A Decision Framework for Advanced Construction Technology Adoption

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Content: Sepasgozar and Davis
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Call title:
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Construction Management (AFH10)
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Sepasgozar and Davis
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1 A DECISION FRAMEWORK FOR ADVANCED CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY 2 ADOPTION 3 4 5 Samad M. E. Sepasgozar (corresponding author) 6 School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 7 2052, Australia, E-mail: [email protected] 8 9 Steven R. Davis 10 School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia 11 E-mail: [email protected] 12 13 14 15 Word Count: 6,411+ 2 Figures and 2 Tables = 7411 total words 16 17 Submitted for Presentation and Publication 18 at the 94rd Annual Meeting of Transportation Research Board 19
Sepasgozar and Davis
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Abstract
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The construction industry generally has a conservative attitude towards adopting innovations.
3 Previous studies extensively focused on explaining the working of new technologies, and how they
4 can be implemented. However, the process of adoption of new construction technologies by
5 companies for transport infrastructure construction projects such as tunneling is totally unexplored.
6 The purpose of this paper is to present a framework for the adoption process of new advanced
7 technologies in transport infrastructure construction. The framework consists of eight stages that a
8 company passes through in adopting a new technology. A semi-structured interview (SSI) protocol
9 was developed and used to understand the underlying multiple objective decision-making process,
10 and the various stages of the adoption process. Ten construction industry practitioners including
11 railway, tunneling and earthmoving contractors discussed a total of twenty one technologies
12 ranging in cost from $0.75M to $45M, including drilling rigs for bridge construction, blind bore
13 shaft drills for rail development and advanced tunnel boring machines (TBM). The data obtained
14 was analyzed using thematic analysis, and axial and selective coding techniques. The model
15 proposed in the paper ­ referred to here as construction technology adoption framework ­
16 incorporates the identification of solutions, the purchase decision, and the implementation. The
17 novel framework will assist technology policy makers and vendors to better understand the
18 adoption process, and predict customers' decision behavior in order to facilitate and speed up the
19 adoption process in the heavy infrastructure construction industry.
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21 Keywords: Construction management, Transport infrastructure, Tunneling, Advanced technology,
22 Tunnel boring machine.
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Sepasgozar and Davis
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1 INTRODUCTION
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The construction industry is generally risk averse to adopting new technologies thus it has a
3 lower rate of new technology adoption than many other industries (1, 2). A variety of new
4 technologies such as expensive tunnel boring machines, drilling rigs, and track layers are
5 increasingly being introduced to heavy construction projects. The question arises how contractors
6 make decisions to adopt new technology for heavy infrastructure construction, a decision which
7 poses new risks and affects the success of the project in terms of on-time delivery, quality and
8 safety. Another question is whether the adoption process for advanced technologies is different to
9 that for conventional technologies such as earthmoving equipment. For example, how does a
10 construction company make the decision to purchase a tunnel boring machine which might be the
11 major cost for a particular roadway project? Most complex transport infrastructure projects (e.g.
12 underground, highways and railways) need to employ complex plant and equipment (e.g. tunnel
13 boring machines, or multiple core drilling rigs).
14
While the technologies themselves have been studied in the literature, the process of how a
15 construction company makes the decision to adopt these technologies is largely unexplored.
16 Several studies have focused on technology selection or prediction of performance for a particular
17 technology such as cranes (3), earthmoving machinery (4, 5), or concreting equipment (6) utilizing
18 different methods, such as the analytical hierarchy process approach (7). For example, Ulubeyli (8)
19 suggests that the selection of a new concrete pump is mainly based on distance pumped. In
20 addition, they suggest a selection method considering five different criteria (e.g. selling price,
21 operating cost per day, technical services). However, the result of each of these studies is an
22 algorithm for technology choice based on limited factors or technology features. The unfamiliarity
23 of the technology for a construction company, vendor issues, or dynamic factors such as previous
24 performance of both vendor and technology are often ignored. In addition, such studies assume
25 that the technology selection occurs in a single stage, akin to an impulse purchase (8), rather than a
26 multi-stage decision making process, which sometimes takes more than a year in the construction
27 industry, particularly for tunneling. Furthermore, they assume that only a certain group of
28 individuals such as the engineer is going to make the selection whereas usually the decision is
29 driven by more than one person with more than one objective.
