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Impacts of building information modeling (BIM) implementation on design and construction performance: a resource dependence theory perspective
Dongping CAO, Heng LI, Guangbin WANG
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 20-34.
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Drawing on resource dependence theory, this paper develops and empirically tests a model for understanding how the implementation of building information modeling (BIM) in construction projects impacts the performance of different project participating organizations through improving their interorganizational collaboration capabilities. Based on two sets of survey data collected from designers and general contractors in BIM-based construction projects in China, the results from partial least squares analysis and bootstrapping mediation test provide clear evidence that BIM-enabled capabilities of information sharing and collaborative decision-making as a whole play a significant role in determining BIM-enabled efficiency and effectiveness benefits for both designers and general contractors. The results further reveal that designers and general contractors benefit from project BIM implementation activities significantly non-equivalently, and that this non-equivalence closely relates to the different roles played by designers and general contractors in BIM-enabled interorganizational resource exchange processes. The findings validate the resource dependence theory perspective of BIM as a boundary spanning tool to manage interorganizational resource dependence in construction projects, and contribute to deepened understandings of how and why project participating organizations benefit differently from the implementation of interorganizational information technologies like BIM.

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Applying system dynamics to strategic decision making in construction
SangHyun LEE
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 35-40.
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The author discusses the application of System Dynamics to high-level strategic simulation in construction. In particular, System Dynamics’ strength on representing feedback processes, aggregation, soft variables, and continuous simulation clock for high-level simulation are discussed using real modeling examples. From this exercise, it is concluded that System Dynamics offers a great potential for strategic simulation in construction. Further, the author proposes a comprehensive simulation framework that integrates System Dynamics and Discrete Event Simulation for a strategic decision making process in construction where operational details should be taken into account.

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Intelligent data analytics is here to change engineering management
Jonathan Jingsheng SHI, Saixing ZENG, Xiaohua MENG
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 41-48.
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A great deal of scientific research in the world aims at discovering the facts about the world so that we understand it better and find solutions to problems. Data enabling technology plays an important role in modern scientific discovery and technologic advancement. The importance of good information was long recognized by prominent leaders such as Sun Tzu and Napoleon. Factual data enables managers to measure, to understand their businesses, and to directly translate that knowledge into improved decision making and performance. This position paper argues that data analytics is ready to change engineering management in the following areas: 1) by making relevant historical data available to the manager at the time when it’s needed; 2) by filtering out actionable intelligence from the ocean of data; and 3) by integrating useful data from multiple sources to support quantitative decision-making. Considering the unique need for engineering management, the paper proposes researchable topics in the two broad areas of data acquisition and data analytics. The purpose of the paper is to provoke discussion from peers and to encourage research activity.

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Construction engineering management culture shift: Is the lowest tender offer dead?
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 49-57.
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The procurement of public construction projects must walk a fine line between the corruption of state officials and collusion of contractors. The method of awarding projects to the lowest responsible tenderer was originally implemented to guard against corruption of state officials. However, an investigation of the construction industry in the Canadian province of Quebec showed that lowest-tender-offer procurement gave rise to collusion of companies tendering for the contracts. Alternatively, best-value procurement has been used for decades, but here problems arise owing to the necessity of subjective judging of measures other than price to compare bids, giving rise to time- and money-consuming protests. The paper proposes a compelling argument that the construction engineering management (CEM) culture should refocus its efforts on enhancing project cost certainty rather than merely searching for means to design a project in a manner that produces the lowest initial cost, and awards the construction to the lowest tender offer that focuses on cost savings during the project development and delivery process. The difference in the two approaches is subtle but extremely important. To make the transition, the engineering management tools must be advanced to the next level. This means that all project control tools for managing cost, schedule, and technical scope must be transformed from working in the deterministic mode to the stochastic mode, thus making the probability of completing the project within or below its official budget the primary decision criterion. To do so, CEMs must accept that there is a benefit in paying more for an alternative that increases cost certainty for the entire project. The authors of this paper hope that it will provide the grist for a more general dialog across all industry sectors where engineering management is practiced.

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Design and control optimization of energy systems of smart buildings today and in the near future
Shengwei WANG, Wenjie GANG
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 58-66.
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Buildings contribute to a major part of energy consumption in urban areas, especially in areas like Hong Kong which is full of high-rise buildings. Smart buildings with high efficiency can reduce the energy consumption largely and help achieve green cities or smart cities. Design and control optimization of building energy systems therefore plays a significant role to obtain the optimal performance. This paper introduces a general methodology for the design and control optimization of building energy systems in the life cycle. When the design scheme of building energy systems is optimized, primary steps and related issues are introduced. To improve the operation performance, the optimal control strategies that can be used by different systems are presented and key issues are discussed. To demonstrate the effect of the methods, the energy system of a high-rise building is introduced. The design on the chilled water pump system and cooling towers is improved. The control strategies for chillers, pumps and fresh air systems are optimized. The energy saving and cost from the design and control optimization methods are analyzed. The presented methodology will provide users and stakeholders an effective approach to improve the energy efficiency of building energy systems and promote the development of smart buildings and smart cities.

