Disrupting Construction From Within Via Strategic Partnerships

We leverage our strategic partners’ expertise to identify industry challenges and develop relevant solutions.

The following case study was originally published in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Construction report.

The challenge

During all construction project phases, from planning to operations and maintenance (O&M), the engineering and construction (E&C) industry accumulates a profusion of disparate data. Unfortunately, the vast and varied volume of data is not being systematically captured and analyzed, remaining siloed with different stakeholders and getting lost over the project’s lifecycle. This unruly data mass will proliferate exponentially as the industry continues to digitize. Despite the challenges, E&C companies can identify new revenue streams through data and improve their profitability by optimizing planning, design, engineering, construction, and O&M. Legacy IT systems are holding them back, creating barriers to capitalizing on digital transformation with speed.

See how Uptake Created $160,000 in Potential Value Per Locomotive Per Year for a Leading Class-1 Railroad

The idea

Ingest disparate, real-time & historical data onto a scalable and fast-analysis platform to generate valuable insights

With Uptake, construction firms, for example, can prevent unscheduled downtime, extend the lifespan of machinery, and improve equipment dispatching and planning. We leverage our strategic partners’ expertise to identify industry challenges and develop relevant solutions. This industry-partnership approach to building software ensures that applications are relevant and provide quantifiable value to end customers.

The functioning of Uptake’s platform can be divided into three steps which include data ingestion and integration, data analysis, and workflow integration. Our platform is designed to be “OEM- or vertical-agnostic.” Built on a single-code base, the platform aggregates and anonymizes data to share insights across multiple verticals. This cross-learning platform can be applied across different industries and integrates insights from a variety of high-value, equipment in industries where data is collected frequently to offset the remoteness and extreme conditions of their operations.

By enhancing our data and insights via iterations and machine-learning algorithms, we continuously improve our platform and upgrade services for clients. The platform enables a data-as-a-service model and is constantly updated.

The impact

The construction industry now has a powerful way of turning data into value. The Uptake approach has enabled clients to boost the productivity of their equipment and to generate new revenue streams.

Uptake’s platform provides two main benefits for E&C companies. First, a direct benefit: construction firms can now deploy their fleets with optimal efficiency. Second, since the platform enables equipment manufacturers to develop new service offerings, such as refined diagnosis and repair solutions, E&C companies can now derive greater value and longer working life from their machinery, thanks to prognostics, improved maintenance.

The barriers to innovation – and the solutions

Gaining expertise through strategic partnerships with key industry players

An early hurdle for Uptake was addressing the reservations expressed by conservative industries, particularly E&C. Many companies do not, or do not want to, recognize the added value of incorporating data analysis into their existing business models and operations. What’s more, many fear that big data solutions require changes to the process and IT setup. An important part of Uptake’s strategy is to educate the market–that is, to identify and highlight opportunities to improve efficiencies in an enterprise and to help executives understand that those efficiencies can be realized through data analytics. To do this, we use a partnership approach that is mutually beneficial.

Among the added benefits of the partnership approach is access to data. Uptake’s machine-learning algorithms rely on access to large pools of industry data, which enablee the platform to improve in quality and accuracy over time. However, Uptake initially lacked such broad data access, and to illustrate the value, opted to develop a platform configured based on a restricted data set that helped to demonstrate its efficacy.

Another challenge Uptake has overcome is the enormous diversity of the data being analyzed: the data comes from many different sources in many different formats, and Uptake integrates and normalizes it all into a central platform on which to run analytics.

As the platform seeks to scale further, it is targeting other key elements of the construction value chain–for instance, expanding into planning by including design firms. To this end, we have developed adjacent applications for its analytics platform:

From its data on machine utilization, Uptake could help contractors in the bidding and tendering process to optimize machine planning and make a more accurate prediction of machine usage.

From its data on buildings, Uptake could enable building designers to feed information about existing buildings—their performance and potential weak points—back into the planning and design process for new buildings.

With the increased usage of sensors and smart equipment—such as smart meters, valves, and shadings—buildings are now creating massive amounts of data that can be used for enhancing facility management and energy performance. From its experience with its energy clients, Uptake can also help optimize air conditioning and heating and it can couple needs with optimal energy sources.