The Internet of Things (IoT) has expanded into many greenfield areas—the construction industry being one of them.
While technology like GPS is popular for location tracking in some industries, it doesn’t perform well indoors or in highly populated areas, and isn’t ideal for construction. When it comes to using IoT in construction, there are barriers as well—including what connective technology should be used. Construction sites aren’t typically WiFi-connected—and cellular can be prohibitively expensive. Even so, there are several types of connectivity infrastructures have proven to be useful with construction in the IoT. For instance:
- Construction and field management software like Latista has helped this previously disconnected industry become more connected. For example, Latista users can take photos of rooms as they’re being constructed, and those rooms are organized via fixed iBeacons.
- A proximity-based location system like AirFinder, which runs on low power, wide-area (LPWA) network Symphony Link, performs very well at construction sites. Its low-cost BLE tags and lightweight infrastructure can be deployed using batteries or solar power.
Below, we’ll walk through five use cases and innovations the IoT has enabled in the construction industry.
IoT Construction Use Cases
Tracking labor hours.
If a high-rise is being constructed, hundreds of subcontractors will be on-site doing everything from HVAC systems, to glass work, to plumbing. If the general contractor is billed for 6,000 man hours of plumbing work, they typically won’t be able to verify if that number is accurate or inflated. And because many contracts with subs are cost plus, there’s not much incentive for them to dig into the contract and determine if that’s accurate. When labor tracking is implemented—and everyone on-site is outfitted with a small tracking badge—the contractor can then verify all labor hours.
Safety on the job.
If there’s an emergency or a job site needs to be evacuated, the construction foreman or general contractor likely doesn’t have an accurate way to know how many people are currently on the job site (or how many have been able to evacuate if necessary). With IoT tracking, individuals on-site can be tracked immediately at the room level, making the job of emergency responders much easier.
Locating capital materials.
Many construction sites receive regular shipments, many of them including capital materials. If you, for example, receive a shipment of expensive light fixtures and that shipment gets moved to the wrong floor, the construction crew could end up searching the site—wasting time and money. Adhering IoT tracking tags to capital shipments can make this search quick and efficient.
Monitoring for loss prevention, security, and insurance protection.
Vandalism and theft are common at building sites. Simple IoT systems that detect movement or activate monitoring equipment can act as an added level of security. Additionally, there are many instances of insurance losses during construction, as materials may mold, rust, or burn due to exposure or mishandling. If an IoT-enabled system alerts a construction company immediately of any smoke or water, action can be taken before more damage occurs.
Today, OEMs are finding a number of innovations in the construction industry. As an OEM, you may want to consider that the construction company owners and financiers who want to invest in this type of infrastructure won’t actually be using it. This creates a bit of a barrier to adoption—but it’s not insurmountable if the application is positioned correctly.
Interested in adding location to your IoT construction application? Let’s talk.