You know better than anyone else: the construction industry is a dynamic and complex industry in which data is crucial for making informed decisions. Whereas you used to store all your data on paper, in folders, on your clipboard and in the site hut, nowadays all your information is conveniently and centrally stored in the DMS (document management system). Together with your supply chain partners, you collaborate effectively via an online collaboration platform where everyone can use the same, up-to-date data. But what exactly is this Big Data everyone is talking about these days? What exactly is Big Data in construction, what do you do with it and what use is it to you?
Big Data, is that just data writ large? Not quite. With the emergence of new technologies, the amount of data has increased exponentially. Data that you simply have in your systems and ‘invisible’ data. Together, all this data forms an immense source of information known as Big Data. In this blog, we will explain what Big Data is and how you can use it to improve processes, reduce risks and optimise costs.
What is Big Data?
Nice, Big Data, but what is it exactly? Big Data refers to the enormous amount of data generated from all kinds of different sources such as sensors, mobile devices and social media. This data is often complex, diverse and rapidly changing, making traditional data processing methods inadequate. In fact, this is data that you can’t easily make sense of or have at hand. Think of data that devices collect and store themselves (Internet of Things) and data stored by Facebook, for example. Big Data is all about processing, analysing and interpreting this data to gain valuable insights and make predictions.
Big Data is all about processing, analysing and interpreting this data to gain valuable insights and make predictions.
How do you put Big Data to work for your construction company?
Better project planning and management
The use of Big Data can bring many benefits in construction. One of the main uses of Big Data in the construction industry is to improve project planning and management. By collecting and analysing data from previous projects, you as a builder can identify trends, recognise patterns and predict risks. You can then use these insights to create realistic schedules, allocate resources more efficiently and identify potential bottlenecks early. Your gain? Tighter planning, lower costs and a reduced risk of error.
Optimisation of construction processes
Another area where Big Data can be invaluable is in the optimisation of construction processes. By collecting data on machinery and equipment performance, energy consumption and material flows, you can (more) easily identify inefficiencies and make improvements. For example, by closely monitoring energy consumption on the construction site, you can see where energy is leaking out, making it easier to implement possible energy savings and adopt more sustainable methods and practices.
Improved quality control
You can also use Big Data to improve quality control in construction. By using sensors that monitor many different aspects of a building, you can detect and adjust deviations faster. This helps reduce failure costs and improves quality control on a project. The latter contributes to the safety of buildings and that of their users.
Various applications of Big Data in the construction industry
Besides project planning, process optimisation and quality control, there are numerous other applications of Big Data in the construction industry.
Visualising and simulating
One of the potential applications of Big Data is the use of BIM, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in the design and construction process. Through data-driven modelling and simulations, as a builder or architect, you create virtual environments in which you can visualise designs very well. This allows you to identify bottlenecks early on and facilitates cooperation between the various construction partners.
Another interesting use of Big Data in construction is predicting maintenance needs. By collecting data on the performance of building components and using predictive analytics, construction companies can anticipate potential defects and proactively plan maintenance activities. This helps reduce unplanned downtime, extends the life of buildings and improves the overall efficiency of the maintenance process.
Read all about a Multi-Year Maintenance Plan
By analysing data on accidents, incidents and safety procedures, builders can identify risk patterns and take preventive measures.
In addition, you can use Big Data to improve safety on construction sites. By analysing data on accidents, incidents and safety procedures, you as a builder can identify risk patterns and take preventive measures. This can range from using predictive models to identify potential safety risks, to implementing real-time monitoring systems to ensure compliance with safety protocols.
Big Data has the potential to radically change the world of construction. When you know how to make smart use of the huge amount of data available, you can make better decisions, optimise processes and reduce risks. Whether planning projects, optimising construction processes, improving quality control or predicting maintenance needs, Big Data offers plenty of opportunities for innovation and optimisation in the construction industry. So as a self-respecting builder, you want to take active steps to understand and benefit from Big Data. Because when you put all that valuable information to good use, you strengthen your competitive position. And in this sometimes quite tricky market, that never goes amiss.
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