The recent pandemic, still lingering, forced upon the whole industry digitalization. Remote working became the norm, and depending on the workflow of your business, this reality was beneficial or detrimental. For the construction industry, 2020 decreased the global construction sector to 3.1%, its worst decline since the 2008 global financial crisis.
Between lockdowns, physical distancing, and covid-19 outbursts resulting in entire site shutdowns, the construction industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. But it has also brought to light opportunities by digital transformation (DX) adoption, as the potential benefits it brings are exponential. Smart construction management opens up workforce safety, accurate stocking, unified workflows, and meeting deadlines.
Although these obvious advantages are set on decision-maker's tables, the construction industry is moving slowly into DX. Continue reading to learn more about the opportunities and best practices to deploy smart construction management into your corporation's work plan. You will get first-hand insights into top technological breakthroughs, like decentralization systems, ensuring real-time data, privacy and security, and cost-effective technical implementation.
The construction industry is man-powered; without people working on-site, construction would be unable to function. Robotics is indeed moving at lightning speeds, and autonomous robots will be part of the construction workforce sooner than later. Until that day comes, people are the only option to continue building bridges, railroads, and apartment blocks, and this workforce needs to see why DX is worthwhile.
For digital transformation to become an asset in construction, all stakeholders must be part of the deployment process. Too many projects started top-down and failed as the workforce on-site needed to see the use or learn how to use the technology. Some of the main reasons for technology implementation failure are:
In consequence, the technology chosen has a low use percentage. As such, it is vital to involve all the decision-makers and end users from beginning to end in deploying technology into the workflow. Today, the options at hand to adopt digital come primarily from centralized solutions, e.g., cloud service providers, and these come with drawbacks that can profoundly affect the investment.
However, the eruption of decentralized solutions is gaining speed as the issues with centralized solutions are mitigated. Let's look in more detail into these two options.
Cloud service providers have been around for decades, and all construction corporations use them differently. The Cloud has provided businesses throughout industries with tools to access information anytime, wherever they are. For example, managers and suppliers can access material stock databases, providing direct information for both parties. Communications are fluent via emails or internal comments, updates, or notifications on shared Excel sheets.
These tools, from smartphone apps, desktops, and laptops, make communication between departments, executives, and suppliers more flexible. In addition, the costs of storing all this data on owned servers plus its maintenance (security, updates, upgrades, etc.) are eliminated. The Cloud opened many opportunities for all business sizes, as the costs of accessing a plan were tailored for large, medium, and small businesses.
For decades, cloud service providers have brought limitless advantages to the market and, thus, are at the top of Fortune 500 lists. It is a tremendous administrative and executive tool as, for limited budgets, companies get an array of products and services worth every dollar invested. From Excel sheets, PowerPoints, and emails, to software and platforms, the Cloud has them all ready to use. Great! Then why start looking at other options like decentralized systems?!
Good question, one to which the answer may be difficult to understand. So let's go step by step to digest the answer in pieces.
The need to implement decentralized systems comes from something other than the idea of a few intelligent tech gurus that want to take over the market and reduce the current tech dragons to ashes, take their place, and become the new tech tycoons. On the contrary, decentralized systems are growing because of a real need. Digital transformation is not just moving from phone calls to emails or pitches on floppy disks to PowerPoint pitches on your Drive.
Digital transformation resides in the exponential benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and digital twins for all industry verticals. IoT is devices communicating with each other and sending, through these communications, vast data generation to deliver decision-makers valuable information on which they can act accordingly. In a construction site, IoT devices can help to indicate workforce positionings and dangerous levels of gases and notify the supply chain of a surplus of steel or an insufficient quantity of cement.
Applying these technological advancements to construction sites bring noticeable gains, as safety in working spaces is highly optimized, as is the supply chain and communication between the workforce. All these devices, sensors, machines, drones, etc., work at the source; in other words, the data is produced on-premises. And? Well, the thing is that if we use centralized systems for smart construction management, we are moving the data from the source. Cloud service providers can be thousands of kilometers away from the building site. Even though digital data moves at lightning speed, there are flaws.
The flaws might only affect some workflow, but some instances can be heavily burdened, costing the construction business thousands or millions of dollars in losses. Imagine if your server center goes down and dataflow stops for a couple of minutes, hours, or days. The consequences can be insignificant if we only think about emails, spreadsheets, and PowerPoints. But if we think about the safety of the workforce, e.g., a pipeline leaking a dangerous gas, if the information cannot be confirmed in real-time, 24/7 lives are put on the line.
You don't want to be so dramatic about it, ok. Imagine then the downtime resulting from lagging data to a supplier of steel. If there are no materials on the construction site, the workforce will be unable to work. But they will still get paid, right? There are other examples that you, as a professional, can see and understand the economic or health implications. Decentralization provides a solution to these issues that come with cloud service providers, as decentralized systems do not require all data to move to data centers.
