The construction industry, which has been typically underserved by technology, is now embracing digital solutions to improve project safety, efficiency, costs, and quality. Today, the interconnectedness of devices and people that exchange and interpret data is referred to as the “internet of things” (IoT), which is comprised of various computing systems, software, electronic devices, and sensors. Sensors, in particular, are helping contractors expand their capabilities by transforming job site objects into new sources of valuable data, while building a connected network that protects workers, prevents damages and losses, and optimizes assets.
Wearable sensors are protecting workers and improving safety in many ways, including detecting injuries and proximity to high voltage; measuring body temperature, heart rate and perspiration; and flagging dangerous behaviors like drowsiness and distractedness. For example, Triax Technologies has developed the Spot-r tracking system, which attaches to workers’ belts and communicates to others onsite when an individual has fallen or tripped. Additionally, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed their Safety++ suite of wearable technologies, which includes a jacket that alerts workers of harmful toxins and decibel levels, along with shoes that use sensors to detect when a worker is carrying a dangerously heavy load.
Preventing Damage and Loss
In addition to preventing job site incidents, sensors are helping prevent the loss of expensive materials and equipment as a result of environmental factors such as humidity, heat and moisture. Pillar Technologies has designed a sensor that can be placed throughout job sites at every 2,000 square feet that scans the area and provides real-time data on changes in temperature, humidity, and dust particulate, among others. The ability to collect this data and to get alerts when a certain threshold is crossed helps organizations avoid losses via material degradation, which in turn will save money.
Installing add-on software and sensors to machines with existing technologies in place can help construction companies improve the productivity and efficiency of their equipment. With the centralization of data in the “cloud” and other networks, add-on sensors can increase the amount of data collected, while improving organization so that contractors can make best use of the information. Telematics firm Uptake uses a system employing machine learning and predictive analytics to flag equipment issues, determine optimal equipment needs, manage fuel spending, and monitor operator safety. Additionally, EquipmentShare, an equipment rental company, offers a telematics system called ES Track that provides real-time equipment location and usage data giving contractors valuable insight into equipment inefficiencies.