GUEST ARTICLE: Driving for efficiency – how data can improve onsite processes

  • 25 Oct 2023

DataIt’s been said that data is the new oil – and for good reason. Leveraged properly, it has the potential to deliver deep-level insights. Whether it’s tracking the progress of construction projects or understanding, in real-time, how vehicles and heavy machinery is performing, data is an efficiency goldmine. These are the words of Shweta Saxena, CEO at MachineMax, who has written the following article…

“Despite it’s potential, however, construction companies are failing to fully capitalise on this offering. A deep understanding of how best to collect and manage data is still evolving, and a reluctance to explore new platforms and software is holding businesses back. This stalled evolution stems from a few factors. Although data plays a key role in the modern construction site, it often remains siloed and fragmented. Quite simply, our machines and data streams aren’t working in sync, leading to missed opportunities and considerable inefficiencies.

A recent report by industry analysts, FCI, puts the level of unused data within the built environment at 96%. Nearly a third use applications that don’t integrate with one another. The result is conflicting data formats, lengthy reporting and confusion amongst teams in terms of terminologies and metrics. Valuable data is then either misinterpreted, unused, or simply lost to the ether.

A pathway to efficiency

There are ways to improve the situation, one of which is through on-site processes. Building sites are data-rich environments, yet it’s often a struggle to deliver the right information in a timely and effective manner.

Choosing tech that can work with and alongside other programmes or software ensures data doesn’t need to be individually extracted or analysed; it’s delivered in conjunction with other data parts to offer a fuller, richer picture of the situation on the ground. Standardised approaches are being introduced to support cohesion, such as ISO 15143-3 (AEMP 2.0), a progressive telematics data standard, yet more can be done, and so much of construction tech still fails to offer true interoperability.

The adoption of Common Data Environments (CDEs) is another emerging avenue to improve data collection practices. This allows companies to holistically manage, share, and store digital project information to ensure the most recent records are accessible to all project stakeholders. The most effective CDEs can be easily integrated with existing systems and have cloud capabilities.

Finding the balance

Construction firms have access to more data than ever before. Harnessing the power of high-tech sensors to read the movement and location of equipment, like large machinery, they can react to situations in real time and adapt on the fly. Live monitoring of construction sites can prevent unauthorised machinery use, improve security and identify when machinery is sitting idle, reducing unnecessary emissions. Project managers who can use the data in this way can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and optimise performance across the board.

Whilst an abundance of data can be advantageous, too much can be overwhelming. Businesses should focus on key metrics that have the biggest impact. Once consistent and reliable reporting for priority metrics in place, companies can then look to expand their investigations to other areas.

The key is in our hands

Importantly, this approach highlights the need for the right tech platform, using interfaces and telematics that can be easily understood – even by those less familiar with con-tech tools. Onboarding for Platforms should require minimal training, relying on intuitive design to become a practical asset on-site, and ongoing support should be part of the package from vendors.

In today’s digital age, artificial intelligence and machine learning can do much of the heavy lifting, identifying crucial information for the user, highlighting trends and recognising inefficiencies. This allows users to focus on the task at hand, rather than getting ‘bogged down’ in reams of data.

There’s no doubt that data has untapped potential within the construction industry. Like other sectors, it’s becoming increasingly important, and major developments in ways to work more efficiently and sustainably are being made possible. It’s now time for the built environment to do the same, beginning on-site, where it matters most.”

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