AN INTEGRATED MOBILE MATERIAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR CONSTRUCTION SITES

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Proceedings of the CIB W78 201
3
:
30
th

International Conference

Beijing
, China, 9
-
12 October

AN INTEGRATED MOBILE

MATERIAL MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM
FOR CONSTRUCTION SIT
ES



Zhiliang Ma
,
Professor
,
mzl@tsinghua.edu.cn

Zhe Liu, PhD Candidate
,
friendbridge@139.com

Dongdong Zhang, PhD

Candidate
,
zddniu@163.com

Department of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China


A
BSTRACT

Material management of
construction projects is very important in view of cost control. Up to now, information
systems that are operated on desktop computers are not so effective for the material management on construction
sites. Though some mobile systems have been developed, t
hey are not yet practical. This study aims to develop an
integrated mobile material management system to improve this situation. Quick Response code (QR code) is used
on mobile terminals for quick input of material data with a special tagging method reduci
ng extra work, and both
online and offline operations on mobile terminals on construction sites are supported. A framework is first
established to integrate a mobile system with an existing information system. Then a mobile material management
system is de
veloped and integrated with an existing Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) system through the
Internet. The major part of the system is verified in an actual construction project.



Keywords:

c
onstruction site,
i
nformation system,
m
aterial manag
ement,
m
ob
ile terminal,
o
ffline mechanism

1.

INTRODUCTION

Material cost accounts for up to 60 percent of total cost in some typical construction projects in China (Cai 1998),
so that material management of construction projects is very important in view of cost control
. Many construction
firms have realized the importance to improve the material management by employing information technologies.
Some firms have even implemented information systems such as Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) systems,
to achieve better man
agement of all resources including materials (China Association of Construction Enterprise
Management, 2009).


However, the existing information systems that mainly run on desktop computers cannot work efficiently for
the material management on constructio
n sites. It is because, in most cases, the materials on construction sites are
stored far away from desktop computers in the office. As a result, warehouse keepers have to record management
data in notebooks on site and then manually input the data into in
formation systems after they return to office,
which makes the material management on construction sites both inefficient and error
-
prone.


2.

EXISTING PROCESSES A
ND USE OF QR CODE AN
D MOBILE TEMINALS


2.1

Existing processes


The material management on
construction sites aims to control the movement of materials among warehouses,
suppliers, builders and vendors. Through the investigation, the major existing processes of material management
on construction sites are summarized as shown in Figure 1.

Genera
lly, all processes involve with three
transactions, i.e. moving materials, checking with bills or inventory, and filling in forms. For example, when a
Proceedings of the CIB W78 201
3
:
30
th

International Conference

Beijing
, China, 9
-
12 October

warehouse keeper receives materials from a supplier, he checks the quality and quantity of each material
according to the purchase order and fills the actual received quantities in relevant forms. If the check is passed,
the materials are then stored in warehouses or open spaces; otherwise, they are returned to the supplier.



I
n many cases on construction

si
te
,

materials are stored dispersedly, in temporary warehouses or in
open spaces everywhere.
So

it is both labor
-
intensive and error
-
prone to record all

management data

on
a notebook
on site
and

then

input them into an existing information system on
compute
rs after returning
to office
.
In addition
, the comparison between the relevant bills and the actual quantities
also needs to be

conducted in the office after the execution of on
-
site processes, causing extra cost of problem handling.


In order to solve the

problems, QR code and mobile terminals are applied together, where the former is
used to identify materials quickly and the latter is used to save the manual input of such information as
the type of material or its code by scanning the QR code and to get
necessary information on site from
the information system.





Figure
1
:
Major existing processes of material management on construction sites

3.

CONCLUSION AND FUTUR
E WORK

This research developed an integrated mobile material management system for
improving material management
on construction sites. An in
-
depth investigation on the processes of the material management on construction sites
was carried out and the existing processes and corresponding problems were identified. A framework was
establis
hed for the integrated mobile material management system, in which QR code and mobile terminals were
used with a special tagging method to reduce extra work and the mechanism for the offline material management
was designed. Most of the functions except of
fline operations were implemented and verified in a project. It
shows the potential and usability of QR code in material tracking, and the approach for integrating mobile
terminals with existing information systems may be a sample for other studies. The of
fline mechanism should be
an innovation in implementing mobile terminals in construction industry but the tradeoff between correctness and
concurrency is a limitation. To implement MMMS in the real project, further research and development are
needed, i.e.

to finish the development of offline operations and test them in actual projects, and to analyze and
quantify the advantages and disadvantages of MMMS.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This paper sample
contains a

portion of the paper published as part of the CIB W78 20
1
3

Conference and written
by the conference organizers

and has been altered to the extent needed to illustrate certain features
.

Proceedings of the CIB W78 201
3
:
30
th

International Conference

Beijing
, China, 9
-
12 October

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