In past years, construction data was collected mostly on paper and filed away at the end of each project never to be seen again. While we are definitely seeing a movement of data being put to good use, the construction industry is still hesitant to take the plunge. However, the benefits and insights that big data, predictive analytics, and real-time data can provide are enormous.
What exactly is data? It is all the facts and statistics collected from various sources which can be used for reference or analysis. These sources include computers, smartphones, drones, wearables, job-site sensors, and other machines and devices. In the construction field, every structure ever built has plans that contain substantial amounts of data. Having all this insight can help businesses make informed decisions, understand their customers, provide better services, and improve operation and revenue.
Once you start looking, you’ll find there is an abundance of useful data everywhere. You can track labour hours, materials used, daily production progress, equipment operating hours, and idle times. By gathering this data and analysing it, businesses may have a better understanding of costs and timelines. It will open the door to increased productivity, improved job-site safety, and a reduction in risk.
Moving One Step at a Time
In the past, common software did a good job at recording static information, such as employee details, expenses, invoices and project details. In order to effectively use all the data collected these days, you need to have the right systems and software solutions in place.
For example, construction companies are now using construction software platforms like Procore, that integrate with apps to utilise data so that they can optimise stock control, anticipate and prevent service outages, increase productivity, improve delivery routes, automate repetitive and mundane processes. By using internal and external data, they can predict future outcomes on projects and help determine which ones are more feasible.
Now that data is being recognised for its true potential, there are many startups focused on creating solutions for data use and analysis. One such company is Disperse. Disperse captures 360-degree images throughout a construction project. It uses computer vision to detect changes week-on-week, detect anomalies, and measure progress to optimise workflow and provide early warning signs. All this is based on the collection of data.
Learning from Our Data
Data collected from past projects can become a real asset when estimating and bidding on new projects. That was, for instance, the case for one of Drone Deploy’s clients.
Key Construction relies on drone data throughout the entire lifecycle of its projects. According to General Manager Steven Wells, surveying a site is critical to the pre-construction process, and having updated aerial imagery helps him align his team and subcontractors.
The company uses DroneDeploy, a Procore integration partner, to survey job sites, overlay site plans, and export the data to Procore to keep stakeholders informed of plans and document progress.
“The more information that everyone has, the better informed we can all be — and the better bids we can get.”
– Steven Wells, General Manager at Key Construction
This data helped Key Construction to demonstrate due diligence during a customer proposal process. Steven believes this ultimately played a big role in winning the bid.
“We flew over the site and were able to capture pre-existing conditions,” says Wells.
Then, he overlaid design plans and notes directly on top of the map, syncing it to his Procore project album.
“This data went out in all our bid documents and to our subcontractors. The more information that everyone has, the better informed we can all be — and the better bids we can get.”
A recent survey also shows putting data to good use can prove invaluable. According to Procore, 92 per cent of their customers say their company is more protected against claims because of the data tracked by its software.