IoT in Construction
Construction and IoT
As IoT technology is beginning to mature, the management of construction sites is about to go through fundamental changes. These will drastically improve safety, security and security, all while reducing labor costs.
IoT-enabled sensors are a cost-effective solution to provide critical information at every stage of the construction process (e.g. gathering aerial images, planning costs and time, delivery of materials & actual construction)
Through the use of wearable IoT-enabled devices, site safety can be further improved, and labor can be tracked accurately. These devices provide construction managers with autogenerated headcounts, mapping the location of all workers, highlighting hazards and sending safety alerts.
The construction industry heavily relies on physical labor, so mental and physical health is a major focus area for supervisors and managers. To further enhance the safety measures made possible by IoT, systems could be combined with technologies, such as AI.
Actively monitoring construction sites is a crucial aspect of any construction project. With the use of IoT, construction site monitoring becomes more cost-efficient and thorough.
Site monitoring is classified into two distinct categories, the tracking of humans and the tracking of objects (machines or materials). Keeping track of a big volume of expensive tools and materials is absolutely necessary. IoT helps to automate this process, which also increases security since these big datasets are more difficult to falsify.
Thanks to IoT, the real-time information and status of machines and vehicles (e.g. fuel left in an excavator or location of a forklift) can be easily accessed by supervisors and other parties. Construction managers gain insights into employees and machines without having to manually keep track of their operations.
These insights also help construction companies optimize the allocation of their resources (equipment, workforce and materials), which improves the efficiency and productivity of the entire operation.
Besides providing useful insights to construction managers, the main benefit of IoT incorporation for site monitoring is the increased security of assets. Through the use of facial recognition, GPS-sensors, and RFID tags are able to detect unregistered employees or intruders.
Machines and vehicles can be monitored, and critical information, such as location and health of the engines can also be used in insurance claims.
Control of Heavy Machines
Areas that involve the handling of heavy machinery by humans can be improved through the use of IoT-enabled controls.
IoT makes construction machines more autonomous, efficient and safer to operate. IoT sensors can be used to guide these machines to specific locations with greater speed and accuracy, while also reducing human involvement(thus reducing the risk of human miscoordination).
For example, location sensors (beacons) placed on the edges of shipping containers, could help guide a crane swiftly towards the containers. Thus the unloading of containers becomes a partially autonomous process. Additionally, these sensors can also provide operators with insights into the machine’s health, thus preventing any breakdowns.
UAVs and other autonomous vehicles
UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) keep gaining popularity, especially in the agriculture and construction sector where huge projects need to be monitored efficiently.
Autonomous dump trucks and excavators are currently being tested by a handful of companies in order to reduce labor costs and also increase safety by removing humans from unsafe work locations.
These solutions are already being applied in real-life scenarios. Autonomous trucks by Volvo, are currently transporting limestone from an open-pit mine in Norway to a port. Sooner or later, manual transport of critical materials or equipment is always subject to human error. Fitting trackers on these assets makes a project manager’s job a lot easier.
Additionally, the workload and costs of a future project can be estimated more accurately using UAVs, which can survey maps and take aerial images of a construction site.
These high-quality aerial images can also help project managers gain new insights on a project and may help in spotting future issues that may not have been visible from the ground perspective.
Using this data, fleet managers can order spare parts right away and redirect the vehicle to the nearest mechanic. As soon as the IoT devices detect that repair works will be necessary before the materials can be delivered, construction managers can be informed about a potential impending delay.
Project managers and construction supervisors can use IoT to track the status of materials currently in transit. These insights help them to coordinate and plan on-site operations much more efficiently.
Predictability is a crucial factor for fleet managers. Sudden changes in weather or road conditions are enormous problems for fleet managers, as they create a productivity bottleneck.
Through the use of IoT, the location and speed of each transport vehicle can be shown in real-time. This can help in preventing any delays, and if the construction schedule needs to be changed due to delays, the customer can be informed immediately and automatically thanks to data gathered by IoT devices.
Furthermore, advanced sensors can show a vehicle’s condition. These sensors can detect if a particular component of the fleet’s vehicle is about to malfunction. Thus a vehicle failure, resulting in a delayed delivery is imminent.
Construction companies can provide faster and better services, all while lowering the workload for the project managers.
Sticking to a budget is essential for any construction project. However, the lack of funds in the construction sector can result in catastrophic losses and abandoned buildings.
Completing a project within a predetermined budget is a critical performance indicator for construction companies. Using IoT, contractors can utilize available resources more efficiently. IoT devices also allow for automated, real-time reporting, which drastically reduces the cost of communication.
IoT technology will completely change the way construction managers operate. Supervisors, project managers and virtually every other stakeholder will be fed critical information in real-time and gain insights into the progress at every stage of the construction process.
IoT solutions in the construction industry are already actively incorporated. In Norway, autonomous, unmanned Volvo trucks are transporting limestone from pit mine to port. Thus significantly reducing labor force, increasing worker’s safety and removing potential human error from the equation.