Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

CESP - ISTforCE Platform

CESP - ISTforCE Platform. The platform which is an IT work place for the individual engineer and the SMEs with all its applications, services and consultancy. It includes all project developments.

The ISTforCE Platform is an innovative, Web-based, user-centred concurrent collaboration and engineering services platform (CESP) for the construction industry, including the following features:

- personalized work place and easy access to data, information and knowledge;
- multi-project participation including legal and administrative support;
- support for setting up of virtual enterprises / consortia;
- easy access to specialised engineering software and design code repositories;
- access to rental engineering services on the Web
- training and online support;
- electronic payment.

*** End-Users and Innovative features ***

The concurrent engineering service platform will offer the user a working environment with the following measurable properties:
1. Independenc - The framework of the platform will make the user independent of any kind of server in the different CE worlds in which he would like to participate in. The services will allow him to attach to any kind of server, to map the data into his unified form and to properly organize his multi-project dependent tasks with his personal planning service. An information logistics management system will support him to keep track of the proper information flow.
2. Individuality - The platform will allow the user to carry out his work according to his preferences and abilities. It will provide him with services and tools with individually configurable and adaptable interfaces and will give him the freedom to choose the sequences of doing his work according to his individual preferences. Plugged into the platform will be intelligent tools and services, which will assist him in handling complex data and information structures.
3. Capability - The platform will increase the user's personal capabilities for sophisticated and specialized engineering work as well as for daily routine work by providing him with just-in-time knowledge related to engineering and the IT system. This will be achieved through knowledge-based assistants and services and an easy access to external engineering services and knowledge repositories (e.g. code libraries) available on the global e-market place.
4. Sustainability - Due to the independence of the platform and the adaptability of the tools and services it will allow the user to accumulate his investments in the platform services according to his personal individual kind of working. The independence of the platform will shield him from the permanent evolution of the CE systems, i.e. new versions, interfaces, semantics and paradigms, which decrease his personal working capacity. This is of utmost importance as engineers often have to work in different environments.

*** Market analysis ***
In building construction 90 % of the projects are performed on short-term basis (1 to 1.5 years). Each project is carried out by new one-off virtual enterprise that are dissolved after the end of the project. The building industry has a lot of experience in virtual enterprising, but it still needs a coherent system that can combine different services for data and process management with a personalized desktop.

Such a system must be capable to manage multi-project participation within the different environments of different virtual enterprises, i.e. different client-server systems. Furthermore, it should provide individual workplaces that are personalisable to individual working styles and sustainable over long time. Services should be focused on the needs of the individual user. They should support his work with task-oriented knowledge, allow him to access knowledge repositories and engineering services available on the Web, and provide the necessary e-commerce tools including e-payment, data security and e-signature. Additionally, the system must support simultaneous participation in different projects, and keep track of the right information flows from the individual user's perspective.
Concurrent engineering in construction strongly needs an ICT environment that meets the above description. The ISTforCE platform is a fully operational prototype of such an environment.

*** Potential Barriers ***
The main barrier to the deployment of the developed new solutions and products is in the required evolution and sociological changes of the way of working. Professionals have to move from paper based way of working to entirely electronically supported model-based processes. Therefore, the partners are aware that considerable efforts have to be invested to achieve final commercial products from the ISTforCE platform.

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