Finished Projects

Game Simulation to Support Contractors in Design Development

Researcher: Tania da Rocha
Project Duration: February 2012
Project Partner: Iter Fidelis

Project Description:

Organizations in the construction sector particularly involved in the management of public infrastructure assets, have been continuously affected by increasing complexity which is considered as the result of a combination of technical, economical, environmental, political and social factors. In order to better deal with it, managing the whole project lifecycle (i.e. design, construction, commissioning, operating, maintaining, repairing, modifying, replacing and decommissioning/ disposal) is considered an essential strategy to optimize operational performance and commercial profitability of build assets. Aiming at obtaining the greatest value from the infrastructure, the construction sector has also to recognize the need to adopt more efficient management strategies during the asset lifecycle. The adoption of public private partnerships through integrated contracts between the public authority and private contractors, such as Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM), is just one example that reflects why managing assets become relevant. For these organizations, it is important to recognize that different project decisions in distinct project phases have distinct impacts on its performance not just in short but as well in a long-term perspective. Asset management is a capability required to produce and apply specific knowledge needed to optimize trade-offs among financial and system performance.

Iter Fidelis is a Dutch consultancy operating in Risk and Asset Management supporting clients to optimize infrastructure lifecycle between different disciplines involved (e.g. buildings, installations, concrete, green, water, among others) [1.]. Although its scope covers several business units, it is in the Dutch Road Sector that Iter Fidelis has having a stronger intervention. The introduction of Design-Build-Finance-Maintenance (DBFM) contracts that the Dutch Government is using in the Road Sector brought new challenges to practitioners. Iter Fidelis claims that experience has showing that its clients (contractors tendering or awarded those DBFM contracts) are having difficulties to completely understand Asset Management concepts by not taking into account the effects of decision-making in a long-term perspective. It is in the tender phase of these contracts where there is need to trade-offs options that impacts on the future financial and operational performance of road assets that some of those barriers occur.

Gaming simulation is a modeling technique that is used to address technical and social meaning of specific environments. By integrating knowledge of several disciplines participants can better understand complex-living contexts. Uncertainties can be minimized and parties can be better prepared to deal with the future.

This research aims at a methodology to design a game simulation as a decision tool that helps Iter Fidelis to interact with contractors through a trading-off process against specific performance criteria during the tender phase process of DBFM contracts. Through the simulation, participants are involved in a process with learning purpose to enhance understanding on the effects of their decisions. By making use of an Information Systems Methodology, the proposed research is divided in three distinct phases. The first is based on the theoretical analysis which works a background for the gaming setting. The game “set-up” itself is the focus of the second phase. The last phase regards the evaluation and recommendations for design improvement as a result of the prototype testing. Grounded by three main groups of concepts, Asset Management, Design-Build-Finance-Maintenance (DBFM) Contracts and Applied Gaming, it is expected that the research can give contribution to the scientific Knowledge Base and can be simultaneously relevant for the business practical perspective.