23-07-2017 10:33:52

Big data in the construction industry is a billion dollar business

The most promising start-up in the US is not Uber, Slack or Cyanogen. On top of Forbes’ annual list of the hottest start-up companies of 2015 is Uptake Technologies – and they are disrupting construction and other major industries.
16. feb. 2016 Af Rene Pedersen - netværksredaktør
Big data in the construction industry is a billion dollar business

Uptake was founded in 2014 and already now is worth an estimated 1.1 billion USD. To say that the potential is huge is no overstatement. The construction industry is notoriously known for having low productivity performance, so we have looked across the sea to find out how a less that two year old start-up has decided to change the game. The magic word is big data, and an innovative take on how heavy machinery industries can use and utilize big data.

According to Trevor Mecham, Uptake’s Construction and Precision Agriculture Vertical Lead, it’s about creating answers. He describes Uptake as a predictive analytics platform. This means creating and using software that doesn’t only deliver data analysis in a historical perspective, but actually knows how to predict the future.

“We help companies optimise their performance, whether it’s a machine or a share on the stock. We help our partners extract, organise and manage big data. So basically what we look to provide is predictive insights into those processes,” says Trevor Mecham.

Data patterns

Statistics from IDC show that the worldwide amount of date grows by 40% each year. The Internet of Things is already a reality and sensors keep getting cheaper and cheaper. So there are no practical barriers in relation to collecting huge amounts of data. Instead, it’s all about being able to analyse the data in an intelligent way.

Large machines have a similar potential as related to collecting data. For instance, if you have a bulldozer, you can keep an eye on the fuel consumption and hours, if there’s enough air in the hydraulics, oil for the motor and so on. If you are able to analyse all of that data during a longer period of time, you will start to see patterns and deviations that you can analyse and react on. If the hydraulics fails every time you use the machine for a certain tasks, you can start using a more robust machine for the purpose. As a manufacturer, you can work on strengthening the hydraulics in your product.

According to Uptake, their software can help secure better hours, more efficiency and product life expectancy for heavy machine industries such as aviation, agriculture, construction and more. Also, going from repairing when broke to proactive intervention helps prevent downtime.

Facts about Uptake Technologies

  • Founded by Brad Keywell, who is the serial entrepreneur behind Groupon, Echo Logistics, and Innerworkings.
  • Software company with a specialty in analysing data.
  • In one and a half year the company achieved a Unicorn-status, meaning that the company is priced at more than one billion USD.
  • One of the company’s large partners is Caterpillar. Employs more than 300 people.
  • Find out more at uptake.com

Large-scale strategic partnerships

All indicators show that a company like Uptake, that knows how to create an overview of large amounts of data, has been much needed. Already after one and a half year, the Chicago-based company is making money and has been valued at more than one billion US dollars.

An important element in Uptake’s business model is partnerships with large-scale companies. One of these is the strategic partnership with the industry giant Caterpillar – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction and building machines delivering annual turnovers of more than 50 billion US dollars. When they started looking into Uptake is when things really started picking up.

Disruption from the inside

In Uptake they talk about ’disrupting the industry from the inside’. The company comes with the energy of a start-up, but use the knowledge that Caterpillar has gained through more than 90 years in the industry.

“What they bring to the table is an extensive understanding and knowledge of the industry. And we bring our ability to build technology of scale. We have a very aggressive entrepreneurial approach. When you pair that with the industry expertise of our partners it’s really an unbeatable combination,” says Trevor Mecham.

Uptake operates in industries such as construction, agriculture, mining, the energy sector, oil and gas and aviation. Until now, the only publically announced partnership is with Caterpillar, but if you ask Uptake, making strategic partnerships is the way to go in the future.

“We want to make sure that we have good communication and meet the customers’ needs and not just build some ‘off the shelf’ software. That’s not how Uptake wants to work. We need to be predictive and tailor our services to the customers’ particular business operations”, Trevor Mecham adds.


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