The construction industry hasn’t been the early adopter of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. In many cases, investors and project managers are a bit wary about implementing new technology, whether that’s because of tight project timelines or uncertainties about the efficiency gain.
However, a quick look at the statistics shows that it won’t be long before IoT and construction are linked forever. This innovation can create benefits in terms of employee safety improvements, material/waste management, equipment management, cost reduction, and even matching properties to the requirements of potential tenants.
This article will delve into how IoT is changing the construction ecosystem, what benefits it offers, how it can be applied, and more.
Table of Contents
As population density and urbanization continue to grow, the construction industry has and will continue to have huge contributions toward the well-being of people around the globe. Research shows that at the end of 2020, construction accounted for 13.2% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
The level of efficiency and profits available in the construction world impact the economy on a global level. While the industry continues to evolve and new management practices are introduced, there are still challenges that contractors and field managers are tasked with handling.
Fortunately, IoT helps with many major construction challenges, including the ones mentioned below.
When outdated technology is used, it slows down the pace of the construction industry. In addition, these hardware and software systems make it more difficult to determine business efficiency and take advantage of missed financial opportunities. They are expensive to maintain and can lead to reduced employee productivity.
In the construction world, digital transformation tends to happen on a slower and incremental basis. This is partly because of the history and nature of the industry..
To keep pace with the rest of the world, managers need to step away from older systems and bring in new technology, such as IoT. This will give owners better control over management and competitive advantage..
Unfortunately, the construction industry is more dangerous than many other industries. In the United States, about 20% of worker deaths are associated with construction, even though only 6% of the labor force works in construction. These fatalities can be related to:
- Falls from heights
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Failure of protective equipment
Too close to the equipment
- Trench collapse
- Electric shock
While safety checklists and protocols are in place to cut down on injuries in the workplace, many workers can still fail to comply with the guidelines or aren’t aware all the resources exist. IoT offers a way to help managers provide real-time alerts to workers, which can reduce the number of injuries in the field and the expenses related to medical care.
One of the largest issues in construction has always been the ability to deliver projects both on budget and on time. This is especially relevant today when construction plans are more complex and determining final costs and delivery dates can be extremely challenging.
The implementation of IoT can help create more precise estimates, which help build confidence in construction managers, investors, owners, and even customers.
Construction was hit harder than many industries by COVID-19. As a result, thousands of workers left their jobs and never came back, which has created a massive skills gap. In addition, as more people working in construction move into retirement, finding skilled professionals to replace them can be difficult.
Based on a recent JOLTS survey, the construction field is short 350,000 employees, and that number is likely to rise.
Governments and industry associations around the globe are considering options to deal with this problem, including attracting professionals in other industries, starting apprenticeship camps, or integrating more diverse individuals into the industry. IoT automation can increase efficiency and reduce the pressure from the labor shortage.
Since the construction industry is very saturated, project managers are tasked with aggressive goals, both in terms of the quality of work completed and how quickly projects are finished.
To ensure that all the resources used in the construction process are managed efficiently, owners need innovative solutions for monitoring their teams. Many workers can plan their workday and choose the timing of breaks without a fixed schedule, which can make coordination more critical.
Statistics also show that there is a great need to cut down on time where workers are waiting to do something. Whether this involves moving between construction locations or pausing for materials to be delivered, it can reduce the efficiency of a project.
IoT solutions can be used to create enhanced machine control, refine maintenance methods, improve performance tracking, and much more.
There are laws in place regarding the way construction owners recycle waste and dispose of debris. Determining the most efficient methods of recycling, considering the fuel costs for logistics operations, and documenting all parts of waste disposal are only a few tasks for which construction managers are responsible.
Concerning waste management, there are several important objectives, including:
- Building an efficient and realistic disposal plan
- Creating sustainable construction practices that lead to reduced waste
- Making sure the workforce is educated about sustainability
- Disposing of a variety of types of waste
- Reporting on all aspects of the waste management process
IoT-connected recycling and waste bins could be a solution to this issue. These items contain sensors that can track temperature, tilt, collection events, and fill levels. The data from the bins offers benefits throughout the waste management process.
Bringing IoT into a construction environment isn’t always easy or quick to complete. However, it offers a complete transformation with a variety of benefits for business owners and other stakeholders. In addition, knowing what to expect when implementing IoT can give insight into why it’s so important to make it a staple of the construction world.
Building information modeling (BIM) is the process of creating a digital version of a project. For example, BIM software can be used to build a model based on real-time maintenance and construction data. IoT is changing the construction industry by offering a continuous flow of important data. When this is implemented with BIM, all shareholders can see what is going on in the process without ever leaving the office.
The inclusion of IoT devices and systems in construction has resulted in changes to the industry’s ecosystem. Learn about the benefits of IoT in construction.
