Contruent Blog

Validate EVM Workflows in Real Time with IoT Technologies

April 2024
by Ryan Posnikoff, Senior Director of Product Management

Validate EVM Workflows in Real Time with IoT Technologies

Given the dynamic nature of capital projects, it’s essential to know your project’s current status compared to its planned cost and schedule.

This insight is found using earned value management (EVM), a best practice for measuring performance and progress. With EVM being calculation-intensive, cost management software has streamlined this traditionally manual process, automating the gathering and computing of EVM metrics to deliver faster, more precise data that provides valuable insights.

Leveraging other technology tools can make EVM even more effective, especially for capital projects of more substantial scale and complexity. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) can play an essential role.

IoT’s capabilities are being used for everything from tracking worker safety to locating equipment and monitoring inventory quantities. And they can validate EVM metrics.

And here are a few ways that IoT technologies can support EVM workflows:

  • RFID tags and GPS sensors to track material delivery and installation progress.
  • Asphalt and concrete curing sensors to give status to completion.
  • Photogrammetry to create an accurate as-built model to compare against reported progress activities.
  • Onsite IoT-connected time tracking to ensure the right labor resources are onsite.
  • Connected equipment to track movement and find equipment optimizations.

IoT technologies automatically collect and transmit data via connected systems, providing a continuous, highly accurate data stream that can be used to compare estimates and reports. What is it indicating about project health? Is it confirming that those EVM estimates and reports are still on target? Are inconsistencies surfacing that require examination and course correction?

Strengthening EVM with Specific IoT Applications

The thing to understand is that using IoT does not in any way replace other data sources that feed into EVM, nor does it negate the software that stores and processes its calculations. Instead, think of these IoT technologies as enabling EVM to be even more effective and reliable.

RFID Tags and GPS Sensors. RFID tags and GPS sensors are appealing because they pinpoint the what, where and when of materials delivery throughout the supply chain and installation progress during construction.

RFID- and GPS-sourced data verify that physical materials are where they should be at a given time, helping validate that tasks and work packages are being completed according to the planned schedule. If they’re not, the incoming data will update EVM calculations accordingly. Decisions can then be made around material management and how to tweak cost and timeline forecasts.

These sensors open up visibility into materials logistics, helping answer critical planning questions such as: Are there any current bottlenecks in the supply chain? Are deliveries making it to their destination on time? If they’re delayed in transit, how does this impact cost and schedule? Are the right materials in the right quantities being installed in the right area?

Curing sensors. Tracking the curing process of concrete can be a tricky waiting game. How do you know for sure when a foundation or a slab is set and ready for the next phase to begin? When is it stable enough to support heavy equipment or structural weight or be ready for the next phase of construction or handover? How do variable curing conditions impact the construction schedule?

Curing sensors embedded directly within the mixture deliver insights into this process by constantly monitoring temperature, moisture and hardening levels. As these composite materials go through their respective curing stages, their transmitted data verifies this progress up to full strength, adjusting EVM calculations to ensure a more accurate, updated schedule so dependent construction activities can be better coordinated to minimize delays and cost overruns.

Photogrammetry. Photogrammetry uses humans or drones to capture images of the in-progress structure. It then gleans measurement details from those 2D images to generate highly accurate, virtual 3D models.

These generated models can then be compared with the planned models. Are the real-world measurements consistent with what the planned measurements were estimated to be? Are different components of the build, from framework to HVAC systems, in the right location in the correct quantities? Does the progress represented in the 3D model reflect how much progress EVM metrics say should be achieved at this point?

The 3D model’s data is used to update or validate EVM’s progress calculations so that cost and schedule performance indexes (CPI and SPI, respectively) more accurately reflect how efficient that progress is. So, if planned progress was supposed to be 50% but data from photogrammetry shows it’s actually 45%, progress data can be adjusted to reflect reality.

Onsite time tracking. Labor remains one of the most expensive capital project costs. With the number of workers and level of coordination required to meet productivity expectations, controlling those costs is a top priority. It’s about labor efficiency, ensuring everyone is in the right place at the right time performing the right tasks.

Monitoring time is as monotonous as it sounds, but as the familiar adage goes, “time is money.” That’s where on-site time tracking sensors come in. These internet-connected wearables, such as badges, wristbands and hard hat/clothing clip-ons, automate tracking workers’ time spent on specific activities, verifying that workers are where they should be and when.

They’re also validating this data used in EVM calculations in real time so you can keep closer tabs on labor costs based on how your CPI is performing. This data supports the strategic decisions needed for resource and task planning and appropriate labor allocation. For example, does SPI data show onsite time tracking matches planned labor hours? Are labor resources adequately allocated for the assigned task? Are there areas that are over- or underutilized, and if so, where can adjustments be made to maximize labor cost efficiency as reflected in your CPI?

Connected equipment. IoT-connected sensors aren’t limited to workers. Sensors can track equipment operation to ensure the right resources — from excavators to concrete pavers to forklifts — are onsite in the right spot, functioning properly and used efficiently. A crane or excavator incurs costs whether it is working or idling – optimizing equipment utilization is paramount to cost management.

Essentially, sensor information is going to show whether real-time data is consistent with EVM’s planned usage figures. Are equipment assets available where and when needed to prevent delays? Is usage data indicating it’s time for preventative maintenance to avoid unnecessary downtime and repair costs? How does jobsite equipment use compare with budgeted operational costs? With connected sensor-reported data, updated EVM calculations can be used in real time to determine where costs can be controlled through optimized allocation and reduced idle time.

IoT, the Great Enabler

EVM supported by cost management software is a proven best practice for delivering insights into how well projects are running and how efficiently costs and schedules are being managed. The power is in the quality of the data. Embracing IoT can strengthen the reliability and accuracy of that data, providing EVM workflow validation for even more successful outcomes.

Implementing a strong earned value management process is the first step. Contruent is here to help. Reach out to us for more information and, when you’re ready, arrange for a demo.