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The originality of this paper lies in the examination of the dynamic relationship between the
31 customer and the vendor throughout the multi-stage process. In doing so it considers factors
32 related to the nature of the customer organization, issues regarding the vendor, and project
33 characteristics, and not just factors related to the technology itself. This paper helps to fill a gap in
34 the literature of advanced technology by considering the process a customer passes though,
35 beginning with recognizing the need to adopt a new or advanced technology for use in transport
36 infrastructure construction projects. The findings of the paper will assist vendors to understand the
37 technology adoption process, and facilitate adoption of their technology. Inexperienced contractors
38 can use the process described as a template for their own companies.
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In this paper, first the literature of technology adoption is reviewed. Then, a novel
40 framework considering both customer and vendor viewpoints is presented. Third, the exploratory
41 research method used for collecting and analyzing data is presented. Finally, the results of the
42 study are presented and discussed.
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44 CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION
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Technology is one of the key streams in the transport infrastructure construction literature.
46 Various studies cover the areas of introduction or applications of a new technology in construction
47 (9-11), technology choice and selection (7, 8, 12), acceptance (13), and prediction of performance
48 and implementation of a certain technology (12). However, the overall process of adopting a new
49 advanced construction technology remains unexplored in the construction literature. This section
50 of the paper reviews existing approaches, concepts and models in adoption.
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1 Approaches
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The most detailed examination of new technology adoption has occurred in the information
3 systems (IS) area. In this domain research has taken two perspectives: a psychological perspective
4 (14) and a social perspective (15). The psychological perspective fundamentally relies on
5 technology acceptance models (TAMs) (16). These models are widely used (17-19) to predict the
6 users' behavior to accept information technologies (ITs) and information communication
7 technologies (ICTs). For example, Cheng ((19)) used TAM to study the adoption of mobile
8 ticketing by passengers that travel by high speed rail.
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Research based on TAMs typically involves survey questionnaires regarding information
10 technologies (13, 20-22). The data is gathered using one-shot structured surveys to investigate
11 correlations between factors. This approach is not able to obtain deep understanding of the
12 sequential activities taken by potential adopters.
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The studies that take a social perspective base their work on the diffusion of innovation
14 theory (15), which suggests that five categories of adopters describe the technology spread in a
15 social system: innovators, early adopters, early majority adopters, late majority adopters and
16 laggards. These studies are mostly statistical analyses that are not set in an aggregate framework
17 (23).
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However, most of previous studies assumed that adoption is an event which occurs in one
19 shot. In addition, these perspectives ignore the vendor side in the model. In general, existing
20 studies of technology adoption are not well suited to the question of how an advanced technology is
21 adopted by a construction company. There is therefore, a need to fill this gap in the literature by
22 developing a framework for construction technology adoption in order to understand the process of
23 adoption.
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25 Concepts
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In this paper, technology refers to any tools, plant and equipment for physical construction
27 activities, and advanced technology refers to the latest models of such plant and equipment.
28 Adoption of technology is defined as the steps taken in the process through which the adopter
29 passes to reach a decision to accept or reject a new technology (15).
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31 Proposed Framework
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This paper covers all actions in the adoption process from seeking a possible solution to
33 implementation of the technology into daily construction operations [22], in which both
34 participants ­ vendors and customers ­ exchange information in order to move toward the adoption
35 decision. This process may halt either temporarily (e.g., waiting for more information) or
36 permanently (e.g. rejecting the technology) at any stage.
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The proposed framework takes into consideration previous studies in domains different to
38 construction, and deals with any limitations noticed. For example, the proposed framework uses a
39 multistage adoption process at the organizational level, in place of the existing single-stage
40 psychologically-based views in TAM.
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In addition, the proposed framework also takes into consideration the competitive
42 environment and role of vendors in adoption, issues which have previously been overlooked. The
43 dyadic relationship and the interaction of both sides of the adoption ­ customer and vendor ­ are
44 believed to be significant in the technology transfer (24, 25).
