IoT in Construction: Killer Applications & Use Cases

Construction technology is the intersection of machine learning, robotics, and knowledge-based systems with real-world applications regarding construction materials and equipment. The Internet of Things falls under this category, and it is completely transforming the construction industry.
The vast applications and the benefits associated with the use of big data and IoT include increased security and safety, improved productivity and reduced downtime for workers and companies.
Taking advantage of IoT in construction positions a company for profitability, longevity and agility within the industry.

What does Internet of Things (IoT) mean in construction?

IoT in the construction arena refers to any building components or equipment that can communicate via a network to influence construction performance levels, operating conditions or monitor a physical state of a physical structure.

The construction industry doesn’t experience the same rate of growth as other GDP-producing sectors, but the overall processes that design infrastructure, urban areas or industrial structures are the foundation aspects controlling daily living. In other sectors, IoT involves the use of technologies, software or sensors embedded into physical objects that receive and exchange data through internet connections. Using machine-to-machine communication, such as the implementation of IoT can be a serious competitive advantage in an overcrowded sector.

Major equipment manufacturers are investing in IoT to address things like fuel consumption, idle time tracking or machine hours.

Access to large amounts of data influences maintenance or upgrade schedules, prevents theft or encourages calibrating equipment to optimal operation. Sophisticated systems can track fluid temperatures or engine load to prevent unnecessary deterioration of engine components.

How is IoT changing the construction industry?

The use of intelligent machines has been occurring for several years, and as time passes, improved technology has led to better-performing systems. Users within the field have also grown more accustomed to these changes and are learning to utilize them for maximum productivity and profitability.

IoT has moved deep into the construction industry to extend beyond comprehensive diagnostic audits from a mobile device or a remote health check on expensive equipment.

Managers and contractors can take the real-time insight provided by IoT for scheduling in construction. Work activities can be carefully planned and executed thanks to advanced data from IoT connections. Productivity habits are hard to pinpoint without the help of constant monitoring and evaluation, but IoT simplifies and streamlines progress monitoring by going straight to the source of the information. IoT is changing the construction industry by bringing the cost of ownership for equipment to the forefront of decision-making and by improving visibility for project profitability.

Top ways that IoT is being used in the construction industry

IoT is being used in some form or fashion with companies across the industry. There are a number of ways this technology can be used to improve construction operations, and here are just a few of them.

1. Improve Safe Working Conditions and Practices

Though you may be familiar with a fitness tracker or a heart monitor as a useful, wearable IoT device, there is plenty of practicality for industry-specific usage.

Employees or personnel on a job site wearing a clip-on device or using a wristband can transmit data concerning their activity or movements to identify potential worksite risks. Falls are a serious concern for construction workers, and one company in New York has required a safety sensor to be worn by its employees to job site visibility and quicken incident response times.

While a primary benefit of implementing this technology is the safety of your employees, there could be financial benefits to devices like these. Insurance premiums are a significant cost to businesses and being able to prove safety measures or reduce incidents could lower your premiums.

Personal safety reminders from wearable devices could also reduce workers’ comp claims.

2. Improve Site Reporting and Maintenance Determinations

Managers or developers often need to make a trip out to a job site to determine how well the project is going, particularly if they want to verify the reporting coming through texts or emails.

By installing sensors around a construction site, a company can get instant access to real-time information concerning conditions on the site. Sensors can also be installed on key pieces of equipment to detect malfunctions through abnormal vibrations or speeds. Devices are also currently in use that can help prevent fires.

3. Improve Management of Resources and Waste

Wasted labor hours are a serious concern for any construction company, and wasted materials is another issue plaguing the construction industry. It’s more than just having too many materials or the inefficient allotment of labor.

Consider fuel costs for machinery that runs idle for too long. Think of the waste of manpower when tasks and the division of labor on hand don’t occur equitably. Even with a site supervisor, there can be too much happening at one time for a single individual to maintain complete control.

With the use of IoT devices, you can take site and resource management to a whole new level. Sensors and monitors can identify where equipment or assets are and if they are being moved according to schedule. Geolocating can assist in uncovering theft and recovering the equipment. Big data analysis can allot labor or resources more efficiently to save a company thousands.

What does the future of the construction industry look like with tech?

While there are plenty of opportunities to continue developing IoT applications and other technology for use in the construction industry, these developments will only be influential if they can overcome the challenges that accompany them.

The biggest obstacles to a positive future with IoT and tech include:

  • Lack of sufficient data protection
  • IoT skills gap
  • Weak or irregular updates or maintenance patches
  • Poor device management

If these challenges can be addressed, the use of IoT in construction industry applications includes predictive maintenance advancements or the inclusion of augmented reality to increase efficiency and skills development.

When you want a solution providing real-time job site intelligence, Sensera Systems has the products you need. With our help, you can improve collaboration, reduce safety and security risks and improve productivity and resource management on your job site. Find your solution today.


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