Tolerance Management of Aluminum-Framed Curtain Wall Systems: A Case Study
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The aluminum-framed curtain wall is one of the most applied building cladding systems due to its versatility and reasonable costs for low to high-rise constructions. The curtain wall system demands high-quality control and proper tolerance management with other building components to achieve adequate performance. However, the fragmented nature of the construction industry often results in poor interface management and creates problems making the installation process inefficient. Most sections in the construction industry have been utilizing emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), including Building Information Modeling (BIM), to enhance communication and remove clashes between building components in advance. However, those practitioners working on the curtain wall installation do not appear to communicate effectively with project participants to resolve clashes between the curtain wall and other building components in advance. Therefore, they still experience low productivity in curtain wall installation. What does hinder curtain wall subcontractors from utilizing ICT to enhance communication between parties in the course of the curtain wall installation? In response to the question, this study monitored the curtain wall installation process of one commercial building construction project in Texas. It also interviewed key practitioners with semi-structured open questions, to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues that may affect their productivity. The results show that the general contractor nor the cladding subcontractors working for the target project see the immediate need of using ICT to solve clashes between cladding components. They thought the interface between cladding systems was not as complex as other building components such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The cladding subcontractors did not want to invest resources in adopting the ICT or hiring a third party to provide the service, because they were not sure if the use of ICT would guarantee the productivity improvement in the field. The interviewees recognized the overall productivity improvement that the construction industry gained from using ICT. They also admitted that the use of ICT may help them better manage the interface issues in cladding installation. However, the need of front-end investment and their doubts about the impact on the field crews hindered them from trying to use ICT in the course of the cladding installation process.
Martinez Prieto, Andres (2015). Tolerance Management of Aluminum-Framed Curtain Wall Systems: A Case Study. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from