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The outlook of blockchain technology for construction engineering management
Jun WANG, Peng WU, Xiangyu WANG, Wenchi SHOU
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 67-75.
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Current construction engineering management suffers numerous challenges in terms of the trust, information sharing, and process automation. Blockchain which is a decentralised transaction and data management technology, has attracted increasing interests from both academic and industrial aspects since 2008. However, most of the existing research and practices are focused on the blockchain itself (i.e. technical challenges and limitations) or its applications in the finance service sector (i.e. Bitcoin). This paper aims to investigate the potential of applying blockchain technology in the construction sector. Three types of blockchain-enabled applications are proposed to improve the current processes of contract management, supply chain management, and equipment leasing, respectively. Challenges of blockchain implementation are also discussed in this paper.

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Web-based construction equipment fleet management system: cost-effective global and local allocation
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 76-83.
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Over the last two decades, construction contractors have been gradually making more investments in construction equipment to meet their needs associated with increasing volumes of construction projects. At present, from an operational perspective, almost all contractors pay more attention to maintaining their equipment fleets in well-sustained workable conditions and having a high accessibility of the necessary equipment pieces. However, such an approach alone is not enough to maintain an efficient and sustainable business. In particular, for large-scale construction companies that operate in multiple sites in the U.S. or overseas, the problem extends to an optimal allocation of available equipment. Given the current state of the construction industry in the U.S., this problem can be solved by geographically locating equipment pieces and then wisely re-allocating them among projects. Identifying equipment pieces geographically is a relatively easy task. The difficulty arises when informed decision-making is required for equipment allocation among job sites. The actual allocation of equipment should be both economically feasible and technologically preferable. To help in informed decision-making, an optimization model is developed as a mixed integer program. This model is formed based on a previously successfully developed decision-support model for construction equipment selection. The proposed model incorporates logical strategies of supply chain management to optimally select construction equipment for any construction site while taking into account the costs, availability, and transportation-related issues as constraints. The model benefits those responsible for informed decision-making for construction equipment selection and allocation. It also benefits the owners of construction companies, owing to its cost-minimization objective.

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Motion-based analysis for construction workers using biomechanical methods
Xincong YANG, Yantao YU, Heng LI, Xiaochun LUO, Fenglai WANG
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 84-91.
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Sustaining awkward postures and overexertion are common factors in construction industry that result in work-related injuries of workers. To address there safety and health issues, conventional observational methods on the external causes are tedious and subjective, while the direct measurement on the internal causes is intrusive leading to productivity reduction. Therefore, it is essential to construct an effective approach that maps the external and internal causes to realize the non-intrusive identification of safety and health risks. This research proposes a theoretical method to analyze the postures tracked by videos with biomechanical models. Through the biomechanical skeleton representation of human body, the workload and joint torques are rapidly and accurately evaluated based on the rotation angles of joints. The method is then demonstrated by two case studies about (1) plastering and (2) carrying. The experiment results illustrate the changing intramuscular torques across the construction activities in essence, validating the proposed approach to be effective in theory.

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Achieving energy efficiency in government buildings through mandatory policy and program enforcement
Patrick X.W. ZOU, Morshed ALAM, Van Manh PHUNG, Dipika WAGLE, Rodney STEWART, Edoardo BERTONE, Oz SAHIN, Chris BUNTINE
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 92-103.
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Government buildings are responsible for a significant proportion of energy consumption worldwide, for example, in Australia, up to 41.5 PJ energy was consumed by government buildings in 2011–2012. While the newly constructed buildings may be energy efficient, the existing buildings, which account for more than 85% of the total building stock, were built prior to the time when energy rating systems was put in practice and are consequently energy inefficient to a large degree. Reducing the energy consumption in existing government buildings is essential, as it will not only reduce the costs and environmental impacts, but also show governments’ strong commitment towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emission. Furthermore, successful building energy retrofit projects are the showcases to the general public, encouraging other sectors (e.g. commercial) to conduct building retrofits for energy savings. Recognising these benefits, several state governments in Australia have introduced building energy efficiency policies and programs. This paper reviewed the energy efficiency policies/programs in five States in Australia: Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland in terms of respective policies and targets, implementation methods and current progress. The lessons learned from these programs were also discussed. This research revealed that the key factors for a successful government building energy retrofitting program are 1) having a properly enforced energy efficiency mandate with clear energy saving targets, 2) establishing an expert facilitation team and 3) implementing suitable financing and procurement methods.

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Can the bullet train speed up climate change mitigation in China?
Han LIN, Saixing ZENG, Shilong GE, Yongtai CHEN
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 104-105.
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Shanghai Tower
Front. Eng. 2017, 4 (1): 106-109.
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14 articles