CONSTRUCTION | IoT
The Five Ways IoT Is Changing Construction
A major component in the digital economy will be the Internet of Things (IoT). Made possible by the growth of high-speed wireless connectivity (through the 5G network), the Internet of Things is set to become entire systems of connected physical goods and household objects that can be monitored and adjusted remotely, and in real time.
11.4.2019 // 6 minute read
The Internet of Things is becoming less of an idea and more a reality. McKinsey predicts IoT to have an $11 trillion global economic impact by 2025. National Infrastructure assets have already seen improvements from the use of IoT. Many construction sites now have internet installed to enable a connected job site. This provides a number of benefits to the project and workers on the ground:
1. Automated Workflows
Sensors and RFID tags on materials and equipment can help in the proactive ordering and management of construction materials and plant. These are systems that detect low inventory and can notify procurement teams to place an order for more material. They can also be used to track an asset’s location on site. Previously, running out of, or worse - losing materials or plant, would have caused delays. However, IoT in construction can deliver automated workflows to minimise delays and keep projects moving forward.
2. Improved Worker Safety
Despite there being a downwards trajectory of injuries sustained at work in the construction sector, there are still around 58,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year. The construction industry also sees more fatalities than any other sector; HSE reported there were 38 fatal injuries to workers in 2017/18.
It’s important that innovations in the Construction IoT world aren’t just mechanically driven, but also address this pressing health and safety issue. There are several different IoT connected wearables that are focused on improving safety in the construction industry.
These include separate devices that a worker wears, as well as embedded sensors in personal protective equipment (PPE) such as vests, helmets, and boots. These wearable devices monitor the heart rate of workers in industrial, high-risk environments – for example, construction sites, remote mining operations and bridge and tunnel locations. Employers can then deploy an end-to-end solution to protect their workforce in real time, with greater impact and at a lower cost than traditional health check means.
Other devices function by monitoring a worker’s location in relation to danger or drop zones. These can be combined with integrated accelerometers to automatically detect when someone has fallen or experienced high impacts.
3. Intelligent Construction Management
Heavy construction equipment is also increasingly being outfitted with sensors, which can be remotely monitored for key indicators of potential maintenance issues like temperature fluctuations and excessive vibrations. When the system detects abnormal patterns, alerts can trigger maintenance workers to intervene early, before critical equipment fails. Performing predictive maintenance in this way can save time and money, as well as prevent unnecessary delays in construction projects which would otherwise cost millions of pounds.
4. Environmental Management
Environmental monitoring and management is a priority for construction projects in order to protect workers and the general public from harmful substances. IoT sensors
are able to give accurate real-time data on the environment. Gaseous and particulate emissions from heavy machinery can lead to chronic health problems if unmonitored and unregulated. This could impact the health of thousands of people in urban areas.
Over the years, environmental IoT sensors have reduced in size and cost. They are now readily available and can be installed at many points across a construction site. Managing environmental indicators such as air quality, noise pollution, and dust pollution ensures safety, reliability and compliance with the environmental standards set by statutory bodies. Failure to do so will result in hefty fines.
5. Building Information Modeling
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process that provides an intelligent, 4D model of a building. Typically, BIM is used to model a building’s structure and systems during design and construction, so that changes can be updated simultaneously in all other impacted plans (including project management). Taken a step further, however, BIM can also become a catalyst for smart buildings projects.
Once a building is up and running, data from IoT sensors can be pulled into the BIM model. You can use that data to simulate energy usage patterns, temperature trends or people movement throughout a building. The output from these models can then be analysed to improve future buildings projects or for predictive maintenance to improve user experience.
How can SenSat help?
In order to utilise the potential opportunities of the Internet of Things, SenSat creates ‘Simulated Realities’ where high accuracy topographical data is used as a canvas for real-time IoT information.
Within 5 days, the team created the highest resolution 3D representation of Cambridge deploying hundreds of proprietary sensors that measure over thirty types of environmental data and infused real-time open data provided by the city council.
Click here to watch how we did it.