Mitigate Risk With Visual Documentation

Imagine this: You’re wrapping up the day on the construction site. The crew is heading home. The tools are put away. The major equipment is safely parked. You lock the site up and head on home.

The next morning you arrive back at the site… and the new loader is nowhere to be found.

That scenario may seem unlikely. A major piece of machinery couldn’t just disappear into thin air.

Well, you’re right… and wrong.

You see, construction sites are easy—and lucrative—prey for thieves. They’re often unguarded after hours, or at most blocked by an easily scaled fence or a simple padlock. Construction machinery isn’t registered through a national database as road vehicles are, making it harder to track down and easier to sell without being caught.

In fact, The National Equipment Registrar (NER) estimates that between $300 million and $1 billion worth of construction equipment is stolen each year, and that number doesn’t even include smaller tools and building materials.

Stolen property isn’t the only costly issue facing construction companies. There are also issues of property damage, bottlenecks in productivity, and expensive maintenance issues.

But with today’s technology, most of these situations can largely be circumvented.

Remote monitoring, in particular, is an incredibly useful preventative tool to improve project efficiency, decrease disastrous and expensive onsite issues, and improve the bottom line across the board.

If you’re not familiar with it, remote monitoring is exactly what it sounds like: a cellular or WiFi-enabled camera system that allows you to oversee and manage a jobsite from anywhere using a cloud-based management platform. There’s a wide swath of different technologies that can be implemented to assist with this; it really depends on the needs of a particular job site.

Some tools include, but are not limited to:

  • Cameras
  • Auditory intercom systems
  • Alarm systems
  • Field reporting apps
  • GPS tracking systems
  • Data analysis software

You might be looking at that list and thinking, ‘That sounds expensive.’ But the truth is, while these systems include upfront costs and may include monthly fees, the costs pale in comparison to how much they could save you in the long run.

Here are just a few of the ways remote monitoring could save you some serious money:

1. Theft prevention

As mentioned above, theft is a major issue for construction sites in the United States.

Loaders are the most common piece of equipment stolen at 36%, according to a study conducted by the LoJack Corporation. And the estimated replacement costs for equipment in 2016 for recovered equipment was nearly $11 million. Bear in mind—that’s for equipment that was recovered by the LoJack system. Less than 25% of stolen construction equipment is ever recovered, adding significantly to that total cost.

Of course, most companies have insurance in place that covers at least part of the value of stolen equipment. But replacement cost for these items only represents a portion of the total cost. Other costs include:

  • Downtime and loss in productivity, resulting in costly delays and potential client penalty fees if deadlines are missed
  • Renting substitute equipment until your insurance policy kicks in to cover the cost of replacing it
  • Time lost on police reports and insurance claims—after all, time is money
  • Higher insurance rates down the road

Lost equipment is equipment that isn’t working for you.

All of this could be avoided by utilizing a few key tools. First, by placing GPS systems on all your major pieces of machinery, you could much more easily track down stolen equipment. You could also install onsite security cameras, which could connect to remote devices so you could see and record all comings and goings on the job site.

But the real cost savings would be in theft deterrence. That could be accomplished simply with a remote alarm system, which could alert police if someone were to break onto the site after-hours.

2. Employee and jobsite safety

Onsite cameras are a two-birds-one-stone solution. In addition to deterring theft, security cameras can also help prevent workplace injuries and improve overall safety conditions.

It’s no secret that construction sites often present hazardous working conditions. While the industry accounts for only 4% of employment in the U.S., it accounts for a staggering 21% of all fatal work injuries. Meanwhile, nonfatal injuries in the construction sector top over 70,000. Perhaps most shocking, nearly every construction worker will suffer at least one work-related industry.

Over a 45-year career, 75% of construction workers would suffer a disabling injury, and one in 200 would suffer a fatal injury.

Onsite injuries are no laughing matter, and protecting your employees should be of paramount importance. Anything that can be done to improve working conditions on the jobsite should be priority one.

