3 Tips for Protecting Your Construction Site During a Shutdown (Part 3)

Tip 3: Leveraging Your Camera’s Interface for Success

If you’re monitoring your construction site remotely, there are some features that you may find particularly useful. Knowing how to leverage these features can save you time and money.

Live Video Streaming
Your camera interface should allow you to easily live stream from anywhere and on any internet enabled device. Live video streaming allows you to watch the site in real-time without interrupting critical automated/scheduled image capture or video recording. This feature is particularly useful for multi-site management and oversite.

Video and Image Sharing
Some cameras allow for user defined Public URL access pages and permission-based user options. These capabilities can enable you to share your visual site documentation or live stream with owners, law enforcement or other stakeholders effortlessly. Taking advantage of these features to assist in the rapid sharing of critical intelligence to equip first responders arriving on scene, or with the recovery of damages or assets, can be a game changer.

Dashboard View
If your camera interface includes a dashboard view with the option to see all of your cameras, on all of your job sites at once, you hit the jackpot! The ability to view and access all your cameras from a single page will give you powerful insight into your jobsites and keep you informed about any potential risks, delays or security issues.

In this time of uncertainty, our greatest strengths are resilience and adaptability. Site cameras offer a practical remote monitoring solution to owners, GC’s and project managers who want to protect their construction sites and emerge from this crisis in the strongest position possible. If you currently use Sensera Systems cameras, check out our article View Multiple Cameras with the SiteCloud Dashboard for setup tips.

Click here to learn more about full featured smart security cameras.

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.

Jobsite Information Management — Is Software Eating Construction?

Marc Andreessen is an internet pioneer who helped create the first widely used web browser, Netscape. In 2011, he noted that “software is eating the world” in a Wall Street Journal article, evidenced by changes in many businesses across multiple sectors. Construction is not immune to this trend and as the connected jobsite slowly starts to become reality, we are seeing the rise in the importance of jobsite automation software.

The most visible of the impacts of software in construction is project management. Project Management software focuses on some key information functions in the construction lifecycle. These functions include document management, scheduling, and financial management, and safety. Some now work to extend into field management with functions such as time tracking or subcontractor management.

All of the functions that Project Management software systems address are generally centered on documents and workflow between team members. But there is another important piece that is required to fully realize the potential of the automated jobsite in construction: real-time jobsite information.  Once a design is complete, and a project plan is put in place, it is imperative to execute on the construction of a project. It is this phase that determines the actual outcome of the project in terms of cost, schedule, safety, and quality. It is this phase that makes the design and the plan a reality.

Jobsite Information Management (JIM) is what we will call the function to manage information coming from the actual jobsite during the execution phase. This jobsite-execution information is different in nature than that managed by the Project Management system. The workflows and value provided by JIM serve the functions of project execution and can significantly affect project outcomes in terms of cost, schedule, safety, and quality.

Data Managed by JIM

The types of real-time information gathered from the jobsite during execution phase include:

  • Materials and Assets – understand when they arrive onsite, as well as their utilization
  • Photo documentation –if issues arise there is recorded information available to evaluate
  • Visual Monitoring –remote, real-time visual monitoring
  • Personnel workflows – understand their productivity, efficiency, and validate their cost
  • Safety compliance – review incidents and ensure compliance with policies onsite
  • Security – monitoring to support asset and staff security

This data is collected in real-time across the jobsite through a variety of means. Cameras and Drones can be used to capture photo documentation. Materials, assets, and personnel can be tracked using electronic tags. Real-time visual monitoring for remote diagnostics and project monitoring are provided by fixed cameras or mobile devices such as smartphone and tablet applications.  Security monitoring is provided through a combination of cameras and sensors.

Insights, Actions & Organization

JIM serves several critical functions for the project team including:

  • Identify critical issues suggested by incoming site data to support safety compliance
  • Provide materials status information to support schedule management
  • Provide asset utilization information to help control costs
  • Share information across a team according to workflow rules
  • Automatically organize collected jobsite data
  • Detect safety and security events; document and notify team members
  • Remote expertise and diagnostics

JIM works to provide insights to the project team using information filtering, searching, and analytics for automatic detection of events. It supports rapid action by automatically detecting events and jobsite status in real-time and relating that event or status to the project plan and communicating it across the team.

Analytics can operate on all JIM data sources to automate detection of events, and classification of incoming information. For example, safety and security events can be detected automatically, reducing the manpower required to assure compliance with safety protocols and documenting events. 

Jobsite data is automatically archived in terms of project phases and milestones and plans to streamline as-built documentation. An example of this is companies starting to automatically organize project imagery in 3D using the BIM model.

Real-time visual monitoring can be used to deliver remote expertise and diagnostics to keep a project on-track and lower cost.  When project issues arise, the best expertise can be brought in remotely, like telemedicine, to diagnose and plan corrections in real-time, helping maintain schedule and project quality.

A Proposed JIM Architecture

In addition to managing the required incoming data, and supporting the project team functions above, a successful JIM must also address some additional requirements to be a viable solution for the automated jobsite. These include:

  • Cloud-based – allows the simplest deployment at the lowest cost, and flexible access
  • Integrated – must seamlessly integrate with other construction software functions such as Project Management and BIM
  • Mobile – must be fully accessible by the project team on-the-move
  • Scalable and flexible – to support various project types and sizes
  • Multiple data sources – support inputs from various types of sensors and inputs on the jobsite

JIM in Action

Sensera Systems provides clients with the ability to utilize JIM through the use of Sensera’s Jobsite and Security Cameras coupled with the robust tools inside of SiteCloud.  SiteCloud provides a rich set of features to view and manage archived images and video.  The web-hosted application allows project manages to have secure storage and backup of project data, video streaming, time-lapse videos, in addition to providing real-time security alerts. SiteCloud allows for multiple users so that information can easily be shared with stakeholders of their projects. Plus, SiteCloud offers software integrations with Autodesk BIM 360ProcorePlanGrid, as well as an array of other construction focused programs and an API to allow integrations with custom applications to meet a client’s exact requirements.

Benefits of implementing JIM through Sensera Systems include:

  • Photo documentation – review images and videos of incidents on your jobsite in SiteCloud from any-where on any device
  • Share information easily across team members
  • Integrated tools- connects with a variety of Project Management software
  • Remote visual monitoring – less back and forth from the office to the jobsite
  • Personnel workflows – increase employee productivity and efficiency
  • Safety compliance – make sure your jobsite maintains OSHA standards
  • Security – monitor asset and ensure staff security with real time alerts

Learn more about how Sensera Systems cameras can positively impacting your projects by scheduling a demo.