Findings from CEC99 Panel Discussion
Concurrent Engineering in Construction:
Challenges for the New Millennium
Here is a summary of some of the main issues and points raised at the panel discussion.
The expert panel consisted of Davide Nicolini, Bo-Christer Björk, Graham Storer, Biren Prasad, and Matthew Bacon.
The main issues addressed and point raised are presented in a "bullet" format below:
- Concurrent engineering practices should focus on the re-use of information gathered from experience and best practices.
- CE is primarily about people and how to get them working synergistically.
- There is a need to correlate people and processes. Primarily, there is a need to build a bridge between the industry and the academia.
- Technology does not necessarily dominate a CE practice. Rather, its purpose is to provide operational ease and automation support for products and associated processes. Unfortunately, there has been too much focus on the glorification, development, and promotion of technology alone.
- To bring about a revolution, what is needed is integrative technology that builds upon prior versions. What is not needed is subjective technology that focuses only one a small domain or a particular scenario and makes an attempt to override previous technologies.
- There is no value gained in trying to identify and develop point solutions, as they tend to change with each passing day.
- All development efforts should be well documented and "open-ended" to allow for further modification, adaptation, and further development based on personal/organizational needs.
- The main driving force and issue of concern in all CE initiatives is people, not technology. Hence, the underlying objective of the development of tools and techniques should be to support, not replace people.
- The emerging work and research philosophy should be to build upon what is available, and not to reinvent the wheel each and every time. This means that we should share, not conceal our results and findings from each other.
- There is a lack of industry interaction. One possibility is that the industry fails to appreciate the applicability of the research findings of the academia. Another, more probable possibility is that the academia are not really addressing the issues and needs of the industry.
- It is recommended that the research community divert some of their research efforts to interacting with and solving the problems of the industry.
- The research community should undertake research bearing the "customer" in mind. This "customer" is none other than the industry.
- A major obstacle noted in the interaction between the academia and the industry is that they both "speak a different language". Researchers should be invited to visit large organizations and to mutually identify, understand, and then solve the organizations' problems. Smaller organizations can then learn from these solutions and make appropriate adaptation.
- Technology has been blamed to be a barrier to CE. The reality is that the people are the true barriers. They just fail to appropriately understand and manage products, processes, and mainly themselves.
- The key to CE lies in concurrent exploitation of people, technology, processes, and products. This is possible through cohesiveness and commitment by learning from and teaching others, and then taking several steps beyond in search of CE enlightenment.