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46 RESEARCH METHOD
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In order to explore the pre-adoption process in construction, the semi-structured interview
48 (SSI) technique was chosen (26). The SSI systematically investigates the process by recruiting
49 preselected interviewees who are experienced and involved in adoption at their company. The data
50 obtained through the interviews is analyzed using thematic analysis. This method is recently has
Sepasgozar and Davis
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1 been popularized in transportation research. For examples, see (27-31). Each interviewee
2 discussed the framework in light of a technology adoption case from their organization. In total 21
3 technology cases were discussed as listed in Table 1.
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TABLE 1 Data profile
6 Technology cases
Number of cases Price $000s Technology class1
Tunnel boring machine
4
15-45000
AT
Tunnel boring system
1
-
AT
Blind bore drilling
1
6500
AT
Multiple core drilling
1
150
AT
Drilling rig
2
540-1820
AT
Excavator
1
120
CT
Eng. gunhead rotates
1
260
AT
Truck
2
200-370
CT
Mobile crane
2
750-2800
CT and AT
Tower crane
2
200-600
CT and AT
Concrete pump
3
90-1400
CT and AT
Front end loader
1
200
CT
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1AT: Advanced technology; CT: Conventional technology
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Semi Structured interviews were used in order to give the interviewees the maximum
10 flexibility to discuss what happens in their organization, rather than to be limited to preselected
11 ideas of the researcher.
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Interviewees were asked about the framework to see if it matched the processes used in their
13 organization. They were then asked probing questions to get details of their typical actions. Finally
14 they were asked about the framework again to see if their opinion had changed based on the deeper
15 discussion.
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17 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
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The analysis and results of the rich data obtained from the 12 interviewees is presented in this
19 section.
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Interview transcripts were broken down into concepts. Codes were applied to these concepts
21 and then sorted and collected into themes [22]. Each theme was examined for meaningfulness. It
22 was found that the meaningful themes corresponded to the stages in the framework. Thus the
23 findings support the proposed model for technology adoption. However, differences in emphasis
24 on different stages were found between conventional and advanced technologies.
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This section will first describe the process for conventional technologies and then highlight
26 the differences when an advanced technology is involved.
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28 Framework Development for Construction Technology Adoption
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The findings reveal that there are groups of technologies which follow similar procedures
30 which begin with identifying the need to implementation in a construction project. As expected the
31 adoption process can be modelled as a multi-stage decision. The proposed model was applied to 21
32 technologies and found to generally fit, with minor modifications. However, the analysis reveals
33 that the stages have different levels of importance for different technologies.
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The interviewees verified that communication between both customer (contractor or
35 construction equipment supplier) and vendor can greatly facilitate the adoption process. The
36 investigation showed that at least one kind of communication, such as face-to-face discussion,
Sepasgozar and Davis
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1 telephone conversation, or email exchange of information (e.g. document, drawing, specification,
2 etc.), occurred in each stage of the process. This dyadic relationship is ignored in the adoption and
3 diffusion literature in construction, although it is reported that vendors have a positive role in a
4 successful adoption (32).
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The adoption process begins with a need. It rarely happens that a construction company
6 purchases construction technology because of emotional reasons, (while it is reported that in some
7 areas outside construction, such as Information Technology, the adopter will sometimes purchase a
8 technology and then invent a need for the purchased technology (15)).
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Following the need recognition, the potential adopter begins by identifying potential
10 solutions (Stage 1) and studying them (Stage 2). From the other side, vendors offer potential
11 solutions to customers, and provide knowledge about the technology and its functionality. In Stage
12 3, the customer compares the features, advantages and benefits of the available technologies, while
13 the vendor tries to induce the customer towards the vendor's own brand.
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After collecting the required information about the technology (both technical and
15 commercial aspects), the customer begins to analyze it (Stage 4). At the same time, vendors
16 continue to communicate and exchange information and negotiate terms and conditions. In some
17 cases, the customer asks for a practical evaluation (Stage 5) such as a trial or test. The vendor will
18 often be involved in this trial, both loaning the technology and providing personnel to help run the
19 test. Sometimes, vendors provide references from previous customers instead. Next, the customer
20 makes the adoption decision of whether or not to purchase the nominated technology (Stage 6).
