Big Data is Taking the Construction Industry to New Heights — Here’s How

The construction industry produces vast amounts of data every day. As the industry expands, huge data repositories continue to fill with information on everything from blueprints and building models to communications and cost estimates. Unfortunately, these repositories are often unstructured and difficult to access without the right tools. That’s why technology created to harness big data in construction is so important.

“Big data” refers to any large or complex set of information that requires advanced analytics systems to process and manage. This information can come from multiple structured or unstructured sources, like cameras, sensors, mobile devices and log files.

The value of big data is expected to increase by $30 billion in 2021 and 2022, making it one of the most valuable commodities in the world. Every industry can benefit from big data analytics, and most are working to adopt the latest big data processing and storage tools to stay ahead of the game.

Despite its hesitancy to adopt new methods and technologies, the construction industry experienced a recent spike in innovation due to an influx of big data technology. Read on or jump to the infographic below to learn how big data is transforming the construction industry.

How Is Big Data Used in Construction?

Big data is being used in every stage of the construction process to increase efficiency and productivity. Data analytics tools are designed to pull information from large data repositories and make it accessible to everyone involved in the construction process, including contractors, architects, tradesmen, and clients.

Roughly 96% of construction and engineering data went unused in 2018

Planning and Budgeting

Thanks to advances in analytics technology, big data can now benefit project teams in the earliest stages of the construction process. Analytics tools like CoConstruct compile information from past and current construction projects to help teams factor in potential delays and map out the overall project timeline. Big data tools also allow for more accurate cost estimates on materials, labor and machinery, and reduce the risk of going over budget in later stages of the construction process.

Design

During the design stage, contractors, architects and other team members can use data-driven tools like building information modeling (BIM) and artificial intelligence (AI) to create digital models and predict any potential issues before construction starts. Environmental and historical data is often fed into these tools to help make predictions, and designers can use data software to keep stakeholders informed about design changes in real-time.

Construction

Construction teams are beginning to adopt project management software on and off the job site to collect, manage and analyze data. This technology processes incoming data and instantly alerts teams of complications and schedule changes, making it easier to communicate and collaborate with other crew members.

Companies like Fieldwire and Archdesk recently entered the market with data-driven project management software designed to meet the construction industry’s unique needs. They allow crew members to input data throughout the building process and communicate any changes or safety concerns.

Operations and Maintenance

Big data is useful to site owners and project managers even after construction ends. Building information collected during construction can provide maintenance crews with structural details and help inform future renovation projects.

In some cases, construction crews also install permanent sensors to monitor structural conditions in completed buildings. Information from these sensors can be used in BIM models to monitor temperature patterns, energy usage, long-term maintenance requirements and more.

Construction Data Analytics: Stats and Trends

Big data is at the forefront of innovation in the construction industry, and it will continue to increase in popularity as the construction process becomes more digitized.

Companies that utilized big data analytics reported an 8% increase in revenue

Some of the most relevant big data technology stats and trends include:

  • The big data market is expected to reach $99.31 billion in 2021. (Forbes)
  • Big data increases a business’s chance of making better strategic decisions by 69%. (BARC)
  • Companies that utilized big data analytics reported an 8% increase in revenue. (BARC)
  • 14% of construction companies want to increase their online analytics usage. (Sage)
  • 57% of construction companies want access to consistent financial and project data. (Sage)
  • 97.2% of organizations are investing in big data and AI. (NewVantage)

5 Advantages of Big Data Analytics in Construction

Construction companies that leverage big data have seen improvements in productivity, efficiency and overall project costs.

Advantages of Big Data in Construction

Some of the benefits of big data analytics in construction include:

1. Increases Building Efficiency

Material waste and remedial work account for 35% of construction costs. Data analytics technology works to reduce construction time and material-related costs by presenting clear, digestible data and identifying potential structural errors before they happen. This allows project managers to make quicker, more informed decisions and minimizes human error.

2. Reduces Environmental Impact

The construction industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. In fact, the construction and engineering industries accounted for 39% of process-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018. As the industry grows, so does the need for more sustainable construction practices and eco-friendly building materials.

Integrating big data in construction can help solve this problem. Construction data from past projects can be integrated into BIM technology to more accurately predict the materials and energy needed for a future project. This reduces excess construction waste and allows planners to seek out energy-efficient alternatives whenever possible.

3. Promotes Collaboration

Lack of communication is one of the biggest challenges construction professionals face while on the job. Fortunately, big data platforms make information accessible and easily shareable between crew members. This reduces errors caused by miscommunication, improves relationships between shareholders and keeps everyone informed in the case of a last-minute change or disruption.

4. Improves Working Conditions

Construction workers are more likely to get injured on the job than professionals in any other industry. Fortunately, technology like smart construction wearables and safety management software is quickly gaining traction in the industry.

These devices harness the power of big data by gathering health and activity information, detecting safety hazards and alerting construction crews to breaches in safety protocols. This information not only protects the workers using safety technology but also prepares project managers for potential safety hazards on future projects.

In an industry that is notoriously hesitant to adopt new technology, big data is changing the game for construction companies looking to increase efficiency, collaboration and worker safety on job sites. As data analytics tools continue to advance and become more accessible, companies of all sizes can benefit from the power of big data.

Big Data in Construction infographic

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