The construction industry is data intensive as heterogeneous data are continuously generated as the project progresses. The data from different stages of the project are usually stored in silos; team server or desktop, individual desktop, laptops, smartphones, etc. Data integration is thus required for the overall project coordination because the inability to access a holistic view of data often leads to wrong decisions that could delay the project and also impact on performance and profitability of the project.
The traditional Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solution is to acquire high-end capacity system to store, process and analyse data. Deploying on-site solutions require a massive overhead (power, cooling, security, availability, updates) which comes with huge operational cost burden. Therefore, it is impractical to commission on-site ICT infrastructure for all projects due to the huge initial investment requirement. Besides, in-house computing provision is static in capability and usually more expensive to upgrade to meet a sudden upsurge in computing needs.
Cloud computing can help alleviate these issues. Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services, such as storage, processing power, and software applications, via the internet. It brings a revolution to the traditional approach of relying solely on local servers or personal computers, as it allows users to access and utilize resources and services hosted on remote servers. These servers, typically managed by a cloud service provider, offer a scalable and flexible infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of construction businesses.
Common examples of cloud
computing services include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a
Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each of these services
provides different levels of control and functionality, enabling users to tailor
their cloud computing experience to their specific requirements. From
foundational infrastructure to complete software solutions, cloud computing
offers a wide range of options for contractors. It empowers them to choose the
most suitable approach that aligns with their unique needs and goals.
There's an ever-growing list of providers of cloud-based solutions tailored to the construction industry. These companies offer a wide range of solutions from estimating and takeoffs, to managing contracts, subcontractor and supplier bids, cash flows and budgets and scheduling. Options range from complete solutions for managing all aspects of your construction business to individualized services such as project management or payroll solutions.
By leveraging cloud-based tools and platforms, construction professionals can streamline their processes, enhance communication, and drive successful project outcomes. There is not just one, but a good number of construction-specific benefits of cloud computing for contractors and real estate business owners. Some of them are detailed as follows –
The most useful feature of the cloud is that it is accessible from anywhere. This is especially relevant for construction companies because employees could be in the office one day and on a job site the next. And for companies with various ongoing projects, the ability to access paperwork and information without being bound to a desk can save a lot of time and many trips back to the office.
The ability to pull up the same data on a smartphone or tablet as is available from a computer is a real game-changer for construction participants ranging from material suppliers and contractors to property owners and project managers.
Cloud computing offers construction companies the opportunity to reduce both hardware and software expenses. By eliminating the need for extensive on-site infrastructure, significant capital investments can be saved.
Moreover, the reliance on cloud services allows companies to avoid the purchase and maintenance of expensive software licenses. Additionally, the maintenance, updates, and troubleshooting of infrastructure and software are handled by cloud service providers, alleviating the burden on internal IT teams. Consequently, construction firms can experience substantial cost savings by outsourcing these responsibilities.
Enhanced Collaboration and Communication
The modern construction professionals not only need to be the best at their job but also be highly collaborative. Cloud-based platforms enable real-time sharing and access to project data, fostering collaboration and enhancing decision-making processes. With the ability for multiple team members to work simultaneously on shared documents, version control issues and delays become a thing of the past.
Efficient and effective communication among project stakeholders is achieved through cloud-based communication tools like instant messaging and video conferencing. Regardless of their physical location, project managers, architects, contractors, and clients can easily exchange information, resolve issues, and track project progress. Instead of using emails, all the project stakeholders can access the same calendar, make project updates, and schedule meetings by themselves in real-time.
Improved Efficiency and Productivity
The foremost advantage of adopting cloud computing technology is improved efficiency and productivity. In the past, important worksite information had to be recorded on paper, conveyed through phone calls or physical meetings, and shared manually through different channels. This tedious process often led to wasted time, decreased productivity, and errors due to incorrect transmission of details. In addition, these costly mistakes resulted in change orders, project delays, and increased expenses.
With the power of cloud computing technology, managers and workers can quickly enter, upload and share vital job data such as measurements, specifications, plans, images, and videos. It enables seamless collaboration and communication, enabling a more efficient and connected job site. In addition, this technology makes accessing job data from anywhere within the organization no longer challenging. The cloud truly takes jobsite connectivity to the next level.
A smaller construction company could find it difficult to compete with the giants of the industry, but such small companies could get a competitive edge with the help of cloud. Through cloud computing, even a small firm can achieve enterprise-level of recovery, management, access, and data storage at a fraction of the cost spent by bigger enterprises.
Smaller companies apply strategy and use the cloud which is suitable for their needs. The cloud pay-per-use feature allows them to pay only for the services and resources utilized by them. This encourages healthy competition as the cloud services received by smaller companies are the same as that of bigger companies.
Top-Level Data Security
Construction companies rely heavily on storing their plans, blueprints, and project-related files. Traditionally, physical storage devices like hard drives and paper files have been used, but they can be vulnerable to damage, theft, and corruption, leading to data loss. Fortunately, cloud storage provides a secure and accessible solution, enabling employees to easily back up and sync their data from anywhere. With cloud storage, construction companies can safeguard their data and ensure they have access to it whenever they need it, without worrying about the risks of physical storage devices.
Only the authorized users are given access to the data saved on the cloud. This adds an extra layer of safety over it. Most of the cloud service providers make use of data security methods such as data encryption, intrusion detection, firewalls, etc. to keep their client's data safe and secure.
The construction industry is slowly embracing cloud computing, taking advantage of many tools to enhance project efficiency. By leveraging cloud-based software, construction firms can streamline their processes and complete their work in a fraction of the time, allowing them to shift their focus to the next project. In addition to boosting efficiency and productivity, cloud technology enables construction organizations to simplify data processing and access unlimited data storage. The future of construction looks promising with the integration of cloud-powered Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology, which has the potential to revolutionize the industry.