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DEVELOPMENT OF A WEB-BASED DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR MATERIALS SELECTION IN CONSTRUCTION

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									  International Journal of Civil Engineering and CIVIL ENGINEERING – 6308
  INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 AND
  (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME
                            TECHNOLOGY (IJCIET)
ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print)
ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online)
Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), pp. 177-188
                                                                                IJCIET
© IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijciet.asp
Journal Impact Factor (2013): 5.3277 (Calculated by GISI)                    © IAEME
www.jifactor.com




   DEVELOPMENT OF A WEB-BASED DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM
        FOR MATERIALS SELECTION IN CONSTRUCTION
                      ENGINEERING

                                          Mansour N. Jadid
                 Associate Professor, General Supervisor for the University Projects
                          Department of Building Science and Technology
                                 P. O. Box 30973, Alkhobar 31952
                         University of Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia


   ABSTRACT

           The rapid advance of information technology, especially in Internet and Web-based
   technologies, in recent years has encouraged the development and integration of various
   technologies for a number of application domains, mainly in architecture, engineering,
   construction, and other disciplines. This paper develops a framework using a Web-based
   system inside a materials selection decision support system for projects under design or
   construction. In addition, the paper focuses on automating the materials selection process
   using a Web-based approach to make information available to project participants in different
   locations. The proposed system includes database and decision support components that
   effectively handle materials approval, selection criteria, and materials information
   management. The building materials database can store, manipulate, and manage data on
   suppliers and manufacturers which can be used for evaluation. This building materials
   database provides information to the decision support components. The proposed decision
   support component relies on the quantitative methods of value engineering. The construction
   process must consider various kinds of materials because materials selection is significant for
   cost control as well as for the environment. To select the right materials and to avoid delays
   in project completion, all parties should possess and manage applicable knowledge from
   many disciplines.

   Keywords: Construction, Decision, Development, Materials, Selection, Web-based, Support
   system.


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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

1.     INTRODUCTION

        Materials selection is an essential activity early in the engineering design consultant
stage and during the construction process. This process starts at the beginning of the design
stage and affects the function of the designed part as well as the cost of the final product. It is
important for the designer consultant to consider materials selection in the early conceptual
design stage to generate the necessary tender documents. Integrating decision support ideas
and Web-based applications into materials selection for projects under design or construction
is essential to support a collaborative creation and management environment. Web-based
application and decision support concepts have been integrated to develop an efficient Web
application for prequalification tendering processes.
        The construction industry is one of the largest and most complex industries, involving
many participants and several phases and requiring a diverse range of knowledge and
specialized services. In this environment, it is not easy to control and manage construction
projects effectively. The construction industry is expanding globally and therefore requires a
Web-based decision support system so that it can evolve over time and be managed
effectively. High quality materials are generally recommended because high initial cost is
often offset by reduced maintenance requirements.
        A Web-based system is proposed for an online materials and supplier database that
could be used by consultants, supervisors, and clients to select appropriate materials and
suppliers. Using a Web-based approach for the database incorporated in the proposed
materials selection decision support system makes it possible to provide information to
project participants in different locations. The issues of materials approval, selection, and
information management are the main focus of this paper. Wide participation is needed to
update the sources of information to feed into a materials selection decision support system.
Wang [1] evaluated the intensity of construction land use using the Delphi method combined
with qualitative and quantitative analysis and an evaluation index system. Quantitative
decision support systems have been applied in a wide variety of disciplines. El-Gafy et al.
[2] developed a decision support system for evaluating groundwater quality and managing
water use. It identified water quality problems and their impact for the benefit of the public
and of specialist and non specialist decision makers. Another study by Lee et al. [3]
proposed a decision support system for a large apartment building project in which the clients
could make cost based decisions that met requirements, while the builders controlled both
resource planning and interior design construction costs. A computer-aided material
selection system for aircraft design using a Web-based interface was introduced by Lan et al.
[4] by applying a materials selection strategy that combined screening and ranking methods.
   Project construction involves executing a number of activities from drawings,
specifications, and details of the bill of quantities and materials properties according to the
Construction Specification Institute [5] or a similar standard format. Therefore, it would be of
significant importance to enhance the functionality of the materials selection process to
enable choice of appropriate materials that are environmentally friendly and suitable for day-
to-day operation and ease of maintenance.




