Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor, senior director of EMEA at Procore, looks at how unlocking real-time insight can better harness data and accelerate a new era of smarter construction
In the past year, we have continued to see construction evolve and innovate to meet new challenges and embrace change. The industry has had to tackle remote working against a backdrop of the global pandemic, health and safety challenges, the impact on productivity from late or insufficient supply shipments, in addition to skilled labour shortages, performance issues and rising costs of materials, to name a few. We see and hear the need for sustainability and efficiency too.
But where are firms winning and how does the industry as a whole keep up and overcome these challenges? Partly, it is down to better communication. Completing a project safely, on time and within budget requires collaboration between stakeholders across multiple workstreams, sharing information in a fast and effective manner, and navigating growing contractual and regulatory complexities.
But what happens when the industry is able to make faster, more informed decisions as well? Better decisions lead to optimised processes, improved business outcomes and lays a firmer foundation for a smarter future. In order to make these decisions, construction companies and their stakeholders need access to a spectrum of information – real-time insights from across the project’s performance – that can be gathered quickly and understood easily.
Real-time insights are transforming performance
As the construction industry continues to increase its adoption of technology to enhance the building process, there’s an opportunity to leverage the massive amounts of data generated through the use of digital tools.
The delivery of real-time, actionable insights into project performance is, among many other benefits, enabling contractors to make faster and better decisions throughout the construction lifecycle. We call it visibility of performance and we believe that data will be as important as concrete to construction.
Take, for example, Ardmac, the international construction specialist and leading provider of data centre solutions, high-tech cleanrooms, quality fit-outs, specialised refurbishments and turnkey construction of manufacturing facilities across Europe. Ardmac found that the scale and complexity of its projects were resulting in a vast amount of data being shared across increasingly convoluted processes.
For Ardmac, a solution that seamlessly captured and shared actionable data, in real time, helped them not only address their challenges, but realise new efficiencies. For example, they have achieved far greater insight into performance across their projects and can continually improve. Everything is captured digitally, time and date stamped, correctly formatted and free of illegible handwriting. This not only saves Ardmac time but also reduces the chance of errors.
Now, as the value of accessing and analysing real-time insight of a business’ performance or an entire project’s lifecycle is being realised, many businesses are aiming to better align stakeholders, processes and data to enable them to take their work to the next level.
But not all the industry is there yet. Our recently commissioned research revealed that while nine in 10 (90%) managers from the UK and Ireland believe their company has some form of visibility of their performance, only 32% rate their company’s level of visibility as “very high”. Furthermore, an FMI whitepaper shows that although the construction industry generates huge sums of data in almost everything it does, very little of that data is put to use in a meaningful way.
The value in performance visibility
There are immediate benefits to having access to real-time insights into performance. According to our commissioned research, the top reasons for businesses wanting to achieve better visibility of performance globally are to save money (47%) and to increase and/or gain visibility of profit margins (40%).
It uncovered that construction managers are already gaining return on investment with estimations that an average of £253,000 is saved annually across the UK and Ireland. Furthermore, almost five hours are saved each week by having on-demand visibility of performance.
With navigating contractual and regulatory complexities firmly on industry minds, 48% of managers in the UK and Ireland reported better tracking of safety records, and 46% felt visibility helped support their compliance with standards such as ISO 9001/45001.
Notably, 49% reported fewer defects too. BW: Workplace Experts, the fit-out and refurbishment specialist, knows all about defects with their vision of being defect-free at practical completion. They have revolutionised snagging by accessing and using real-time insight in order to build a bank of snags, which they learn from in every project. After all, we can learn from past projects and make better decisions going forward based on the insights from these types of data.
The future is data-driven insights
The sheer volume of data that construction companies produce is a huge cause for optimism when considering a brighter, smarter future for the industry. It’s not quite as simple as “more data, more value”, but neither is that entirely inaccurate. The more data that is captured and analysed, the more accurate predictions about the future become, resulting in a greater level of insight that can be used to create new solutions, optimise processes and more – it’s called the Data Flywheel model.
With enough data, this self-fuelling model sees an almost unstoppable momentum built. For a construction business this is a boon – the vast amount of information it produces can continue to be captured, pulled apart and redelivered as intelligent insight, with the future of the industry guided and built by the value this creates.
With a unified, single platform that connects stakeholders, processes and their data, owners and contractors can begin to leverage this flywheel to drive improvements in everything from project progress to supply chain developments and safety and performance. This will be vital for the sector, not just in the immediacy, but in realising the rich potential this data promises.
Real-time insight can empower the construction industry to be more efficient and profitable, saving both time and money and enhancing quality and safety. Arguably most important, however, is that it begins a process that ultimately puts data to better work, empowering construction businesses to make insight-led decisions that will drive the industry forward and accelerate a new era of smarter construction.
Senior director of EMEA
Tel: (+44) 0800 368 7703
LinkedIn: Procore Technologies