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The final stages are implementation (S7) and assessment (S8). Vendors deliver the
22 technology, operate the technology, and train customers in the implementation of the technology,
23 and finally help them in the assessment period by customization and upgrading the technology.
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25 Advanced Technologies Adoption
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Several differences were seen in the adoption process for advanced technologies. These
27 differences were not about the stages themselves; rather they involve some changes to the activities
28 conducted in some of the stages and the relative importance of various stages. Differences
29 emerged between standard advanced technologies (SAT) and unique advanced technologies
30 (UAT).
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The SAT group of technologies is those that are manufactured as standard units. That is, the
32 plant or equipment has already been designed, although due to unpredictable demand the
33 manufacture may not start until an order is placed. Examples of SAT in the sample are the latest
34 models of trucks and excavators.
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UAT technologies require major customizing and thus are not usually designed until an order
36 is placed. Examples of UAT in the sample are blind bore drilling equipment or tunnel boring
37 machines. The process of adoption for UAT technologies (e.g. underground equipment) often
38 takes longer than twelve months.
39
The interviews showed that the adoption process for the SAT technologies is similar to the
40 basic framework as used for conventional technologies; larger differences are found in the
41 processes of customers of UAT technologies.
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The adoption process for both types of advanced technology often starts with a need, such as
43 a request for proposal (RFP) from a client (shown in Figure 1 as 1) some months before beginning
44 the project. This contrasts with conventional technologies where the contractor usually recognizes
45 the need without client input or any specific demand. Decisions to investigate conventional
46 technologies such as a truck or front end loader are not begun until after the contract is awarded.
47 The following sections discuss the differences between the adoption processes for both standard
48 and unique advanced technologies in each stage of the framework. Figure 1 shows a schematic of
49 the various stages involved.
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Sepasgozar and Davis
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Client 1 Shortlist
Award contract
Delivery
Project 4
2 Contractor Stage3 Stage2 Stage1
Stage8
Stage6 Stage5
Stage7 Agreement
Stage4
Predesign
3 Vendor
Solution conceptualisation
Adoption decision
1
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FIGURE 1 Schematic of the framework for advanced technologies.
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4 Solution Conceptualisation
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The first three stages of the framework revolve around conceptualization of the solution.
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Stage1: Identification of Potential Solutions. It can be extremely important to identify
8 enough choices during this stage, so that an organization does not get trapped into a less than
9 optimal technology. This is particularly an issue for tunneling and underground tasks. The reason
10 is that the construction method is dictated by the technology. For example, if a project decides to
11 use a TBM, then the method of construction will be completely different to the method for drill and
12 blasting. In contrast to conventional technologies, in which usually a number of competitors are
13 available, the number of UAT vendors for specific methods is often limited. A plant manager
14 notes: "[at this stage] if you are lucky [you have] 3 or 4 [quotes], if you are not so lucky you have
15 only one. But that still doesn't settle the vendor discussion; because once the project really starts
16 what happens is that the bid team and the project execution team are not the same."
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It was found that for a nominated project (which has not been awarded to any contractor yet),
18 different prospective contractors propose a variety of technological solutions. A TBM operator
19 described it as "[in our project two bidders] proposed two different types of TBM and the third
20 vendor looked at a drill and blast solution. Which technology was used was clearly defined by the
21 construction companies." The sales manager of the TBM manufacturer used in this project
22 explained the vendor's perspective: "In this process you have a number of contractors doing the
23 same thing in parallel. We deal with all of them and they may want different solutions for the same
24 project. Contractor A says `Our impression of the geology is this and the type of the machine we
25 want is one of these'. Contractor B maybe wants another type. ... There is an overlap between the
26 capabilities of the machines. One might ask for a single shield machine, another for a double
27 shield machine, [one is cheaper, while the other is faster] All these things start happening way back
28 [before the project starts]. ... Contractor A is thinking `I have a better bid. I can build this thing
29 faster'. ... The client would have 4-5 bids [to choose from]."
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Overall, adoption of UAT is more complex than SAT or conventional technology, because
2 commonly multiple solutions will be identified by different prospective contractors, none of whom
3 have actually been awarded the project yet. There is a client who has a more or less developed idea
4 of what the need that should be satisfied is, but does not necessarily care how it is constructed.
