Take a moment to think about all the machines you see and use every day on your construction site.
What if every one of those machines, both large and small, could connect to the Internet? Wouldn’t that make your life as a construction manager easier?
You may think this is merely a dream of the future, but it’s actually becoming a present reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly developing into the next biggest technological trend, useful a huge variety of different industries, from home security to field service. Not convinced that it could affect the construction industry? Check out these major benefits that the IoT could bring to your construction project:
1. Lowered Costs
Do you feel like your construction project is bleeding money? Perhaps you’re losing a little here on supplies that get mislaid during a project, or a little there on products that arrive on time at your site but aren’t what you ordered, or perhaps you’ve been laying out quite a bit on fuel costs for all those large pieces of construction equipment.
All those “little” costs can add up, can’t they? Luckily for you, the Internet of Things is here to help:
- Labeling your supplies with RFID tags can ensure that you never lose another piece of equipment, since the tag makes for easy tracking. You can even use the tags to remotely monitor the numbers of any particular machine at different sites.
- Also using RFID tags, you can set a specific number for how many of a particular supply item you need, and the tag will register when the actual supplies fall below that number, triggering a supplies request. This way, you never run out of a particular item but also never order more than you need.
- You can achieve something similar when it comes to mechanical maintenance by installing self-detecting sensors in tools such as large drills. These sensors can send maintenance alerts when a tool is in need of repairs, heading off the necessity for last-minute work or costly breakdowns.
- Energy conservation also becomes possible with devices that monitor the temperature of buildings, how much power is being used, and how often machinery is left idling.
2. Safer Employees
Falls, collisions with heavy objects, electrocutions–construction sites have an annual 10% accident rate. If you’ve had even one accident on a construction project, you know how disruptive the effects can be on your employees and on the project itself.
Fortunately, the IoT can help here as well:
- Remote operation capabilities mean workers don’t necessarily need to be at the helm of large pieces of machinery. When operating a particularly dangerous tool or when working in zones that could present environmental health hazards to humans, connecting a machine to the Internet and operating it from a safe distance is a no-brainer.
- Wearable devices are a growing trend across industries, and the benefits in construction, specifically, are numerous. Hands-free devices, like Google Glass, allow workers to transmit images and access important instructions without taking a hand off their machines. Such devices also allow for automatic time logging, which prevents records falsification and can even provide for health monitoring.
- Augmented reality technology (AR) is also a growing trend, if not quite as well-established or available as wearables. Soon AR will be a normal part of the construction industry, with special instructions, weather conditions, and safety alerts projected across equipment and wearable devices in real time.
3. Smarter Design
Just like Pixar revolutionized animated movies 15 years ago by adding a third dimension, today 2D building plans are rapidly being replaced by 3D computer models. This process is called Building Information Modeling (BIM), and it is the wave of the future when it comes to construction designs.
Traditional architectural blueprints are a thing of the past. In their place, construction workers will have access to three-dimensional, computer-generated models of the building project. The kind of AR devices mentioned in the previous section will even make it possible for workers to overlay a BIM model on top of the actual construction site as they work, creating an ever-more useful visualization of the project and its integration with the real-world environment.
After a construction project has actually been completed, sensors in the building itself can monitor how well the building continues to withstand changes in temperature, pressure, and other environmental factors. The sensors can then transmit this data back to a central system, updating the original BIM in real time and informing future maintenance decisions.
Make the Internet of Things Your Own
Don’t hesitate–link up your project to the IoT today! Construction management software is a great place to start and provides a perfect central system to which you can connect your various smart devices. Soon, you’ll see the benefits of the Internet of Things in all facets of your construction project.
I only listed three major benefits here. Are there more you think construction managers should be aware of? Let me know in the comments below!
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