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HOW SMART, TECH-DRIVEN ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION FIRMS ARE USING BIG DATA TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS AND REDUCE PROJECT COSTS.

“Big Data” is one of those buzzwords you hear a lot in the tech world, but what does it mean for the engineering and construction world? As our business moves into the digital world, we’re amassing huge amounts of data: everything from reports, to GPS data, RFID equipment tagging, digital pictures, digital plans, sensor readings, time logs, depth gauges, etc. This collection of digital assets is “Big Data”.

In the modern digital world, big data is a building material you use to drive your firm’s entire marketing and management strategy. The rubber meets the road when you can analyze big data to recognize trends, associations, and patterns in your business and the marketplace. In the engineering and construction industry, this kind of technology is used to perform different tasks related to data management, pre-construction analysis, etc.

The ability to quickly analyze enormous amounts of data is a business asset that provides valuable insights that may be crucial for your success. Engineering and construction firms often undertake several construction projects at a time, all of which require great attention to detail.

Even the slightest problem with scheduling, research, or measurement could lead to losing a particular project or client. Since each project requires construction companies to collect, organize, and analyze large amounts of data, handling several projects simultaneously requires meticulousness that good data management provides.

What follows are four ways successful firms collect and analyze a vast amount of data in order to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.

#1 – Monitoring Sensor Data for Structural Integrity

Let us look at a common example: the construction of an office building. Sensors can be fitted into the structure to provide real-time readings related to temperature and humidity (among other factors). Furthermore, the readings can be transmitted automatically to cloud storage, where you can access it from any internet-enabled device.

As more and more readings and related information accumulate, all of it becomes Big Data, and you can begin to use historical data for things like predictive analytics. All of this makes it much easier to take proactive, prescriptive refurbishment measures when you know similar circumstances results in degradation of building materials over time.

Most successful industrial manufacturing companies are already using sensors for exception monitoring to prevent unexpected structural problems. Imagine if a bridge, building, or road could send you an alert when it needs your immediate attention. The applications and usage scenarios here are endless.

#2 – RFID Data for Equipment and Materials Tracking

Construction has never been simple, but today it can be unbelievably complex. There are countless factors to keep track of. This includes all the materials, tools, and equipment being used and their locations around the sites.

Fortunately, modern technology is becoming part of the industry and is evolving to meet engineering and construction needs. With the evolution of RFID technology, it has now become both viable and necessary to include it in your everyday operations.

RFID tracking can be implemented within a reasonable budget, and it will help you not only “keep tracking of everything” but also with acquiring useful Big Data from all of the tracking.

#3 – Field Data Collection

This is probably one area where we see too many construction projects stuck in the 20th century. Many are still using paper-based forms and clipboards to record field data.

If you think about it, there is no valid reason to resist upgrading data collection to digital methods. In fact, it is a near impossibility to gather Big Data manually. There are certain types of data that are impractical to collect in paper form.

Converting those paper-based forms of data into digital data is an additional unnecessary cost for your business.

If you’ve been postponing the transition to digital field data collection, there is probably a reason.

Perhaps you think training efforts will be too much work. But rest assured, many of them are already using their smart devices to chat with their spouses, post Facebook and Twitter status updates, and more. If you implement the right workflows, capturing field data with those same devices will be effortless. At Entrance Consulting, we have a lot of experience with helping construction and engineering companies go digital. Feel free to contact us and see how we can help you make the transition.

#4 – Project & Safety Risk Mitigation

Predicting risks is something any serious construction and engineering company needs to consider to be profitable. One of the best ways to mitigate risks is through effective analysis of Big Data.

Big Data analysis provides insights that improve costs and efficiency, identify potential problems, and devise ways in which any problem can be treated.

Using Big Data analysis to predict risks improves the understanding of several aspects of construction work, improving the decision-making process in the end.

Our software expertise

Over the years, we have built a team that designs and develops modern applications for engineering and construction companies. We also help you customize and implement any of the major software solutions you’ve heard about. If you need any help with software, custom or otherwise, we’re here to make it happen.

We specialize in software development, so you know what you’re in for when you choose to collaborate with us. In the past, we have worked on and solved complex engineering issues, including:

  • optical throughput losses calculation
  • analysis of pipeline failure
  • geophysical data management

We can automate the process of finding solutions to any problems you might face. In other words, our software will enable more effective decision making within your company and will also save money in the long run.

The power and ability of Big Data to transform any business is undeniable. Fortunately, purchasing expensive software or technology is no longer a necessity, since there are professionals like the ones at Entrance Consulting. We can take care of the entire process of complex data analytics and management, as well as handle business intelligence for you.


Nate Richards
Nate has over 18 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He founded Entrance in 2003. Nate is the past President of the Board of LifeHouse Houston, a Christ-centered maternity home ministry, and is past Executive committee member and Treasurer of Houston Achievement Place, a foster care and social skills training non-profit organization.
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