Enhancing information quality through building information modelling implementation within UK structural engineering organisations
, PhD thesis, University of Salford.
Information management has been identified as an essential requirement for the structural engineering sector in a highly competitive AEC marketplace. In the field of structural engineering, information management represents a challenging discipline due to several factors such as a lack of clarity in the adoption of novel technologies, the multitude of different and ambiguous standards available, and the lack of human resources readiness. This research demonstrates that information quality plays a very important role in structural engineering information management as poor quality of structural engineering design information leads to reworks and failures in tendering and construction of projects. 80% to 90% of failures in buildings, bridges and other structures result from errors in design. Novel technologies and workflows have to be adopted by structural engineering organisations, which also need to improve the readiness of their human resources to enhance information management during conceptual, detailed and technical design phases. It is but natural for project teams in structural engineering organisations to expect proper quality of information during the bidding procedure, while providing documents for constructors and also while reporting to clients to make assured accurate decisions. A review of relevant literature revealed that Building Information Modelling has a contributory role in addressing the challenges of information management in various disciplines of the AEC industry. However, to ensure effective contribution of BIM on structural engineering information management, a clear determination is needed to improve information quality. Therefore, the aim of this research is to develop a conceptual framework for the adoption of BIM to enhance the quality of information in structural engineering organisations of the UK.
In this research, an interpretivism philosophical position has been adopted that understands the real world and solves related problems over interpretations provided by participants. This research triangulated case study and survey approaches to the investigation of the research objectives in order to enrich confidence in presenting findings. A qualitative and quantitative approaches (or mixed-method approach) were used to thoroughly explore factors that have a key role in developing a framework for improving information within the AEC industry. Data collection involved the use of semi-structured interviews followed by scale questionnaires that were given to design experts in the UK. The qualitative data comprised of 12 interviews with experts performing the role of structural engineers, BIM managers and design managers in two structural engineering departments of two different large multidisciplinary organisations in the UK. In the context of quantitative data collection, 125 respondents replied to the researcher within two months. Finally, both qualitative and quantitative data were analysed and conceptual framework was developed and validated.
This research points out that at present the UK structural industry is dissatisfied with the quality of structural engineering information and holds the opinion that catastrophic failure in the construction process may result from inadequacies in the information management system. From this research, it is evident that the key dimensions for structural engineering information quality can be explained by information accuracy, information accessibility, and information interoperability and information security. This research examined the key criteria that need to be considered while adopting BIM technological tools, workflows and human resources in the context of structural engineering sector. An initial conceptual framework developed by reviewing the existing literature illustrated the potential power of BIM to contribute to the level of information quality management in structural information management. Primary data collected in this research explored the role of crucial factors of BIM implementation in promoting the key dimensions of information quality management. This research contributes to knowledge by developing a conceptual framework which can be implemented in the ACE industry to improve upon information quality by assisting decision makers associated with structural engineering information management to adopt appropriate technological and workflow protocols, and also to ensure organisational human resource readiness in the contest of BIM. Avenues for further research in this area of information quality management in the structural engineering sector were also recommended by this study.
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