Building smart is becoming the latest and most relevant trend in the construction industry.
The Internet of Things used to be a niche tech bracket, the technology being mostly used for smartwatches or small home appliances. IoT has evolved tremendously in a very short time, piercing through numerous industries, including construction. In one of our previous blog posts, we explored how the Internet of Things reshaped the entire tech ecosystem, and how its footprint expanded into some of the world’s largest industries. This time around, we’re focusing our attention on how IoT is impacting the construction industry.
IoT in construction: An industry worth over $8.9 billion
Delivering better services to clients, improving connectivity and simplifying difficult construction processes are at the forefront of leading tech companies that are inhabiting this space. Top players like Autodesk, Oracle and Pillar Technologies already have a large footprint in this niche. Tech giants like these are continuously working towards the acceleration of robotics in construction, looking to increase productivity and decrease manual labor.
Ensuring efficient safety management protocols on construction sites is also a top priority for organizations, as is reducing security threats in their connected devices. A foreign breach could be very harmful, especially if cranes or drones are hijacked by hackers. Last but not least, resource and waste optimization is also an important pillar when it comes to IoT in construction.
Investors see a bright future ahead for this industry, and are not shying away from pouring their capital into firms that yield potential for big returns. Although COVID-19 has slightly dampened IoT’s expansion in 2020, the lifted restrictions have accelerated its growth this year. The global IoT construction industry is poised to shoot past the $25 billion mark by 2027, according to a Research & Markets report. Last year, the global market for IoT in construction was estimated at $8.9 billion.
What exactly does IoT mean for the construction industry?
Tech advancements continue to alter the way we tackle construction work. Working smarter now trumps working harder, and newer, safer and better solutions continue to hit the market to aid how professionals build or operate assets. While IoT in construction might come off as a highly futuristic concept, integrating smart technology into construction sites has been going on for a while. Developers like Tapptitude work together with engineers to provide complete solutions, in an effort to elevate current infrastructures and construction efforts. Workflow optimization, fuel monitoring, safety measures and precision are just a handful of areas that connectivity vastly improves.
1. Machine control
Heavy machine work requires human operators, but IoT is changing that. Connectivity is streamlining heavy-duty operations by allowing remote and autonomous workarounds. IoT-enabled machines can perform more effective and precise procedures on the field, increasing productivity and decreasing manual labor. Furthermore, devices also provide in-place safety measures, real-time feedback to their operators, as well as access to extensive log files, which ultimately help users tweak and recalibrate their tasks.
2. Improved safety measures
It goes without saying that safety is of utmost importance in the construction industry. Construction zones are always rigged with a wide variety of safety measures to ensure a secure work environment, but with IoT, this is further enhanced. Wearables, for example, allow real-time monitoring and headcount of all the workers. These devices also alert workers for potential hazards, and constantly monitor heart rate, body temperature, and more. Managers and engineers can account for their workers using IoT devices, while workers can feel safer and more at ease in the construction zone.
3. Better project management
The ability to collect key data from your workers and equipment can seriously impact the work environment and decision-making processes. Having access to critical data not only helps managers in their organization efforts, but workers, as well. An IoT platform ensures unlimited access to valuable project data, risk and threat factors, a breakdown of expenses, and more. All of these help managers create better strategies and workflows, sometimes even in real-time.
4. Reduced costs
The use of IoT in construction helps decision-makers save money by monitoring spendings and creating resource-efficient strategies for their projects. The Internet of Things enables on-time deliveries, highly effective resource and asset management, drives cost-savings and enhances the overall construction quality, while reducing waste. Plus, paperwork can be eliminated by going digital and paperless, removing printing costs altogether. This also falls into the waste management category, an area that IoT is also heavily supporting.
5. Fleet management
Some apps help project managers and supervisors track the status of materials in transit. This allows for better planning and on-site coordination. Having real-time location information of an upcoming shipment is very useful, and in case of delays, instant notifications can be sent. Moreover, any particular change in the shipment can be communicated, at any time. Optimizing transit routes and vehicle maintenance are also incredibly useful features.
Smart solutions for smarter work
All the above-mentioned benefits of IoT in construction wouldn’t be possible without the help of small and large connected helpers. Let’s review which devices and tools are aiding and revolutionizing how things are getting done in the construction field.
Wearables are already widely used in construction work. These act as both GPS, alert systems and safety- and health-monitoring devices. Crew members are warned in real-time if danger is imminent thanks to high-pitched noises and alarms. These can reduce accidents at the workplace. In addition, emergency services and crew members are also contacted immediately when an injury has taken place. Vitals are also tracked, reminding workers to take breaks. Apart from health and risk monitoring, instructions and critical info can be digitally passed through these devices to update workers on their projects.
Aerial mapping isn’t new, but rapidly evolving technology is perfecting how drones scan, measure and survey potential construction sites. IoT-powered aerial drones can survey sites with impeccable precision and provide precise measurements for project managers and engineers. Detecting hazardous areas or materials is also possible with the use of these devices. Ultra-high resolution photos can showcase entire areas and help with prospecting, and as information gets scanned in real-time, users have access to critical data directly on their device.