IoT allows managers to collect data on equipment, workers, the environment, and other factors that lead to making the right decisions for the construction firm. IoT can also be used to provide real-time feedback to the workforce and give them the ability to answer their own questions without tracking down a manager. An IoT program can offer information about project expenses, threats and risks, and working productivity to create better estimates and build realistic strategies.
The use of IoT devices at a construction site provides immediate guidance through the use of connected wearables. This can be used to ensure workers aren’t exposed to dangerous substances or don’t get too close to the equipment. It can also be utilized to track the well-being of workers through sensors for body temperature, heart rate, and more.
IoT can be useful for sensor-equipped bins, as mentioned earlier, but there are other perks of this technology when dealing with waste. For example, these sensors allow managers to know for certain they are only bringing in waste disposal professionals when dumpsters are full to create better cost-efficiency. In addition, finding out why waste is piling up, optimizing routes to waste sites, and making sure waste doesn’t remain on-site are all benefits of IoT solutions in construction.
Using IoT devices on a construction site helps managers track their daily expenses and monitor the efficiency of resources through tracking assets, materials, supplies and project progress. By ensuring new equipment and other needed items are delivered on time, the entire team can work efficiently.
Technology that offers predictive maintenance is useful in construction to track how well heavy equipment like excavators and lifts are used in a project. For example, adding sensors to track brake temperature or fuel consumption can offer insight to business owners of potential performance problems. Fault codes are a big help as well. The problems can be seen early so repairs can be made before breakdowns occur that create project downtime.
Iot can locate equipment and track utilization/idle real-time. With this information, the project managers can maximize equipment usage and reduce rentals that are not needed.
Knowing how IoT is changing the face of construction is essential. Once you realize how these technologies can help push a project forward, the next step is understanding what devices are available to innovate the construction industry. The most commonly used IoT items for construction are defined below.
There are several types of wearable technology available to create a more efficient and safer construction environment. For instance, there are wearable hats that can track employees’ brain waves to determine whether they are fatigued. In addition, some devices indicate how many workers are in a building in real-time and others give access to a 3D plan of a property.
When it comes to wearables in the construction industry, they offer several benefits. For example, one wearable might make a loud and high-pitched noise when an employee is close to a dangerous area. Another might track employee vitals and let them know when to take a break. Wearables can also provide the real-time location of workers and guide them to do a task safely and efficiently.
Asset tracking tools are another option for IoT in a construction site. These tools can be used to create better security, ensure the health of equipment, and create real-time reports about various metrics. For example, employees can more easily know where all the equipment, attachments, and tools are and do not have to spend time looking for them.
OEM’s continue to collect and provide more machine data from all types of equipment and the capabilities of third-party devices are also expanding quickly. The challenge here is to make all the data useful to all the audiences.
The third type of IoT system that construction managers and owners should be aware of is remote equipment management. These systems are designed to let managers handle important construction tasks even in difficult-to-access locations. In addition, they offer the means to determine the state of equipment from a remote location and can prevent and detect performance, security, and other issues.
One system available for the construction industry provides all the information a project manager needs related to any machine at a site. It has a 360-degree view from any angle of an excavator, lifts, or other piece of equipment. There are also technical assistance systems that track equipment performance and relay important information to workers on site.
The main purpose of the existing IoT systems for maintenance includes preventing unscheduled repair expenses, avoiding unnecessary machine downtime, and ensuring managers and workers have realistic data about machine performance.
IoT monitors are available for those in the construction industry to offer real-time data to managers who can use the information to see how efficient various pieces of construction equipment are. There is also a tool that tracks vibrations of equipment, whether online or offline and then shares the insights through a dedicated dashboard.
IoT has transformed the construction industry in many ways, and will likely continue to offer additional benefits as time goes on. For example, it helps reduce downtime, improve productivity, and increase both security and safety on construction sites. The use of IoT will change the way things are built, equipment is maintained, and employees are managed to increase productivity.
95% of respondents surveyed by KPMG believe that technologies like IoT will change the industry and 72% stated that the adoption of similar new technology is part of their strategic plan. Transformation is coming in the construction world, and a large part of it is thanks to IoT.
About the Author
As the CEO of Foresight Intelligence and Fleet Intelligence, Dale helps organizations utilize their critical data in a seamless and painless manner. With an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, Dale knew that he wanted to focus on using technology to help people improve the efficiency of their businesses and organizations, rather than focusing on pushing the boundaries of the technology itself. As such he created results-driven businesses that are focused on revolutionary solutions not evolutionary bells and whistles; including the only telematics company that features no-touch options.
For over ten years, Foresight Intelligence has helped many companies become more efficient; saving time, money, and precious resources. While others sell technology, Dale delivers results. His companies were created following his personal motto “SPIRIT” … they provide the best service to clients, are passionate about what they do, proceed with integrity, ensure they provide a rockstar performance, work with an innovative mindset, and always use teamwork to do what is best for clients.
When he is away from work, Dale enjoys spending quality time with his wife and four children in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. As the lights of his life, he is resolute in making sure they receive all the love and care they need to become successful.