Concurrent Engineering Approach to the
Process of Selecting Foundation Type
Corresponding Author: Al-jibouri, Saad
Author(s): van Dooren, M. (*), Mawdesley, M.J. (+), Karim, M.J. (*), and Al-jibouri, S.H. (*)
Organisation(s): (*) University of Twente(the Netherlands), (+) University of Nottingham (England)
A customer (owner) for a construction project rarely becomes involved in the detailed choice of the type of foundation to be used. Although not defined explicitly the customer does have demands with respect to the choice of foundation type: he wants the foundation to be strong enough and wants the overall project  to achieve an 'optimum' balance of costs, time, quality, safety, environmental impact and so on. 

Traditionally, the decision on foundation type is most frequently made either by the designer, the specialist sub-contractor or both. In this case they usually try to minimise the cost of the foundation whilst achieving the strength objectives determined by the overall design and taking all the other aspects as constraints.

The traditional approach, as was determined through informal interviews with experts in the field, is based on the assumption that that an 'optimum' foundation will provide an 'optimum' project. For example, the foundation that can be constructed in the shortest time is required to achieve the shortest overall duration of the project for example. However, this method takes no account of the interaction between the foundation and the rest of the project in terms like technology,cost, time, safety and quality. It would therefore be surprising if an optimum project arose. 

Changes are usually made to this process by incremental improvement to the activities involved and  the techniques employed. For example, the development of computer packages to automate the existing process is an improvement of such a type. This however does not solve the problem of employing inefficient procedures and there is still no interaction between the foundation and the rest of the project. Therefore a radical change to current practice is required and this implies the re-engineering of the process of selecting the foundation type. 

This paper is based on on-going research work and describes the re-thinking and re-design of the  process of selecting a foundation type to provide the best project for the customer. It studies and analyses the traditional approach to determine its limitations and shortcomings. Based on the results of this investigation, the importance of the concurrent engineering approach for the integration of design and construction is discussed. A new foundation selection process is proposed. The detailed procedures together with the necessary inputs and outputs are described. The whole process is analysed to show how it can be applied in practice. Finally, the extension of the method to other aspects of construction projects is briefly presented.