But, aside from the obvious fact that you don’t want your team members seriously injured, these types of events can also be costly to a project. Not only do they cause a loss in productivity, but there are also the issues of worker’s compensation or even possibly expensive lawsuits to consider.

Onsite cameras and intercom systems provide simple ways to combat workplace dangers. First, employees are likely to take greater precautions under surveillance, and intercom systems would allow you to communicate with them in real time if you noticed a safety issue. But secondly, you’re more likely to become aware of workplace hazards that have the potential to cause catastrophic injury and correct those problems before such incidents occur.

On that note, early detection and correction of these hazards will help you protect your jobsite in general—for instance, if a site catches fire, surveillance cameras would allow the fire to be caught early before major damage was done.

3. On-site maintenance proactivity

One of the greatest advancements in technology in recent years has been the Internet of Things (IOT)—the technology that allows for such innovations as the smart home, and even the smart city.

Essentially, in these systems sensors are connected to any number of devices, which then gather data and send it to the cloud to be stored and analyzed. These are sensors that measure any number of things, including everything from temperature, to air quality, to worker time on site and more. The applications of such technology are innumerable across the board—and jobsites are no exception.

In the construction industry, this technology is largely rooted in telemetry, a system of sensors that has the ability to remotely track everything from electricity consumption to HVAC efficiency.

Such systems can detect maintenance issues early before they cause serious issues. They can determine if the building’s energy system is operating at maximum efficiency. They can reduce time offline. And they can compare data to better predict issues before they even arise.

All such capabilities are directly correlated to enormous cost savings, in everything from maintenance and repair costs to the cost of labor.

4. Competitive advantage

Consumers are always looking for the most possible bang for their buck. They want companies on the cutting edge of technology, companies that can offer the most cost efficiency, the fastest turnaround, the lowest likelihood of issues arising.

Remote monitoring offers all of those things and more. To implement such technology puts you on the cutting edge.

And let’s face it—in today’s market, if you’re not staying ahead, then you’re falling behind.

How Construction Cameras Can Improve Project Efficiency

We thought we were efficient at the turn of the 20th century.

That’s when Henry Ford unleashed the assembly line, taking the time needed to produce one of his company’s autos from nearly 12 hours to just two and half.

And we haven’t stopped obsessing about efficiency ever since.

What Henry Ford was doing back in 1913 included some of the most cutting-edge technology of its time. It was new and fresh, but it was only the first step in an ongoing evolution. In every era, we’ve always thought we were on the cusp of something revolutionary, only to realize later that we were just beginning.

In the new economy, one where technology has upended just about every industry, efficiency has given us more time to do more things with less.

But construction is different.

According to McKinsey & Company, while productivity has soared in nearly every other industry in recent years, similar improvements in construction at large have moved at what the firm calls a “glacial pace.” Managing construction projects is still an extremely complicated and manual task, with big projects taking years to see through to completion. While there has been some modest investment in software and digital tools for the industry in recent years, digital transformation has yet to give it the same kind of boost seen so far in retail, media and other fields.

That’s good news, however. This represents an immense opportunity.

Using technology to get efficiency right in construction represents an opportunity to boost the overall value of the industry by an estimated $1.6 trillion, saving not only capital currently being spent on wasteful processes but also freeing up man hours to focus on higher-need projects. To do it right, technology needs to be strategically integrated into construction projects – and it has to go beyond software.

In short: To move the industry forward, there must be more on-site digital integration.

An underutilized option is to consider adding a piece of technology that is deceptively simple in theory yet could prove critical in practice to boosting construction productive and safety, as well as improving efficiency in ways you might be overlooking: worksite cameras.

Cameras that are custom-designed to solve problems facing construction project managers in today’s economy might be the answer to some of your most common woes. Here’s how.

Manage multiple worksites simultaneously

According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 82 percent of its members consider the availability and cost of skilled labor to be their number one problem as of 2018.

