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Data seen as cost-saver

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Construction industry, tagged as being particularly wasteful, could see billions in savings through analytics, engineer says BY LEWIS KELLY, POSTMEDIA NEWS

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Building a single-family home can create as much as 50 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions, an industry expert says, but that could be reduced by sharing information to become less wasteful. Photograph by: BRUCE EDWARDS POSTMEDIA NEWS , Postmedia News

Construction industry leaders think the sector needs to cut waste, and that analytics will make it happen. "We are a wasteful industry," said Darlene La Truce, executive vice-

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http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Data+seen+cost+saver/6533390/story.html[4/30/2012 12:06:43 PM]

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Data seen as cost-saver

you could have." The solution, they say, lies in the nascent field of analytics: the largescale collection and analysis of data made possible by the spread of

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digital technology. A panel of four construction professionals weighed in on the topic during a conference this week. MORE BUSINESS HEADLINES »

Klaas Rodenburg, an engineer with Stantec and head of a trade group hoping to encourage industry acceptance of analytics, thinks it could cut

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building costs in half.

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That would mean savings of billions of dollars for the construction industry, which makes up about one-tenth of Alberta's provincial economy and employs over 300,000 people. "A lot of the waste comes from the fact that we're so siloed. We do things over and over again, and we don't do it by thinking, we just do it the way we've always done," said Rodenburg. Automated data collection

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Rodenburg. "It's a very mom-and-pop business," he said.

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"There's literally a couple hundred thousand construction companies, and none of them talk to each other. It's very adversarial. The construction industry is broken and it needs to change." He thinks analytics, with its abundance of numbers and hard data, will make it easier to convince people to drop antiquated practices. "We have to work in an environment of trust," he said. "That isn't going to happen overnight, because you are dealing with people, but it's easier to trust somebody if they have evidence to support their position. "We need to use information to become more efficient and less wasteful. There are all sorts of levels you can do that at, from design to planning to construction to manufacturing." The change will still create winners and losers, Rodenburg said, as different companies adopt analytic tools at different speeds. "The first people to seize that value will be able to out-compete the people who don't," he said. Allan Partridge, an executive with architecture firm Group 2, compared industry adoption of analytics with another industrial change. "When the automobile came out, a lot of people said your brain would hemorrhage at 30 miles an hour," he said. Rodenburg said the costsavings analytics offers the industry depend on the rate at which companies embrace change. "It all depends on how quickly people take advantage of the opportunities," he said. "You can't force it." © Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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