Data and construction are two concepts that don’t typically go hand-in-hand, but the construction industry now has the opportunity to use data in order to increase project efficiency.

The construction industry should embrace the role of data in recognising patterns and trends, and as such, construction management technologies can be leveraged to create safer job sites, cut costs and enable large scale projects to be delivered on time and within budget.

The rise of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows construction companies greater access to more data and information to improve productivity and efficiencies. As such, businesses that leverage the value of IoT technologies in construction will save both money and resources to complete projects faster and within budget making their margins grow and allowing them to become more competitive.

For example, wearable devices like smart helmets that are able to display workers’ tasks throughout projects, and sensors to provide constant monitoring of the body and environment, are both examples of IoT enabled technologies positively impacting the safety and well-being of construction workers, whilst also improving efficiency.

Fundamentally, the ability to stay within budget comes down to planning. Delays, overtime, rework, availability of materials and changes to orders can all play a major role in causing project budgets to balloon out of control. However, the increased role of technology in construction means that most unnecessary blow outs can be pre-empted.

Construction equipment is now even being fitted with sensors that constantly monitor for potential maintenance issues. This means that through the introduction of IoT for construction equipment, when abnormalities are detected, maintenance workers will have the opportunity to intervene early before the critical equipment fails, saving both time and money.

Leveraging data creates increased oversight across the moving parts of a project. The consistently growing power of the IoT in conjunction with innovative technologies, like Google Glass and VR, has created significant benefits for the construction industry whereby businesses are able to save money, implement well-regulated processes, and protect the safety of workers.

Real-time optimisation

In the past, gaining access to real-time data was an on-going battle, but new and innovative technology has provided an opportunity for construction businesses to optimise productivity and processes as projects are happening.

The access to real-time data that construction technologies offer means that enabling agility on job sites is now a real option. In addition, the influx of mobile devices into the jobsite has allowed for projects to be run more efficiently as all important information and data is able to be shared in real time.

As such, project managers are able to jump in as soon as an issue or problem becomes apparent. Where previously a single delay could backlog an entire project, real-time updates allow users to carefully manage the entire construction process, giving project managers and developers the opportunity to jump in as soon as an issue is identified, and solve it as quickly as possible.

This increased connectivity through mobile has allowed construction businesses to optimise productivity as projects are happening. Real time data captured from completed projects or from activities completed on a project will also enable construction professionals to predict how to make further optimisations moving forward.

Predicting a smarter Australia

As the construction industry continues to grow, the role of predictive analytics will have a larger role on large-scale infrastructure plans and governmental budgets. As the government continues to build smarter and more future-proofed infrastructure across the country, predictive analytics in construction will play a vital role in ensuring projects run on time and without delay.

The ability to predict internal and external variables such as the impact of changes in weather, staff calling in sick, or delays in material deliveries, will provide project managers the opportunity to stay within the budget and schedule of a project. In addition, predictive analytics can also help in understanding the likelihood of a project’s success by capturing and analysing historical data to predict a likely outcome.

Therefore, the impact of predictive analytics on how projects are planned and executed is worth the upfront investment, potentially saving businesses and governments millions in time, resources and labour.

Through leveraging construction technologies, there is a clear opportunity to change the way information is shared and analysed across the construction project lifecycle. The convergence of data and the construction industry will increase transparency across the value chain and result in greater productivity.

By using the insights to carefully plan projects, developers will be able manoeuvre around any ‘unavoidable’ problems and deliver projects on time.

Data-driven construction is the future of the industry and as such businesses should invest in the future to ensure that they are not left behind as technology advances.

Milton Walters is VP of Marketing APAC at Procore Technologies. He has more than ten years’ experience in the construction technology industry, bringing an extensive knowledge of the sector to support Procore in addressing growing market needs for cloud-based and mobile-first construction solutions. Prior to Procore, Walters held senior leadership roles at Oracle and Textura Australasia.