Reducing the carbon-intensive nature of infrastructure projects


Shweta Saxena, CEO, MachineMax discusses how businesses can drive data-driven sustainability in infrastructure.

Major infrastructure and utilities projects are the bedrock of a functioning society, however, given their scale, they leave more than concrete and waterways behind. Infrastructure projects can be incredibly carbon-intensive, and for truly green construction, projects must address carbon emissions from the outset. 

Infrastructure projects are incorporating innovative technologies, such as carbon-capturing cement and green waste, in a bid to bring construction one step closer to achieving net-zero goals. But, are current efforts to cut emissions with site machinery like off-highway fleets, sufficient, and is technology being capitalised on? Heavy machines are a major culprit when it comes to carbon emissions, and the pitfalls come down to not having the right information at the right time. Specifically, a lack of CO2 benchmarking that could be enabled by improved data sharing, is largely to blame. Intelligent sensors, telematics and data solutions provide a remedy for this issue.

If the civils and infrastructure community can adopt a benchmarking approach by identifying a standard baseline, then persistent vehicular inefficiencies, like idling hotspots, can be identified and rectified. If done right, positive change, like reduced emissions, fewer project delays and, lower energy costs, will soon follow. 

Data is king 

Data's become somewhat of a secret sauce for smarter work. By closely monitoring machine metrics like utilisation, idling time, fuel consumption, location, and operating hours, teams can leverage the insights to identify patterns in operational inefficiencies. Correcting the flaws identified will enhance productivity and keep operations on track. 

Telematics is the fuel that powers the precise monitoring of these metrics. Coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), this supercharged data funnel gives construction contractors access to real-time insights that can automate monitoring systems analysing a spectrum of metrics. A wealth of information on the use of machinery like cranes and bulldozers is at their fingertips. Gone are the days of jotting down this information by hand and hoping to make sense of it later. This data is a secret weapon to proactively pinpoint challenges, curtail unexpected halts and boost operational efficiency. 

Using this data, teams in the field can make real changes on the ground. For instance, improved awareness of operational patterns allows machine operators to consciously conserve fuel if and when their machine is idling. And it's not just about carbon savings; we're talking about slashing costs - a win-win for everyone. Think of live machine data as a spotlight on what’s not working at maximum efficiency - after all, it’s impossible to manage what you cannot measure. By leaning into this data-driven approach, we're looking at some serious perks for both our wallets and the planet. 

Here's the Catch: Translating data 

Accessing live data across an entire fleet on large projects can be expensive and onerous, but thanks to the rise of the Internet of Thing, telematics and AI, it’s becoming easier and more cost-effective. The trick is to not drown in all the data and adopt a scaled, standardised approach, focussing on areas of importance and high standards. 

Now, while many businesses are jumping on the telematics bandwagon, the real magic happens when we can pull all that data together and interpret it without having to translate information from different sources. Three quarters of companies are already using telematics to keep track of their gear, but if everyone's using different systems and standards, it's like trying to put together a puzzle with pieces from different boxes.

That's where cloud technology and adopting a benchmarking approach comes in. By bringing all our data together in one shared space and leveraging AI-powered analytics, we can turn that mountain of numbers into clear, actionable insights. This integrated strategy is the keystone for swift, transformative shifts in operational efficiency that will bring a fragmented industry together and set new standards for tracking and reducing CO2 emissions. 

Mapping Out Our Green Future

Looking down the road, civils and infrastructure contractors need a game plan that’s both green and practical. Using data to make smart decisions is a pivotal part of this journey, offering a clear snapshot of how equipment's performing in real-time, informing strategies to improve efficiency. 

Going green is the goal, but we can't just sit around waiting for the next big thing in renewable energy or super-efficient machines. The sector needs to up its game now with the tools at its disposal today. And sure, in the long run, bringing in cleaner machines powered by alternative energy is exciting. But for now, it's all about being transparent, understanding machinery’s impact, and ensuring everyone is kept in the loop about sustainability efforts.

Infrastructure is all about building a better future, and with the right tools and mindset, we can ensure it’s a green one. With telematics and data tools in our toolkit, we've got a real shot at making our operations cleaner and more efficient. Realistically, if you're not tracking and measuring, you're just guessing. In the dance of progress and preservation it’s clear our blueprint for tomorrow hinges on building smart today.

If you would like to contact Sarah Walker about this, or any other story, please email sarah@infrastructure-intelligence.com.