5 There are contractors, who based on discussions with the client, have approximate ideas of what
6 the project needs to be and some technical understanding of how to do that sort of work. Finally
7 there is a vendor, who from discussions with individual contractors, is trying to work out how they
8 can provide a solution to the problem that will satisfy the needs of the client and the contractor.
9
Solutions are not certain or clearly defined at this stage, and most of technologies do not exist
10 yet. The contractors are not sure if eventually they will need to buy such a technology until the
11 client awards them the contract. However, contractors and vendors communicate to work out the
12 technology and estimate the technology price as part of the contractor's bidding process. Another
13 difference is that the technology is a major part of the whole solution or construction method, and
14 technology identification in this stage is a central part of the proposal.
15
Stage 2: Study of Technology. The interviewees verify that a customer has to collect
16 information about potential solutions. The study at this stage is not about details, and a customer
17 usually collects information about the technology in terms of overall functionality, capacity and the
18 main features of identified technologies. At this stage the project details are often fairly general
19 and unrefined (e.g. geotechnical information may be limited) and so there is not enough
20 information to fully design the UAT anyway.
21
Stage 3: Examine Potential of Solutions. Customers usually examine the potential of each
22 solution from various perspectives. They compare the potential of identified solutions in terms of
23 functionality, time and cost. Customers of SATs make a short list of vendors, and examine the
24 potential of solutions for further analysis, similar to conventional technologies. This further
25 analysis will be made by the contractor after the project is awarded, which may be several months
26 later.
27
In contrast, UAT customers examine the potentials of several solutions, and then select one to
28 base their bid around. Thus, the initial adoption decision by the potential adopter (contractor) is
29 being made at this stage (i.e. much earlier than for SAT). The client then makes the decision about
30 which contractor to engage. The vendor who closely worked with the winning contractor then has
31 a high likelihood of being engaged by the project contractor if they win the job.
32
UAT technologies are extremely project driven. Without the specific project there is no need
33 for the specific technology. This is not such a factor for SAT technologies, as they may be able to
34 be used in other similar projects.
35
Once a contractor is chosen by the client, then the contractor has a limited time to start the
36 project. Therefore, the contractor moves on to analyzing information and making the adoption
37 decision.
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39 Detailed Analysis and Decision
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The next three stages involve analysis, evaluation and a final decision.
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Stage 4: Information Analysis. Given that the contractor has now been awarded the
42 contract and has certainty that they need to do the work they will spend more effort collecting
43 information about the technologies that they are considering for the project in order to make a
44 better decision. This information will cover both technical and commercial aspects. The vendor
45 responds by providing this information and precise costs.
46
A vendor manager notes: "We do refinement of specification, getting down line by line
47 description of what makes the TBM. What is the major components, pumps, hoses, cutter head,
48 etc. [This is done in] huge detail ... [The contractor] derives a list, issues the time; quality is
49 sacrificed sometimes, because of time. ... We start the process with them, we call pre-design in
50 advance of the award, and we start the engineering design process"
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Stage 5: Practical Evaluation. Given that adoption of advanced technology will probably
2 have a large impact on the outcomes of the project, customers usually require assurance at this
3 stage that the technology will be appropriate for the project. Preferably they would like to see the
4 technology working first hand.
5
In the conventional technology case the vendor will usually loan the equipment to the
6 potential customer for a few days for the contractor to try it out. In the SAT case, if equipment
7 happens to be available the vendor will organize a demonstration for the customer, otherwise they
8 may organize for the customer to see the equipment in operation at another customer's site.
9
In contrast, with UATs it is not possible for the customer to test or practically evaluate the
10 technology, since it does not yet exist. This problem is dealt with by providing customers with a
11 list of references from previous customers. This list and what the previous customers say are
12 critical in this stage. A plant manager reported: "in some cases we are not able to have references
13 from other projects and we just call up plant engineers: What they did for you? Where they ok or
14 not? ... If anybody says that they [vendor] left us in the lurch that usually is the end of it. That is
15 very important ­ the support ­ and making sure it all works ... is an extremely important aspect for
16 us."
