When people imagine digital industries, construction is probably one of the last to come to mind. It’s true that construction businesses are tied to one place and don’t want to disrupt their established processes. At the same time, IoT in this industry has great potential. Smart solutions on the construction site help companies ensure the safety of workers, maintain equipment in time, and secure it against theft. Let’s find out how construction companies will win from IoT.
Every day, construction companies face a number of challenges. All of them can delay the speed of projects and lead to additional wasted budgets. Here are some examples.
Accidents at the construction site. An accident in the U.S. costs businesses an average of $40,000. And that’s just the direct costs which include workers’ compensation, medical expenses, and legal fees. Additionally, companies might have to pay for accident investigation, work stoppage, repair of property or equipment, and training of replacement workers. Accidents are much more serious in the construction industry where one in five workers dies in an accident.
Equipment theft. In the U.S., only one in five stolen construction vehicles can be returned to the owner. Even if the equipment is fully insured, construction companies may incur costly job delays, downtimes, and higher insurance premiums. There are also time costs: workers spend extra time to move equipment from other locations and deal with police and insurance claims.
Untimely equipment maintenance. If construction equipment is not properly maintained, it can break down in the middle of the project. Timely maintenance can help prevent project delays and the need to buy brand new equipment. It costs almost $75,000 to operate and maintain a backhoe loader for 10 years. Some construction companies have several dozen of such machines. Even a small percentage of savings on that figure would net a company thousands of dollars.
To help construction businesses cope with these challenges, innovative IoT development companies are developing IoT solutions. They help deliver construction projects on time and save on the budget by keeping workers healthy and prolonging the life of equipment. Let’s take a closer look at how the Internet of Things in the construction industry makes it possible.
Heat stress can result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. This may lead to falls and injuries. The problem is that by the time workers feel the symptoms, they have already been experiencing heat stress for some time.
IoT solutions can warn workers performing under high temperatures before they exhibit symptoms. This prediction is based on the employee’s body parameters and external data like temperature and humidity. Technically, they are wearable devices with sensors that send employee data to the cloud for analysis. When workers are close to heat stroke, they will get a warning sound with vibration on their wearable devices. Simultaneously, a site manager will be notified via a mobile app that the workers need a break.
Timely medical assistance can help avoid or minimize injury. This is where wearables with an integrated accelerometer come in handy. The devices can detect sudden movements, such as a fall. If it’s followed by a state of prolonged immobility, the systems will register it as a loss of consciousness. In this case, the site manager will receive a notification with the exact worker’s location. They can then evacuate the worker and quickly provide first aid.
Some producers equip such solutions with a special button and buzzer for two-way communication between the worker and the manager. In case of an accident, each worker will be notified via the buzzer. By pressing the button, they will confirm that they’ve heard the alarm and are heading to a safe zone. On the dashboard, the site manager can identify workers who still remain in the danger zone to evacuate them as quickly as possible.
Anti-theft solutions help construction companies prevent equipment theft. This is how it works. Firstly, a site manager needs to attach a GPS device to the equipment. Then, they set the virtual boundaries of the construction site on the map through the mobile app. If the equipment leaves the assigned zone, the system will identify the last known location and alert the site managers. Then, they will be able to quickly contact the police and find the thieves on “hot scents.”
When construction companies perform equipment maintenance based on recommended schedules, they run two types of risk. They may either undermaintain overused equipment or perform unnecessary maintenance on less-used items. A more effective approach would be to maintain equipment based on engine hours.
When going this way, machinery operators usually manually log engine usage hours. But often they forget to do it. So, it becomes impossible to determine exactly whether the machinery was over- or under-worked. Engine usage trackers can help solve this problem. The solutions monitor actual engine running hours directly from each machine. On a dashboard, managers will see the engine status and set maintenance alerts.
IoT solutions allow construction companies to avoid extra expenses in their day-to-day operations. They help them minimize construction site accidents, prevent equipment theft, and extend the equipment life. What’s more, companies developing innovative products for construction open up opportunities to enter markets in related areas. For example, the IoT systems mentioned above are perfectly suited for applications in the mining or petroleum industries.
If you’re planning to develop an IoT solution for construction, Softeq is ready to help you out. As an IoT development company, we have all the needed expertise under one roof. Learn more about our full-stack development services.