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A knowledge chain framework for construction supply chains

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posted on 01.12.2011, 12:49 authored by Selda Konukcu
Construction is a project-based industry and construction supply chains generally work with a unique product in every project. Commonly, project organizations are reconfigured for each project. This means that construction supply chains are characterised by various practices and disjointed relationships, with the result that construction supply chain actors generally have transient relationships rather than long term risk sharing partnerships. A consequence of this is the lack of trust between construction clients, designers, main contractors and suppliers. Because the construction supply chain works as a disparate collection of separate organisations rather than as a unified team, the supply chain suffers from lack of integration. Knowledge flow in construction supply chains are hindered due to the reasons such as inadequate adaptation to collaborative procurement type projects, inadequate collaboration between the downstream and upstream supply chain, lack of interoperability of the design tools, lack of well structured SCM process and lack of well developed knowledge management applications. These characteristics of the construction supply chains are the main reasons for its low efficiency and productivity in project delivery. There is a need for the development of appropriate systems to ensure the effective diffusion of knowledge such that each actor of the supply chain adds value to the project delivery process. This is expected to result in the creation of knowledge chains in construction. It is believed that construction supply chain management (SCM), when integrated with knowledge management (KM), can successfully address the major problems of the industry The main aim of this research was to develop a framework to transform construction supply chains into knowledge chains . To reach this aim, the research first provided an overview of practices and issues in SCM across a range of industry sectors including construction, aerospace, and automotive industries. It discusses research and developments in the field of SCM and KM in construction industry, the key SCM issues with a knowledge flow focus, and the best practices from other industries to improve the construction supply chains. Furthermore, the results of the company specific and project specific case studies conducted in aerospace and construction industry supply chains are presented. These results include the key SC problems, key issues related to knowledge flow and the presentation of knowledge requirements of each supply chain actor. Following the data analysis process, a framework to transform the construction supply chain into a knowledge chain taking full cognisance of both the technical and social aspects of KM was presented. The main purpose of the knowledge chain framework was to enable construction bid managers/project managers to plan and manage the project knowledge flow in the supply chain and organise activities, meetings and tasks to improve SCM and KM throughout the supply chain in an integrated procurement type (PFI) project life cycle. The knowledge chain framework was intended to depict the knowledge flow in the construction supply chain specifically, and to offer guidance for specific business processes to transform the supply chains into knowledge chains. Finally, this research focused on the evaluation of the framework through industry practitioners and researchers. An evaluation of the Framework was conducted via workshop followed by a questionnaire comprising industry experts. The findings indicated that adoption of the Framework in construction project lifecycle could contribute towards more efficient and effective management of knowledge flow, standardisation and integration of SCM and KM processes, better coordination and integration of the SC, improved consistency and visibility of the processes, and successful delivery of strategic projects. The overall research process contributed the construction research in many perspectives such as introduction of knowledge chain concept for construction supply chains; comparative analysis of the SCM practices in different industry sectors, identification of best practices for construction supply chains, better demonstration of the maturity level and critical factors of the SCM within the construction industry, demonstration of the KC framework which integrates the supply chain process and knowledge sharing within a single framework which covers all the recent trends in the construction industry like collaborative procurement route projects, creation of better integrated SCs, applications like off site construction and BIM where all supply chain management and knowledge management should take place.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Selda Konukcu

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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