A New Foundation for Construction Data
The competitive advantage unlocked by element level data in construction
Construction data today
Many industries have successfully used data to streamline operations and reduce waste and risk, and they’ve done so by harnessing data on the building blocks of their business: Retail tracks at the SKU level, digital mapping relies on GPS coordinates and Major League Baseball measures the velocity, position and break of every pitch. The opportunity for construction lies in systematically monitoring and measuring all the constituent elements: each individual plumbing sleeve, façade panel or embed installed on a jobsite.
Element-level construction data holds the key to the next phase of evolution in the industry. Turning every PT cable and embed into a data point that reflects its quality, schedule and location creates a universal vocabulary. This breaks down silos of information between project participants to create a common, measurable standard for construction for quality, performance, schedule, speed, conformance and how exposure is managed.
Projects have become more complex, which means investors, owners, real estate developers and general contractors increasingly need tools that enable them to track—and make sense of—performance as well as risk exposure.
Doing so, however, hinges on being able to effectively gather and use information. There is a lot of documentation in construction, but data is creeping slowly into the industry from different sides, from safety and procurement to operations & maintenance and market transactions. We have very little non-financial data about the business of construction itself.
Why existing data reporting falls short
Access to accurate project data remains a stumbling block across the industry. Data today is often as opaque as a concrete pour—it can’t be broken down into its constituent parts, so you have to take it as it is. In addition, most data in the industry is self-reported and siloed. In many cases, elements that have been installed are merely spot-checked, not verified in a complete, systematic way.
At the company level, management is saddled with understanding variables ranging from location to building type, latent liabilities and warranty claims, all of which make it difficult to understand company-wide performance or dig into root causes.
This means that the perspective today’s data provides about what is happening on site is incomplete, biased and a lagging indicator at best. And while the volume of available project data has doubled over the last three years, three in 10 industry leaders surveyed by Autodesk say that more than half their data is bad and that 14% of all rework is caused by bad data. Given the prevalence of rework on jobsites today, that amounts to a significant impact.
On top of that, most of the data we have today is in the BIM model, but it’s an open-loop system—it points the field in the right direction but fails to connect between design and installation. By tracking the installation of each element using new tools, the loop is closed, enriching planning data with systematically verified as-built information that makes the data useful not just for the life of the project but also for the life of the asset.
How digital construction verification is completing the equation
Digital construction verification (DCV) leverages technology to identify and categorize each individual element in the project plans in order to systematically verify that each element is installed correctly in the field, during—not after—installation.
Element-level DCV provides real-time data, feedback and actionable insights to reveal patterns that help managers uncover errors, prioritize fixes and make better decisions about everything from the subcontractors they choose to how they enable better coordination between trades. It closes the loop with the field, enabling trades to improve on the job and reduce rework as they are installing,, while providing a system of record recording the actual as-built conditions.
Data analysis from more than $10 billion in construction projects—from high-rise commercial to multifamily residential, from cast in place (CIP) and wood frame buildings to specialty construction—has uncovered insights into trade performance that affect projects today, serve as leading indicators for overall project performance, and determine the exposure and direction of the business.
Keep reading to learn more about what we found, why it matters and how to make the most of construction data today and in the future.