W. Edwards Demming, who is credited with bringing lean philosophy to Japan in the 50s made a well known quote: “Without data, you're just another person with an opinion.”. For me the biggest frustration working on construction sites is that huge amounts of time are spent in meetings and email of people debating uninformed opinions and making common mistakes because of this. This can all be streamlined with a relatively simple project data setup to give everyone access to virtual project cockpit. Smart project management is data driven.
Make the most of using the cloud to build the cloud
Datacentres provide capacity for cloud and data services. So, data centres projects should use the cloud as effectively as possible to build the next generation of cloud facilities.
To use the cloud effectively for datacentre construction you should look to:
- maximise the use of data analytics and the latest construction management software to improve the efficiency of your datacentre project mangement e.g. shift from spreadsheets to tools such as Power BI, Microsoft 365 and the Azure Cloud Platform. This enables a single source of truth and easy access to the right information for everyone on the team.
- developing a data asset by accumulating structured data from previous projects and the supply chain to support delivery throughout the project lifecycle. This not only allows for accurate benchmarking but also provides useful information on how to do things better in the future by revealing systemic issues that aren’t necessarily obvious or intuitive. This a major tool that manufacturers use to continuously improve.
Have clear roles and responsibilities for data
Everyone thinks things are going fine until the M&E fit-out begins and by then it is very difficult to course correct.
Historically project data has been the remit of the project controls and planning people in the team but to make it work properly everyone needs to be involved because everything is interlinked.
For fast-moving construction projects such as datacentres to be successful, all contractors and subcontractors must be on the same page. By having clear roles & responsibilities for project data, decision-makers can have confidence that their decisions are based on sound information and data.
Each individual on the project should be made aware of their data-role when they’re onboarded onto the project including:
- understanding the aims and purpose of the datasets that they’re contributing to and what decision making it will enable others on the project to do
- a clear outline of what they must do when it comes to data and which data sets they are responsible for
- understanding why their role is important and how their inputs/outputs feed into the wider project data and overall objectives.
If this area of onboarding is overlooked, inaccurate data could be gathered or no data gathered at all. The most common example is the programme/schedule (one of the most important data sets) not being aligned with reality not necessarily the fault of the planners but because the project team is not integrated effectively.
Scope all data sets from the start
With fast build projects having the right quantities and proper take-offs (list of materials required broken down to the work areas) allows you to plan your manpower, logistics and wider resources correctly. Quality and handover data sets tell you if your project is really getting completed. Safety data shows you how well managed your site is generally as well as how safe it is. The list is endless but the low hanging fruit is easily picked.
For example, if you’re on a fast-track programme on site where you are building two floors simultaneously and only have one crane on site – this could slow down progress as the crane may not be able to deliver the materials to both floors fast enough. This can be predicted before it becomes a problem simply by ensuring your logistics and programme information are tied together. Just doing this could prevent a delay of many weeks which translates to millions for a hyperscale data centre.
When it comes to achieving successful datacentre project delivery, the good news is that most of the benefits can be achieved with simple processes using simple tools. As maturity develops then tools and methods can be improved over time.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to work.
Underestimating the scale of M&E management and commissioning
We all often underestimate the complexity of planning, installing and commissioning M&E installations.
Datacentre projects have such complex M&E plants that knowing how to optimise sequencing and the impacts of particular decisions on other areas of the project when on site is key.
The key here is to develop a data set that maps systems to locations in order to have a comprehensive understanding of which construction room ready milestones drive which system commissioning milestones. This allows the right areas to be prioritised for construction to achieve commissioning objectives, thus optimising delivery in such a way the months can be saved off the schedule.
It is a lot of work upfront but on projects where an excess of £500k a day is being spent the savings can be significant.
Check out our Data & Digital section to learn more about how we’re helping our Clients construct data centres.