Using Data for Delivery, Performance and Visualisation

We have recently explored the role that data plays in the construction and infrastructure sector and how big data can be used to support design and planning, aiding with everything from project visualisation to PUP planning.

But what options exist for utilising data through the delivery phase of a project, from directing site activities to capturing cost and performance metrics? Ryan O’Neill takes a look.

When I look at data in project delivery, there are three areas in which data can support the delivery of projects. They are:

  • Productivity – maximising the efficiency of people, services and supply
  • Cost and Performance – managing the budget and schedule of a project more effectively
  • Visualisation – using technology to bring a project to life and understand the location and site

For an industry that operates on wafer-thin margins, just a slight improvement in any of the above would have significant benefit for a project.

Here are my suggestions on some practical applications for data:


  • Connecting site to office – Real-time data and reporting has the potential to improve project overviews and insights as live reporting of tasks, hazards, risks, and claims can be managed at the touch of a button and integrated into reporting and management systems
  • Machine control – in an age of smart devices, the use of data to guide equipment is an area for exploration. For example, integrating a design model into plant and equipment enables machines to operate in accordance with the design. Practically this means a grader trimming to the exact grade specified in the design.
  • Just in time scheduling – when we visit a site, it is not uncommon to see work crews waiting for the next task, delays caused by late delivery or materials arriving to site ahead of requirement. Using data to having a clear picture of a project, it is possible to move to just in time scheduling, significantly improving efficiency. This flows into supply chain management, which again would benefit from clearer and more realistic timeframes.

Cost and Performance

  • Cost and Schedule Tracking – Understanding every aspect of site performance enables engineers to analyse real-time data, fix errors before they become costly, and track performance and costs like never before.
  • Health and Safety – Keeping our people healthy is critical to our success and their wellbeing. It is possible to track hours worked, movement, temperature and other environmental data to support staff as they deliver works.


  • 4d Programming – Digital designs can be transformed into models that enable everyone involved in a project to understand what is being built clearly and to compare what is constructed to the plan
  • Augmented Reality – It has come a long way since Pokemon Go!, and its applications for construction are huge. This is especially true when working with BIM, digital twins and PUP. I’m sure that we all know of a few projects where the use of tablets to camera in real-time to ‘see’ underground services before disturbing the ground would have been helpful.

In addition to the above, there are a couple of areas for further consideration. I think that the next trend will be towards using data to test delivery methodologies. We use techniques and approaches that are tested and true, but are they? Data can test our methodologies and potentially drive further improvement because just because it’s the way it has always been done doesn’t mean it is the best way.

We can also start to share data. Perhaps we could develop a productivity database and share it across the industry, openly and freely? A great idea, but maybe a bridge too far as we like to keep our numbers to ourselves, but that’s a topic for our next blog.

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