Big data and BI tools can help managers a great deal. Source: Shutterstock

Big data and BI tools can help managers a great deal. Source: Shutterstock

Why construction professionals need big data and BI tools

EVERY BUSINESS collects data in this day and age, but not everyone uses it to drive efficiencies.

In the construction industry, for example, although civil engineers, project managers, and construction professionals are keen on using new and innovative technologies, companies have been slow to change.

However, as the global property market struggles to battle inflation, interest rates, falling demand among millennials, and a spike in unsold properties, construction companies need to pull up their socks and prepare to optimize their business to deliver value to internal as well as external stakeholders.

Luckily, most companies in the construction industry, whether residential, retail, or commercial, all have a strong repository of data.

In fact, modern equipment used at construction sites are embedded with sensors that log every minute of use, and simple wearable devices could help track on-site worker’s movements and actions, allowing the company to essentially reconstruct the work done on any given day using data collected from the site.

Further, cameras and optical sensors used to monitor and protect the property when workers go home could also be used to assess and log the progress made during the day.

Overall, there’s no dearth of data in the construction industry. Companies only need to bring in smart business intelligence (BI) tools to harness it all and drive the organization forward.

How BI tools take construction companies to new highs

Construction companies have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to doing their job well on-site.

However, there’s a lot that business intelligence can help construction professionals do better — a lot of their calculations and scheduling, for example, can be automated and better synchronized using an intelligent platform.

Here are a few examples of what BI tools can do for construction professionals, especially given the fact that they have a lot of data at their disposal (and the right to use it to their advantage since the data doesn’t relate to customers or the public in any way).

# 1 | Pre-construction analysis

Before laying the foundation of any residential, retail, or commercial building, civil engineers and construction professionals go through the concept and design stage and arrive at the pre-construction stage.

While it’s easy to think that not much data is available to an organization at this stage, the reality is that data from “similar” construction projects is available as well as some data from public resources such as the municipal and local civil works offices.

Together with high-definition images of the plot, intelligent BI tools can help professionals not only solidify plans and workflows but also ensure that any conflicts or issues are identified beforehand and resolved in the design, before proceeding to the next stage.

# 2 | Real-time resource management

Construction companies often have multiple projects running concurrently. They also have resources that they’d like to use at each site, say a team of works certification auditors, but can only send them to a particular site on a particular day.

Using an intelligent and connected BI tool, construction professionals can manage resources in real-time.

Further, a good BI tool can help professionals in the construction industry forecast future needs ensuring that the company is able to find the resources (manpower, materials, etc) in time in order to avoid delays in finishing the project as failing to deliver on time often involves significant consequences.

# 3 | Asset tracking and optimization

Construction sites thrive on magnificent equipment such as cranes and lorries that cost millions of dollars, are difficult to move from one place to another, need heavy maintenance, but make the overall project possible in the first place.

Today, a majority of these assets come fitted with several sensors that not only help the business, through its BI tool, understand where an asset is and how long it will be required but also allow it to tap into intelligent modules to understand whether or not maintenance is required immediately or in the near future (increasing uptime).

Further, using BI tools, organizations can optimize assets to ensure that external assets are only hired when self-owned assets cannot be mobilized — tightening the control on costs and reducing wasteful spending through better planning.