Construction is heavily manual work and it’s not the most likely industry to invest in digital technology. However, these past few years, construction companies have realized the benefits of using digital technology such as IoT. In fact, firms are now relying on project management software to connect the site to their office, and it’s impressive how this Internet of Things has greatly enhanced the productivity level and profitability of the sector in no time.
Some construction companies are still doubtful about the efficiency of using IoT in their work. But statistics show an improvement int the IoT market in construction with a projected growth of 16.5% between 2019 and 2024.
Apps and software in construction, such as construction schedule software, are parts of IoT. They connect people at the site through their devices with their superiors in the office through their computers. Even wearables with sensors, GPS, and surveillance cameras are considered a member of an IoT solution. Automated machines managed in a single control room is another example. So, you may not be fully aware but IoT is almost everywhere in construction.
So today, in this blog, we’re going to rediscover the growing role of IoT in construction and how this new builder trend is transforming the industry.
Problems Solved by IoT in Construction
IoT solutions are transforming the construction in ways we actually already know. As mentioned earlier, it is present in apps and project management software that connects mobile devices and computers together. It is in automated machines, network of surveillance cameras, GPS, and so on. It’s making a significant impact on construction processes, and its role in the industry is expected to grow bigger in the coming years.
In managing construction projects, there are a lot of pain points that IoT can efficiently resolve. Some of them include:
Labor shortage has been a lingering problem in the construction industry. It hit the sector the hardest during the Great Recession in 2007 but the challenge continued to take a toll on construction until today. The industry lost its skilled workers and the younger generation seems to be uninterested in doing manual work. As a result, the sector is still struggling to fill up roles and as a matter of fact, the JOLTS survey says there is a need for 350,000 construction workers in different ongoing projects.
Like we discussed in our previous blogs, technology help construction to deal with the problem of a labor shortage. IoT-based automation has offered a big help in filling up the needed workforce in the field while keeping the construction company competent. While it can be costly to purchase automated machines, the company can gain an ROI that’s double the initial cost. This solution can guarantee meeting the builders’ schedule, accuracy, and higher productivity.
2.Delays and Overcost
The effects of labor shortage can be an endless web of problems, which includes delays in the builders schedule and going over the budget. And just like we just mentioned, IoT has an effective solution to all these issues – through automation!
Apart from the lack of workforce, delays in builders schedules can also be caused by the project’s complexity. There is also a lack of construction skills, so firms are struggling to meet the specs and standards set by the client. But with the interlinking technologies used in the field, firms are able to come up with strategies that can help them deliver quality output. And BIM is an excellent example of that. Not only does it help stakeholders improve the plan and design, but it also helps them prevent costly mistakes.
3.Diminishing Productivity and Profitability
IoT exists in apps and software. And as you know, the use of project management software is one of the best builders trends in the industry today.
For project managers to ensure that the desired productivity level is met at the site, they need to have consistent crew management but with a site that’s too big and with a lot of moving parts, tracking them one by one on a daily basis can be difficult. That’s why remote crew management through project management software was established.
Additionally, a project team is able to meet deadlines because data is accurately fed in the construction schedule software it uses. Since crew members receive all the information they need to do their tasks, they are able to work more efficiently, hence increasing the team’s productivity level. And when more is done, a construction firm is able to finish a project on time and is able to get another work, hence improving its profitability level.
Smart devices used in ensuring safety at the site also use IoT technology. Some construction firms are now using smartwatches with health detectors and GPS that reports to the firm’s main system or the safety officer to know whether one of their crew members is at risk. This is the way for some companies to prevent fatalities at the site.
Augmented reality can also be a part of IoT and is often used to train workers in a safer environment. This way, workers will be equipped with the right knowledge so they can work properly at the site and avoid injuries.
Holding on to outdated technology can affect a project team’s efficiency so it’s recommended to update and upgrade whenever a new trend is out.
With IoT in construction, updating your system can be done in a snap, sometimes, you won’t even need to make an effort as updating happens automatically. Whenever a machine or equipment is out, IoT can detect that and alert you to do an upgrade. This way, you won’t be left out and stay competitive in this saturated industry.
6.Managing Projects Remotely
As we mentioned earlier, project managers can’t track every element and activity at the site. That is especially true when the project is so big. Using IoT solutions like surveillance cameras, project management software, and drones and putting a reliable construction engineer at the site, project managers can manage a project remotely.
Also, bigger construction firms tend to accept several projects at the same time. When the sites’ locations are too far from each other, it would be impossible for project managers to handle numerous projects at the same time.
One final issue that IoT solutions can resolve is waste management. Construction is the biggest contributor to garbage in the U.S. with over 23 million tons of waste recorded per year. That’s a whopping volume that gave the country one of its nicknames, King of Trash.
IoT in construction can help diminish waste production. Some companies are now using tools with sensors for monitoring the trash level at the site. Some machines are capable of minimizing waste and debris from cutting or molding. There are waste management software, too, that can calculate the exact number of materials needed to prevent generating waste. Finally, there are third-party organizations that offer real-time waste management data gathering services to help construction firms handle their garbage more efficiently.
IoT Solutions and Devices Used in Construction
Mentioning all the ways on how IoT can help the construction industry, let us now look into the different IoT solutions and devices available that the sector can leverage.
Wearables are one of the most used devices in the industry that leverages IoT technology. Most of them are used to boost safety. Smartwatches, for instance, can detect the vitals of the worker and alert him whenever his body condition isn’t fit to continue working. It can also send signals to the safety engineer so that he is aware of his member’s situation.
GPS is another IoT device used for monitoring worker safety and they can be installed in smartwatches too. GPS can help in various ways like determining the location of the worker so that a project manager knows whether his member is at the right place and at the right time during work. This also helps the safety officer track the wearer’s real-time location so, in case of emergency, he can send help immediately. While other devices can notify a wearer of danger zones.
Augmented reality glasses are also a part of IoT solutions in construction. Construction firms are now using this technology for more effective crew member training while ensuring their safety. Since it can’t be avoided to hire a newbie in construction, extensive hands-on training is recommended so they won’t be clueless when they are already deployed at the site. Hence, doing so will help them avoid injuries and fatal accidents as well as improve the project team’s work quality.
2. Remote Project Management Systems
Project management software and apps foster remote management so that project managers can stay on top of construction work even in hard-to-access zones. It is also used as a channel for communication and collaboration so that all crew members are updated with the latest data they need to complete a project.
3. Predictive Systems
BIM is an IoT solution for foreseeing the future of the project. It helps stakeholders determine the flaws in the design and plan so they are able to adjust accordingly even before the project commences. This way, the construction firm is saved from costly errors, change orders, and possible litigation.
4. Asset Tracking
Equipment, machines, and tools are costly investments and construction firms better use asset tracking tools to ensure their security. GPS and apps are used to track the condition and whereabouts of these assets so costly repairs and theft will be avoided.
The Future of IoT in Construction
IoT technology is indeed a revolutionary discovery in construction. You may have not imagined how useful it is but almost all technologies in your construction site are controlled by IoT systems. So there’s no wonder why experts predicted it to grow its value into multi-billion in this sector alone. Experts also believe that higher levels of efficiency and profitability will be achieved when IoT is continued to be utilized alongside artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data, and machine learning. So one day, we might see workers at the site who know exactly what problems are occurring and how they should be fixed before delays and overcost happens.