Loughborough University
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Improved materials management using automatic identification techniques

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posted on 2012-12-11, 13:20 authored by Juma A. Alkaabi
The success of any project depends upon accurate and timely information, and most construction related companies utilize computer systems for this purpose. However, these systems fail to provide a link to the physical movements of materials. Effective materials management is vital because of the contribution of materials' elements to the total cost of a construction project. Despite this the construction industry has a poor record in materials management. The reasons for this include delays in the delivery of materials to site and poor identification of materials on site. The severity of these problems and their impact on the construction industry highlighted the need for research in this area. At the initial stage, the research studied the clljTent systems of materials management in the manufacturing and construction industries. It was concluded that Automatic Identification offered advantages over other systems for controlling the physical movements of materials and related information. The traditional flow of materials and related information in the construction industry was examined and schematic diagrams were developed. The typical process of materials management through the life cycle of a typical project was determined. Automatic Identification technologies were reviewed with particular emphasis on bar coding techniques. These are widely used in other industries and provide significant benefits. Furthermore, they have greater flexibility over other Automatic Identification techniques. The potential applications of bar coding techniques in construction were identified as a result of a pilot study conducted with a local company. In order to determine the current status of bar coding techniques in the construction industry a questionnaire survey was undertaken. This survey revealed a high degree of interest from the respondents in implementing these techniques for applications such as material identification, stock control and delivery ticket automation. The research developed a generic barcoded delivery ticket, a goods received note and a standard bar code label for product identification. To investigate the feasibility of using bar coding techniques in construction, a case study was conducted with a local company to monitor and control pre-cast concrete beams from production through to delivery to the customer site. The study findings showed considerable benefits could be gained from the implementation of these techniques. To realize the full benefits of bar coding techniques, electronic data interchange, (EDI), was also considered. The proposed integration of these techniques produced in an improved methodology for materials management. This methodology was validated by a series of interviews, and evaluated during trials with the collaboration of a local company. The main outcomes of the research are: • A concepmal framework for an improved methodology for managing construction materials using automatic identification and in particularly bar coding techniques. • An understanding of the problems and benefits of the design, implementation, and verification of an Automatic Identification system. • An examination of how Automatic Identification and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) could be linked to improve the flow of materials information. • A generic bar code standard format for Delivery Ticket and Goods Received Notes. • A generic bar code standard label for product identification throughout the supply chain. • The identification of potential applications of bar coding techniques in construction.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Juma Ahmed Alkaabi

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

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  • en

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