construction tools of the future - blockchain

The Construction Tools of Tomorrow: Blockchain & Data Analysis

New Technologies & Potential Future Uses in Construction

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”

After spending a decade as one of NYC’s top construction firms, the one thing we know for certain is this: the only constant is change. Because our corporation was built on the backs of agility and innovation, we’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to bring exciting technologies into our industry. Here are a few developments we’ve been getting familiar with as of late, and how you’re likely to see them applied to construction in the months and years to come:

The Birth of Blockchain

You’ve probably heard of blockchain by now, but did you know that 80% of people who’ve heard of blockchain don’t know what it is? That said, before getting into the value blockchain can bring to your next construction site, let’s take a look at what it is.

To put it simply, blockchain is a virtual system that keeps track of transactions across a peer-to-peer network.. It essentially acts as a digital ledger where contracts and financial transactions can be documented and settled once complete.

So, now that we’ve covered what blockchain is, what benefits does it provide to the construction industry? Besides tracking and confirming monetary exchanges, blockchain serves to streamline the exchange of something that’s crucial to every construction project: information. Let’s touch on the four revolutionary uses of blockchain in construction and the benefits they provide:

The Benefits of Blockchain Technologies for Construction

1: Smart Contracts

Blockchain technology is an excellent solution for recording and modifying smart contracts – which are a highly recognized solution for saving time and money in construction. All parties involved in a build can set parameters around the project and use blockchain as a centralized tracking system that enforces rules, regulations, penalties, etc.

Let’s say a crucial building material was shipped late. The blockchain network would take note and impose an appropriate compensatory action as per the parameters agreed upon at the start of the project, such as a programmed penalty fee. Thus, blockchain technology serves as an accountability system that solves issues before they have a chance to snowball and ensures all parties involved in a project are operating efficiently.

2: BIM

We’ve touched on BIM (building information modeling) in a previous blog post, which you can access here. In this blog, we’d like to review the benefits of combining BIM with blockchain for an effective mix of smart contract management. When combined with blockchain, BIM’s effectiveness is improved with real-time updates, increased transparency, and better communication overall. This results in a higher degree of quality for the finished project.

3: Supply Chain Management

When a supply chain isn’t working as it should, projects face delays, loss of productivity, overrun costs, and displeased owners. Blockchain has the ability to trace items and materials from their point of origin all the way to their destination, thus aiding in transparency, collaboration, and a more seamless project experience for all parties involved in the project. What’s more, blockchain allows contractors to authenticate vendors and suppliers using digital-specific IDs that present the credentials of subcontractors prior to their being employed.  This also allows subcontractors the opportunity to grow their reputation after a job well done.

Despite a few obstacles that are sure to smooth out with more frequent implementation by construction companies, blockchain offers a promising future for the digital revolution of efficient, technologically-based tools.

Leveraging Data Collection & Analysis for Construction Projects

Data analytics is becoming more and more common in the construction industry, as it gives companies a way to track, evaluate, and then use massive amounts of information to help resolve business challenges, as well as provide valuable insights for future projects. Big data can help construction firms do things like finish projects on time, make more accurate bids, and complete builds in a more cost-effective manner. Here’s what big data brings to the table amongst construction’s complex landscape:

1: Digital technologies can analyze thousands of pieces of information to provide key insights for construction projects.

2: Big data can collect and review key resource productivity, informing a project’s team of delays, fatigue, time spent, and cost overruns.

3: Data analytics can be used in combination with artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a combination of critical insights before a project even begins. This allows all parties involved in a build to assess potential pitfalls, conflicts, and impacts before breaking ground, leading to a smoother-run and more successful project overall.

4: Big data can be utilized in a project’s design phase to help facilitate processes, forecast potential issues, and boost productivity. This information can also be integrated with BIM for a clear and precise synopsis of the construction process.

5: Data analytics tools can help construction companies harness the ideologies of lean construction to decrease material waste and ensure more efficient distribution and use of materials and equipment.

6: Sensors attached to on-site operational machinery can process a large amount of data on the performance of the equipment. This enables contractors to optimize fuel efficiency and productivity as well as letting them whether it’s more cost-effective to buy, lease, or rent machinery for a project.

7: Wearable sensor-enabled devices with biometric sensors monitor workers’ physical health and promote safer, healthier conditions for workers.

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