This makes site efficiency even more critical for busy project managers, who are likely juggling multiple projects at any given time in order to make up for this shortfall.

Being able to access construction site cameras from any device at any time frees up project managers from having to visit worksites as often and enables them to monitor multiples sites from anywhere that they have an internet connection.

This could reduce travel expenses and save project managers oodles of time, so they can focus on more important tasks like job progress and budget management rather than squeezing in multiple site visits.

Catch potential problems early on

The last thing you want on a construction project is to finish a task, only to have to go back and tear it down and do it again. Blowing up your budget to do rework is every project manager’s nightmare, but onsite cameras can help you to avoid this problem in the first place.

Time-lapse videos from construction cameras can give you a robust picture of job progress and help you spot potential problems early on, before they start blowing up the budget.

You’ll easily be able to tell whether progress is on schedule, where potential errors are happening, and what might need to be changed, all without ever needing to conduct an actual site visit.

Typically a project will get derailed by a number of minor issues rather than one large problem. Carefully analyzing daily progress reports, keeping an eye on the budget and schedule, and managing risks requires a high level of attention to detail.

That’s a lot of work for an industry suffering a labor shortage. Cameras can alleviate much of this, giving progress reports imagery to back them up and providing an additional tool for risk management.

If what you’re seeing on the screen and in progress reports isn’t matching up, you’ve already set into motion a time and money-saving process that could have otherwise derailed the entire project.

Give safety a boost

Efficiency doesn’t just apply to managing budgets and processes. Safety is also a critical part of every construction project, and no amount of digitization will ever change that.

But new technologies can make jobsite safety a much more cost-effective and less risky part of the business.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s estimated that employers pay as much as $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs. The construction industry accounts for more than 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in the U.S., with falls, object strikes, electrocution and being caught in between objects leading to the majority of these incidents. It’s a dangerous business, that’s all there is to it.

Anyone who has spent much time working in construction probably knows that falls are one of the most common and costly safety incidents on any site. Cameras can help to spot potential safety issues, especially where regulations or guidelines regarding falls aren’t being followed, before an incident occurs.

With 24-hour surveillance and footage stored in a cloud-bases system, management will also be able to combat fraudulent compensation claims by reviewing the proverbial tape after the fact.

The mere presence of cameras may also ensure that workers and jobsite managers better follow safety guidelines and give your managers a chance to fix potential safety issues before someone else (ahem, OSHA) spots them and slaps with a fine.

Secure the site

Site security is another issue that will never go away in construction.

Whether it’s keeping an eye on materials overnight or ensuring only approved personnel are entering the site, the right construction cameras are a no-brainer for these types of functions and have proven highly effective.

Just last year, authorities broke up a crime ring that had stolen millions of dollars’ worth of construction materials from jobsites over a 10-year period. The cameras that can be installed in construction sites today may have helped to prevent this sort of crime before it became so costly for the owner.

Selecting the right construction cameras

That said, construction technology shouldn’t be adopted just for the sake of doing it.

Ycatch-all select construction cameras that will fit your specific needs. There is no catch all solution that will solve every problem on the jobsite. Every manager, project and worksite are unique with unique needs and processes that will need to be addressed. Keep these differences in mind when choosing cameras for your sites, with a focus on flexibility and customization.

Purchasing the right camera system for construction purposes requires an upfront investment, but it’s technology that won’t call for much in the way of ongoing maintenance — unlike nearly everything else on the jobsite.

Once cameras are installed, you can begin taking advantage of improved efficiency right away and throughout the completion of a project, no matter how long that project is estimated to take, as long as you’ve chosen the right camera system.

For starters, you don’t want to keep spending money to keep the cameras running or updated. When you invest in construction cameras, you should look for energy efficient options, like solar powered options that you’ll never have to worry about burning cash just to charge up every day.

