Enabling Lean Supply with a Cloud Computing Platform - An Exploratory Case Study

Marcelo Azambuja1, Thomas Schnitzer2, Meral Sahin3 & Felix Lee4

1Assistant Professor, Department of Construction, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, 62026, USA, mazambu@siue.edu
2Estimator, Rock Hill Mechanical Corporation, Saint Louis, MO, 63122 USA, tschnitzer@rhmcorp.com
3Masters Student, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, 62026, USA, msahin@siue.edu
4Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, 62026, USA, hflee@siue.edu

Abstract

Traditional supply practices usually generate waste such as lack of materials and/or accumulation of large inventories on construction job sites. Lean supply systems require the integration of suppliers in the production process as a means to minimize waste. Such integration allows better synchronization of supply and demand and pulling of materials to the job site. Supply chain visibility and real time information are a must in this environment. Manufacturing and retailing have widely used information technology (IT) solutions, such as enterprise resource planning systems, for managing their supply chains. In the construction industry, only a few large construction firms can afford to deploy sophisticated IT tools. The majority of firms are small to medium-sized companies that do not have the resources and/or the manpower to use and maintain proprietary supply chain management solutions. This research explored freely available Google cloud computing tools, focusing on the Google Fusion Table (GFT) as a cloud-based platform to enable real time information on the supply process and site demand. This paper describes the development and testing of the platform that was used by a mechanical contractor to implement a pull fabrication, delivery, and installation system for pipe spools. The results suggest that the proposed platform provides the basic functionalities for developing a costeffective tool for small and medium-sized construction firms to manage supply chain data and implement lean supply systems.

Keywords

Lean Supply, Cloud Computing, Pull, Pipe Spools.

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Reference

Azambuja, M. , Schnitzer, T. , Sahin, M. & Lee, F. 2013, 'Enabling Lean Supply with a Cloud Computing Platform - An Exploratory Case Study' In:, Formoso, C.T. & Tzortzopoulos, P., 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Fortaleza, Brazil, 31-2 Aug 2013. pp 205-214

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