Data and analytics in construction deserves a full college semester. Today, in a two-page piece, the author offers an overview which attempts to cover some broader concepts and then focuses on a use case for heavy equipment. Many heavy civil construction companies remain awash in historical data but are not much closer to having good reliable real-time information. The technology to harness this power is far closer than it was 5-10 years ago. But real-time data for analysis does not just show up on demand; Construction companies have to be very deliberate about their data and analytics strategy.
Many heavy civil contractors, particularly those that produce aggregate products and have trucking are saddled with considerable technical debt. They typically have a series of non-integrated systems on older client/server architecture. It is not uncommon to seecompanies with different systems for estimating, scheduling, accounting and job cost, timecard entry, human resources, scale ticketing, and trucking. And that does not even account for equipment management, safety, and fuel tracking. The result of this is numerous independent databases containing bits of critical information but nowhere to go to get an aggregated or complete picture. Some companies are beginning to connect Tableau or Power BI to these independent databases in order to gain some sense of trends, status, health, and other perspectives.
Now that most heavy equipment comes from the manufacturer installed with telematics technology, contractors can begin to capture and use a raft of real-time data for maintenance management, location tracking, and fuel consumption. But many are ill prepared for this new source of data. Some contractors have moved to systems that can capture this stream and provide maintenance management and operating data as well as do something with it.
However, those systems tend to be very concentrated on the equipment operating data and not any data that could come from other solutions. For example, estimating systems have data about the fleet mix that was planned for a job. Human resource systems have training and certification data for operators. Timecard systems can indicate which pieces of equipment an operator is on. Fueling systems may also be another system in use with equipment for inventory and dispensing fuel. In this one example, you have four different systems that should be aggregated into a single dashboard or series of dashboards to help project managers, equipment foremen, human resource personnel and field foremen stay informed on the health and operation of equipment in general and on jobs.