Journal of Engineering Design and Technology - latest Issue
Volume 4, Issue 1, 2006
Source: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 1 –15 (2006)More Less
Manpower is the most valuable asset in the construction industry. Based on an examination of literature, selected key data sources, and views from 29 key informants, this paper addresses the important labour resource context related to the construction industry in the case of Hong Kong. These include the trends of the critical indicators of the labour market in construction and the implications of the changing markets and technology on the future pattern of skill requirements, and the government policies on construction personnel. The findings are of immense importance to anyone involved in the construction industry, particularly training organizations and policy makers in their mission to maintain a skilled, competitive and adequate workforce able to meet the future demands of the industry. The changing labour market trends and skill requirements pose challenges for construction personnel in terms of upgrading their skills. Further research is recommended to construct robust models predicting the occupational trends in labour resources for effective manpower planning and to establish a labour market information system which could lead to capturing periodic labour market signals with a view to assisting the process of policy making on various human resource development aspects of construction workforce in Hong Kong.
Source: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 18 –28 (2006)More Less
Construction by its very nature constitutes a challenge in terms of health and safety (H&S) and ergonomics as it exposes workers to a range of health, safety, and ergonomic hazards, manual handling included. Internationally, women constitute a minor percentage of the construction workforce. Furthermore, perceptions exist that women are not suited to construction, that construction work is too physical for women, and that the image of the industry discourages participation by women. Whether or not perceptions are just, they are important as people act on them. A study was initiated to determine perceptions relative to : participation of women in general; their role; their capacity; their impact; their potential contribution; barriers to their participation; and general and gender specific issues. The paper reports on studies conducted in South Africa and Tanzania, the salient findings being : women have a role in construction; increased participation by women will contribute to improving the image of construction; women have requirements related to their gender and roles; some construction materials constitute a manual materials handling problem to women, and current welfare facilities for women (such as medical support or child care) are inadequate. The paper concludes that endeavours are necessary to change attitudes, promote participation by women, accommodate women, and improve conditions, particularly H&S.
Source: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 29 –45 (2006)More Less
Effective management and utilisation of plant history data can considerably improve plant and equipment performance. This rationale underpins statistical and mathematical models for exploiting plant management data more efficiently, but industry has been slow to adopt these models. Reasons proffered for this include : a perception of models being too complex and time consuming; and an inability of their being able to account for dynamism inherent within data sets. To help address this situation, this research developed and tested a web-based data capture and information management system. Specifically, the system represents integration of a web-enabled relational database management system (RDBMS) with a model base management system (MBMS). The RDBMS captures historical data from geographically dispersed plant sites, while the MBMS hosts a set of (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average - ARIMA) time series models to predict plant breakdown. Using a sample of plant history file data, the system and ARIMA predictive capacity were tested. As a measure of model error, the Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD) ranged between 5.34 and 11.07 per cent for the plant items used in the test. The Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) values also showed similar trends, with the prediction model yielding the highest value of 29.79 per cent. The paper concludes with direction for future work, which includes refining the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and developing a Knowledge Based Management System (KBMS) to interface with the RDBMS.
The practice of project management office (PMO) concept within the German architect, engineer, contractor (AEC) sectorSource: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 46 –59 (2006)More Less
The PMO is seen as an organisational entity entrusted to instil Project Management (PM) practices and culture within an organisation and is portrayed as the focal point of PM practices and the locus where an organisation's knowledge management and PM practices intersect. Companies within a range of economic sectors are accommodating this entity in their organisation structures. Whilst the PMO may not appear to be prevalent in the AEC sector, many of the capabilities ascribed to it do exist either separately or in aggregate within AEC organisations. This paper presents the results of a survey, explored the adoption of the PMO concept within main contractors, project management practices, and developers in the German AEC sector. It discusses the roles that this entity can play in the organisations that are aspiring to achieve a higher level of PM competency and maturity. It also investigates the success factors associated with the successful implementation of the PMO construct and reports on some of the challenges faced in implementing the entity together with potential ways of alleviating these challenges. The research identified that there was a high level of awareness of the PMO concept and that there was a high level prevalence of many of capabilities ascribed to PMOs in the organisations sampled. Many of these organisations recognised that the PMO concept as contributing considerably to knowledge management in their organisation.
Source: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 60 –70 (2006)More Less
Civil engineering students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology generally find the final year research project very daunting. In most cases it is the first time that they are not 'learning' passively by sitting in lectures, receiving notes and worked out examples, memorising the material and then writing an examination to demonstrate their 'competency'. Suddenly learning comes by doing, and they are faced with the challenge of executing a significant research project. For students who do not have good management skills, this becomes a very difficult task. To address this problem, staff have, over the past decade, integrated project management with the research project to the extent that it has now become one subject with two final year credits. This means that students learn how to use project management skills to manage the research project, which runs over one year. Project management skills integrated with a rigid structure, complemented by lecturer support in a web-based e-learning environment, has been developed to assist students in completing the research project. This has proved to be very successful and students have commented that without the newly acquired project management skills, they would not have been able to complete the projects on time. The results indicate that the integration of project management skills can relieve the role reversal entrapment problem. However, interventions to prepare the students more adequately must be considered over the first three years of study. The paper presents the historical background to the problem, an overview of how the revised methodology is being implemented, and it indicates how e-learning is used to manage the course.
Source: Journal of Engineering Design and Technology 4, pp 71 –80 (2006)More Less
The resource-based view (RBV) has been used on various industry studies. To examine the resources required to thrive in the private housing development sector in Malaysia, the RBV was similarly utilised. Using a combination of mailed questionnaires and face-to-face interviews, the study identified and ranked fourteen resources by virtue of their ability to exploit opportunities and / or neutralise threats, or in short, value. While the ranking of some of the resources echoe similar past industry studies, others interestingly did not, perhaps due to the unique characteristics of the industry, or even country. New players to the industry can take stock of the findings to maximise their chances of success. The paper ends by recommending that the study be repeated in Malaysia, this time with many more respondent, to confirm the findings. It also proposes that similar studies be conducted in other countries to enable cross-country comparisons to be made.