The Power of Big Data in Construction

Evelyn Long

Mar 23, 2023


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Construction is one of the most data-intensive industries in the world. From the moment a project begins, construction teams collect and analyze enormous amounts of information about their work sites, budgets, materials and more. 

With big data in construction, teams need to work with it in ways that allow them to be productive and maintain the safety of construction workers. 

Below we’ll explore what big data is and how project managers use it in construction.

What Is Big Data in Construction?

Big data in construction refers to a large amount of information companies collect, store and analyze. Companies have been collecting data for years on their customers, but now tools are available to help them understand what that data means. You can use big data analysis in any industry, but it’s especially helpful in construction because there are numerous variables involved in any given project.

There are two main types of big data — structured and unstructured. Structured data is the kind you can easily organize into lists or categories. For example, if you’re analyzing how many people visit your website each day, that would be structured because it’s easy to put all those numbers into categories like “number of visits” or “number of unique visitors.”

Unstructured data, on the other hand, often include things like handwritten notes or videos from security cameras around a construction site. While this information might seem useless initially, it can provide insight into why certain things happen.

The Uses of Big Data in Construction

Big data is essential in the construction industry because it can streamline processes, optimize workflow, and create new growth opportunities.

Here are ways in which construction companies can use it.

1. Reduce Waste

Construction is a complex process that can create a lot of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the construction and demolition industry produced over 600 million tons of waste debris in 2018. 

For construction companies looking to reduce their environmental impact — big data is crucial in this aspect. They can use it to track how much material a project site uses and where the materials go. In turn, construction companies can measure their resources and make adjustments accordingly.

For example, if a construction company requires cement, big data allows them to avoid overbuying it, preventing them from paying for excess materials. This is crucial in the construction industry, especially as material costs have risen by 14.5% since the pandemic. By identifying how much material is needed, construction companies can reduce errors, salvage time and save money.

2. Quality Control and Safety

The construction industry has always been about risk mitigation because of how dangerous the work is for employees. That’s why companies use big data to ensure workers are safe on the job site while keeping them out of harm’s way.

With big data, companies can collect large amounts of information on their projects to improve processes for safety purposes. Big data can ensure teams are building everything correctly while also using it to identify potential problems that may cause harm.

By using big data for quality control and safety, companies can ensure every worker goes home safely until project completion.

3. Analyze Employee Productivity

Construction is a field that relies on the hard work of its employees, but it can be challenging to know how well they’re performing. Construction managers need to know which employees are working efficiently, which ones are falling short of expectations, and what they can do to help each employee improve their performance.

To help manage their employees’ time more effectively, construction companies are turning to big data. By analyzing large amounts of data about their workers’ movements, they can get a better idea of how productive each worker is, which will allow them to find ways to improve productivity across the board.

4. Plan and Manage Projects

Big data is crucial for helping project managers plan and manage projects more efficiently. It works by allowing them to make accurate estimates of how much time a particular task will take. Plus, project managers can better predict when they might need to hire more people or resources to complete projects on time.

Construction sites often have various types of equipment and materials that companies use at once. This can make it challenging for project managers to keep track of all at once. Yet, with big data, project managers can combine all the information in one place and analyze everything happening throughout the day.

By utilizing big data, you can make better decisions about what to do next and how best to tackle the projects.

5. Quoting and Bidding

Big data is changing the way construction companies work with quoting and bidding. In the bidding and quoting process, using big data can help you better understand how much a certain project will cost. The software will consider the material costs, labor costs, equipment costs, and other factors that impact the price of your bid.

This information is then fed into a program that generates an accurate estimate of how much it’ll cost to complete the job. Once you determine how much everything will cost, you can calculate your profit margin. Or, if you’re working with other companies on the job, you can share revenue projections with them so they can decide how much they can afford to put into the project.

How To Use Big Data in Construction

It’s no secret that data is the key to modern-day success. After all, you can use it to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and ensure projects stay on time and within budget. Yet, if you want to use it effectively, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use a database to store your project data, including blueprints, schematics and other documents. This will make it easier to share information with other team members. Plus, they can access important information if you’re working with multiple contractors or subcontractors on a single project.
  • Integrate your database with scheduling software, so everyone knows when their next task is due — and what needs to get done between now and then. This will allow you to keep everyone on track.
  • Set up alerts so that someone gets notified whenever something changes, like a new deadline. That way, if there’s any confusion, you can have all the answers before anything falls through.

Big Data in Construction

Now that you know how powerful big data can be in construction, you can use this tool to improve your company’s project management. The future of big data is bright, enabling companies to make better decisions based on more accurate information. When using big data correctly, you can reap the benefits of higher-quality projects and satisfied customers.

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