17
Stage 6: Adoption Decision. This stage has been recognized as one of the most important
18 stages for all technologies. Not reaching this stage is effectively deciding to not adopt any
19 technology. At this stage the customer may negotiate for more after sales services, and add penalty
20 clauses to the contract. In some cases they try to transfer all risks related to performance of the
21 technology to the vendor. A plant manager of a tunneling contractor notes: "all these projects have
22 quite massive penalties for exceeding the finishing dates or one of the bad penalties to start with, if
23 you are running a site like this, you might have running cost, the cost of people and keeping them
24 one day ... you have a quite massive cost. The daily cost is much more than $100 000 ..."
25
On the other hand, vendors resist accepting such risks as they may be associated with
26 unknown ground conditions or other project attributes over which the vendor has no control.
27 Customers and vendors meet to negotiate to get agreement about the commercials aspects of the
28 agreement, and contract terms and conditions.
29
The interviewees were in agreement that this stage is more complex and critical for a UAT
30 customer than for a SAT or conventional technology customer, and often takes a much longer time.
31 Sometimes this stage overlaps with the two previous stages.
32
33 Implementation and Assessment
34
The technology adoption process is not complete when the decision to adopt a specific
35 technology is made. The organization still has to implement the technology for itself and assess
36 how it works.
37
Stage 7: Implementation. In this stage the contractor uses the technology on the project. In
38 the time between the awarding of the contract and delivery of the technology the customer will be
39 preparing to use the technology through training of its personnel and possibly inspection and
40 testing of the technology as it is being built. When the technology is built, then the vendor will test
41 it before delivery. Other activities at this stage include transportation, modification of other aspects
42 of the project to be compatible with the technology, assembly and set up at the site, dry or wet
43 testing, and commissioning. A plant manager of a tunnel boring machine (TBM): "we shift the
44 machine to Australia, and when the TBM arrived in Australia we unpacked and assembled it
45 underground at [the site]."
46
Since the implementation stage is the whole point of the adoption process, it has a large
47 impact on all of the other stages. Implementation of a new technology is often difficult because
48 staff from the organization have not used the technology before. This may be at the higher level of
49 it being a completely new technology that the organization is unfamiliar with, or at a simpler level,
50 that the new machinery is different to machinery that they have used before and has new quirks and
Sepasgozar and Davis
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1 idiosyncrasies. Furthermore the organization will often need to modify systems or set up new
2 systems to accommodate the new equipment and it may take a while before these systems function
3 smoothly.
4
Therefore at all of the earlier stages questions will have been asked such as: Does the
5 technology deliver the functionality? Does the vendor train our operators? How reliable will the
6 machine performance be? How does the vendor service the machine (e.g. solve technical
7 problems, repair break downs, provide spare parts)? The decision maker has to consider how the
8 decisions in each stage would affect the outcome of the adoption process and finally the
9 implementation, and the probable impact of the delivery in terms of time and cost.
10
Stage 8: Assessment. The interviewees pointed out the importance of regularly assessing the
11 technology. Previous studies define adoption as being successful if the adopter fully and
12 continuously uses the technology (15). This definition needs to be modified somewhat for
13 advanced technologies because customers usually change some components of a unique advanced
14 technology such as TBM or blind bore drilling equipment during implementation on site. The
15 reason for this is that the operating team usually was not available during the early stages of
16 identification of solutions or pre-design. In addition, the job conditions such as geology may be
17 different to that expected, and this new information will require customization of the machine. In
18 this case, the technology as whole is implemented, while some components of the machine, which
19 are technologies themselves, are rejected. It rarely occurs that a huge TBM is rejected. However,
20 during implementation vendor support usually includes modifications to increase speed or
21 productivity. This kind of customization and modification rarely occurs for standard advanced
22 technologies such as the state-of-the-art of mobile cranes. A plant manager of a contractor for an
23 infrastructure company notes: "We designed and built a drill rig, ... to design and build it was
24 something near the $65 million mark. I wouldn't say that is entirely the complete sum, because we
25 had to add parts along the way as we went through a commissioning and installation phase."
26
Therefore, UAT adoption often doesn't have a fixed price, while the cost of SATs often is
27 estimated fairly accurately. The assessment stage commonly results in modifications to UATs
28 features or components, while for SATs the major components that are related to the main function
29 of the machine rarely change. However, the assessment is still useful as feedback for the vendor,
30 which can be considered for future production.
