Data Warehousing Ushers In A New Age Of Tech-Rich Construction
Constructing a building can be an arduous and convoluted process. Even the slightest hiccup during construction can be ruinous, so innovative companies are always striving to take the guesswork out of the equation. The next frontier in putting up concrete and steel isn’t in the physical world, but the digital one.
Data warehousing is a technique perfected by manufacturers to collect, analyze and gather insight on productivity, budgeting and other data. Now, that technology is coming to construction sites, and it promises to make buildings safer, faster and cheaper to erect.
“Construction has always been grounded in physical infrastructure, and data has not been a key driver of business, but that’s all changing,” said Truebeck Construction Chief Operating Officer Nick Pera, who leads his company’s Construction Technology and Innovation team. “Now, the tools of data analysis are available to us, and we’ve found a great deal of value that we can derive from our data.”
Pera said data warehousing is helping Truebeck change the face of construction in four main areas:
1. Budgeting And Forecasting
Construction companies are judged on how accurately they can predict what a project will cost and when it will be completed. To grow its reputation for spot-on forecasting, Truebeck uses a data warehouse to connect and analyze data from Truebeck's enterprise resource planning and project management software.
“When presented with challenging projects, our data warehouse can give a reasoned estimate of the costs and delivery date, just based on past projects,” Pera said. “It can also look at a project in progress and tell us whether it’s ahead of schedule or on track or if we need to step in and make changes.”
In the past, schedule and productivity tracking has been a manual and arduous process that often required a full-time employee to track and analyze, Pera said. By utilizing simple mobile apps, Truebeck is crowdsourcing the collection of information from its field crews and subcontractors. That data flows into Truebeck's data warehouse where it can be analyzed for anomalies, long before they become major issues in the field. Pera said Truebeck plans to generate a library of productivity data to track and measure future projects.
Data warehousing can help prevent injuries. Utilizing mobile apps and cameras, Truebeck’s teams perform regular on-site safety audits. Each audit is then loaded into the data warehouse to analyze trends and look for key indicators that can help Truebeck understand future safety risks.
“Looking towards the future, we will be able to use machine learning to perform safety audits on our drone imagery for key indicators to act upon before they become safety incidents," Pera said.
4. Resource Allocation
As a data warehouse grows, it can streamline not only the repetitive work of data entry, but also the strenuous work of data analysis. For Truebeck, that saved time translates to more resources spent on the client-facing and development aspects of the company, which means more business.
“The answer is not just to hire more people to enter more data,” Pera said. “Having a data warehouse means we make the decision to use smarter systems and stay agile as we move forward.”
Toward The Future
Pera’s description of the construction site of tomorrow seems futuristic, but it is not out of reach. He foresees robots roving around sites, scanning and photographing surfaces and reporting on building progress and safety in real time.
“The challenge now is learning from our data and developing algorithms that can help us improve,” Pera said. “These camera bots and big data analysis are a ways off. But data warehousing is the first step towards those advances, and it’s here today.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Truebeck Construction. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.