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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

2.     MATERIALS SELECTION PROCEDURE

        The materials selection procedure is a multi-attribute decision making problem, and
these decisions are made during the early design stages of a project. The criteria for materials
selection may differ from one project to another and depend on the geographic location of the
project. To implement these activities, the construction company needs specific resources,
including materials, equipment, labor, technicians, engineers, and technical support. An
original procedure for materials selection in mechanical design was developed and
implemented in software by Ashby and Cebon [6]. The procedure involved the use of
materials selection charts which displayed material property data including performance
indices. Jadid and Badrah [7] established that materials selection significantly affects the
sustainability of a project and can markedly reduce the impact of a project on the
environment. The authors also suggested the following criteria for materials selection:
   a) durability
   b) maintainability
   c) sustainability
   d) aesthetic appeal
   e) adaptability
   f) lack of toxicity
   g) cost efficiency.

       These can help decision-making by making it possible to consider a larger number of
material options and to compare them with regard to their efficiency and effectiveness. It is
of significant importance to enhance the functionality of the materials selection process and
to choose the proper materials that are environmentally friendly and suitable for day-to-day
operation and ease of maintenance. With this valuable information, the decision can be
optimized by integrating the various contributions, as shown in Figure 1.




                                                  Theories




                              Experiences
                                             Decision


                                                   Manufactures`
                                                   Documentations




                              Figure 1. Optimal decision-making.


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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

3.     MATERIALS SELECTION USING A WEB-BASED SYSTEM

        The proposed materials-selection decision support system uses a set of weighted
criteria. The major source of input data for this system is a central database developed from
previous and current projects, as shown in Figure 2, Jadid and Badrah [7]. The database
could be used by many large organizations that own and develop facilities, such as health
ministries, educational institutions, and large infrastructure projects. A large amount of
information exists about materials and systems, but if this information is not recorded, it
cannot be used to formulate knowledge. This database is assumed to be centrally managed at
the senior level of corporate administration (design team, project management).




             Figure 2. Flowchart of decision support system, Jadid and Badrah [7].

4.     APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT

       A system configuration for a materials database proposed by Chun et al. [8] consisted
mainly of a client, a Web server, and a database, as shown in Figure 3. The system could run
on a variety of platforms and frameworks and could provide a standard means of
interoperation between different applications and software.




                   Figure 3. Web server and database Chun et al. [8] 2007.

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(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

       Burbeck [9] described two variations of a model-view controller (MVC), a passive
model and an active model, in an application programmed in Smalltalk-80, as shown in
Figure 4. The application uses MVC V3 to create the Internet application and Razor as a
view engine. Within the MVC, the term “model” refers to the objects that represent the
application data and the corresponding domain logic that integrates validation and business
rules. The controller interprets inputs from the user, informing the model, the view, or both
to change as appropriate and the view to handle the display of information.



                                                                          Users
                                                                 Input
                                              Controller
                  Model


                                      Notifications                  Output
            Updates


             Data Access Layer          Presentation Model                View

                 Domain                 Application Logic       Presentation


                                 Figure 4. Model Conceptual Entity


          In an MVC controller with read, write, and view functions, the controller is
responsible for controlling how a user interacts with an MVC application. The SQL server
database is added to App_data. A set of classes provides a database model to represent the
database. The models support a variety of data access technologies, including LINQ to
Entities, LINQ to SQL, and NHibernate.

4.1    Development of the Conceptual Entity Model

        There are three ways to work with data in the entity framework:
    • database first
    • model first
    • code first.
        If the database has already been created, the entity framework can automatically
generate a data model consisting of classes and properties. In the model-first approach, the
entity framework designer generates DDL (data definition language) statements to create the
database, as shown in Figure 5. The detailed development of such an application is
summarized in Appendix A.



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(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME




                              Figure 5. Conceptual entity model.

        This research uses the code-first method, which is a new development approach in the
entity framework stack that can simplify the understanding and maintenance of the domain
model Flink [10]. In the code-first approach, the mapping between the stored schema and the
model is represented by the code. The entity framework can automatically create the
database or delete and re-create it if the model changes In the Application_Start method of
Global.asax.cs, an entity framework method is invoked to run the database initializer code
using Database.SetInitializer and to create a new instance of materialInitializer() from
MaterialContext, as shown in Figure 6.




                       Figure 6: Initializing the database with test data.