To be truly efficient, project managers should be able to access the cameras anytime, from anywhere, in order to keep track of what’s happening. Whether you’re on site and need to check up on a safety incident from the night before using a wired connection, or in the middle of travel and need to perform a real-time check on the worksite on your smartphone, being efficient in today’s construction economy means being able to access your site cameras on your schedule, not someone else’s.

Done right, construction cameras can provide a major boost to the efficiency of your construction business in myriad ways.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

From Major League Baseball’s oldest parks to new constructions, ballparks are the quintessential gathering place for summertime fun with friends and family.  Cities across the nation have made substantial improvements to existing ballparks and introduced new fields with jaw-dropping amenities, state-of-the-art playing fields and dazzling feats of architecture to celebrate America’s favorite pastime.

How much does it cost to build a ballpark?
Bringing a new ballpark to a community, or renovating an existing facility, is an expensive and complex undertaking, one that brings new jobs along with a boost to tourism. Developers and city planners utilize cameras to monitor the complex process of building a ballpark and to generate community interest and excitement along the way.

The two oldest ballparks still serving up home runs and hot dogs are Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, opened in April 1914 to the tune of $250,000 ($5.8 million today), a substantial drop in cost compared to the $650,000 ($15 million today) that went into erecting Boston’s Fenway Park in 1912. Fast-forward a century or so to today, where the cost to build a new Major League Baseball stadium is between $500 million and $1.2 billion (yes, billion). With MLB revenues approaching $9.5 billion in 2016, new ballparks and stadium renovations have proven to be an economic home run, and not just for the many stakeholders, but for the greater community as well.

When developers and project managers look for a power hitter to monitor and showcase the progress of their new stadiums and renovations, Sensera Systems steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park.  

Milwaulkee Brewers’ Spring Training Facility
Maryvale Ball Park, the home of Milwaukee Brewers’ Spring Training Facility in Phoenix, AZ is currently undergoing a major renovation.   A new high-performance natural turf practice field will be constructed that will have the same dimensions and layout as the Brewer’s stadium, Miller Park, in Milwaukee, WI. Additionally, the renovations will include a new clubhouse, concessions stands, as well as retail, ticketing and support areas.  The Maryvale Ball Park utilizes Sensera’s high-resolution MC88 solar-powered, wireless camera to monitor progress and provide surveillance for Brewer’s training facility during the renovation. The camera brings rich 16MP still images for project documentation and 4K HD time-lapse along with full 1080p streaming and recorded video. The project is slated to be completed in time for the Brewers’ 2019 Spring Training Camp. Check out their progress before the first pitch here: Milwaukee Brewers / Maryvale Ballpark Project.

“You will know, you will know what it took to take you out to the ball game, buy you some peanuts and cracker jacks, as you root, root, root for the home team.”

State-of-the-Art MiLB Ballparks
Major league teams aren’t the only ones putting Sensera Systems on-deck.  Minor League and College teams are also loading the bases when their project managers insert Sensera into the line-up. 

SRP Park at Riverside Village – North Augusta, South Carolina – Augusta GreenJackets
The Augusta GreenJackets pitched their Inaugural Season at the newly completed SRP Park, a state-of-the-art baseball facility in MiLB.  Sensera Systems’ solutions allowed baseball fans and North Augusta’s city officials alike to monitor the progression of the new facility, considered the centerpiece of the greater Riverside Village development, from start to finish.  Watch as crews turn mud into a lush green baseball diamond and high tech live-work-play ball facility along the Savannah River.   

Fayetteville, NC Ballpark – Buies Creek Astros
The City of Fayetteville, NC expects an economic home run and excitement in the community is growing for the Fayetteville Baseball Stadium & Entertainment Venue project.  The Fayetteville, NC Ballpark will be the home of the Buies Creek Astros, a MiLB team and farm team of the Houston Astros. Slated to be completed prior to the 2019 season, Sensera’s cameras allow all stakeholders to view the progression of the Fayetteville, NC Ballpark Project with live HD images, streaming video, and time-lapse footage.