Big data. This relatively new term is tossed around a lot in the business world but what does it mean? Big data describes the large amount of information flooding companies every day, as well as the powerful computing systems needed to process it. As technology evolves, organizations can collect, analyze and process larger amounts of data to gain more accurate insights.
The use of big data is particularly beneficial to construction companies, whose resources and workloads generate high volumes of data, from plans, change orders, labor hours and equipment operating hours, to materials, production progress and idle times. Data can be used to streamline operations. In the past, information would be collected, usually on paper, and filed away after the project was completed. Today, with the advent of smartphones, GPS systems and drones, construction companies can hold onto the data and use it to predict outcomes on future projects.
There are several other ways construction sites can use big data to their advantage. One way is to track materials and manage projects. Knowing where every piece of equipment is and how long it will take to transport from one site to another can be important in finishing projects on time. Additionally, knowing weather-, traffic- and business-related activity can help contractors determine the ideal time to plan each phase of a project.
Many construction firms are using sensors in various places around their sites to show active and idle machine time. This data can be processed to make better decisions regarding fuel consumption, downtime, as well as the best time to buy or lease equipment. Sensors are also used to measure temperature, noise levels and vibration. This can help ensure workers are safe from hazards.
Big data makes for better planning. Most construction companies work with third-party vendors. Accurate data can help them analyze the risks involved with a potential supplier and reduce wasted resources. It can also be used to predict possible outcomes of a project. More data means better analysis. With so many moving parts, a construction job can experience several unforeseen problems. However, creating simulations can help contractors identify trouble spots before a situation arises.
Data also plays a key role in construction site security. Video analytics makes it possible to automatically detect specific activities without human intervention. A security specialist can set parameters based on a site’s needs, then, if a defined event is detected, the system notifies a trained security operator who is watching the property via strategically-placed surveillance cameras. The operator can then take action to deter any criminal wrongdoing by activating an on-site speaker or calling police.
Construction companies are using big data to make better decisions, increase productivity and improve safety. It allows managers to get an overview of their operations and predict emerging trends to be able to adapt to change in such a competitive industry.
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