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Data Driven Construction

Construction sites are traditionally thought of as low-tech by nature. Think about it, when we’re talking new construction most of the time this means BIG machines such as bulldozers, tall construction cranes, and other pieces of machinery that seemingly (to the outside world) haven’t changed in years. But as technology evolves, more data on and about these machines are becoming available. Sensors are being utilized and information is being collected to help everyone become more efficient.

Caterpillar Inc, also commonly known as CAT, is using in-cab cameras similar to what truck drivers utilize to detect signs of fatigue. This allows Caterpillar to, in real-time, buzz an operator and wake them if there is a safety risk of falling asleep. The company tracks this information for the customer so it can act on data and decide whether an operator needs more breaks. The end goal is to prevent accidents and make sure heavy machine operators are working as efficiently as possible. By gathering data, the company can analyze trends and make decisions on exactly how many breaks operators need and what time are optimal during a “normal” schedule.

Additionally, data can be used to assist in the functionality of its machines. This can allow them to more quickly move toward making the machines more autonomous, which can help improve operator performance and precise consistency in tasks such as digging, excavating, etc. In other words, in today’s world the data can be collected easily, it’s just a matter of making sense of it all.

“Sensors are becoming so cheap and so inexpensive and you can put them on a lot of things, but you ultimately have to have the use case and the way to create the value from it. I think that kind of gets lost in the mix of the sexiness of [the internet of things].” said Morgan Vawter, chief analytics director at Caterpillar Inc.

Future Machine Development

Another exciting use of sensors and technology is to aid in the development of new machinery. Caterpillar is using artificial intelligence (AI), to help product testing. Vawter said, “We can actually reduce the amount of time that it takes us to develop a new machine and get it out into the field by simulating a lot of the product testing internally.”

For example, by gathering data Caterpillar can use reinforcement learning to understand how an operator may perform with something like excavator leveling.

The model offers Caterpillar a view of the good and bad functionalities the operator might use, which can influence the company’s testing and development process. With research and development being such a huge expense for companies like Caterpillar, using sensors and analyzing data can help lead to big bottom line savings.

The Future of Data & Analytics in Construction

The sky is the limit. That’s the truth. But the reality is that sometimes it’s information overload when it comes to measuring and analyzing date on machines/at the worksite. It all comes down to how can the trends be used to make decisions that allow reduction in expenses which increased efficiency. At Impact Construction Management, we’ll continue to advise our clients on the proven data and analytics that make real business sense for everyone involved.

About Impact Construction Management

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Impact Construction Management is a full-service construction management firm. Founded by Louis Buonaiuto and Richard Bowlin, Impact Construction Management has been managing construction projects for clients throughout the Midwest and South for over 10 years. From our very first project to today, our focus has been on delivering the results our clients want by providing responsive service, up-front pricing and the highest-quality workmanship.[/column]

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