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Big Data and Analytics: 3 Useful Applications for the Construction Industry

For years, the huge repositories of data generated during construction projects largely went to waste. Information was often diligently stored, but there was no technology available that could interpret this raw data and mould it into something useful.

Data analytics is a recent advent to the construction industry, but the potential is already evident. Retail enterprises, airlines, banks and other service industries have greatly improved their output thanks to analytics, and forward-thinking construction enterprises are experiencing similar success.

We have explored three of the ways that construction projects are improving thanks to the implementation of big data and analytics.

Managing and Mitigating Risk

Securing reliable and professional subcontractors is imperative to the overall success of a construction project. Up to a third of the total cost associated with a construction project can be spent on remedial work and material waste, so it’s vital to make the right decision first time when securing subcontractors. There are often many individual stakeholders and subcontractors working on a project, and big data can assist in selecting the most suitable professionals for specific tasks.

Big data can be helpful in predicting likely outcomes, as analytics can help you run pre-construction simulations that uncover limitations in your early plans. Managers can leverage this information to accurately predict site problems at the earliest possible stage.

Data analytics can even provide valuable insight during the operation phase of a project. Energy conservation in corporate builds can be tracked or automated, and aspects such as traffic density and flexing on bridges can be monitored to detect unforeseen issues.

Improving Budget Control

Big data and analytics offer significant value for managers in construction, allowing them to set budget projections with greater confidence. Managers with big data at their disposal can gain valuable insights into price and availability of materials, human resource systems and suppliers.

Many of these decisions required a degree of guesswork in the past. The information at hand can also be updated in real-time, so the manager knows they are looking at the most recent available information during their planning phase.

Active construction sites are dynamic workplaces, and there is significant scope for data collection as technology continues to advance. Site personnel can gather data through wearable equipment, smartphones, tablets, drones and a host of other equipment. With technology already playing a significant role in modern construction, we can expect wasted expenditure to decrease in coming years.

Better Construction Site Organisation and Management

With regard to day-to-day operations, big data can play a significant role in improving efficiency. Managers can use analytics to interpret data related to traffic, local area activity and even weather to inform scheduling.

Analytics can also help managers make better decisions on machinery and equipment – for example, sensor-based technologies can demonstrate how often certain machinery is active or idle, which can inform whether it is more prudent to buy or lease this equipment going forward. These sensors can provide a warning about the imminent failure or malfunction of equipment before it happens, allowing managers to take action to prevent unnecessary downtime.

Fuel and energy consumption trends across an entire project can even be monitored, opening the door for logistical improvements as a build progresses.

Innovative Construction Software from Exactal

We are in the early stages of big data adoption in the construction industry, but the potential is starting to become clear. While dedicated data scientists and analysts are required at present to mine big data stores for major projects, we expect to see intelligent applications that aggregate such information more widely accessible soon.

In the interim, software options are available that allow project managers to boost collaboration and improve efficiency. Exactal is proud to offer ConnectX, an integrated construction management platform that adds value throughout the entire lifecycle of your project.

To learn more about ConnectX or to organise a demonstration for your business, feel free to get in contact with our team today.