Innovations in technology are creating in the market data management systems capable of using tech infrastructure on-premises to store, process, analyze, and deliver data generation. There are other advantages that we will look at now that have to do with the security and privacy of the data generated.
The potential of a cyberattack successfully taking control of a centralized system and shutting it down indefinitely, or until the ransomware is paid, is higher than you might think. The Achilles heel of centralized solutions regarding cyberterrorism lives in the singular point of attack. If a hacker or organized and government-funded group accesses just one point in the centralized system, it can take over the entire network.
In contrast, a decentralized system using blockchain technology makes it extremely hard for a cyberattack to take control of the whole network. The reason is that once a bad actor tries to enter the network, the blockchain instantly detects and quarantines that node (computer, device, sensor) and then communicates to the rest of the network that there is an anomaly. Once all the nodes in the network certify the anomaly coming from that device, sensor, or laptop, it is directly ignored and shut down from the system.
As all the nodes in a decentralized system share all the information equally, the tasks done by the infected node can be taken over by other nodes in the network. This way, the network can work until the infected node is fixed or replaced, alleviating the construction site from downtime. Don't be fooled; even small construction companies risk being hacked and forced to pay ransomware for the network to be operational again.
It doesn't stop here. The exponential implementation of IoT devices in construction, households, and factories is also of concern. As incredibly efficient and beneficial to business processes, IoT devices, e.g., asset tracking, worksite security, machine control, wearables, etc., are typically the most vulnerable, as these devices often were not designed with cybersecurity in mind. If we add to this reality, the back-and-forth movement of the data generated by IoT devices to server centers is like free candy at the school entrance.
To solve this problem, maintaining data flow at the source reduces the risks and vulnerabilities of IoT devices' lack of cybersecurity.
Now that we have gone through the solutions available to manage data generation in construction let's look at specific decentralized solutions for your DX boost. Decentralization systems using blockchain technology became mainstream when Bitcoin entered the global currency market, introducing what is now known by all as cryptocurrency.
The white paper presenting Bitcoin's functionality was published in 2008, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. It started to grow in importance, starting at $0.09 and reaching an all-time high in 2021 of over $60k for one Bitcoin. But it didn't just interest investors trying to make their investment of a lifetime. It also grabbed the attention of tech-savvy innovators as they saw the potential blockchain technology could have for any type of digital transaction.
As such, blockchain technology (a digital ledger) is entering many industries and providing successful use cases. For example, by applying blockchain technology, Volvo Cars became the first carmaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries. Today, all giant tech dragons are developing their blockchain. From IBM to Microsoft and going through to the NIST description, blockchain is everywhere.
Another fundamental advantage of implementing decentralized systems is sustainability. Customers today are more aware of the carbon footprint and demand green solutions from businesses. The greener your working processes are, the more likely your construction company will get a contract over a lesser green company. Adopting your corporation's digital transformation via a decentralized innovative management system will make your data processing greener.
Server centers are notorious for their energy-intensive needs to maintain temperatures at bay, and to achieve this on a 24/7 basis, fossil fuels continue to be their only option. The infrastructure required for hyper-scale data centers to reach net-zero emissions is geographically inviable as the locations would have to be too remote. Research indicates that to solve the high economic and environmental costs of current data centers heat control issues; it is to move to cold regions, e.g., northern Scandinavian countries. But the problem with this solution is data availability. When data centers are located in remote places, latency can become a genuine hurdle. Latency is the time it takes for data to pass from one point on a network to another.
Considering this, moving all data centers to remote locations would not ensure real-time data. As mentioned, IoT's great benefit is the possibility of generating real-time data. Therefore, data centers need to be located strategically to reduce latency.
On-premises decentralized data management eliminates this conundrum as the tech infrastructure isn't concentrated in one area. The nodes are sparsed; thus, heating problems are not a concern.
The Eden system, developed by Internet of Everything Corporation (IoE Corp), introduces a groundbreaking technological solution designed for massive IoT deployments. It was created with growing flaws that centralized solutions were unable to tackle in mind. EDEN is a decentralized, quantum-safe, and blockchain-secured software platform offering smart data management ideal for the construction industry.
Adding Eden to your construction company will spark your way into a secure, cost-effective, sustainable, and ease-of-use digital transformation. IoE Corp's tech envisions a future where everything is connected. A step further from IoT, it enters the world of IoE, the Internet of Everything, the intelligent interconnectivity of people, things, processes, and data. Industry 4.0 at its finest is already here and waiting for you to access it by becoming a Planet Partner.
The dawning of the fourth industrial revolution has arrived, become an industry leader and a pioneer in the construction industry. The Eden system presents the tools and flexibility required to take full advantage of IoT, autonomous automation, artificial intelligence (AI), digital twins, and more. Learn more about how IoE Corp's Planet Partner Program can help you and your customers embrace digital transformation.
Start your journey by applying to the Planet Partner Program.