4.2 Controller for Material Class

        The DbSet property for each entity set, which corresponds to a database table, is
created, with an entity corresponding to a row in the table in the entity framework. A
MaterialController is added to the project using the entity framework with read/write actions
and views. The model class used is EvalMaterial.Models; the data context class used is
MaterialContext, and Razor is used for creating the material controller, as shown in Figure 7.
The controller also creates the views for the material class, including Create, Delete, Details,
Edit, and Index.cshtml.


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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME




                           Figure 7: Adding a material controller.


       In practice, it is suggested to store the images to the file system rather than in the
database. The images of each material were renamed to its MaterialID and uploaded using
HttpPostedFileBaseClass, as shown in Figure 8. This serves as the base class for classes that
provides access to individual files that have been uploaded by a client Microsoft Corporation
[11].




                   Figure 8: Controller creates method with image handling.




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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

4.3    Create View for Materials

       The statement at the beginning of the Create View defines the file enctype, controller
name, and the method to be used to handle the file.

@using (Html.BeginForm("Create","Material",FormMethod.Post, new {enctype =
"multipart/form-data"}))

   An input-type file is also defined using the following statement in the Create View, and
the DbSet property for each entity set is created.

<inputtype="file"name="file"/>

        A filtering functionality is added to the Material Index View by added a searchString
parameter to the Index method and a where clause to the LINQ statement. The
PagedListNugetpackage also includes a PagedList, which makes it easier for .Net developers
to write paging code. It enables the user to take any IEnumerable (T) and to specify the page
size and the desired page index MVC3 [12], as shown in Figure 9.




                            Figure 9: Create View for new materials


4.4    Viewing Materials for Evaluation

       The scaffold template is used to create list, detail, edit, and delete views based on the
master layout. Each material can have several evaluations. The Evaluation view is created
using the Razor view engine, and the Strongly-Typed view is selected for the Evaluation
Model class, as shown in Figure 10. Figure 11 shows the creation of the Evaluation view
using the Razor view engine.


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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME




                              Figure 10: Materials ListView.




                         Figure 11: Creation of Evaluation View

      The Evaluation list submitted for a particular supplier is shown in Figure 12




                  Figure 12: Material evaluation for a particular supplier

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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

5.     MATERIALS SELECTION AND WEB-BASED EVALUATION RESULTS

        Miles [13] has proposed a qualitative value engineering method to evaluate
alternatives for the manufacturing industries. The method includes comparing several
options against weighted criteria and multiplying the satisfaction factor of each criterion
or option by a criterion weight and summing the results to obtain a total score for each
option. The option with the highest score is the optimum.
        The detailed study involved materials selection for the construction industry for
projects under design or construction and used an automated Web-based approach to help
all participants in different site locations make the most feasible selection. In this work, it
has been demonstrated that a participant or user can be supported in finding feasible
materials required by a system which can assist the user within a Web-based
environment. In addition, this work represents an effort to link materials selection with a
Web-based system which can potentially assist the user in improving the process for
ongoing projects. By introducing this Web-based decision support system and making it
adaptable to the user, this development approach has simplified the materials selection
process in a professional and user-friendly way.

6.     SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

        Much information on materials and systems is acquired during the life span of a
project (design, construction, and services). This information, if not recorded, cannot be
used to formulate knowledge. Acquiring and recording information (in a database) on
material and system quality, durability, specifications, and maintenance requirements is
vital for obtaining high-quality materials.
        This paper has demonstrated the potential of developing a Web-based materials
selection decision support system for use in construction engineering. It has proposed a
structure for a materials selection decision support system that can be used by consultants
(designers and supervisors). The system includes a database which is used as a source of
information for the decision support component. One of the most important decisions
made during construction is the selection of materials to be used. A number of materials
selection criteria have been identified from previous knowledge, such as durability,
maintainability, sustainability, aesthetics, adaptability, lack of toxicity, and cost
efficiency. These have helped decision-making by making it possible to consider and
compare a larger number of material options with regard to their efficiency and
effectiveness. The proposed Web-based materials selection database offers many
advantages over traditional databases because it encourages greater standardization in the
materials selection process for construction engineering.




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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

APPENDIX A

A.1.   The Model Classes

        The model classes created in the model folder include Material, Discipline,
Evaluation, Supplier, and Manufacturer. There is a one-to-many relationship between
Discipline, Supplier, and Manufacturer with Material entities, and there is a one-to-many
relationship between Material and Evaluation entities. As shown in Figure A.1, the
Evaluations property in the Material class is a navigation property with type ICollection. This
property holds all the Evaluation entities that are related to that Material entity. The
SupplierID, ManufacturerID, and DisciplineID are foreign keys, and the Material entity is
associated with one each of Supplier, Manufacturer, and Discipline entities.




