The Gilbane Building Company is well known for its innovative approach to improving performance. From Virtual Reality to 3D modeling and the latest prefabrication techniques, they’ve garnered plenty of well-deserved attention for their use of exciting new technologies.
But their focus isn’t only on “sexy” new technologies. Behind the scenes, they work tirelessly to optimize their processes, improve customer experience, and drive quality. Today, one of their largest behind-the-scenes priorities is focused on how to use construction data to improve the way they work.
More about Gilbane: Earlier this year, we interviewed Gilbane Building Company about their work on the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where they used VR and prefabrication to meet aggressive deadlines and create a “living learning lab” for Wentworth students. You can read that article here.
The Challenge of Construction Data
Historically, the construction industry has struggled with how to collect and manage construction data across projects. There are very few industry benchmarks or KPIs for construction performance, and precious few technologies designed to help GCs get a handle on their own numbers. Shrinking profit margins painfully illustrate the effect of this.
There are very few industry benchmarks for optimizing construction data. Gilbane plans to address it.
John Myers, Director of Virtual Design and Construction at Gilbane, says his team is keenly aware of this challenge, and determined to address it.
“It’s the next logical step for the industry,” he says. Because their company uses BIM 360 and Revit across all their trades, Gilbane owns tremendous quantities of data, and they’re not alone.
“As an industry, we have one of the largest untapped data sets in any industry in the country,” says Myers. It’s his company’s goal to begin tapping it.
"[Collecting construction data] is the next logical step for the industry. We have one of the largest untapped data sets in any industry in the country."
John Myers, Director of Virtual Design and Construction, Gilbane
How Gilbane Plans to Use Data
“When we give presentations,” says Myers. “We always start off with the premise that more information is better than less information, but organized information is better than any information.”
With that in mind, he says one big focus for Gilbane right now is mining construction data, sorting it, and using it to improve performance on several measures:
Anticipating new market sectors, by analyzing trends where they can best be of service, such as their reconstruction services sector and industrial market focus
Identifying new sources of revenue, by analyzing their project delivery models and optimizing value-added services aligned with client needs
Establishing new safety and quality standards based on data-driven KPIs.
Streamlining integrated reporting systems
Sharing economic impact scenarios with clients for improved forecasting
Watch how Gilbane used VR and construction data to meet aggressive deadlines and sell their vision
“There is going to be a point in time at which we can say, ‘The optimal way to route this system for a building of this type, is this,” says Myers, “and here’s the data to prove it.”
Using that information, they can repeat the system on other jobs of the same site, and plot out portions of every job based on algorithms.
Unlike drones, laser scanning, and Virtual Reality, which are already a practical part of many construction sites, using data in this way is still a “future tech,” but it’s one Gilbane is determined to establish and to benefit from.
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