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The Smarter Sites: How IoT is Transforming the Construction Industry

Published Aug 3, 2020 – By Mohammad Hammoud

The Internet of Things (IoT) has lately brought tremendous benefits to many industries, transforming the way business is done. Although the construction industry has been relatively slow at adopting new such initiatives, things are starting to change. Construction companies are now looking for technology solutions such as IoT to really transform the way they operate. The industry in itself has several operation complexities, such as multiple concurrent projects in different location, tighter deadlines, and expanded assets.

Megatrends Survey 2020 was conducted earlier this year, where 1000 senior executives from 12 industries across five counties provided their views on which forces will most disrupt their industries in the coming decades.

Megatrends Survey 2020

The senior executives have predicted that IoT is by far the largest disruptive force in the Construction and Engineering industry for the next five years.

Accordingly, we will be highlighting the benefits of IoT in the transformation of the construction industry:

Injury-Free sites

IoT Construction Site Injury

IoT in construction has the potential to reduce most types of accidents, using solutions like wearable devices, environment sensors, and monitoring cameras. Sensors mounted on hard hats collect real-time data from the work environment and associate the location to each worker autonomously. Such data transmitted through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices can be mapped on a 3D GIS-based indoor maps to display the current conditions of staff and sites. By genuinely combining the live worker’s location and data collected from site sensors, it is now possible to actively track safety and engineering metrics such as the time spent by a worker at a defined working zone, the highest concentration of activities, and the areas of the highest incidents.

Site Monitoring

Site monitoring refers to utilizing an array of sensors to continuously track onsite conditions. To make use of site monitoring, sensors should continually collect, report, and analyze data to ensure projects have better chances of being completed on time. Through making basic data analysis, you will know how many workers are completing a given task, how many excavators are currently active at a given time, and how much time is still needed to order additional supplies. Sensors in machines allow them to transmit information about their status and any possible need for service and repairs.

Cost Savings

Fixing equipment before it breaks makes more sense than waiting for its failure. This is now possible by setting predefined alerts before the next maintenance phase. Machines can send back information on what and when needs to be repaired, so that projects can still run without penalization. IoT solutions can warn the supervisor once assets are found to be faulty or need instance replacement.

In addition, sites can now send back information on the amount of electrical power utilized, so that after-hours lighting can be adjusted for energy-savings. This can save significant amount of cost, and positively adjust the budgets of huge projects.

Growing usage of BIM

IoT Construction BIM

Image courtesy of STW Architects

Building information modeling (BIM) is widely used in engineering and architecture projects, but now a vast number of clients are integrating the capabilities of IoT. As real-time IoT data is not enough to define all construction project information, it is now needed to have some context to where exactly are those sensors located, and what is the significance of such values. The BIM model is a natural way to give meaning and context to these readings. Perhaps the temperature is too high in a certain space, and you would like to know how this space is connected to the ventilation or other building systems, to be able to figure out the cause of this issue.

Construction companies clearly recognize the value and potential of technology in shaping their business for the upcoming years. The majority of those companies know that emerging technologies, including IoT, will fundamentally change their industry and how projects are implemented. Construction is now bounded by digital transformation for it evolve, and companies that will not act quickly could risk being left behind.

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Mohammad Hammoud

Product and Account Manager

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