IoT Applications in Construction
The construction industry is bringing real-time information into processes that are centuries old. Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors are collecting job site data in a more affordable, efficient and effective way than previously imaginable.
The construction job site is now ripe for fundamental changes that enable productivity, safety, process improvement and new tools. The Internet of Things (IoT) is allowing for the deployment of simple low power sensors that are able to communicate cost-effectively. As IoT continues to become more ubiquitous, it’s having a greater impact on how the construction industry is turning around. IoT makes it possible for every stakeholder to understand what’s happening at every stage of the construction process in real-time from planning to actual construction, post-construction and how the building is operated during service.
While the construction industry is changing at a glacial pace, construction companies who are adopting technology to successfully address common workplace concerns and streamline processes are benefitting from increased efficiencies and improved responsiveness to the increasing demands of the industry. Flat productivity, decreased margins, more schedule overruns and increased competition are some of the obvious reasons construction companies should consider the adoption of IoT technology and digitization. Data has now become a critical asset for business, and informed decisions can only be data-driven.
Generally, productivity, maintenance, security and safety appear to be the leading drivers of IoT adoption in the construction industry.
The construction sector is conditioned by deadlines and targets. It’s mandatory to avoid backlogs because they result in budget increases. IoT can enable more readiness and efficiency thus improving productivity. IoT leaves people with less menial work, and, instead, they’re allocated more time to interact with project owners and amongst themselves, generating new ideas to improve project delivery and customer satisfaction.
Construction requires an adequate supply of materials to ensure the smoothness of the project. However, the late supply of materials often occurs at the site due to poor scheduling caused by human error. Through IoT, the supply unit is fitted with a suitable sensor it’s possible to automatically determine the quantity and make automatic orders or raise alarms.
Power and fuel consumption will result in wastage if not actively managed, and that will impact the overall cost of the project. Through the availability of real-time information, it becomes possible to know the status of every asset, to schedule maintenance stops or refueling and turn-off idle equipment. Further, field sensors help to prevent problems from happening, which reduces warranty claims, helping the bottom line and keeping customers happy. Beyond notifications for decreasing stocks, sensors can be used to monitor materials condition like the suitability of the temperature or humidity of the item/environment, handling issues, damage and expiration. Equipment suppliers have had to evolve from just being suppliers to partners who continuously monitor and maintain equipment, leaving clients to focus on their core business.
Safety and Security
Some of the biggest challenges encountered on a construction job site are theft and safety. Human security agents are not adequate to monitor a huge site properly. Using IoT enabled tags, any material or theft of items is easily resolved as these sensors will notify the current location of the materials or item. It’s no longer necessary to send a human agent out to check out everything.
IoT allows for the creation of a digital real-time job site map together with the updated risks associated with the works and notifies every worker when getting closer to any risk or entering a dangerous environment. For example, monitoring the air quality in an enclosed space is critical for workplace safety. IoT technologies will not only prevent staff from being exposed to dangerous conditions but can also detect those conditions before or as they happen. With real-time IoT data, workers are empowered to be more predictive about job-site issues and prevent situations that could lead to a safety incident and lost time.
Handling equipment and machinery for too long may also cause workers to experience fatigue, which in turn disturbs their concentration and productivity. IoT makes it possible to monitor signs of distress like abnormal pulse rates, elevations and user location.