Addressing Data Growth in Construction

January 22, 2013

The amount of data inundating the construction market could potentially be one of the biggest challenges the industry will face in the years ahead. With BIM (building information modeling) and other collaborative processes gaining momentum in the commercial space, organizing and accessing the associated data is already a challenge—one that is only going to develop further.

The global “big data” market is expected to continue growing at a 40.5% compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2018, according to Transparency Market Research, www.transparencymarketresearch.com, Albany, N.Y. The generation of this data is creating a need for an efficient tool to manage the stockpiles of information.

For the construction industry, cloud-based software continues to generate buzz as a means to store, access, and organize data across a dispersed team of project participants. More often, project teams are turning to technology to sort through all the data.

One example comes out of North Dakota. The CGF (Center to Grand Forks) project is enabling Minnkota Power Cooperative, www.minnkota.com, Grand Forks, N.D., to improve grid reliability and increase voltage support through the construction of a 250-mile high-voltage transmission line from central North Dakota to Grand Forks. The five-year project is large and complex, with aggressive deadlines.

Like many construction projects, the internal Minnkota project team members and external contractors and consultants used to manage data by placing files in different systems and FTP sites, which resulted in inconsistent naming conventions and time-consuming processes to transfer documents. One of the biggest challenges with this method of managing data is it becomes difficult to ensure information is up-to-date and accurate.

In order to manage, track, and share large files and data on the CGF project, the team turned to online project collaboration technology from Aconex, www.aconex.com, San Bruno, Calif. With the solution in place, the team can share data with both internal and external team members, resulting in a consistent naming convention and better organization of critical project data.

Mike Hennes, CGF project manager, Minnkota, says the technology will enable the team to stay on schedule with centralized access to documentation, which will improve workflow and decision making. Additionally, once the CGF project is completed, the historical documents can be transferred to Minnkota’s internal document-management system for future reference.

The amount of data on a construction jobsite has exploded in recent years and is only going to continue to grow in the coming years. For construction teams looking for a way to manage all the information associated with a particular project, cloud-based technologies are proving to be a good way to store and access data in a central location.