|Corresponding Author: Koeskela, Lauri|
|Author(s): Koskela, L., and Huovila, P.|
|Organisation(s): VTT Building Technology (Finland)|
|In the first part of the paper, the foundations of concurrent engineering
are clarified by an analysis of the underlying concepts and principles
of design and engineering practice before and after the emergence of concurrent
The conventional conceptualization of engineering is based on viewing engineering as a transformation. This conceptualization was originated by early economists, and refined by the movements of scientific management and systems engineering. The transformation view is instrumental in discovering which tasks are needed in an engineering undertaking. However, the transformation view is not especially helpful in figuring out how not to use resources unnecessarily or how to ensure that the customer requirements are met in the best manner. Therefore, engineering, managed in the conventional method, tends to become inefficient and ineffective.
In contrary, concurrent engineering is based on viewing engineering primarily as a flow; a conceptualization that can be traced back to the Gilbreths and Shingo. This conceptual change was similar to the shift to JIT and lean production in manufacturing. In the flow view, the basic thrust is to eliminate waste from the design processes. Thus, such practices as team approach, releasing of information in smaller batches to following tasks, and reduction of rework are promoted.
The emergence of the term collaborative engineering implies still another
underlying conceptualization in the framework of concurrent engineering:
the value generation view that can be traced back to Shewhart. In the value
generation view, the basic thrust is to reach the best possible value in
design solution from the point of the customer. Such practices as rigorous
The origins, concepts and associated principles of these conceptualizations are shortly reviewed, and the need for their integration in concurrent engineering is discussed.
The second part of the paper deals with the current practice of engineering
in the construction industry in view of the foundations of concurrent engineering.
A case study and prior, but contemporary research with empirical backing
unanimously indicate that the management of design and engineering is poorly
carried out in construction projects: not even the basic project management
prescriptions, derived from the transformation view, are always followed.
Consequently, a great share of engineering tasks are carried out in suboptimal
conditions (part of input data missing), with resultant performance loss
along the whole chain of the project. A series of experimentations aiming
at creating clarity and introducing systematic management
The third part of the paper shortly comments the research and development
tasks ahead, in view of the observations made. Some critical notes are
presented on the present, dominating style of initiating and executing
research on construction engineering, where the focus often is on a generic
method's application or adaptation to construction, rather than accumulation