It’s ten weeks since we published the first Downtime Index, and six short weeks since we partnered with KHL to increase industry and public awareness of the feed. Its impact has been immediate and well received on the whole. I think it will stand as a useful proof point of how specialized data has been applied to bring insight and illumination to a wider scenario.
Like many sectors during Covid-19, the industry had been without a clear picture of where we were at any particular time. The lack of credible and objective information coupled with endless speculation about the “new normal” was less than confidence inspiring. In a market like construction where margins are tight, this kind of unprecedented downtime has put a question mark over the competitiveness of what is, of course, a massive contributor to global GDP.
Inception – the Downtime Index in a state of emergency
The Downtime Index was developed rapidly by our data science team as a sprint response to the pandemic and what we perceived to be an urgent need for relevant and time-critical openly available data. If nothing else, the Downtime Index has been a source of hard facts in a situation where all people at every station of construction were in need of clarity.
Wherever we are in the world, we have all repeatedly been called to support and follow the science. However, as we have seen from country to country and from state to state, authorities have had a difficult time interpreting health data and how they should translate it to an actionable response. As a result, the same scientific approach has driven widely different outcomes.
Across our industry, individual companies had been making decisions with no clear directives whether to continue or close projects. These decisions were made more complicated as organizations also had to consider the multitude of conflicting requirements and contractual obligations for current and future projects.
We believed that the market would suffer a short-term drop in on-site activity, and this would be followed by an increasing momentum as projects return. We realized that in order to offer a benefit to our customers as well as the general market, data needed to be shared quickly. So, the Downtime Index website was launched and our data was made available to anyone with an interest.
Over the weeks, updates based on the data from all types of construction equipment located in 22 countries, accompanied by expert commentary and insight, have provided transparent evidence of the classic V-shape recovery in the industry. The user feedback it has generated has demonstrated how companies are engaging with the data to help guide their decision-making during this difficult period.
Legacy – how the Downtime Index made its mark on Construction
The Downtime Index has shown us that data can be a positive disruptor in our industry. There is no doubt that the slow progress in construction’s digital transformation has been a barrier to productivity, efficiency and profitable growth. Yet data has demonstrated it has the potential to fuel change and foster dynamic evolution in the processes that we use on construction projects across the globe.
During this pandemic, together with our customers and partners we have witnessed a marked increase in interest in data as a platform for management and critical business decisions. If that trend is continued, it indicates a whole new level of influence that data will have on the industry. This is one of the key reasons we were among the companies that formed the Eliminate Downtime movement; we are committed to investigating and sharing new pathways to higher productivity across the breadth of the construction value-chain.
At Trackunit, our expertise in data capture, monitoring and analysis has allowed us to develop tools that offer seamless collaboration between stakeholders. Understanding how construction machines and accessories are used adds value in terms of the physical equipment, processes, safety and importantly, financial opportunities the data provides.
The Downtime Index provided an evidence-based platform to indicate the direction of travel for machine use across the industry, an essential gauge for preparing for an upturn in the market as it unlocks. However, the data also created interest in adjacent industries, which posed wide-reaching questions concerning how our industry can benefit from sharing this data more broadly and where it can make an impact in an ethical and sustainable way.
Future-state – the next phase of the Downtime Index
As with all science, we are constantly evolving – investigating and exploring, testing and learning, and ultimately communicating what we discover to benefit our business, our customers and the industry as a whole. At this moment in time, we believe that as a pilot study, the Downtime Index has run its course and we will shortly be removing it from the view of the public.
But the story doesn’t end there. We have reached a juncture where we and our collaborators will transfer what we have learned from the initial launch of the Downtime Index into the next stage of development. We are therefore initiating a co-creation phase with cross-industry partners to explore the outcomes and define the future proposition of the Downtime Index.
As we drive this opportunity forward, we are committed to deliver data and insights in a transparent and collaborative way. Evidenced by the huge demand and interest in the Downtime Index, this phase of evaluation and development will ensure a future open platform to serve collaborators, customers and the industry and generate positive understanding of the power of data to drive up productivity, efficiency and profitability in construction.
All of that can only be construed as a positive outcome for construction.
I’d like to express our thanks to our partners Trifork, for working fast to build the Index with us; the publishers KHL, for the media partnership which helped make the data and insights available to the industry; and the 15 supporting partners who endorsed the Index. Thank you all for believing in the mission – we look forward to co-creating with you in this next phase.
The final publicly available update of the Downtime Index was published online on 10th June at www.downtimeindex.com. Customers will still be able to access benchmark data through Trackunit Manager.
If you’re interested in taking part in the next phase of co-creation, please reach out to me at [email protected]