Data technology comes to the construction industry
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It’s no secret that data is changing the world as we know it. Like every other industry, more data from more sources are coming to architecture, engineering and construction (AEC).
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Toric is using data and analytics to transform the AEC industry. They provide real-time insights to help AEC firms and owners, as well as operators, reduce waste and increase sustainability. This data platform enables construction professionals to make better, data-driven decisions at a much faster pace than what has previously been possible.
Data in construction
I worked in the construction industry from 2007 to 2010. Then, only a few of the most forward-thinking firms were using data and technology to improve business processes.
Over the past 10 years, AEC firms hired more people who grew up with technology and were comfortable using technology in their jobs.
COVID-19 has further awakened a sleeping giant. Leading AEC firms and their project managers have realized the critical need to capture data from job sites remotely.
Every construction firm is at a different place in its use of data and digitalization. The use of ERP, scheduling, project management, BIM, drones, scans and photography for open space varies by company. More data and technology solutions for the industry are being introduced every year. Procore led the way two decades ago. Today, Turner Construction is using robots to handle dangerous tasks on job sites.
Data challenges in AEC firms
Most of the AEC companies using data today are doing so with old data. When data is collected it needs to be cleaned, structured and analyzed to improve safety, quality, productivity and profitability. Data value and accuracy decrease over time. For instance, a photo of an active job site on Monday will no longer be accurate on Tuesday.
Ad-hoc processes result in a number of challenges for AEC firms:
- Data is buried in proprietary software and formats.
- Data is fragmented in space, silos and time.
- Project history is lost, so data cannot be compared from one project to another.
- Analysis requires significant software development skills.
- Wasted money, with more than $2 trillion in construction waste due to bad data.
Toric is at the forefront of this data-driven transformation. The company is working to address the aforementioned challenges by providing real-time data for real-time decision-making to reduce errors, mistakes, costs and risks.
The data landscape is chaotic. There is more data, more sources, tools and solutions including artificial intelligence/machine learning, data mining, data science, predictive and prescriptive analytics, et al. Toric has created a no-code data platform to take advantage of all these tools.
The platform integrates, transforms, visualizes and automates data across projects. Data is then consolidated in one workspace for analysis. They have more than 100 tools available to clean, transform and augment data. Additionally, the data is updated in real-time, so project managers can make immediate, well-informed decisions to properly equip the project to move forward.
The construction analytics platform helps deliver more accurate bids, tracks progress and improves digital delivery by referencing all past project data. It integrates Procore, Autodesk, ERP systems and spreadsheets. Estimation and project tracking are all analytics-driven. Historical data is leveraged for data applications.
Architecture and engineering firms can build an analytics model for their BIM design process. They do this by tapping into BIM models and other data sources to support data-driven design, QA, quantification and change management. Users can perform continuous data modeling, track design to project requirements and create data apps to improve customer experience.
Owners and operators use Toric to track key building metrics during design, integrate and compare bids against design and create a complete data lifecycle for digital twins.
Getting value from data
The average AEC firm with 100 projects is adding 1PB of data every year. Much of this data is unstructured. It’s expensive and hard to find data analysts and scientists to get value from the data in addition to capturing, cleaning and integrating it.
Suffolk Construction is a 40-year-old, $3.9 billion firm based in Boston. It’s one of the most mature firms regarding its data strategy, with 30 data scientists on staff. Suffolk has integrated three of its 20 systems with Toric’s platform, replacing their home-grown systems for data ingestion and data capture.
Hensel Phelps, a 2,000-person, construction management firm founded in 1937 has one data analyst on staff. With Toric, their data analyst will be able to automate thousands of projects using just one tool.
Data quality, data cataloging and real-time data analysis for the AEC industry did not exist three years ago. Advances in the industry will see data leaders making significant impacts on several fronts. Environmental issues are a key issue today and can only be addressed with data. More sophisticated and precise proposals will result in reduced costs and a stronger competitive position as data tools are used to evaluate and project costs.
Data will drive environmentally conscious construction
Conscientious owner/operators who own a lot of real estate and care about the health and environmental compatibility of their properties. They’re requiring designers, engineers and contractors to know the amount of carbon that goes into constructing a new building.
Embodied carbon is a major issue for owners that want to be environmentally conscientious. They want to see the analysis of the carbon footprint and to know if it’s more efficient to build their new or reclaimed building with steel or concrete. They want to know the environmental impact of a design change.
Previously, information about embodied carbon was subjective. Today, it’s objective and it’s incumbent for AEC firms to have a firm grasp on their data to be competitive.
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