When most people think of IoT and construction, they will think about newly developed “smart homes” outfitted with security systems and a network of cameras. Or futuristic thermostats with the ability to learn from patterns of behavior and adjust the temperature automatically. However, most of these are finishing touches added toward the end of construction on residential spaces. The most significant contributions of IoT that are shaping the future of our homes occur much earlier in the process, during the construction itself.
Applications for IoT during the planning and execution of construction are proving to be worth the investment. Automating processes like repurchasing materials, eliminating workforce related risks, and protecting expensive equipment improves productivity and saves money. Internet enabled devices also provide a bevy of real-time data and reporting that can be used to optimize current and future projects.
Of the many IoT applications in construction, there are three areas where the technology is really taking off:
Internet enabled equipment ensures machinery is in working order and improves the accuracy and precision of job site tasks. Heavy machinery sensors provide performance data and insights - like speed, temperature, and fuel usage - that can be used to predict necessary service or replacement. Extending this technology across an entire fleet significantly drives down maintenance costs. Geofencing technology ensures that expensive equipment stays on the site. Should equipment “walk off”, the construction company can turn off the vehicle via remote access. GNSS-enabled machines are able to automatically adjust to conditions and perfectly dig, fill, or grade.
IoT wearables improve the efficiency and safety of construction crews. Some smart helmets are equipped with cameras and microphones that allow for hands free communication. Others can be customized with headband inserts to monitor heart rate, skin temperature and other vital signs; vests employing similar technology have the ability to regulate the wearer’s body temperature. Exoskeleton suits give workers the strength to lift heavy objects by tracking movement via sensors and providing critical support and reinforcement exactly where it is needed.
While these are expensive options, there are affordable alternatives that teams can use to protect their employees. Given the popularity of smartphones, the technology and hardware are already in the pockets of the crew. Apps and special programs can track the location of personnel and detect accidents. Other data can be leveraged to ensure jobsite compliance and safety standards are met, like tracking mandated breaks of equipment operators.
On-site monitors analyze a number of conditions that factor into a job, giving project managers the insights to plan accordingly. Inconsistent weather can set back projects. External factors like temperature and humidity have a direct impact on the quality of the construction and make it difficult to use certain materials. This technology can also track events that may jeopardize safety. A network of monitors can keep personnel alert in dangerous zones, and keep unauthorized individuals away from job sites.
Startups to Watch
Unleash live ingests live stream video cameras mounted on construction sites to provide actionable insights to reduce bottlenecks, track progress and be informed regarding security matters. (Learn More)