This paper discusses what knowledge specialty contractors may contribute to the early design of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) products. In current practice in the United States, specialty contractors are seldom involved in the early design effort, but their early involvement is increasing. The paper reports on research that focused on the processes for designing and building semiconductor facilities. The research consisted of conducting a series of one-to-one interviews with experienced practitioners, ranging from labour managers to lead designers and owner representatives. The aim was to unveil what kinds of knowledge specialty contractor may contribute to early design in order to improve process efficiency and product quality. We catagorize this knowledge and provide examples that stem from current practice or that present opportunities for implementation. We discuss reasons why specialty contractor knowledge may be ignored. Changes taking place in the AEC industry nevertheless suggest that organisations are creating conditions to increase the interaction between designers and specialty contractors. Such interactions may help AEC organisations retain and share the knowledge of individuals as well as develop new knowledge and thereby increase their competitive advantage.
Specialty contractor, knowledge, lean construction, early design, concurrent engineering, product development, process improvement