Systems Engineering: An Explicit Way of Working to 
Control the Design Process in the Building Industry
Corresponding Author: Veenvliet, Karel
Author(s): Veenvliet, K. Th.
Organisation(s): University of Twente (the Nertherlands)
Input to the design phase of both the ability to construct and the importance of construction, is one of the factors which leads to an optimal use of available knowledge, money, and time, in respect of functionality, safety, durability (see also Tatum, 1985). The present working methods, decision support tools and information systems to integrate constructabi-lity in the design process often fall short. Interviews held in several design firms in the Netherlands confirm that the planning of the design process is forced by minimising engineering time and engineering costs, fragmented design process on the one hand and on the other by a decision process that takes into account the life-cycle aspects by minimising the design risks and maximising the constraints. The traditional way of working, in the design firm, carried out in sequential processes and with a low degree of collaboration between different domains fails often to eliminate this pressure. The interdisciplinary concept of Systems Engineering (SE) is aimed at product develop-ment work carried out in parallel processes and with a high degree of collaboration between different do-mains and the explicit distinction of requirements and solutions. One of the major ingredients is the use of efficient methods for support in product development. Tools to support the design process are QFD, FMEA, DFA, VA/FA, EPS (Norell, 1996). Important attention has to be paid to the disposition data necessary to make design decisions. (Myrup Andreasen & Olesen, 1990). Besides the implementation of support tools, the integrated methods of working and relevant information transferring systems are also important to apply the SE concept.

Analysis of the application of decision support tools, based on constructability issues, in different design firms in the Netherlands confirmed an implicit way of working. Almost none explicit way of working based on decision support tools was found. Confronting the firms with the possibilities of the explicit way of working based on the SE-concept confirms on the one hand an interested attitude on the other hand they keep a distance. Designers are not aware of the impact and benefits of support tools into the design process (Norell, 1996). However, development, adaptation and implementation of design for X tools, analogous to the industry, will lead to a better performance during the design process.

In this paper a study is made of the possibilities to implement the SE concept during the design process of civil engineering projects. Particular attention is made to the scope of the support tools, the effects on process convergence and the implementation observations.

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