Advances in technology increasingly produce more potential for the gathering of data within construction projects. When data was collected in the past, it was challenging to deal with, frequently on paper, and not able to produce the excellent results which the construction industry could benefit from.
With the development of technology in the coming years, it will be essential for construction firms to harness the significant data opportunities created.
Sources of Data
New sources of data which are increasingly becoming the norm on construction sites include smartphones, wearable tech, drones, sensors, CCTV, the Internet of things, GPS, and more. Collating this data is one thing, making the best use of it is another.
It is easier than ever to have these sources of data feedback directly to a server, where it can be processed and passed to the appropriate people within the company. But if you are only doing that you are missing out on the great opportunity offered by this level of information sharing.
The big data created on a construction site can be used by artificial intelligence to analyze and improve many different aspects of the construction process. This includes improving safety, increasing efficiency, and highlighting problems before they happen.
The basic idea of machine learning is to feed big data to the AI so that it is able to learn and adapt to produce better, faster results than a human would be able to achieve. This is a process which will fundamentally change many different industries, and this is also true of construction where projects can have many thousands of moving parts and issues to deal with.
Machine learning can act like an assistant who can analyze the data available to it and highlight the most critical issues which need to be dealt with. This has the effect of improving the performance of project managers and streamlining the construction process.
Just in time ordering of supplies has increased the efficiency of construction, but thanks to big data, this will see further improvement. The AI software will gain a better understanding of exactly when to order materials to keep the works on site flowing, saving the business money, and speeding up construction times.
If you want to increase the productivity of your workforce on site, the use of wearable technologies and sensors attached to construction equipment will be able to feed data to the AI software.
This will allow it to analyze and draw conclusions which can be used by managers to make the site work better. This could mean changing the layout of the site to improve access to tools or a change in the instructions given to the workforce to increase their efficiency.
Big data allows for AI software to get a better understanding of and predict safety issues. This doesn't just mean the correct positioning of every orange cone on the site; it will be able to alert managers and supervisors to potential risks as well. It can do this thanks to its ability to crunch the numbers, finding patterns which can lead to accidents on site.
This results in the potential for an improvement to the training given to the workforce to reduce the overall accident rate of the site. The software will be able to assess if this new training is really getting the results expected and give advice accordingly.
Beyond the risk to the construction workers, this type of software will also be able to assess the overall risk to the project better, giving managers a fuller understanding of the profitability of the contract.
As more possibilities to improve the use of big data presents themselves, construction firms will have to invest more in making the correct use of this opportunity. It will give these businesses a more exceptional ability to understand how to manage worksites more efficiently, in a safer way and shorten the construction time frame.
Productivity will be improved, with increases in the quality of construction and an overall reduction in the risks involved in the projects they undertake. All of this will naturally lead to higher profitability and competitiveness for the construction companies which are able to implement these new technologies successfully.Updated Date: 11 August 2019, 17:40