31
One plant manager described the initial assessment phase for his TBM: "The first formal
32 testing starts with a factory acceptance test. This is the performance of the machine against its
33 design operational parameters. This is a dry test that doesn't cut any rock and was done in
34 Germany. ... When it arrived in Australia it was assembled underground and went through another
35 dry test to check what had been done in Germany and to ensure nothing had changed in transit. ...
36 We then went into a wet commissioning phase in rock."
37
The same plant manager discussed the importance of ongoing testing: "because the machine
38 has not been built or used before, and as we use and learn more about the machine we had to
39 change the schedule [based on the productivity information obtained]."
40
41 COMPARISON BETWEEN CONVENTIONAL AND ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES
42
The interviewees were asked to evaluate the influence of each proposed factor in the adoption
43 decision by using a scale of high, medium, low, and not applicable. The interviewees' were asked
44 about conventional and advanced technologies separately. Results are presented in Table 2.
45
Sepasgozar and Davis
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1
TABLE 2 Importance of technology attributes
2
% of times ranked "high"
G
Factors
Conventional
Advanced
1
Technology features
83
90
2
Compatibility
67
80
3
Versatility
50
40
4
Ease of use
100
90
5
Reliability
100
100
6
Performance quality
83
100
7
Model
33
40
8
Availability
83
70
9
Durability
100
100
10
Emission
50
20
3
4
The comparison shows that all variables are supported by interviewees as influential factors.
5 The main differences are that ease of use and environmental aspects are more important for
6 conventional technology customers, while performance quality is more important for advanced
7 technology customers. However, most of the factors apparently do not have substantial differences
8 in importance.
9
10 Importance of Stages
11
The study finds that a customer passes through eight stages to utilize a technology. However,
12 further investigation reveals that there are differences in the level of importance of each stage for
13 conventional and advanced technologies. Interviewees were asked about the importance of each
14 stage in the process. Answers were scored as high (3), medium (2) and low (1). Results were
15 averaged and are plotted in Figure 2.
16
17 18
19
FIGURE 2 Importance of adoption stages for conventional and advanced technologies.
20
21
Figure 2 shows that all stages in the process, except for Stage 5, Practical Evaluation are
22 considered more important for advanced technologies than for conventional technologies. It is also
23 seen that the pattern of importance is quite similar, stages that are more important for conventional
24 technologies are also more important for advanced technologies.
25
This pattern is important for vendors to know so that they can decide when they should put
26 more effort, or for which stage they should provide more resources and support for the decision
Sepasgozar and Davis
13
1 maker. It may imply that vendor's business behavior during the implementation period (i.e., after
2 sales services in previous jobs) at stage 7 might be more important than their effort to induce the
3 customer to select their product at stage 3. This finding is different to other areas such as IT and
4 IS, in which vendor persuasion is a key step in the adoption process (15).
5
6 CONCLUSION
7
The presented framework provides a deep insight into the technology adoption process in
8 construction. It offers a systematic framework that describes the stages that a construction
9 company passes through in making adoption decisions, from identification of a solution to
10 implementation. In addition, the framework considers the vendors' role, and communication with
11 customers along the adoption process. This is the first empirical study on the adoption process of
12 advanced technologies in construction; other adoption studies do not investigate the systematic
13 staging of adoption. Instead, they assume that the adoption occurs in a single stage or they are
14 focused on the adoption of information technology rather than construction technology. The
15 framework in this paper makes a novel contribution at both the theoretical and practical level. At
16 the theoretical level, it describes the interaction between the customer and the vendor in more detail
17 than previously. At a practical level, inexperienced customers can use the framework as a basis of
18 their own processes, and vendors can use this understanding of customer processes to more
19 effectively target their own efforts to influence customers to adopt their technology and support
20 them afterward to build up their reputation.
21
The limitation of this paper is that the number of interviewees is rather limited, both in
22 sample size and in the range of technologies covered. Future work will involve interviewing more
23 people from a wider range of construction industries to see how well the results stand up and
24 generalize.
25
Also a wider range of factors will be investigated including vendor and company factors and
26 the attributes of the projects that the technology will be used.
27
28
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