Remote monitoring and control tools
Asset tracking tools
There are a multitude of apps and tools that can track not only the work progress and safety of workers, but also that of assets and construction equipment. These solutions highly improve on-site security by pinpointing essential construction materials and ensuring their integrity. Specific construction material usage can also be monitored. The overall health of elevators, excavators, and cranes can be checked, as well. Knowing how critical equipment performs at all times is vital, and having access to key data that shows overall material usage can seriously reduce costs and constant manual checks.
Apps that facilitate remote work
Areas that are hard to access require special devices and apps to facilitate progress. Workers can use drones or even robots to access areas that are hazardous or at a very high altitude, for example. Cranes and excavators can also be maneuvered remotely with the help of apps, and some products even make you feel like you’re on-site by providing 360-views and impeccable controls.
The Burj Khalifa: What does IoT in construction look like?
Nowadays, engineers use at least one or more IoT devices at their construction sites. However, the Burj Khalifa is a project that truly stands out when it comes to IoT construction. Considered to be one of the world’s most innovative buildings, the Internet of Things helped shape this marvel into fruition. Doka, the framework supplier for the tallest building in the world, used their leading technology to erect the skyscraper: Doka Concremote uses GSM-enabled digital sensors to measure concrete’s maturity, which includes temperature and time, and its strength. The result? A stable, solid 830-meter-high structure.
The Burj Khalifa was an IoT construction breakthrough. Architects, engineers and suppliers these days utilize everything from 3D printing-related technologies, big data analytics, cloud computing, machine learning, and intelligent algorithms for their game-changing projects. Apart from the Burj Khalifa, some of the most famous IoT-powered buildings in the world include Singapore’s Capital Tower, Duke Energy Center in Charlotte, and The Crystal in London.
Apps and companies that drive IoT in construction
Many businesses are delivering incredible apps to support and improve the construction industry. From remote monitoring apps to health and safety measure tools, top players and newcomers are seizing a piece of the pie. Let’s explore a few businesses and their services below.
Remote monitoring apps
Tap2Map – 3D flight planner
Tap2Map is a 3D flight planner for DJI drones, made for professional surveyors to collect aerial imagery, following basic photogrammetric airborne survey rules. With Tap2Map, users can easily define the mapped terrain, plan their drone flight or import a pre-existing plan, as well as track the drone as it surveys the terrain and export the photos to the preferred third-party software.
All Around View Monitoring by Hyundai – 360-degree remote views
The Hyundai AAVM video camera system provides operators a 360-degree field of view from their remotely-operated machineries. The system can be installed on cranes, excavators or lifts, and offers multiple viewing angles for the user. The AAVM system also includes a system that alerts the operator when it detects people or objects, providing extra caution for both the user and crew members.
Remote Eye – Performance tracker
Wideum’s Remote Eye is an assistance system that helps workers and tracks their performance. The system also helps crew members solve any incidents by having the ability to contact experts. Project managers can issue tasks via the app, which eliminates downtimes and also saves money and time.
SmartCap – Fatigue tracker
SmartCap is a wearable device that tracks brain waves to monitor worker fatigue. It can alert a user immediately and suggest they take a break. Supervisors can also monitor their construction crew and get real-time information. SmartCap uses predictive technology.
Equipment maintenance and asset management apps
Acoem – Equipment monitoring
Acoem helps construction teams monitor the state of their equipment. Their solutions include vibration analysis, shaft alignment, and machinery diagnosis, among others. Acoem is designed specifically for maintenance and security.
BlackBerry Radar – Equipment monitoring
BlackBerry Radar is a tool for real-time equipment monitoring and reporting. Their devices are easy to install, require low maintenance and are long-lasting. BlackBerry Radar minimizes operational disruptions while offering real-time data of key equipment and heavy machinery.
Doka Concremote uses GSM-enabled digital sensors to measure concrete’s maturity, and calibrates its strength. Doka was the framework supplier for Burj Khalifa.
Simplifying, and in some cases even eliminating, manual labor is a top strategic priority for companies when designing their IoT solutions. Improved connectivity allows for productivity to increase, and proper measures and procedures translate to a safer and more controlled work environment. While wearables allow workers to monitor their health and safety, it also allows project managers to keep track of their crew.
Remote monitoring apps also mean increased security and lower maintenance costs for construction equipment and heavy machinery, while smart construction material calibration ensures both a spike in productivity and a dip in costs. With the industry estimated at $8.9 billion and poised to grow past the $25 billion mark by 2027, it’s clear where IoT in construction is headed. Innovation and investments will propel this business forward in the years to come, and app developers will have their hand’s full catering to the needs of their clients.
Upgrade your construction business with an IoT app
Our team at Tapptitude is always happy to hop on new projects and put their experience to the test by tackling challenging ideas. If you have a product concept for an IoT app in the construction industry, or looking to expand your own business with IoT with a reliable product partner, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
A contributing writer at Tapptitude, Robert has a strong passion for technology and a sharp eye for detail. His research skills and tech-savvy approach to any topic guarantee that no stone is left unturned before he puts pen to paper. When he’s not juggling words on a screen, he is usually lost in a video game or movie, or playing his guitar. Robert’s greatest enemy is the blank page.