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article imageConstruction needs to become data-driven for future success

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2018 in Business
To remain competitive and to be fit for the future, the construction sector needs to embrace data driven technologies. According to different analysts, this includes maximizing the potential of the Internet of Things.
According to analyst George Anadiotis of ZDNet, if you want an example of a construction company that is making good use of data analytics, especially information collected via the Internet of Things, then there are few better examples than Caterpillar. For the construction giant, data analytics has enabled new applications and business models to be developed.
Caterpillar has been using data-driven machines for several years, being one of the pioneers in the field. This began with telemetry data collected from machines operating on various sites. Such data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring and further analysis.
Data in real-time via sensors
This progressed to collecting data in real time through sensors, with the information transmitted over broadband mobile communications for storage for further processing. Today Caterpillar has most of its 500,000 machines connected. According to Tom Bucklar, Caterpillar's Director of Innovation & Digital: "A lot of that comes from engine electronics -- going from mechanical to electronics means there are sensors and capabilities to work remotely and understand the machine. We are also very active in going out and connecting existing machines and equipment."
Much of the data is channeled through CAT Connect, which is Caterpillar's suite of hardware, software and services for equipment management, productivity and safety. For example, the Product Link hardware collects data from assets, and this is then analyzed by VisionLink, which is a web interface that turns that data into insights about asset location, operation, health, and productivity.
Linking construction with digital architecture
The importance of data-driven construction is reiterated by Professor Randy Deutsch, of The Illinois School of Architecture. In a new book, titled "Data-Driven Design and Construction: 25 Strategies for Capturing, Analyzing and Applying Building Data", Deutsch explores how data-driven design "is the new frontier of the convergence" between building information management and architectural computational analyses and associated tools. This are ideas that are being picked up by the construction sector.
Monitoring construction via Android apps
Another example company making the most of such data-driven approaches is Volvo CE. One feature that the company offers is called Co-pilot, which is based on Android compatible technology. This platform can host apps that work in the cockpit of larger construction vehicles and from which data can be collected.
With such technology, Christine Billaud, director business technology at Volvo CE told the magazine The Manufacturer that Volvo have "been utilizing the insights and the machines data combing with other sorts of data, this gave us the possibility to protect the machines and to get an insight in how machines are used for instance."
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