The aim of this research is to improve the efficiency of the construction process through the
application of electronic data interchange (EDI). This thesis describes the development and
application of EDI messages. The messages described are targeted to provide a means for
transferring construction specific information during the construction process.
The definition of electronic data interchange and its technical issues are first described. The
nature of EDI, replacing paper based communication with electronic messages, impacts on the
way in which business is conducted, and also has far reaching legal implications due to the
reliance of many legal systems on paper documents and signatures. The business and legal
implications are therefore discussed in detail.
The application of EDI in the construction industry is investigated by means of a literature
review. This work is furthered by a longitudinal study of the construction industry's application
of EDI, which consisted of two surveys at a five year interval.
A model of the information flows within the traditional construction process is developed to
assist in the identification of information flows suitable for EDI. A methodology for message
development was produced. The methodology was then applied to develop a description data
model that could be utilised in the existing bill of quantity and trading cycle messages.
The bill of quantity message set was at a stage ready for trial. To determine the issues related to
implementation specifically in the construction industry a trial implementation of this message
set was undertaken. The official implementation undertaken by EDICON is described. Software
was also developed to undertake the trial. This software was tested and proved the message set
developed was suitable for the transfer of bill of quantity related information during a
The factors causing the failure of the implementation of the bill of quantities message set are
discussed. A number of these factors are considered valid for all construction project information
flows. Finally, the use of shared project models to re-engineer construction information tasks is
recommended as a means of achieving significant benefit from electronic data exchange in the
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.