Digital Construction - IoT

How Internet Of Things (IoT) Is Changing The Construction Industry

October 2022

Digital Construction - IoT

How Internet Of Things (IoT) Is Changing The Construction Industry

October 2022

Recently, the term “IoT” in the building and construction industry has gained popularity and so has its application. In layman’s words, this is simply the use of technological equipment or the “Internet of Things” and modern-day internet software. As a result efficacy of building and construction projects has been maximized.

In this article, I will be taking you through some of the applications of the Internet of Things in this industry. But before that, what does the term IoT really mean? Internet of Things (IoT) is simply physical objects (things). However, they are not just things but things with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies. Moreover, the “things” can connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. Interesting, right?

Now, what are the applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the building and construction industry?

  1. Remote operations, activity monitoring, and improving safe working practices and environment

This can be achieved through IoT-connected surveillance cameras and various measurement sensors. The aforementioned will allow controlling and adjusting machinery remotely, therefore increasing the accuracy of operations. They could also be used for tracking and reporting the movement and progress of employees in real-time. Altogether, that will help coordinate building activities more efficiently, reduce idle time, and link workers’ performance with relevant tasks and processes on-site.

In addition, and more importantly, as far as construction site workers’ well-being is concerned, IoT solutions can monitor their health and alertness, along with working conditions, preventing, therefore, fatigue and reducing the risk of potential accidents. For example, IoT wearables can monitor signs of distress, including abnormal pulse rates or elevations.

Lastly, IoT technology makes it possible to create a digital real-time job site map. That allows for updating risks associated with the construction work and notifying employees of particular risks or dangerous environments. Thus, thanks to real-time data provided by IoT-enabled devices, they are more predictive regarding job-site issues.

  1. Augmented reality (AR)

Typically, augmented reality in the building and construction industry is used for planning and modifying projects. It is also used for automating measurements, and providing onsite project information. In addition, it is used to enhance team collaboration, and conduct safety training.

However, AR can be used for multiple reasons at different stages of a building and construction project. Applying AR makes the direct generation of 3D models on a 2D plan possible for example. The industry players can use specific 3D modeling software for producing interactive models of projects and presenting them to clients. That means that clients will be more involved in the early stage development of a project.

Furthermore, teams can implement AT technology for organizing presentations, discussing, and examining all project details. That, therefore, allows making necessary changes before they become significantly expensive to alter. This approach consequently helps avoid delays and save costs.

  1. Just-in-time (JIT) provisioning

Supply units can be counted by a relevant system on site when they are labeled using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.  If the count drops below a predefined level, the system will automatically trigger a specific request from a central system for ordering more. Therefore, the idle time reduces, and as a result, projects are completed on time.

  1. Tools & equipment tracking and resource management

Implementing the IoT technology allows tracking what tools are already on-site. That reduces the time that could be lost while looking for lost and/or misplaced items and money that could possibly be spent on replacements.  Furthermore, owing to GPS trackers with IoT-enabled sensors, the location of the vehicle fleet could be tracked, and landscaping equipment positioned precisely.

At the same time, IoT solutions can help monitor the performance data of machines and vehicles. Consequently, that can enhance the ability to maintain them effectively and repair them within short notice. With the imagination of things as an excavator sending out a message that it needs a new hydraulic valve, self-driving autonomus truck arriving at the job site and fabricating the part on its 3D printer turning out to be a reality king in this era

Needless to say, predictive maintenance is cost-saving because fixing broken components, in the long run, may be very expensive. Moreover, unexpected equipment failures can result in downtime, which in turn extends the project timeframe.

Lastly, IoT-enabled sensors tracking indicators like excessive vibration or temperature can help identify the most appropriate time for servicing equipment. Such sensors will send warnings to relevant connected devices that in turn will help operators fix a problem before extensive damages are made. Generally, applying IoT helps lengthen the life span of machinery/equipment and increases its resale value.

  1. Concrete curing

With concrete curing sensors, construction schedules can be sped up. Such IoT-enabled devices provide monitoring of concrete’s maturity through temperature probes and then transmit real-time data to the cloud. The sensors however need to be embedded in concrete during casting for tracking its curing. As a result that allows managers to plan further construction work accurately.

An appropriate in-situ estimation regarding the concrete’s compressive strength brings the possibility to optimize numerous critical construction tasks. Besides, if the maturity of the concrete is known differentiating profitability and loss can be easy. This is because such knowledge helps schedule and cycle formwork and optimize labor.

The future of IoT in the building and construction industry

In conclusion, the future of IoT in the building and construction sector is promising. Building and construction firms are acutely aware of the need and possibilities of digital technology. The technology is being developed and launched by companies such as Trimble, Pillar Technologies, and ES Track, among others.

95% of construction organizations, according to a KPMG survey, believe emerging technologies like IoT will fundamentally impact their industry. Another 72% have set new technology adoption, including IoT deployments, as part of their strategy and vision.

PwC on the other hand says that 98% of industrial organizations expect digital solutions like IoT-enabled predictive maintenance or augmented reality to boost efficiency by up to 12%. That said, the building and construction sector is primed for digital change, and businesses that don’t respond swiftly risk falling left behind.