When one thinks of construction, a lot of things may come to mind: cool pieces of large machinery, very tall cranes and of course, very hard-working men and women. One thing that you might not think of is technology, and that belief is well-founded. The construction and infrastructure industry has been routinely ranked very low in technology use compared to other sectors.

With several large projects likely to take place (thanks to the expected large stimulus packages), I want to cover different ways that IoT is helping maximize the work done while reducing costs and making it safer.

Precision GPS

Most of us think of GPS as something that is reasonably accurate. Your smartphone roughly knows where you are, and this is accurate enough to get you to the closest Starbucks. However, if you are building large-scale projects, you need to have a higher level of accuracy. Precision GPS solutions are being used to ensure that things go where they are supposed to by accuracy down to the inch. Precision GPS is also heavily used in the agriculture space.

Point to Point communication

Imagine a construction site before it starts; do you visualize a high-speed Internet connection? In most cases, construction (both new and upgrades) often takes place in areas that are not covered by traditional landline services. While there are a few ways to solve this issue, one way is using a technology that uses Point to Point communication, which is when you set up two “points” to communicate. This set-up enables you to extend an existing connection from a nearby source.

Technologies (like Free Space Optics) are built to allow for a rugged and easy to set up solution. They are ideal for extending coverage (such as for a new building) and can easily be re-used for the next project when once finished.

GPS Tracking

The construction industry uses some huge (and expensive) “toys” to do their work. 

They are not only expensive to buy/lease but are also costly to operate. These tools need to be up and working at all times to avoid expensive losses of productivity.

GPS Tracking allows you to know where they are and how they are operating at all times. This both reduces the chance of theft and reduces on-going operating costs.

Monitoring of “previously unmonitorable” equipment

In the previous point, we covered how large vehicles are tracked. Due to the costs involved, it was easy to justify the cost of doing so. However, what about things that are not quite as valuable but still vital: think construction fencing, smaller equipment and even the porta-potty?

The lower cost of IoT hardware, as well as the reduced size that has been introduced by technologies such as CAT-M and LoRa, have opened up the ability to monitor equipment more than ever before. This reduces the chance of loss and maximizes your uptime.

Sensors

IoT, as I always say, is about information. With so many things going on at most sites, it is impossible to know everything that is going on, increasing the chance of accidents. 

Sensors can provide valuable information to warn about things before they happen. This may be vibration sensors that can alert to early signs of an earthquake, it can be heated/cold sensors that alert to conditions that may make it unsafe to work, it can be humidity sensors that alert to levels that may damage essential supplies- or it can be motion sensors that alert to an unwanted presence after hours.

On-person biometrics

Sensors help you keep track of the status and condition of critical assets. This also holds true for your most valuable assets: your team members. 

First used by the military for soldiers in combat, biometric sensors in clothing are being used by some companies to alert to issues with key team members, such as those driving the large cranes on sites.

Whether it be from an illness, work accident or environmental issue, you can be alerted when this team member has a problem, even if they are unable to tell you so themselves.