               Figure A.1:Materialclass with ICollectionevaluation property.

A.2.    Database Context Class
       The database context class coordinates the entity framework with the data model in
the database which is derived from the system. The Data.Entity.DbContext class is shown in
Figure A.2.




                      Figure A.2: System.Data.Entity.DbContext class.



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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 4, Issue 2, March - April (2013), © IAEME

7.     REFERENCES

[1] Wang L. (2011), “A Study on the Evaluation of Intensive Construction Land Use in
 Hanzhong City”, Water Resource and Environmental Protection (ISWREP), International
 Symposium on IEEE Xplore Digital Library, Vol. 4, pp. 3173-3176.
[2] El-Gafy, I., Farid, M., El-Bahrawy, A., Khalifa, A., El-Basiony, E., Abdelmotaleb, M.
 (2005), “Decision Support System for Evaluating Groundwater Quality”, Emirates Journal
 for Engineering Research, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 69-78.
[3] Lee, H.-K., Lee, Y.-S., Kim, J.-J. (2008), “A Cost-based Interior Design Decision-support
 System for Large-scale Housing Projects”, ITcon, Vol. 1, pp. 20-38.
[4] Lan, Y.,Guan, Z.,Jiao, Q., (2011), “A Web-based Computer-aided Material-selection
 System for Aircraft Design, Journal of Computers, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp. 976-983.
[5] Construction Specification Institute (2013), “Masterformat 1998”, http://www.csinet.org,
 (Viewed January 2013).
[6] Ashby, M. and Cebon, D. (1993), “Materials Selection in Mechanical Design”, 3rd
 European Conference on Advanced Materials and Processes, Paris, Vol. 3, No., C7, pp. C7-
 1-C7-9.
[7] Jadid, M. and Badrah, M. (2012), “Decision Support System Approach for Construction
 Materials Selection”, 2012 Proceedings of the Symposium on Simulation for Architecture
 and Urban Design, Orlando FL, pp. 13-19.
[8] Chun, D-M., Kim, H-J., Lee, J-C. Ahn, S-H. (2007), “Web-based Material Database for
 Material Selection and its Application Programming Interface (API) for CAD”, Key
 Engineering Materials, Vols. 345-346, pp. 1593-1596.
[9] Burbeck, S. (1992), “Application Programming in Smalltalk-80: How to Use Model-
 View-Controller (MVC)”, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Smalltalk
 Archive, http://st-www.cs.illinois.edu/users/smarch/st-docs/mvc.html, (Viewed January
 2013).
[10] Flink, G. (2013), “Not Just a Designer: Code First in Entity Framework”, Visual Studio
 Experts Solutions for .Net Development,
 http://visualstudiomagazine.com/articles/2011/05/01/pfint_ef-code-first.aspx, (Viewed
 January 2013).
[11] Microsoft Corporation (2013), “MSDN Worldwide”, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-
 us/library/system.web.httppostedfilebase.aspx, (viewed January 2013).
[12]        MVC3           (2103),        “Dynamic          Search        Paging       Using
 PagedList,http://nuget.org/packages/PagedList, (viewed March 2013).
[13] Miles, L. (1989), “Techniques of Value Analysis and Engineering”,
 http://wendt.Library.wisc.edu/miles/index.html.
[14] M. Vijaya Sekhar Reddy, Dr. I.V. Ramana Reddy and N.Krishna Murthy, “Durability
 Of Standard Concrete Incorporating Supplementary Cementing Materials Using Rapid
 Chloride Permeability Test”, International Journal of Civil Engineering & Technology
 (IJCIET), Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 373 - 379, ISSN Print: 0976 – 6308, ISSN Online:
 0976 - 6316.
[15]     N. Krishna Murthy, A.V. Narasimha Rao, I .V. Ramana Reddy, M. Vijaya Sekhar
 Reddy and P. Ramesh, “Properties of Materials used in Self Compacting Concrete (SCC)”,
 International Journal of Civil Engineering & Technology (IJCIET), Volume 3, Issue 2,
 2012, pp. 353 - 368, ISSN Print: 0976 – 6308, ISSN Online: 0976 - 6316.

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