Along with the need to be safe, clean and secure, construction sites are increasingly requiring a strong Wi-Fi connection. Thanks to the explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) market, changes are advancing the construction industry in big ways, with future innovations limited only by the imagination.
IoT refers to devices – be they washing machines, watches, excavators, or safety glasses – that have embedded internet technology, sending and receiving data to improve their use. This has several implications and uses for the construction industry.
Job-site equipment can be managed remotely, allowing for operation in areas dangerous for humans or in remote areas. Also, tracking technology can help fight equipment theft, a major cause of headaches for the construction industry. Sensors in machinery can also monitor operating conditions, usage time and indicate when maintenance is required. Efficiency tracking can allow construction managers to monitor why one operator may be using more fuel than another.
Much like IoT in the retail environment, regularly-used supplies can be monitored via sensors that notify operators when replenishing is needed.
IoT in construction safety
Safety can also be enhanced with smartphone apps like fall detectors. Augmented reality goggles, smart helmets and watches can benefit safety and can be used for labor tracking. Combining labor and equipment tracking can also enhance a worker’s awareness of his or her environment as large equipment rolls through the jobsite.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) also goes hand-in-hand with IoT. According to IBM:
Building information modeling (BIM) is a process that provides an intelligent, 3D model of a building. Typically, BIM is used to model a building’s structure and systems during design and construction, so that changes to one set of plans can be updated simultaneously in all other impacted plans. Taken a step further, however, BIM can also become a catalyst for smart buildings projects.
Once a building is up and running, data from IoT sensors can be pulled into the BIM. You can use that data to model things like energy usage patterns, temperature trends or people movement throughout a building. The output from these models can then be analyzed to improve future buildings projects. Beyond its impact on design and construction, BIM also has important implications for the management of building operations.
IBM also notes that prefabricated building components, which the company says can be faster, more cost-effective and better for the environment than traditional building methods, can be better tracked through the supply chain with sensors to help coordinate installation.