Integrating product and process design in construction

Informa UK Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Construction Management and Economics, 2018, 36, (9), pp. 535-543
Issue Date:
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Product modularity namely the notion that products can be decomposed into parts (or modules) has been widely applied in manufacturing but not in construction, precluding this industry to also benefit from it. The narrow definition of a module, which is often simplistically equated to a sub-assembly produced off-site, and the lack of integration between product and process design, which is typical in construction, are argued to be two root causes of such problem. This paper starts by discussing the operational implications of misaligned decisions in these two domains in an empirical study addressing a high-rise apartments building project. Seven guidelines are then devised using a Design Science Research (DSR) approach for integrating product (product modularity and modules) and process (work structure and work packages) design. The results indicate that product modularity can be applied for improving operations regardless of the construction method(s) used. Yet, a revised understanding of modules (as a material, a component, a non-volumetric or a volumetric sub-assembly) is needed in addition to a coordinated product and process design, particularly for traditional construction.
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